The recent Firefox 89 update overhauls the browser’s desktop interface and introduces several welcome quality of life tweaks and expanded data privacy protections. Mozilla based the updated interface on user data and feedback, so hopefully the majority of users will be pleased with the changes. That said, even if you dig the new look, things have been rearranged and removed—and a few new settings added—so it might take some getting used to.
To help you with the transition, we’ll go over all the updates in Firefox 89 you need to know about. To try these new features yourself, install the latest Firefox update by going to Settings > General > Firefox Updates > Check for updates on desktop, or you can download the latest installer from the official Firefox downloads page.
Explore Firefox 89’s new tab bar
Firefox 89’s biggest UI changes are to how tabs appear in the browser and how websites behave while they’re hanging out in the background.
Open tabs now “float” about the URL bar, each one its own individual rectangle. While tabs look different, they still behave the same way: You can click and drag open tabs to rearrange their order or drag them outside of the tab bar to open a website in a new Firefox window. Mozilla has added new icons to indicate when a tab is playing audio, and the browser now automatically pauses auto-playing media if you open a link in a new background tab. (Yes, even annoying auto-playing video ads.)
You can now change certain tab and window functions—such as always swapping to newly-opened tabs by default—under Settings > General > Tabs and Settings > Home > New Windows and Tabs. There is also a “Personalize” button on the new tab page that lets you customize what you see if you open a fresh tab.
Other UI changes in Firefox 89
Mozilla has also streamlined Firefox’s main toolbar. The navigation buttons have been pared down to just back, forward, and page refresh, and the “meatball” three-dot settings button has been removed, leaving the three-lined “hamburger” button in the upper-right of the app as the primary way to open the settings.
Similarly, Firefox now consolidates browser notifications into a single pop-up “panel.” Instead of getting individual pop-ups each time the Zoom website asks to access your mic, webcam, and other permissions, they will appear in a single box.
Firefox 89’s Total Cookie Protection in private browsing mode
While the interface changes are the standout updates, the browser has also received a small, but welcome, privacy boost: The Total Cookie Protection setting now works in private browsing mode, preventing websites you have open in private tabs from tracking you even when you’re browsing other pages at the same time. That off-site protection will work in private windows by default as long as Total Cookie Protection is enabled under Settings > Privacy & Security > Enhanced Tracking Protection.