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Is there anything in the current Firefox 3.x similar to shift-esc in Google Chrome?

There is something that occasionally takes up enough CPU to make Firefox unresponsive - but with multiple windows, each with a dozen or so tabs open, trial & error is going to take a while.


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No, there is no way to natively do this. I won't post an answer though because there might be some third-party solution. –  Sasha Chedygov Jan 31 '11 at 0:34
I found this via google, it's a plugin. addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/bartab ...Makes it so (supposedly) the tab doesn't use resources until you click on it and are actively viewing it. From the user comments it may not work exactly as advertised, and apparently in firefox4 this is native behavior without the plugin. Personally I'd try ff4 if you aren't already. –  CreeDorofl Mar 27 '11 at 21:27
Firefox doesn’t use separate processes for each tab and plugin like Chrome does, so it has no reason to have a task-manager like Chrome’s. –  Synetech Aug 27 '11 at 3:48
You should really consider to upgrade, development is already at 10.x... –  Tom Wijsman Nov 26 '11 at 8:38
@Tom: I was current when this question was asked :) –  chris Nov 26 '11 at 19:50

6 Answers 6

about:memory shows Firefox's memory usage details. There's also a button on that page that allows you to minimize memory usage.

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Obviously it's not the same as CPU usage, but in my experience they're very often correlated. After killing the biggest memory-hogging tab, CPU usage & lagginess often drop noticeably. –  ytpete Aug 22 '13 at 4:16
Obviously it’s not the same as CPU usage, but in my experience they're very often correlated. @ytpete, then you frequent a narrow subset of webpages because there is absolutely no reason that they would necessarily be linked. It’s simple enough to have a 1KB webpage that has JavaScript with an infinite loop and thus 100% CPU load and another with 100MB of images that uses no CPU. –  Synetech Nov 15 '13 at 3:24
about:memory shows Firefox's memory usage details. There's also a button on that page that allows you to minimize memory usage. Does that page have CPU load information? If not, then what does this have to do with the question asked? This “answer” should be a comment, not an answer. –  Synetech Nov 15 '13 at 3:25
This worked great for me. While it's true that a small Javascript loop can hit the CPU without using memory, that's not what what most webpage scripts are doing -- they are making remote calls, updating and manipulating the DOM, getting invoked by plugins (like Flash), etc. All these things can result in increased memory usage (especially if the page is slowly leaking objects). I found the culprit tab, closed it, used the Minimize Memory button, and Firefox was running smooth. Thanks again! –  Nick May 9 '14 at 17:02
Well mate, it seems to me this question is about CPU usage, not memory... –  Luís de Sousa Jul 5 '14 at 18:33

Firefox 16 should introduce proper built-in profiler at last.

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Unfortunately the asker is using Firefox 3.x. :( –  dangowans Sep 16 '12 at 22:28
I'll settle for any version of firefox :) –  chris Mar 3 '13 at 16:19

The first likely culprit is Flash. Kill Flash - now.

Then it may be rogue Javascript code. Firefox's Javascript Deobfuscator extention lets you watch the count of Javascript function calls :

It is not a measure of CPU usage, but a close enough proxy : find the function with a runwaway number of calls and you will likely have caught the culprit.

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By using Flashblock and Nevercrash, you go a long way into blocking Flash or tabs, preventing CPU waste instead of tracking it. This holds, but less, for memory too. Shutting down the Internet for a while also works during the time you don't need it ;-)
Firefox fragments virtual memory so much that it's using an excessive amount of real memory (there is too much unused virtual memory in real memory). One needs to periodically stop and restart Firefox with the same pages. That will defragment its memory and the whole system will run faster by reducing the swapping.
On my Ubuntu system, real memory usage slowly climbs up to 98%. Then it's time to stop Firefox and restart it: it will then use less than 1MB of real memory instead of 3MB. The same holds for Thunderbird..

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Do you have Flashblock or NoScript installed? Especially if not, I'd try to look into the flash-heavy tabs first. I've also seen lots of eBay tabs grind Firefox to a halt, albeit that was a while back (when I was actually using eBay).

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Yes to both, as well as ad-block plus. But there's still something that's periodically using CPU. –  chris Jan 31 '11 at 19:16
Then my next thought would be JavaScript-heavy sites that you allow through NoScript. –  farfromhome Jan 31 '11 at 19:38

The following answer to another question may help you. The answer is written by the user "accolade".

XUL Profiler is an awesome extension that can point out extensions and client side JS gone bananas CPU-wise. It does not work on a per-tab basis, but per-script (or so). You can normally relate those .js scripts to your tabs or extensions by hand.

It is also worth mentioning that Google Chrome has built-in a really good task manager that gives memory and CPU usage per tab, extension and plugin.

Let me add some more info to accolade's answer. As of January 2012, the latest version of XUL Profiler is 1.0.4, released December 2008. It's only certified compatible with Firefox 2.0 - 3.6.*. So it clearly needs a new maintainer.

I wonder if there's any way to force the extension to work on newer Firefox versions.

Also, I wonder if it works well to downgrade Firefox temporarily in order to use XUL Profiler with your existing tabs on a certified-compatible Firefox version.

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