Private browsing mode keeps our online activity discrete and protects us from being tracked by online services, search engines, social networks, tracking ads et al. If you’re a Firefox user, you probably know about its Private Browsing feature already. Though there’s one annoying issue with this – Firefox can’t run a normal browsing session and a private one simultaneously. Chrome however, does let you have an normal window and an Incognito window side by side. Private Tab is a Firefox add-on that beats out this Chrome feature; it not only allows you to run normal and private browsing sessions at the same time, but also lets you have normal and private browsing tabs open in the same window! If this sounds too good to be true, you should know there is a small a catch: Private Tab will work in Firefox 20 or higher only and if you’re currently using the stable Firefox version, you will have to wait a while.
Private Tab adds a ‘New Private Tab’ option to the Firefox menu. Clicking it will open a new private tab in your current browser window, though you can also use the Ctrl+Alt+P shortcut to open one.
When you switch to the private tab, the Firefox button will turn purple, visually indicates that this tab is a private one. If you hover your mouse over the tab itself, you will notice the title becoming underlined, and the tooltip that pops up also indicating that it’s a private tab. You can also drag the private tab out and back into the same or any other window, and it will remain a private tab.
Private Tab will also let you right-click any link on a web page and open it in a private tab. The great thing about this is that you can run two separate browsing sessions in the same window without having to switch between different browser windows for the purpose. For example if you are signed in to Facebook in a normal tab and open Facebook in the private tab, it will ask you to sign in separately, thus letting you browse Facebook as two different users from the same window. Dismissing the occasional need to hide our browsing history, this add-on can be very helpful for developers and designers alike as well.
As far as any additional features are concerned, it would be a great idea to add a more obvious indication of a tab’s browsing state to the tab itself. The underlined title is somewhat hard to see; perhaps if the tabs turned purple (or any color other than the default), they would be easier to spot. Lastly, a sorting option to make all private tabs open at the end of the row of normal tabs would be a good addition.
Private Tab works flawlessly and as stated before, is one step ahead of what Chrome’s Incognito mode lets you do.
If you liked this add-on, you might also want to check out MultiplaceHolder for multiple tab selection and management in Firefox.