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Containerizing the browser

Updated: Jan 9, 2022

This post contains surprisingly little about the technical side of my job, but right now I am at a stage where being able to produce without being hindered by small annoyances is of utmost importance.

As I work in consulting, my job consists of sketching cloud solutions for many customers. By now I have over one hundred credentials within Nimtech, customer, and test orgs. Productivity is key, and instead of using incognito windows to work, I use Firefox. I'll tell you why if you have more than one place to log on to, using Firefox Containers will revolutionize the way you segregate your workspace.

Firefox Containers

FF Containers came about when Firefox wanted to give you the choice of protecting your privacy, by isolating and encapsulating your session somehow. They released the Firefox Multi-Account Containers in late 2017.

Using the container extension (Check out the Github repo here) each container stores cookies separately, so that you can log into the same site with different accounts and credentials.

No more needing to log off, create incognito-windows, or create several browser profiles. Just use the same window with multiple container-tabs!

The issue

I mentioned incognito windows, which work for the purpose, but it's not a scalable solution. What if you want to log on to Customer 2 or 3? Do you exit the incognito window and create anew? What if your purpose is to simply divide your business life from your personal life? I've seen some create profiles in Chrome or whatever is your favorite browser, but that also scales badly and requires you to start several new browser windows, while we all love tabs.

With that said, SessionBox delivers almost the same functionality, but it's obviously not built into the browser (and costs money).

Everyone loves tabs - Sun Tzu

Tabs have existed since 1998 (popularized in 2002-2003), and going back to window-based browsing would mean to go back in time.

Ironically, my screenshot below, shows each container in its own window, but I assure you, it's only to show the separate containers I've created for this blogpost.

Combined in a single window, you have a colour-coded containerized-logins heaven, as shown here with all 7 containerized tabs in a single window. If I open a new tab within one of these, they will open in the same container in the new tab!

Getting started with containers

When you first install this extension on Firefox, you will see it on the top right side, where generally all extensions go:

Clicking on the button, a menu with containers will show up. By default you will have some pre-made containers named Personal, Work, Banking, and Shopping:

For me, as a consultant, I like to create a container per customer, and that's it. You can either start a new container from the container button, or and more efficiently, right-click on the new tab button and your containers are automagically presented in the browser itself:

If you are used to CTRL+T for new tab, then I would advise you to use CTRL+ . (period) to bring the dropdown menu, and then either tab or arrow keys to choose the correct container.

You can also use CTRL + SHIFT + 1 to 9 to choose a specific container you've customized in the extension:

Also Facebook..

In 2020, Firefox released the Facebook Container extension which specifically and automatically puts Facebook in a container. With this extension, every time you try to go to your tab will automatically close and reopen as a facebook-container-tab:

This way, you could separate your Facebook browsing from other parts of your life online, such as banking, work, or personal browsing. In addition, it makes it harder for Facebook to log your every move online.

Why not google?

If you search for a Google container there is no official extension for containerizing Google. I believe this is because Google pays Mozilla (the foundation behind Firefox) to be the default search engine on Firefox to the tune of ~500 million dollars yearly.

You could download the unofficial Google Container extension from here or check the github repo here

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