HideTab lets you cloak embarrassing tabs quickly

The latest version of Firefox has many useful privacy features, but none of them gives you a "panic button" for when someone sees you looking at something you shouldn't be looking at. This extension fixes that.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read

Besides blazing fast JavaScript benchmarks, privacy mode is the big new feature in modern browsers. The latest version of Firefox includes many privacy enhancements that can keep others from seeing what you've been up to while online. But what if a friend, family member, or boss wants to borrow and/or look at something on your computer? How do you play it cool and hide tabs you don't want them to see?

Developer Diego Ruiz has come up with a solution called HideTab that does just that. You can very quickly hide one or all open tabs with a keyboard shortcut or right-click contextual menu. This means the tabs can't be seen both along the top of your browser, and in the list of open sites. Instead, you can only see what you've hidden in a small, and subtle pop-up menu that sits in the bottom-right-hand corner of your browser. There's also a keyboard shortcut that restores all of the tabs you've hidden.

HideTab lets you hide certain tabs one at a time, or all at once in case someone comes by when you're looking at something you don't want them to see. CNET

One thing to keep in mind is that hidden tabs still continue to run in the background, which means if you're watching a video or listening to music it's going to keep playing. Hopefully a future version will provide the option to mute the audio from any tabs that are hidden.

Beyond privacy, this add-on can be a useful tool for leaning down the number of tabs you want to see. I regularly do tasks in my browser that involve hopping around to a few specific tabs, and sometimes it's nice to hone down to just those few without transferring them to a new window or doing a lot of reorganizing.

HideTab is an experimental extension, which means there may be a few bugs that have not been worked out prior to its review by the Mozilla community.

Related: How to hide your tracks at work