Home > firefox, python > Firefox: restore your lost tabs

Firefox: restore your lost tabs

Over the last 1.5-2 years, I collected 700+ tabs in my Firefox :) Maybe this summer I will have some time to sort them out. However, today when I switched my computer on, all my tabs were gone and I got a clean Firefox instance with one tab only. Hmm… I had a similar problem once and then I installed an add-on called “Session Manager”. In this add-on I made the setting to offer the list of previous sessions upon restart but it didn’t do anything! Damn, how to get back my tab collection?

In the .mozilla directory there is a file called sessionstore.js that stores — among others — the opened tabs. However, this file was very small, my previous tabs were clearly not in it. Thank God there was a backup copy of this file next to it called sessionstore.bak. It was a big file and the timestamp of the file indicated that it was created 2 days ago when everything was OK with my tabs.

So, how to extract the old tabs from sessionstore.bak?

This is a JSON file, but it’s not pretty printed. I suggest copying this file to somewhere else where you can experiment with it. First, let’s make it readable:

$ python -m json.tool sessionstore.bak > session.json

Now you can open session.json with a text editor. You will find lines with a “url” key, but the number of these rows is huge. I had 731 tabs (that I lost) but this file contained 6500+ URLs. As I noticed, it also contains the URLs of closed tabs. How to extract the URLs of the opened tabs only?

Again, Python came to my rescue. After analyzing the structure of this JSON file, I could extract the tab URLs the following way:

$ python  # version 2.7
>>> import json
>>> f = open('session.json')  # input file
>>> g = open('tabs.txt', 'w')  # output file
>>> d = json.load(f)
>>> tabs = d["windows"][0]["tabs"]
>>> cnt = 0
>>> for t in tabs:
...     print >>g, t["entries"][0]["url"]
...     cnt += 1
>>> cnt
731    # Yeah! All of them are here!
>>> g.close()
>>> f.close()

The URLs of the lost tabs are now in the tabs.txt file.

I didn’t make a script of it but feel free to do it. From now on I will make regular backups of my opened tabs with the URL Lister add-on.

Categories: firefox, python Tags: , , , ,
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