Firefox 66 is out today, and the latest version of the web browser includes a bunch of new features including support for Windows Hello authentication (so you can login to websites using a fingerprint, facial recognition, or a PIN, basic support for the macOS Touch Bar, and the number of processes used to render web pages had been doubled (from four to eight), which should help reduce crashes.

But the features that you’re most likely to notice are the ones designed to make web surfing a little less annoying.

First up, starting next week you’ll be able to use the Block Autoplay feature to prevent audio and video from playing when you visit sites where they would normally start automatically.

You’ll still be able to click the video to play it on demand. And in some cases you may find videos that continue to play automatically, but you won’t hear sound.

Meanwhile, you’ll be able to whitelist websites like Netflix and YouTube where you probably want videos to play automatically, particularly if you’re queuing up a playlist and want new videos to begin as soon as the previous one ends.

Another new feature is “scroll anchoring.”

When you visit websites with ads (like the one you’re reading right now), the ads often load after other content on the page… and that sometimes means that you’ll start reading a page only to notice the text and images suddenly jump downward to make room for an ad at the top of the screen.

Scroll anchoring won’t prevent that if you’re looking at the top of a web page. But if you’ve already scrolled down a bit by the time an ad loads at the top of the page (where you cannot see it because you’ve already scrolled past it), nothing on the page will move. When you scroll all the way up, the ad will be there, but you don’t have to worry about page content getting moved around.

The feature isn’t limited to ads — it should help keep the page from jumping whenever fresh content loads. But I suspect the most common cause of this annoying behavior is advertising.

Google Chrome has supported scroll anchoring for a few years, but it’s a welcome addition to Firefox.

Another new feature is improved multi-tab search. Firefox already lets you search across all the tabs on a PC by using a % in the URL/search bar. But now you can also search all open tabs on all your devices if you’re signed in with Firefox Sync. There’s also support for searching from the tab overflow menu if you have a bunch of tabs open.

Or at least that’s the theory. In practice, I find that using a % in a search only seems to let me find currently-open tabs with a string of text in the page title. It doesn’t seem to search page content. Your results may vary.

You can read more about new features in Firefox 66 at the Mozilla Blog or in the release notes.

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4 replies on “Firefox 66 blocks auto-playing audio, improves multi-tab search, and more”

  1. 20 years late, so firefox sleeps has been sleeping with corporate interests too for 2 decades. yep.. so easy to implement but they just wanted you to suffer all these years.

  2. I am glad to hear this as both issues have been annoying to me for a while. I remember looking for options nearly two years ago on blocking autoplay. There have been methods to deal with that, but it sounds like these new features should improve things and be easier to control for people.

    Scroll anchoring sounds like a welcome addition. This one site I go to called Liliputing has been pretty bad at times, especially in the last few months, when it comes to advertisements shifting the page while I was reading something. It seemed to usually be Apple ads — add that to the long list of things I hate about Apple. The feature is one I’ve been hoping they’d add to Firefox, so this sounds like a great update, at least on those issues.

    1. Yeah, I’ll be honest – when I went to check and see if scroll anchoring works, the site I tested it on was this one.

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