How to Fix: Disable Firefox Top Sites, Recommended by Pocket, Highlights

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Shirley S. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

Recently my Firefox upgraded to version 61 and now when I open a new tab, I see 'Top Sites', 'Recommended by Pocket', and 'Highlights'. I find this intrusive because the Highlights section displays sites or web searches I've previously visited or searched for. Previously I had Firefox set to open a blank tab but no longer works. I have looked through Firefox preferences but I don't see an option for a blank tab. Can you help? "

My response:

I am in the same boat as you - I don't like seeing my previous activity, nor "web suggestions" displayed whenever I open a new tab. There used to be a way to edit Firefox's internal preferences (using about:config -> newtab -> browser.newtab.url), but that option got removed from Firefox as far back as version 41.

How to Fix: Disable Firefox Top Sites, Recommended by Pocket, Highlights

After researching this a bit more I found a Firefox plugin called "Blank New Tab" which does exactly what it says - makes a blank page display when you open a new tab. No editing of about:config required - just download and install the Blank New Tab URL are you are good to go.

The "Top Sites", "Recommended by Pocket" and "Highlights" will no longer be displayed and you get to keep your privacy.

I hope that helps!

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About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of Infopackets.com. With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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Comments

cliovincent's picture

Dear Shirley and Dennis, there is no need to install a plugin for this: the option can be found under Options – Home – New tabs.

doulosg's picture

I sort of agree with cliovincent, although I find a gear icon right on the new tab page, and it has a choice of "Show your top sites" or "Show blank page."

Although cliovincent didn't mention a version number, mine is 52.9.0 (32-bit), on the "esr" update channel. Since Firefox regularly offers me updates that I install, I would presume that I am up-to-date. But v52 is quite distant from v61. Maybe this is something that you (Dennis) can shed some light on.

dan_2160's picture

As cliovincent noted, you can easily get new tabs to open "blank" or on the Firefox home page -- just go into Options, choose Home, and then "New Tabs" where you have a choice of Firefox Home (default) and blank.

This is in the current version of Firefox 61.0.1. And for those still clinging to the wonderful ol' pre-Quantum Firefox (like through the ESR channel), you really have little to fear from the new Firefox. While the switch over takes a bit of time if you have a lot of extensions to replace, many of the customizations you love can be replicated via a CSS file you can tweak. See these articles:
ghacks.net/2017/11/13/customize-firefox-57-with-css/
https://github.com/Aris-t2/CustomCSSforFx
The CustomSS file really works.

There is also a site that puts you together with extensions that work in FF57+ that replace many of those you may have been using before Quantum (starts with FF 57):
https://mozilla.github.io/extension-finder/

trbruce_9594's picture

I discovered in the top right hand corner above each section three dots ... and when I clicked on them got the option to remove that section, seems to work well and very simple.

sytruck_8413's picture

This works if you want to just delete a few. Otherwise that's bunch of mouse clicks as each one asks for confirmation.

The gear icon takes you directly to the options page.

trbruce_9594's picture

It took out the complete section of Highlights with only two mouse clicks and the same for Top posts

sytruck_8413's picture

I missed those three... Thanks.

sirpaultoo's picture

For FxQ, I prefer the extension 'New Tab Override', where you have the options of a blank tab, a custom URL (HTTP or HTTPS), or a local file (HTML) - along with the background color and focus.