I sometimes have quite a big range of tabs open in Firefox and I prefer it to save them to a file, rather then using the build-in bookmarks.

Therefore I (manually) copy the urls from the about:preferences page, save them to a file and process the file with: tr '|' '\n' in a little bash script.

Later when I want to reopen the tabs from the textfile I run this little loop:


# usage: $bash Open-tabs.sh file-with-bookmarks.txt

 while read -r line; do
     firefox -new-tab "$line" 2>/dev/null &
     sleep 2
 done < "$1"

and it opens all tabs with a delay of 2 seconds.

I would like to know if there is a way, I can read-out the urls of the opened tabs from the command line, so I could include it to my script?

4 Answers 4


this works for Firefox 57+. You'll need lz4 (via pip). The file header is gathered from the length of b'mozLz40\0'. Use an environment variable for the filepath if you want to use it in a oneliner, replace with \n and \t accordingly and merge lines.

export opentabs=$(find ~/.mozilla/firefox*/*.default/sessionstore-backups/recovery.jsonlz4);

python3 <<< $'import os, json, lz4.block
f = open(os.environ["opentabs"], "rb")
magic = f.read(8)
jdata = json.loads(lz4.block.decompress(f.read()).decode("utf-8"))
for win in jdata["windows"]:
    for tab in win["tabs"]:
        i = int(tab["index"]) - 1
        urls = tab["entries"][i]["url"]
  • 1
    To get the latest needed file from firefox : export opentabs=$(ls -t ~/.mozilla/firefox*/*/sessionstore-backups/recovery.jsonlz4 | sed q) Jan 4, 2018 at 0:26
  • Can you explain magic = f.read(8) ? You don't use magic var later. Jan 4, 2018 at 12:19
  • 1
    the first 8 bytes in recovery.jsonlz4 are part of mozillas custom file format - passing the length of the magic to read(8) causes the next read() within json.loads to continue after the header, making it a valid decompressable lz4 stream. For the reasoning to choose a custom file header, you can find more details in this github gist linking to the relevant firefox source.
    – wbob
    Jan 6, 2018 at 11:11
  • @wbob Now I get UnicodeDecodeError: 'utf-8' codec can't decode byte 0xf2 in position 12: invalid continuation byte, can you help ?
    – SebMa
    Jun 14, 2018 at 17:22
  • @Sebma I updated to lz4 2.0.0 and got the error too, your edit fixed it, thank you. I went ahead and merged the module imports
    – wbob
    Jun 20, 2018 at 19:25

Source(Changed file path) : Get all the open tabs

This snippet gets the current firefox tab url's. It uses the recovery.js[onlz4] file in your profile folder. That file is updated almost instantly, however it will not always be the correct url.

Get all the open tabs:

python -c '
import io, json, pathlib as p
fpath = next(iter(p.Path("~/.mozilla/firefox").expanduser().glob("*.default/sessionstore-backups/recovery.js*")))
with io.open(fpath, "rb") as fd:
    if fpath.suffix == ".jsonlz4":
        import lz4.block as lz4
        fd.read(8)  # b"mozLz40\0"
        jdata = json.loads(lz4.decompress(fd.read()).decode("utf-8"))
        jdata = json.load(fd)
    for win in jdata.get("windows"):
        for tab in win.get("tabs"):
            i = tab["index"] - 1
  • is it possible, the path on debian is ~/.mozilla/firefox/*.default/sessionstore-backups/recovery.js?
    – nath
    Aug 9, 2017 at 18:48
  • Yes sorry I edited the question with that but I forgot the sessionrestore-backups before recovery.js. Thank you for pointing it out. Edited Answer Aug 9, 2017 at 18:49
  • I always get Traceback (most recent call last): File "<stdin>", line 2, in <module> IOError: [Errno 2] No such file or directory: '~/.mozilla/firefox/*.default/sessionstore-backups/recovery.js' with cat I can read the file...
    – nath
    Aug 9, 2017 at 19:15
  • I edited the answer. copy and paste it, but instead of <username> add your username. Aug 9, 2017 at 19:17
  • Python probably does not understand the ~/ syntax being /home/<username>. Aug 9, 2017 at 19:19

Some of these answers reference the "[random chars].default" directory. Starting with version 67, users can have profiles for different update channels (e.g., release, beta, nightly, etc.).

On my Ubuntu 18 system, this directory was "[random chars].default-release". I still had a "[...].default" directory but it was mostly empty. Keep that in mind if you get an error that "sessionstore-backups" can't be found.


I recommend using https://github.com/balta2ar/brotab for this purpose:

pip install brotab
brotab install

Install the web extension as well: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/brotab/

Restart Firefox, and you can use brotab list and parse it as so:

bt list | awk -F'\t' '{
    print "Downloading "$2
    system("curl --silent --output \""$2"\" \""$3"\"")

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .