Microsoft is testing a new feature in its Edge web browser currently that enables users to pause extensions on specific sites.
The description of the feature may remind some users of Google Chrome’s option to restrict extension access, but it is in fact different. First, because Chrome’s feature is also available in other Chromium-based browsers, including Microsoft Edge. Second, because Microsoft’s implementation pauses access temporarily only.
The feature is A-B tested currently, but the specifics are unclear. I checked on two devices, one did not have the option in Edge Canary, the other did. The main difference between the two was that more extensions were installed on the second system.
A click on the Extension icon in the main Edge toolbar and the selection of the three-dots menu displays the new option, if available. It reads “Pause extensions on this site”, and when you activate it, will do exactly that. All extensions are paused and the site is reloaded automatically. Note that there is no option to customize this; you can’t pause one or a few extensions; it is all or nothing at this point.
Microsoft Edge displays a reminder at the top after the page has reloaded: “Extensions are paused on this site. We’ve paused extensions on this site to keep your data sharing minimal”.
The description reveals Microsoft’s main intention: to limit data sharing. Users may have other reasons, including to overcome compatibility issues on a specific site.
A reload does not change the status in regards to extensions, as they remain paused on the site. A restart of the browser is not changing the pause status either. A click on the extension management icon displays a resume extensions button. Activating it restores extension use on the site. A reload completes the process.
Microsoft Edge Canary comes with a second extension pausing preference. It is enabled by default, unlike the user-facing option, and will pause extensions automatically on sensitive sites.
The option is listed on edge://settings/privacy under Security.
Microsoft reveals that the option turns off extensions on sensitive banking and payment sites, but does not provide specifics. I tried several banking and payment sites, including Bank of America, PayPal and also regional sites, and extensions were paused only on some automatically. An option to add sites to the list manually is missing, but the front-facing setting to pause extensions is available that may be used for that purpose. Still, an option to manage a list of sites would certainly be welcome.
The ability to pause extensions on some sites serves two main purposes: to disable data sending on sites for privacy purposes, and to resolve compatibility issues. The feature is in testing at the moment and it is possible that it will never be introduced in stable versions of the Microsoft Edge web browser.
Now You: pausing extensions, is that a feature that you would use? (via Leopeva64)