Firefox has a setting "Don't load tabs until selected" (see How do I make Firefox 13 Load All My Tabs on Startup or when Resuming Reload). I like that behaviour.

I am searching for a way to "deload"/deactivate a tab manually for a session (until I reload it).

It should stop all running JavaScript functions and plugins (like Flash). The whole webpage content may disappear until I reload/re-activate the tab, but that is not a requirement. The title has to be displayed as tab label (like it is the case with the startup setting, too).

The workaround would be to restart Firefox and don't switch to the tab I want to be deactivated. This is pretty annoying, of course.

EDIT: Here is what I found so far

  • You can pin it as an app tab as a work around, but you do realize you're effectively moving the bookmarks bar above the address bar right?
    – billc.cn
    Aug 13, 2012 at 23:00
  • 2
    UnloadTab appears to be back.
    – BrenBarn
    Jun 29, 2014 at 1:29
  • 1
  • @billc.cn yes that's that point. An intermediary step between bookmarks and current use. I use bookmarks for my long term memory and have no bookmark bar.
    – sinekonata
    Mar 4, 2019 at 16:26

11 Answers 11


In one of the links you referenced at Tab Utilities: Feature Request, there is already an answer from the developer (scroll down to comment no. 4) on how to do this. The answer is to:

  • Add the Restart Tab item to the context menu.

Why it's called "Restart Tab" and not "Unload Tab", I don't understand, but he says you can just change it if you want. Set:

  • extensions.tabutils.menu.context_restartTab.label to "Unload Tab".

By the way, at the moment it only works on tabs that are not selected/focussed. In other words, if you do "Restart Tab" on the currently open tab, it will just reload. You have to switch to another tab, then right-click on the tab you want to unload, and choose "Restart Tab".

Here are the instructions from the developer, I updated them a little:

  1. Set browser.sessionstore.max_concurrent_tabs to 0 in about:config. (BarTab Lite or Load Tabs Progressively extension should also work.) [ the above is outdated, in current versions of Firefox, go to preferences/options for Tabs, and check "Don't load tabs until selected". ]

  2. Unload tabs manually with Restart Tab or Restart All Tabs menuitem. [ first you have to make sure the "Restart Tab" item is added to the context menu, in Tab Utilities preferences/options -> Appearance -> Menus -> Tab Context Menu ]

  3. Unload tabs automatically after a specified period of inactivity with extensions.tabutils.restartAfter option (minutes).

  4. Tag bookmarks with "norestart" to make an auto-unload black list.

  • tab utilities actually doesn't exist anymore on the app store, so this comment hardly seems like a valid answer anymore...
    – anarcat
    Sep 29, 2023 at 4:51

A workaround: Force the tab to reload using CTRL+F5 and stop it quickly (using the cross in the URL bar). It may leave you with a blank page (or almost blank) which consumes little resources.

  • A great temporary 'do not disturb' for Discord :D Oct 29, 2018 at 20:40
  • 2
    You can use the ESC key to stop a tab from loading, if you want a full keyboard variant.
    – leokhorn
    Jan 30, 2019 at 10:02
  • This actually still works. That is a really great hack! :D
    – hochl
    Jun 23, 2021 at 9:51
  • Another, more reliable alternative: Ctrl+w (close tab), Ctrl+Shift+T (reopen last closed tab) and immediately press Escape. Reason: For html only pages, you need wait until the exact moment when the remote server has been connected to but the data is still in the process of loading. For very small pages with decent internet speed, this can be near impossible. By closing the tab, this can be circumvented. Another workaround would be to open up dev tools, select the Network tab and throttle the connection speed, e.g. "Good 3G" and try with that setting.
    – phil294
    Jun 30, 2023 at 18:20

All Tabs Helper and Auto Unload Tab do this, among other things.

  • Auto Unload Tab works well for me and is being maintained it appears. Thanks!
    – dbasch
    Apr 4, 2016 at 8:13

As of December 2018 the Auto Tab Discard addon appears to be a great option.

The source code is available at https://github.com/rNeomy/auto-tab-discard.

  • 1
    not only is it a great option, it's actually a recommended extension now! definitely worth checking out!
    – anarcat
    Sep 29, 2023 at 4:50

There is the extension BarTab Lite X. This is a light extension. Its feature for unloading tab works with recent Firefoxes.

However, better check that unloaded tabs don't mess up Firefox' session restore.



New (Sept 2019) solution that seems to get around the issues that killed earlier addons that provided this feature.


One option would be to use built in Task Manager. If can be accessed from application menu More tools > Task Manager or by pressing SHIFT+ESC. It lists all the tabs along with memory and CPU usage. You can press X button next to each tab to unload that tab.

Official support page: https://mzl.la/3zFKujy


If you have e10s enabled, taskkill /f /im plugin-container.exe or your OS equivalent is a pretty easy solution.

Firefox will think the content process has crashed, but that is wrong.

Clicking on a tab will reload it.


I was searching for a why to freeze the current state of a tab, so maybe these two addons might be helpful for you too:

Freeze, Tab Suspender

Discard tab

"Unloading" was announced by a users comment, and searching that let to these results:

Unload tab (experimental, exactly what you wish, set on a state like on startup)

Unload tabs (all, or all but current)


I can recommend the Add-On 'Tab unloader'.
It seems to work well (so far, I only installed it 2 hours ago).


Firefox provides the about:unloads page for information about memory-freeing tab-unloading priorities. You can use this page to free them in that order.

Depending on your use case, because the priority is given, it may be viable to unload all [you don't need], or unload what you haven't opened the longest.

Unfortunately, it does not allow you to unload a specific, self-chosen tab.

To open the Tab Unloading page enter about:unloads in the address bar and press enter.

Screenshot of Firefox Tab Unloading page

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