My varied types of Firefox windows

July 24, 2020

When I wrote about what I want out of my window manager, I mentioned that I have a plethora of Firefox windows, generally iconified to my desktop. This may sound like things are out of control (and in a way they are), but there is some method to my madness. I actually have a number of different sorts of Firefox windows.

In no particular order, I have Firefox windows for:

  • things that I'm actively working on or using. These are the windows that are most likely to be open, instead of iconified; I tend to iconify them only if I'm running out of space.

  • things that I'm relatively actively reading. I'm one of those people who gets distracted or just doesn't want to read one thing for too long (and sometimes I get interrupted), so I tend to have several things that I'm reading through at any given time.

  • things that I refresh and look at on a regular basis, either temporarily or on a regular basis. Now that I'm writing this, I've realized that I should shift some of these to my browser start page, because that's part of what it's there for.

  • things that I'm holding around as references for other things I'm doing. In theory these aren't permanent; in practice, sometimes the other thing falls down my priority list and its reference windows wind up sitting around for a long time.

    A related category is web pages I'm going to mention in email, a Wandering Thoughts entry, or something like that; here I have the web page still around as a way of both keeping its URL and reminding me of it.

  • things that I have aspirations of reading (or getting to) but in practice I'm not going to get to any time soon, or perhaps ever. This includes things that I've stopped being that interested in (but I can't admit it to myself and close the window), and things that I feel I should be interested in but, well, I'll read them later, someday.

Sometimes these windows have multiple tabs; this is especially common for references and things I'm actively working on.

I can't pile all of these different types of windows together in one clump (such as a bunch of tabs in a single window), even sorted by title, because I need to keep what type of window they are straight. Right now I keep track of that primarily based on where each window is iconified on my screen; some areas and some arrangements are for one purpose, other arrangements and areas are for others.

Some of these (the 'aspirations of reading' windows) could be dealt with better if I had a good way to archive a window and list and track my archived windows. This would probably take a Firefox addon; the ideal one would archive the entire window state (what Firefox currently saves in its session store, that's used to restore all your windows when restarting Firefox) and be able to completely return it to life, as if I'd never closed that window and all its tabs.

(Right now I have a little local HTML file where I sort of do this by hand. You can guess how often this happens, and it just has URLs and titles (and the date when I put them there), so it's less convenient than 'just give me the window back'.)

Some method to group and then de-group specific Firefox windows on demand would also help, because then I could have a group for each sort of thing and put windows into it that I'm not actively looking at right now. I'm not sure if I'd want this to be the same 'archive' mechanism as for things I don't expect to look at for some time, because that would probably put these other web pages a bit too far out of my mind. That probably means it's not something that should be done by Firefox but instead by my window manager somehow.

(It's quite possible that there are some good Firefox addons for dealing with this sort of thing. I haven't looked into the area very much, or even really thought about what might be possible to do inside Firefox.)


Comments on this page:

By Todd at 2020-07-25 15:27:15:

Things I worry about when I keep a bunch of tabs open:

  • they're all taking up some amount of memory, even if not used
  • when I click on the tab and Firefox starts loading it up, it doesn't just restore the tab as-was, it loads it anew
By Manek Dubash at 2020-07-26 12:30:01:

Try Tab Groups - there's a couple of addons for that. I have a similar general tab arrangement to you but just one window with multiple groups.

Manek

Written on 24 July 2020.
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