Stop Firefox from opening new tabs when clicking a link

An awkward bug with Firefox is that it at times, the browser repeatedly opens empty tabs or windows out of the blue. If it happens excessively, you might need to close and restart Firefox, however, in case you restore the previous session, all those empty tabs reopen again. So let us see how you can stop Firefox from opening new tabs when clicking a link.

Stop Firefox from opening new tabs

The cause of this bug is that the user might have chosen Firefox as the default program for certain actions like opening applications or emails as a result of a process in the system. Even if that process (eg. a third-party application) is running in the background, it might trigger Firefox tabs or windows to open.

While we can always close the redundant tabs and windows, it doesn’t solve the actual problem, which would keep reoccurring.

Try the following solutions one by one to resolve the issue:

1] Check for malware

While the above steps should solve the issue, some virus and malware are scripted to keep causing the issue no matter how hard you try to fix it. Thus, if nothing else works, please scan your system for virus and malware.

2] Start a new Firefox session

Whenever Firefox crashes unexpectedly, the previous sessions are restored when we restart the browser. If we kill the process when it was rapidly opening new tabs and windows, the browser would probably open all those surplus tabs when we restart it.Stop Firefox from opening new tabs when clicking a link

Depending on how the process was killed earlier, Firefox may or may not ask before restoring the sessions. If it does, we could choose to start a new session and if it does not, we could try to close Firefox normally.

However, this might not always be helpful. At times, we might not be able to close Firefox without killing the process and even if we start it normally once, it doesn’t help with the root of the problem. The issue is likely to reoccur.

3] Refresh Firefox

You could refresh Firefox and see. It restores the settings of the browser to factory default.

4] Changing the action for a content type

Since the issue is that the opening of new tabs and windows on Firefox is triggered by certain content in the system, by finding the content type that uses Firefox and changing the action, we might be able to resolve the issue.

  1. Click on the menu icon on the top-right corner of the screen and select Options.
  2. Scroll to the Applications section in the General tab. This shows a list of application and how Firefox responds to them. If you know the specific content type which is causing the issue, change its action to Always Ask.
  3. Should it be a long list, confusing enough of which content action to change, type the words “Use Firefox” in the Search bar. It will show all the content types for which the action is set to “Use Firefox.” Then, you could change the action for the problematic content.
  4. Repeat the same step after typing “Preview in Firefox” in the search bar.
  5. Close the about:preferences tab and it will save the changes.

Does this help?

4] Reset actions for all content types

As mentioned in the cause, we know that that the issue is with a problematic content. While we tried to change the action of problematic content in the previous step to ask before implementing the action, users might not always be able to figure out the problematic content. Furthermore, simply changing the action might not always help the cause.

Thus, we might need to manually delete the file which stores the settings.

  1. Click on the menu icon in the top-right corner of the browser followed by Help and the Troubleshooting Information.
  2. In the list under the Application Basics section, you would find the Profile Folder. Please click on Open folder.
  3. Close Firefox and then delete the file named handlers.json.

Restart the Firefox browser and it should solve the issue.

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Karan Khanna is a passionate Windows 10 user who loves troubleshooting Windows problems in specific and writing about Microsoft technologies in general.