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New tab shows browsing history

  • 20 replies
  • 40 have this problem
  • Last reply by rulatir

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Hi, I have a thing that's been bugging me for a while. I have Firefox locked down pretty tight. Do not track, no browser history stored and no cookies etc etc.

HOWEVER, whenever I open a new tab I get the blocks of "previously visited websites to chose from" with some sites I have visited in the past (though not all) even though I'm basically running in private mode all the time. I can go to the security settings and select "clear history" and they go away and I get blank boxes again. But every time it builds up and they come back. How do I stop this from happening? Because clearly it's saving my browsing history somewhere, somehow even though I'm asking it not to.

Any help would be appreciated.

All Replies (20)

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See this article about the New Tab page (about:newtab):

You can create these Boolean prefs on the about:config page if you want to disable the thumbnails on the about:newtab page.

  • name: browser.pagethumbnails.capturing_disabled with value: true
  • name: pageThumbs.enabled with value: false

You may need to delete the thumbnails folder in the Firefox profile folder to remove already stored icons.

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Hi there, thanks for that. But does this actually stop the information from being stored? Obviously it stops it being displayed. But I want to make sure that the information isn't being stored somewhere that I'm unaware of and just isn't being displayed. Otherwise "private" browsing isn't very private. :)

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Creating those prefs will no longer make Firefox create thumbnails even if the about:newtab page isn't used.
You would still have history unless you use Private Browsing mode, so you get empty squares with only the URL ,but with no thumbnails.

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That seems a bit backwards. I have "Never save history" set under the privacy tab in settings, but you're telling me that Firefox does still save history with that set unless I use the more restrictive "private browsing" mode?

I get the blank icons with just URLs now. I want it to never save the URLS either.

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No, Firefox doesn't save history if you use PB mode (never remember history) and shouldn't create thumbnails as well in this case (no disk cache used).

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Then this is a problem. Because I have "Never save history" selected in my settings (see attached picture) But I'm still getting (blank) boxes on the new tab page that contain URLs of pages I have visited that persist between re-starts of firefox. So it's clearly saving some history somewhere.

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I'll quickly add that these URLs on the new tab window go away when I click "clear all current history"

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If you open a New Private Window then Firefox won't store history and other data from this window, but this won't effect history data that is already stored and you need to remove that yourself.

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So, what you're saying is that the "never remember history" button under privacy doesn't actually do anything useful?

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Never remember history (permanent PB mode: i.e. all Firefox tabs/windows are in PB mode) does what it says and no session data is stored on disk.
This doesn't meant that you won't see data in Firefox.

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Sorry, not trying to be difficult here but that makes no sense. If I select "Never remember history" (permanent PB mode) then I expect no history to be kept of any type or stored to disk. Yet. Even with this saved if I browse some sites and then exit and re-open Firefox (completely new session) I see some of those previously viewed sites in the "new tab" past viewed sites pane.

This says to me that the software IS storing my browsing history (either mistakenly or on purpose) somewhere if it can retrieve and display this information.

This information can only be cleared by going to preferences and selecting "Clear browsing history". Which then clears these links. Something which I imagined it should not be storing (again it must be to disk between sessions) in the first place.

Is my thinking wrong here?

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I don't know if you ever got your question answered. It's seems that cor-el didn't understand your dilemma. I have had the VERY same issue and was looking for an answer when I found this thread. Firefox IS holding and tracking history EVEN in private mode. I don't know where or how but I finally tracked down the way to disable the new tab history issue.

Click Here

Or just:

In the Location bar, type "about:config" and press Enter: [without quotes]

Type "browser.newtab.url" in the search box: [without quotes]

Double-click the browser.newtab.url preference and change the url from about:newtab to about:blank.

Click OK and close the about:config tab.

That at very least prevents the history from being shown in a new tab window.

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Firefox should remove the history of pages visited in Private Browsing mode once you leave PB mode.
When you are in PB mode then Firefox stores such data in memory, but doesn't store it to disk.

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I suppose it should, but it isn't. That's why I was having the same exact situation that Kailoi was having. No matter how private I was setting my preferences to, the new tab would always show a history despite having 'never remember history' and 'never accept cookies' selected. It seems Firefox IS saving a history somewhere regardless of the settings.

The fix that I posted will disable that loophole but I don't think it is actually getting rid of the history. It just won't show it like before.

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So, if you leave PB mode then you still have pages in the history that you have visited in PB mode?

Problems with bookmarks and history not working properly can be caused by a corrupted places.sqlite database file.

You can check for problems with the places.sqlite database file in the Firefox profile folder.

Note that extensions also can cause problems if they do not support PB mode properly.

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So, yea.. I tracked down what the problem is. There is a plugin that allows you to save flash content from various sites (youtube etc) the stuff appearing in the new tabs history squares was _only_ content I saved using that plugin. It seems that it circumnavigates firefoxes "private browsing" mode somehow and saves it's DL history as Browsing history regardless of the browsing mode settings. What you've suggested does stop it showing. But it's still saved. The only thing I've found to reliably stop it from happening is to not use that plugin or go to "delete all history" after using it. I have emailed the plugins author but had no response.

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What plugin is causing it. I suppose I must have the same one.

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I experienced this problem because of DownloadHelper.

Modified by dattrowaway

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For me it was "Flash Video Downloader" But other people seem to be experiencing it with other Video downloaders. I emailed the author. I suggest others do the same.

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The whole "record what pages the user is viewing and TELL EVERYONE EVERY TIME THE USER PRESSES CTRL+T" thing is a miscarriage of a feature. It should be done away with completely, without an option to re-enable it. Speed dial content should be *explicitly* controlled by the user. This is how Opera (the inventor of speed dial) does it, and this is the only right way.

edited by a moderator

Modified by the-edmeister