Nanoman.ca

Nanoman's Company Support

These pages are intended to be referenced by customers of Nanoman's Company. Visitors are welcome to reference these pages, but our support for you may be limited.

Guides

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox is an excellent web browser that can be downloaded for free from Mozilla's website:

https://www.mozilla.org/en-CA/firefox/all/#product-desktop-esr

Unfortunately, we and most of our customers dislike several of the default settings in Firefox. Fortunately, all these settings can be changed relatively easily.

This page contains procedures for changing Firefox's default configuration, and it also includes our rationale for making these changes. You may ignore our "Rationale" lines if these don't interest you, but please read every step when following these instructions, and please contact us if you find any problems.

The information on this page was written for configuring Mozilla Firefox version 79.0 as it would normally be configured by Nanoman's Company. Most of this will probably continue to apply for later versions, but your results may vary.

With the release of each new version of Firefox, we consider revising this page, but we don't always do so. We review this page before each large deployment, and/or when we notice problems or significant changes in Firefox, but we're currently unable to justify more frequent reviews/revisions.

Firefox Installation

The procedure for installing software on a computer can vary drastically from one computer to another. Many thousands of different computer configurations have been deployed by our company and others, so we're not going to attempt to describe how to install Firefox on any computer. If you don't know how to install software on your computer, then please contact your IT provider.

Nanoman's Company has installed Mozilla Firefox on every PC that we've deployed since 2004. If your PC's current operating system was installed by us from 2004 to present, then unless somebody has removed it, you should already have Firefox installed.

Firefox Preferences

After Firefox is installed, we recommend changing several settings by following these steps:

  1. Open Mozilla Firefox.
  2. Assuming you're not using Apple macOS, press Alt+V to open the "View" menu, and then select "Toolbars" -> "Menu Bar" to enable the menu bar.

    Rationale: It's very easy to ask a customer to access something from a menu that has a word for a name, whereas it's very tedious -- and sometimes frustrating for them -- to ask them to find Firefox's menu button and then navigate its submenus. Also, our customers consistently complain when they can't find the menu bar to access a function that's accessible through it, whereas we've never heard a customer say that they don't want to see Firefox's menu bar.

  3. Enable the Bookmarks toolbar by going to "View" menu -> "Toolbars" -> "Bookmarks Toolbar".

    Rationale: Many of our customers use this, and none of our customers have ever told us that they don't want it.

  4. Open the "Firefox Preferences" screen. Where you find this depends on your operating system:
    Operating SystemLocation
    Apple macOS"Firefox" menu -> "Preferences"
    FreeBSD"Edit" menu -> "Preferences"
    Microsoft Windows"Tools" menu -> "Options"
    OpenBSD"Edit" menu -> "Preferences"
    TrueOS"Edit" menu -> "Preferences"
    Xubuntu"Edit" menu -> "Preferences"
  5. On the "General" tab, scroll down to the "Language and Appearance" section, and under "Language", click the "Choose" button.
  6. If "English (Canada) [en-ca]" isn't the top language on the list, then click the "Select a language to add" select box, select the "English (Canada) [en-ca]" option, and then click the "Add" button.

    Rationale: Most of our customers use Canadian English primarily.

  7. Click the "OK" button to close the "Webpage Language Settings" window.
  8. Scroll down to the "Files and Applications" section, and under "Downloads", put a check in the radio checkbox beside "Always ask you where to save files".

    Rationale: No customer has ever told us that they don't want to be asked where their downloaded files should be saved, but we've had many complaints from customers who didn't know where these files were going.

  9. Scroll down further, and if you see a section named "Digital Rights Management (DRM) Content", put a check in the checkbox beside "Play DRM-controlled content".

    Rationale: We'd strongly prefer not to do this, but an unfortunate number of websites are imposing this on our customers, and we want to reduce the probability of customer problem reports. The ideal solution would be for the developers of these websites to use non-DRM content, but very few of our customers have the time or the motivation to convince these developers to make such changes.

  10. Go to the "Home" tab.
  11. Under "New Windows and Tabs", beside "Homepage and new windows", change the select box from "Firefox Home (Default)" to "Custom URLs".

