How to recover lost or closed tabs using the Firefox History tool

Firefox logo on an open laptop.

CNET

The world moves at a breakneck pace and every single day it seems to get faster and faster. Because of this, we all find ourselves working more quickly, which can sometimes be a serious detriment to our efficiency.

Case in point, Firefox tabs. How many times have you been working like a fiend, only to accidentally close a tab you were working on? Or maybe Firefox decided it was time to give up the ghost and when you finally get it to reopen, all of your tabs have vanished into the ether.

It happens. I’ve had it happen to me on several occasions. (My wife has it happen more often with Chrome.) No matter how careful you are, this issue will haunt you. Fortunately, there’s an easy way you can recover those tabs and it comes by way of your browser history.

I’m going to show you how you can recover those tabs, via the Firefox history feature.

But first, a small side task.

Connecting Firefox to your account

Before we do this, I would suggest you create a new Firefox account and connect all of your instances (mobile and desktop) to that account. Why? Because when you connect Firefox to a Firefox account, your history will sync across your devices. Thanks to that feature, you can access tabs that were opened on other devices, making the history tool even more powerful.

1. Create a Firefox account

For this, all you need to do is head over to the Firefox account page and sign up. Once you’ve created the account Firefox will automatically start syncing your History, Bookmarks, Open Tabs, Addresses, and Settings.

2. Customize the sync settings

You can always go to Settings > [ACCOUNT EMAIL] > Sync Settings (where [ACCOUNT EMAIL] is the email address you used to sign up for your Firefox Account), click Change, and select what you want to sync.

Make sure to do this for any instance of Firefox you have. I would, however, recommend against syncing logins and passwords as well as credit card information.

Recovering closed tabs

Now we get to the good stuff. Let’s say Firefox crashed and you lost your tabs. To reopen those tabs, all you have to do is click the Firefox menu button and go to History > Recently closed tabs. In the resulting menu, you’ll see a list of the tabs you’ve recently closed. Click on one of them to reopen it.

If you don’t find the tab you’re looking for, open the History pop-up and scroll through every listing until you see the tab you’re looking for. Click that entry and a new tab will open to that site or page.

To really get the most out of your history, click Settings > History > Manage History. In the resulting window, you can scan through your entire history going back beyond six months, search your history, and even use a tagging system to make the management of that history even easier.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to use my Firefox browser history to locate a lost tab. It’s not that Firefox crashes all the time (it doesn’t), but rather the speed at which I tend to work causes me to regularly close tabs that I need to use. Fortunately, I can work that way because I know the Firefox history tool has my back.

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