How to Remove Firefox Top Sites and Highlights From Desktop and Mobile

Although Firefox has been a blast to use after the Firefox Quantum rebranding, there’s nothing like huge, ugly, and distracting thumbnails populating each new tab to make you wanna switch browsers.

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Use Firefox for some time, and you’d be surprised at the amount of clutter that builds up within the New Tab page. Even with Pocket recommendations turned off, you still have Top Sites and Highlights occupying the entire screen!

What They Do

Both the Top Sites and Highlights sections on the New Tab page function very similarly. The former displays whatever sites that you visit frequently, while the latter shows a mix of both recently visited and bookmarked sites. 

In essence, they are meant to facilitate easy access to your favorite sites, but in reality, the thumbnails are overly large and a mess to use.

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Fortunately, both sections can be switched off immediately on desktop. However, the procedure is a little confusing on mobile, but still easily doable.

Now before you go ahead and completely disable Top Sites and Highlights, it's worth knowing that you can manually delete individual sites from showing up on screen as well. Really, there's no reason to not have access to easy shortcuts just ‘cos you hate the thumbnail of a particular site, right?

Deleting Individual Items

Both the desktop and mobile versions of Firefox let you instantly remove unwanted items from both the Top Sites and Highlights sections. Let’s see how.

Desktop

On desktop, simply click the circle-shaped Ellipsis icon that shows up whenever you hover over a listed item. On the context menu that shows up, click Dismiss to make the thumbnail disappear.

However, it may still show up after a while. If you don't want that, click Delete From History instead to delete the thumbnail permanently.

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Mobile

On mobile, it’s just a matter of performing a long-press on any unwanted item and selecting either Remove or Delete From History — the former hides listings temporarily, while the latter removes them permanently.

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Note: Clearing your browsing data also removes all recently accessed sites from Top Sites and Highlights. However, any bookmarked pages displayed within Highlights aren't affected.

Turning Them Off Completely

Completely turning off both Top Sites and Highlights is fast and straightforward on desktop, but on Android and iOS, you need to dig a little more and know what you are doing, especially when disabling Highlights.

Desktop

Step 1: On your PC or Mac, open a new tab and click the gear-shaped icon to the right of the screen. 

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Step 2: Uncheck the boxes next to Top Sites and Highlights, and then click Done to instantly disable both features from the New Tab page.

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Cool Tip: To get rid of even more clutter on new tabs, also consider unchecking the Snippets box. Doing that removes various news releases regarding Firefox — some of them may be useful, but distracting nevertheless.

Android

Step 1: Tap Settings on the Firefox menu, and then tap General.

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Step 2: Tap Home, and then tap Top Sites.

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Step 3: On the Top Sites pop-up, tap Hide to disable Top Sites.

Next, disable the switches next to Recent Bookmarks and Visited to turn off Highlights.

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Pretty strange that Highlights doesn't have its own dedicated option, and you should also find the iOS version of Firefox to be similar in that regards.

iOS

Step 1: On the Firefox menu, tap Settings.

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Step 2: On the subsequent screen, tap New Tab.

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Step 3: Switch off both Recent Bookmarks and Visited to disable Highlights. Proceed by tapping Show Your Top Sites.

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Step 4: Tap Show a Blank Page on the following screen to disable Top Sites.

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Note: Switching off Recent Bookmarks on Android and iOS has no impact on the actual bookmarking functionalities of Firefox.

Too Many Distractions, Mozilla!

Mozilla has really gone overboard with various New Tab page recommendations and it's just plain ridiculous. They should’ve opted for a cleaner approach and toned things down a lot. But with big corporations such as Mozilla, you never really know, right?

And what’s the deal with Highlights on mobile? That should’ve been a pretty straightforward option to switch on or off. Talk about user-friendly developers!

So, what are your thoughts on this clutter-fest? 

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Dilum Senevirathne has written about tech and finance for over five years. When he isn’t messing around with the latest iOS apps, you can catch him tweaking a collection of IoT gadgets. Dilum is a management accounting student and a prospective charterholder.