How-To Geek

When to Use Protect Tab vs Lock Tab in Firefox

One of the best extensions for Firefox is Tab Mix Plus because of the enhancements to the tab browsing that can’t be found elsewhere. There is also another extension called tab browser extensions that provides similar functionality.

There are two options that provide similar but possibly confusing functionality. You can see in the screenshot below the Protect Tab and Lock Tab on the menu.


Here’s when you should use each feature:

Protect Tab

  • If you want to make sure that a tab cannot be closed. This is useful to make certain you don’t accidentally close a tab.

Lock Tab

  • A lock tab cannot navigate to a new URL. This means that it is “locked” on the current URL. If you have this tab selected and you click a bookmark link, history, or a link on the page, the link will open in a new tab.

You can also combine the two on a single tab. For instance, I both lock and protect my Google Reader tab, which I always keep as the first tab so I can quickly switch back to it.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/6/06

Comments (30)

  1. babaz

    AWESOME TIP! this is what exactly wht i needed and once again google did it – tnx

  2. Khan

    thnx! i really needed this info!

  3. Victor

    Thnx !!!! very useful tip, it doesn’t appear in firefox’s help

  4. Solomon Broad

    Excellent tip. Thanks. :)

  5. Ry

    There is a keyboard shortcut for lock tab which i stumbled upon accidentally one day a while ago. But now i cant remember it and cant find it anywhere online. Anyone know this?

  6. Ry

    Oops forgot to subsrcibe.

  7. The Geek

    Shift + click on the tab will lock it, and alt+click will protect it.

  8. Ry

    Thanks Mr Geek, you rock!

    No wonder i couldn’t work out what i did, i must have sat their for at least half an hour scouring google and trying every keyboard combination imaginable. At least i found a couple of keyboard shortcuts i didnt know like windows key + L which locks the computer, instead of having to go ctrl+alt+del then enter…

  9. bunnyhero

    aha, thank you! yeah, using two very similar terms for these menu items isn’t such a good idea IMHO. maybe something a little more verbose like “protect tab from closing” and “lock tab URL” would be more helpful.. perhaps i will suggest to the developer.

  10. Jared

    And if you want to make your locked tabs smaller, use Faviconize Tab (

  11. rye

    I also want the function like Win+L, which means to ask for a password when tab activated.

  12. nick

    I do the same with Gmail. But, I prefer to use this extension,

    The difference is this extension will keep tabs locked between sessions (even if your session wasn’t saved), and also gives permanent tabs a different color.

  13. James

    Good to know, but Stumble Upon ignores the “Lock” and opens the next site in the current tab.

  14. shamess

    Oh, I’ve always wondered what those two options did. Totally didn’t realise till I needed them :)

  15. Joe

    Yahoo toolbar also ignores the lock option.

  16. hoscha

    great yeah – you plus google – great team

  17. Jim

    This site is SOOOOO helpful…Thanks…

  18. norbiq

    Funny, I couldn’t find any explanation of ‘lock tab’ and ‘protect tab’ functionality on Firefox and Tab Mix Plus sites :] It turns out I really need them :D Thanks a bunch for your help!

  19. Luis Arteaga

    I have spent one hour trying to figure out how to protect or lock single tabs using firefox for osx.
    I can only lock or freeze all tabs or non at all. I have tried protecting and locking tabs in the tab context and main contest menus but nothing works.

    I would very much appreciate your help


  20. jiang han

    awesome trick, i’ve been searching this for ages! Thank you bro!

  21. Clicker

    Hey guys, quick question, can i still navigate through tabs as easily and freely, especially the lock options similar to crazybrowser. im running on mac and finding it difficult to find this option

  22. ken

    Useful tip, thanks!

  23. Eric

    Thanks for this. This is exactly what I was looking for.

  24. Orlando

    You can now freeze tabs with Tab Mix Plus. Protect and lock with a single right click or mouse gesture on the tab bar.

  25. Bill Gates

    It sucks really. If you both protect and lock say a forum to follow a thread in real time (you keep refreshing) when the thread flips over to the next page of posts it opens in a new tab. Useless . . .

  26. Exaskryz

    “Good to know, but Stumble Upon ignores the “Lock” and opens the next site in the current tab.”

    I don’t use SU, but if it’s how I think it is, it doesn’t try to load a URL but reloads the page itself through javascript. That may be the reason why.

  27. Orlando

    Tab Mix Plus might not work with Forums and freeze option, there is a Tabloc add-on for Firefox but I haven’t tried it. I’m keeping Tab Mix Plus. if it doesn’t work it’s not the end of the world.

  28. Tomcat

    I love this doc, which describe the lock and protect clearly.

  29. RoamingChile

    Thank you so much for explaining. Have used Tab Mix Plus but hadn’t found need to lock or protect until I started using app tabs. Thanks again.

  30. jim


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