    Rationale: Most of our customers want something else to appear when they open their web browsers, and we consider it much easier to find and change this setting when the "Paste a URL" box is visible.

  12. In the "Paste a URL" box (the text box below "Custom URLs"), type the URL of whatever page you'd prefer to be displayed when Firefox opens. If you're not sure what URL to use, try "https://news.google.ca/" or "https://www.google.ca/".

    Rationale: This isn't intended to be an endorsement of Google or their services, but these are the two most popular choices among our customers. You're free to use whatever you want, and this setting may be changed at any time.

  13. Under "Firefox Home Content", uncheck the checkboxes beside "Top Sites", "Highlights", and "Snippets".

    Rationale: No customer has ever told us that they want to see any of these when they open a new tab, but we've had many complaints from customers who saw links to pages from their browser history that they didn't want displayed there.

  14. Go to the "Search" tab.
  15. Under "Search Bar", put a check in the radio checkbox beside "Add search bar in toolbar".

    Rationale: We consider the search bar to be one of Firefox's best features. With this, you can have both a URL (in the address bar) and a search query (in the search bar) being displayed simultaneously in one browser window. This also allows you to revise search queries without having to go back potentially many pages to the initial search results page that would presumably show the search query.

  16. Scroll down to "Search Suggestions", and uncheck the checkbox beside "Show search suggestions in address bar results".

    Rationale: We and many of our customers frequently use the address bar to search through our browser histories, and we don't want it to show anything else when we're doing such searches.

  17. Scroll down to "One-Click Search Engines", and uncheck the checkbox beside "Bing".

    Rationale: We ended the last of our support for Microsoft products on 2010-01-01. Many of our customers have tried Microsoft Bing and shared their thoughts of it with us, and all these customers told us that they dislike it.

  18. Go to the "Privacy & Security" tab.
  19. Scroll down to "History", and change "Firefox will" from "Remember history" to "Use custom settings for history".

    Rationale: This makes it easier to find these settings that we and many of our customers prefer to adjust.

  20. Scroll down to the "Firefox Data Collection and Use" section.
  21. Uncheck the checkbox beside "Allow Firefox to send technical and interaction data to Mozilla".

    Rationale: Firefox may attempt do this anonymously, but it adds the potential for something to go wrong.

  22. Uncheck the checkbox beside "Allow Firefox to install and run studies".

    Rationale: These are capable of causing problems, and they make us uncomfortable from security and privacy perspectives.

  23. Open a new tab.
  24. In the address bar, enter "about:config".
  25. At the "Proceed with Caution" screen, click the "Accept the Risk and Continue" button.
  26. Search for "browser.aboutwelcome.enabled", and double-click the word "true" until it changes to "false".

    Rationale: This prevents the "Welcome to Firefox" section of "Firefox Home" from being displayed when new tabs are opened. We're quite confident that all our customers open new tabs to go to a URL, to do a search, or to do something other than learn about Firefox.

  27. Search for "extensions.pocket.enabled", and double-click the word "true" until it changes to "false".

    Rationale: This disables Firefox's built-in "Pocket" extension. We're quite confident that none of our customers use this, and it occupies space in the address bar and elsewhere.

  28. Search for "identity.fxaccounts.enabled", and double-click the word "true" until it changes to "false".

    Rationale: This disables Firefox Sync. Most of our customers don't trust "clouds".

  29. Search for "reader.parse-on-load.enabled", and double-click the word "true" until it changes to "false".

    Rationale: This disables the "Toggle reader view" icon that often appears in the address bar. We don't use this, and we don't believe that any of our customers use or want it either, so we remove it to reduce the number of unnecessary things that appear on our screens.

  30. Search for "whatsnew", and beside "browser.messaging-system.whatsNewPanel.enabled", "devtools.whatsnew.enabled", and "devtools.whatsnew.feature-enabled", double-click each of the three instances of the word "false" until they each change to "true".

    Rationale: This should disable the "What's New" alerts that sometimes appear when Firefox is updated from one version to another. While we like to keep up-to-date regarding such matters, very few of our customers do, this isn't how we or our customers want to be informed of such changes. Also, we often receive complaints from customers who see things appear on their screens that they weren't expecting.

