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Resolve Firefox Slow Startup

With the speed improvements introduced in Firefox 54 through better multithreading support, I wanted to see if I could switch back to using it as my default browser, from Vivaldi. Indeed it does seem a lot better at handling situations where I have tens/hundreds of tabs open, and perhaps a Youtube video playing in the background in one or two of them.

The Problem

Unfortunately, it still suffers from a much slower startup than other popular browsers (chrome), especially after installing all the addons which make Firefox is great. However, spawning a new Firefox window is incredibly quick if you already have another window open, even if that window is minimized, because the Firefox process is already running. I wanted to see if there was a way I could use this to my advantage by keeping the Firefox process running in the background, but without the need to manually make sure there was always one window open and taking up a slot on my application/window-bar.

The Solution

The Firetray addon lets you do just that. By default, it will close and minimize all your Firefox windows to the tray instead of your application bar. However this can be changed so that it will only handle closed windows, and only the last closed window. This has many advantages:

  • Launching the Firefox application from your application launcher of choice is super-fast because there is always a Firefox process running in the background.
  • You can always restore your last closed window if you realized it had something open you needed.
  • You no longer have to take that extra step of confirming you want to close a window with multiple tabs.
  • Open/minimized windows and closing windows acts exactly the same as before as far as your application/windows-bar/dock is concerned.

To change the addons's settings, go to Tools > Add-ons and then click preferences on the Firetray addon.

You will see the default settings below:

Change them to:


With these changes made, I have managed to stick with switching back to Firefox, even if I have noticed that it is still slower at handling some sites that make heavy use of AngularJS. I think the real solution there to optimize these pages a bit.

Last updated: 23rd December 2020
First published: 16th August 2018