Firefox 57 to Kill Many Addons: Tab Groups Alternative

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Jean K. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

Recently my Firefox web browser updated to version 56.0.2. When I go Tools -> Add-ons, I see most of my addons are marked as 'Legacy'. I read online that when Firefox 57 is released, it will use 'web extensions,' (also spelt "WebExtensions") which will make the current addons incompatible. This is a big problem! I have been using the 'Tab Groups' addon by Quicksaver for a while now (which groups my web browser tabs into categories) and cannot imagine life without this incredibly helpful addon. Unfortunately the developer of Tab Groups says he will not port the current programming code to the new web extensions format. Can I use an old version of Firefox to keep the Tab Groups working, or is this a security issue? "

My response:

I also use Tab Groups for Firefox and agree it is an excellent addon. In the past I have tried using Chrome (with its plethora of addons) but could not find anything similar to Tab Groups with its ability to sort tabs according to category and ease of use / layout, etc.

Firefox Tab Groups Alternative (Add-on)

I researched your question in depth and here is what I found:

1. The developer of Tab Groups has put his programming code onto Github (a place where developers share their code with the world), so that it may be picked up by another developer and converted using the web extensions format. You may be waiting a long time for this to happen for a number of reasons - one being that the web extensions format makes it incredibly difficult to port the code.

2. You can use Firefox 52 ESR (extended support release), which is compatible with Tab Groups. According to Mozilla, Firefox 52 ESR will be supported until March 6, 2018, at which point it will be replaced with Firefox 59 ESR. At this point Tab Groups will be incompatible.

3. While researching 'Tab Group alternatives', I came across a post which suggested using "Vivaldi" web browser. This is a new web browser, which natively supports "Tab Stacking", somewhat similar to Tab Groups. I installed Vivaldi and tested this functionality, but it does not let you name the "stacks" (groups), so this is disappointing. That said, Vivaldi is built on Chrome which means that Chrome addons are compatible, which means there are a ton of extensions readily available. Whether or not there is a Chrome addon that would allow you to categorize groups of tabs in the same way as Tab Groups did is yet to be seen (and perhaps unlikely, since the idea of "tab stacking" is unique to Vivaldi).

4. I have downloaded SeaMonkey browser (which is based on the older Firefox interface), but Tab Groups is not compatible.

5. There are other addons somewhat similar to Tab Groups for Firefox, such as "Simplified Tab Groups" by Dennis Schubert, but it is currently not compatible with the web extensions format. The author did indicate that the extension was "not dead yet", so there may be some hope.

I hope that helps.

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Slick's picture

Try Pale Moon browser based on older Firefox releases. It has Two Add-ons for Tab Grouping: Tab Group Switch and Tab Groups Helper.

Dennis Faas's picture

According to the author, it is not compatible either.

foxcliffe's picture

Actually, if you return to take another look at Vivaldi, check out speed dial options on the new tab page. Tabs under speed dial can be sorted into folders - tab groups by any other name - and opened as a group or drilled down to open individually. They can also be stored or sorted within the speed dial folders in Vivaldi's bookmark manager at any time including, through the history manager, after the page has been closed.

Unlike tabgroups, speed dial will also allow folders within folders. Again unlike tabgroups, because they are displayed with every new tab, each speed dial folder can be opened as a separate new window without fear of losing other 'tabgroups' when closing the wrong window first.

Whilst I have only 53 tabs stored in there at the moment (given that I didn't import my Firefox tabs when I left the sinking ship), there doesn't seem to be any indication of a limit.