How to fix Firefox’s stupid “new tab” page grid of random websites

Firefox … ah, how we love watching you make terrible usability decisions, and then force them upon your users!

FF now has this ridiculous page – WHICH YOU CANNOT DISABLE in Firefox settings:

Fixing it

Since it’s not supported as an user-configurable option, you have to open the magic low-level settings page. Type this into your web browser, as if you were visiting a new website:

about:config

You’ll get a list of settings, and a search bar. In the search bar, type:

newtabpage

You’ll get something like this:

…double-click the “browser.newtabpage.enabled” line until it says “false” in the final column. This will probably make it go bold:

…et voila! You’re back to a normal web-browser. Like you’ve been used to, all these years…

Why Firefox was stupid to add this “magic” page, in my opinion

For those that are interested, here’s why I’m scathing about this page:

Most of all … because it actually breaks Firefox’s core feature (searching using Google).

That’s just downright stupid. How come no-one noticed this? Why on earth did they ship something that breaks the core web-browser functionality? I have no idea. Google’s Chrome team must be delighted when stuff like this happens – it just drives more and more people to stop using Firefox.

  1. While this page is enabled, Google searches from the Search bar … hang every time for me
    • You have to hit the Search button twice – or wait several seconds before pressing it (the first click is accepted, but Firefox bugs mean it can’t actually load the page)
    • I’m guessing this is because the browser is unable to “load a new page” until the grid page has finished loading? Anything I do before the “grid tiles” have finished appearing gets ignored
  2. Random webpages from your history are thrown up on screen
    • Have fun explaining to a new client why you have their competitor’s website open on your browser during a meeting
    • It’s pretty, but it’s not even useful. For most of us, when we open a new tab, chances are we’re about to visit Google. Firefox has spent 10+ years training people to do exactly this!

3 thoughts on “How to fix Firefox’s stupid “new tab” page grid of random websites

  1. Hillwaaa

    Doesn’t clicking the grid of 9 small grey boxes in the top right of the screen also disable the new tab page feature?

    I agree about the random pages though – I got several that were news stories I only ever visited once, shown over sites that I visit once per day.

  2. adam Post author

    That button didnt appear for me.

    Also it occurred to me: … in Firefox settings, I’d selected “new tab is blank page” … and this “feature” is clearly overriding the user setting!

  3. Kurt

    I switched from FF to Chrome a year ago, and I don’t miss it. I’m also trying the switch from Thunderbird to Mail, and so far it seems much better looking and more reliable.

    Mozilla seriously need a UX designer. I have a lot of respect for the browser tech, but the UI smells of open source programmer design.

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