Software Development

Getting your Firefox tabs back

Next time you get that sinking feeling that you've lost all your Firefox tabs, don't despair; there is a solution.

I'm a big fan of Firefox's tab groups; it really is sickening how many tabs I have "open" at one time. I admit I'm a tab hoarder, and that I probably need help.

A few years ago, Firefox prevented this sort of user behaviour by eating up all the available RAM.
(Screenshot by Chris Duckett/TechRepublic)

To add insult to injury, I rarely back up the list of tabs I have open, so when I click on a URL in another program when Firefox isn't open, a new session is started from a clean slate. This means it appears that my tens of tabs have disappeared into the ether.

Enter that sinking feeling of information loss, and yet another vow that next time, it'll be different.

Fortunately, though, there is a way to restore the previous session.

Residing inside the .mozilla/firefox/[profile]/ directory will be a number of "sessionstore" files. This is a JSON store of the tabs that open in previous sessions.

When you have had a number of tabs open, and the browser opens without restoring the session tabs, a new sessionstore.js file is created and the previous file is renamed sessionstore-1.js.

To get all your old tabs back, all you need to do is close down the browser and replace the sessionstore.js file with sessionstore-1.js.

And voila, your old session should appear again. Now, if only I could cure my information hoarding and convince myself to close some of these tab groups.

Before any questions are asked about performance with that many tabs open, Firefox is clever about tab groups and will only load a group once you change into it, saving quite a bit of memory.

About

Some would say that it is a long way from software engineering to journalism, others would correctly argue that it is a mere 10 metres according to the floor plan.During his first five years with CBS Interactive, Chris started his journalistic advent...

9 comments
bart001fr
bart001fr

I pasted the first review on the session manager page in its entirety so you'd get a second opinion. Why this AddOn and these reviews (read on)!?!? Rated 1 out of 5 stars by uszoninyc on January 30, 2013 · permalink I don't the get point of this AddOn at all. The fact that this AddOn's got NOT a few, but MANY 'terrific,'5-star reviews makes me (even) leery. So, in a nutshell, this 'Session Manager' restores your browser ('windows & all,' as someone said) to it's pre-crash state. Well, guess what?WITHOUT Session Manager, your Firefox browser will DO IT ITSELF.Maybe you never bothered to look, but, right after a crash, you'll have one tab, which says 'do you want me to RESTORE (your browser) as it was.' It even gives you the option of WHICH tabs & windows to (not) restore. If you need tabs from BEFORE your last session - just look at your history - those tabs & windows are there. I write this review for a couple of reasons: The first, is the goal of everyone should be having a healthy browser, and by that, I mean a browser that does what you want/need it to, without adding excessive weight - which WILL slow your browser down. As this AddOn is extemporaneous, I cannot see what it's purpose is, other than to fall into 'unnecessary weight' category. The second reason for this review is the 'reviews' I see here (and elsewhere - Session Manager ISN"T the only AddOn with so many out-of-proportion 'glowing reviews'). This AddOn has many 'reviews' - and it's in parens just for that reason; I'm very dubious of these innocuous, irrelevant AddOns that SEEM TO be the 'best' whatever. If you're familiar with what people do with (book) reviews on Amazon, then you understand what I'm saying.Also, like Amazon, the reviewer DOESN'T have had to (in Amazon's case, buy the product) even have USED the AddOn to WRITE a review. In this AddOn's case, it seems all these 'reviwers' are applauding how great it is, but, they all seem to 'forget' Firefox DOES what this thing does. A word-to-the-wise: in this day & age, of everyone & their mother, not only having an opinion, but, having the ability to share it with the world, you should realise that unless YOU KNOW WHO a 'reviewer' (or ANYTHING in your life, for that matter), DON'T be so gullible to believe everything you hear. Nine times out of ten, it's NOT the truth, and the person doing the praising has an agenda, which ISN'T the same as yours (unless it IS your mom ;->).

Matthew G. Davidson
Matthew G. Davidson

Before I found the session manager extension for FF I was using Xmarks to save remote tabs just in case I lost some (this didn't work well at all). I now use session manager to save tabs every ten minutes or so....haven't lost any n the past year. Anyone know if you could save the session manager data on a Network Drive so all computers could access it (not all at once though). I also use tab tree style to organize all my tabs. It has some good customizations and also allows me more screen area (auto hide tab bar on right) and loads parents, children and sibling tab styles.

mcrin
mcrin

Absolutely need the Session Manager addon if you use the panorama tab groups...

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

that happened to me (an update to ImgBurn opened the browser), I changed my default browser back to IE. Yes, it's an extra step to open a link in Firefox, but it's better than losing my tabs. And I don't get blindsided because I forgot. Thanks for the info. I'll keep it handy and look for that session manager extension.

Yorkshirelad90
Yorkshirelad90

I used to suffer from the same problem until I discovered the session manager extension :-)

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

Firefox doesn't do that on my PC (Windows 7). If some random program activates it, I still see my previous session. Have you considered creating an additional FF Profile (or two)? Use one for your normal surfing and use the other for online help files, etc. [b]To start the FF Profile Manager[/b] In Windows Open the Start Menu and type: "[b]firefox.exe -P[/b]" (in the Search box, no quotes, remember the space) In Linux Open the Terminal and type: "[b]firefox -P[/b]" (no quotes, remember the space) If you want to be able to choose profiles when you start FF remember to uncheck "[b]Don't ask at startup[/b]".

Omnray
Omnray

> I admit I’m a tab hoarder, and that I probably need help. Check the TabsOutliner (Chrome extension) and stop wasting time on toys ; )

Yorkshirelad90
Yorkshirelad90

Yes, that first review is very poor, but if you look at the average star rating the story is somewhat different. I, for one, find it a very useful extension but if you want to manually recover your session that's up to you.