  31. Search for "browser.disableResetPrompt", and then click the "Add" button.

    Rationale: This disables the "Refresh Firefox" prompt that appears when Firefox thinks that it hasn't been opened in at least sixty days. "Refresh Firefox" is indended to clean out obsolete leftover elements from older versions, but in our experience, it often removes things that our customers actually need.

  32. Close the Firefox window.

    Rationale: With Firefox Sync disabled, the "Firefox Account" icon in the top-right corner of the Firefox window shouldn't appear when a new Firefox window is opened, but it will continue to be displayed in the window that disabled it. Also, if you want to test if the browser's homepage will open as expected when the browser is opened, then you should close it first.

Firefox Add-ons

Mozilla Firefox comes with almost all the functionality that our customers require, but it's missing some functionality that's important to some/all of our customers. Fortunately, Firefox has a large selection of add-ons that are able to provide this functionality.

These are some Firefox add-ons that we recommend considering:

uBlock Origin
uBlock Origin is a filter that helps block advertisements and other generally unwanted content. Mozilla Firefox comes with a lot of really good privacy protection features built-in, and this add-on helps improve these. For most of our customers, this works really well.
When enabled, uBlock Origin displays a red shield icon in the top-right corner of the Firefox window. When it blocks unwanted content, the blocked content count appears as a number superimposed over its red shield icon.
When content filters like uBlock Origin are enabled, a minority of poorly designed websites won't function the way that their developers intended. If a user discovers that forms and/or other website content won't work as expected, then it's possible that they're trying to use one of these poorly designed websites. A user can work around such problems by temporarily disabling their content filters, but we very strongly recommend that they don't do so unless they trust the website that they're trying to use.
uBlock Origin can be disabled for a website by going to the website, clicking the red shield icon, and then clicking the blue "Click to disable uBlock for this site" button. This will turn the red shield icon into a grey shield. uBlock Origin can be re-enabled for that website by clicking the grey shield icon, and then clicking the grey "Click to enable uBlock Origin for this site" button.
We very strongly recommend this add-on. We've been installing this by default almost every time we've deployed or serviced Firefox since 2014.
NoScript Security Suite
NoScript Security Suite is a content filter like uBlock Origin, but it's much more aggressive. This add-on blocks JavaScript, Adobe Flash, and other types of content that can be used for automated violations of security and/or privacy. We highly recommend this add-on for users who require strong protections, but most users may find that this makes many websites unusable, so we generally don't install this by default.
We recognize that most people want convenience, but if you're serious about protecting your privacy and/or security, then you should expect inconveniences. Many websites won't work as expected without JavaScript and other types of content that this add-on was designed to block, so most people would find this unacceptable, but others would consider this part of the cost of their security and/or privacy.
If you're knowledgeable about the technical intricacies of your browsing habits, and if you don't mind having to manually adjust this add-on's settings for potentially every website you visit, then this add-on will probably work really well for you. If not, then you'll probably want to stick with Firefox's built-in protections and those provided by uBlock Origin.

Installing Firefox add-ons is pretty straightforward:

  1. Open Mozilla Firefox.
  2. Go to "Tools" menu -> "Add-ons".
  3. Go to the "Extensions" tab.
  4. In the search box beside "Find more extensions", enter the add-on's name.
  5. On the search results page, click the name of the add-on that you want to install.
  6. Click the "Add to Firefox" button.
  7. When asked if you want to add the add-on, click the "Add" button.
  8. In the pop-up box telling you that the add-on has been added to Firefox, consider putting a check in the checkbox beside "Allow this extension to run in Private Windows", and then click the "Okay, Got It" button.

    Rationale: If the add-on you're installing is intended to protect your security or privacy, then you should probably check this. Customers of ours who aren't sure how to respond are welcome to contact us for advice.

  9. If the add-on requires Firefox to be restarted before the add-on may be used, then close Firefox, and open it again.

Removed Features

While we generally like most of the changes that are made to Mozilla Firefox by its developers, sometimes features are removed that we and/or our customers wanted to keep. The functionality of these features can be provided by Firefox add-ons, but these features used to be built-in, and we disagree with the decisions to remove them completely.

Option for Download History Retention
Before version 20.0, Mozilla Firefox had a built-in option that allowed users to have successfully completed downloads removed automatically from their download history. This meant that the only files displayed in Firefox's "Downloads" window were those that were still downloading, or that failed to download without error.
Since version 20.0, the option to retain download history has been merged into the option to retain browser history. This means that if you set Firefox to not retain your download history, then it will also not retain your browser history.
We and the vast majority of our customer find our browser history to be very useful, but because we pay attention to where we download files, we have no need for successfully completed downloads to always appear in Firefox's "Downloads" window. When we look at the "Downloads" window, we do so to see the status of incomplete downloads, not to see a list of files that have already downloaded successfully.
We realize that we can clear our download history by clicking the "Clear Downloads" button, but this clears all downloads that are no longer in progress, including downloads that failed. Depending on the number of files listed, it could take a very long time to carefully review each listing to see whether or not it downloaded successfully.
Our understanding is that Firefox's developers made this change primarily to avoid alienating users who feel overwhelmed when many options are available, but this option was practically hidden in a place where such users would probably never look, and its removal has caused problems for us. Firefox has add-ons available that can restore this feature, but this feature used to be built-in, and we want it back.
Efficient Selection of Search Bar's Default Engine
Before version 43.0, you could change Mozilla Firefox's search bar's engine by clicking the current engine's icon in the search bar, and then clicking the icon of the desired alternative in the pull-down menu that appeared. For us and those of our customers who frequently need to do several searches at a time from an alternative search engine, this was very efficient, and we considered it to be one of Firefox's best features. We typically used this feature several times daily, and several of our customers did too.
There are many scenarios where this feature was great to have, and one common example was the usage of online dictionaries. If you needed to look up several words from an online dictionary, then with only two clicks (or one click and drag), you could change the search bar's search engine to that of an online dictionary. You'd enter the words into the search bar, and when you were finished, you could restore your preferred default search engine using the same method that you used to change it to the alternative.
Since version 43.0, the procedure for changing the search bar's engine has become more complex. To do so now, you need to either change it using Firefox's "Preferences" screen ("Edit" menu -> "Preferences"; "Search" tab; "Default Search Engine" select box; select an option; click the search bar), or using your keyboard (Ctrl+K to put the keyboard cursor in the search bar; Ctrl+Up or Ctrl+Down to cycle between the various search options). The "Preferences" method requires at least six clicks (or about four if you click and drag), and the keyboard method can be cumbersome if you have many search engine links installed. There's a third option where you begin typing your query into the search bar, right click the desired alternative under "This time, search with", and then select "Set as Default Search Engine", but this isn't as efficient as the removed method, and it doesn't let you undo this change until the search bar's pull-down display is opened again.
Another problem with this change is that the search bar won't include autocomplete from alternative search engines when your intention is to use one for your search. While you're typing your search query, you'll see search suggestions from your default search engine, but you won't see search suggestions from an alternative unless you make it the default. For example, with the search bar set to use a general Internet search engine by default, if you wanted to use a specific company's search engine to do a search for a product model number that probably wouldn't have been indexed by a general Internet search engine, then the search suggestions you'd see while entering your query probably wouldn't be helpful for you.
We don't know why Firefox's developers made this change, but we think it was due to the majority of users who didn't use this feature, and who'd unwittingly change their search bar's settings without knowing how to revert it to their preferred search engine. We had several calls from customers who were in this situation, but zero such calls since Firefox version 43.0.
One thing that we really like about the changed search bar is that it's practical for scenarios where you need to use an alternative search engine only once at a time. After you type your query, you can click the alternative under "This time, search with", and the alternative will be queried accordingly, but it won't become the new default. It won't let you set the alternative before you begin typing your query, and it won't display search suggestions from the alternative, so it's not ideal, but we often don't need to query an alternative engine more than once at a time.
We believe that Firefox should have a disabled-by-default option for restoring the search bar's engine selection pull-down menu that was removed in version 43.0. When enabled, the magnifying glass icon in the search bar would be replaced with the default search engine's icon, and the default search engine's icon would function as a pull-down menu like it did before version 43.0. We don't believe that this should be enabled by default because we don't want to alienate users who would change their search bar's engine unwittingly, but we really want the ability to have this feature again.