Newsletter Archives

  • How to manage your browser cookies


    Lance Whitney

    By Lance Whitney

    Browser cookies can be helpful or harmful, depending on how and why they’re used in your browser. The key lies in taking control of them.

    You probably already know that Web browsers use cookies to save certain information. Over the years, cookies have developed a bad rep because many websites and advertisers use them to track your online activities for the purpose of sending you ads and other targeted content.

    But cookies can also help you by storing key details at websites that you frequently use. The trick here is knowing which cookies are good and which are bad, and how to manage them in general.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.16.0, 2023-04-17).

  • New format to Firefox annoying you?

    I’ve seen several people ask about this so I’ll showcase the workaround here from AskVG and thePlannerGuy:

    Planner guy said:

    Firefox 91 – You can still maintain the look and feel of the classic Firefox interface in Firefox 91 and do not have to resort to the ESR versions. I don’t pretend this is for the faint of heart, but I’m not a programmer at all and was able to make this work.

    First make a complete backup of your Firefox profile before attempting this. If it fails, you’ll want to restore this profile.

    Locate your profile folder
    Click the menu button, click Help and select More Troubleshooting Information. The Troubleshooting Information tab will open. Under the Application Basics section next to Profile Folder, click Open Folder. Your profile folder will open.


    (Note this is just a sample from my computer – your profile name info will be different)

    Backing up your profile
    To back up your profile, first close Firefox if it is open and then copy the profile folder to another location. Locate your profile folder, as explained above. Close Firefox (if open): Click the Firefox menu and select Exit.     Go to one level above your profile’s folder, i.e. to %APPDATA%\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\ Right-click on your profile folder (e.g. xxxxxxxx.default), and select Copy. Right-click the backup location (e.g. a USB-stick or a blank CD-RW disc), and select Paste.

    Go up one folder and copy the folder to another location

    Just go to where you can click on the link “Classic.”

    There you can download the “userchrome.css” file (or use the one I’ve uploaded to this posting – just change the file name to userchrome.css). Unfortunately, you can’t just download the file (why make it easy for us?). You’ll need to paint and copy the entire file to a text file on your computer — and name the file userchrome.css. If you replace the userchrome.css file in your Firefox profile with this one, you can restore the classic Firefox interface.  (Or you can download the stylesheet from the ASKvg site extract it to your computer and copy and paste as noted below)

    Note: This assumes that you have already set up this custom style sheet option before, if not, merely download the file from the ASKvg post linked here.  Unzip it and you’ll need it in the next step. Find your profile folder as shown above. Right mouse click on new and make a new folder called chrome if there isn’t one there already.

     Copy the userChrome.css under this folder

     Next you will need to you must go into about:config and set “toolkit.legacyUserProfileCustomizations.stylesheets” to “true” to enable these customizations. If you don’t, Firefox will ignore your userChrome.css and userContent.css files.

    Click through the warning

    In the search box look for toolkit.legacyUserProfileCustomizations.stylesheets

    Change to true by clicking on those funky arrow keys on the right hand side.

    This file is built on the old add-ons <span class=”pl-c”>Classic Theme Restorer & Classic Toolbar Buttons. You can activate specific lines by deleting the “/” at the beginning of a line. Among a slew of customizations you can make to the classic Firefox interface this css file provides, you can move the bookmarks toolbar above your tabs as the gods originally intended. You can control the toolbar buttons,  customize back and forward buttons, tab appearance and position, and customize a slew of other interface features.</span>

    Note the instruction in the file to enable this preference or custom styles will not be loaded:
    about:config > toolkit.legacyUserProfileCustomizations.stylesheets > true

    I stress, however, make a backup of your Firefox profile before replacing the existing userchrome.css file and keep a backup of the userchrome.css file you download from GitHub. You will need to experiment — a lot — with the changes you make to this customized userchrome.css file. Keep very close track of the changes you make so you can reverse those you don’t like. It takes some time, but you can use this to make Firefox look the way you want as Mozilla updates the browser again and again.

    If I was able to make this work, anybody who reads AskWoody can.

    (thank you Planner guy for the detailed info!)

  • What’s up with Firefox 90? Should you go back to version 88?


    Brian Livingston

    By Brian Livingston

    In rapid succession, the Mozilla Foundation recently released versions 89 and 90 of its Firefox browser. Cries of pain immediately arose from users seeking a way to roll back to Firefox 88.

    What’s the problem?

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.28.0 (2021-07-26).

  • Born: Reported profile problems with the newly updated Firefox

    Günter Born reports that the new versions of Firefox, released yesterday — version 71 for most people and ESR (Extended Service Release) 68.3.0 for those on the extended track — have prompted problem reports. It isn’t clear if these are one-off, or if they’re indicative of a larger problem.

    • Upgrading to ESR 68.3 damages the default profile (C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\xxxxxxxx.default).
    • Upgrading to ESR 68.3 or Firefox 71 removes the policies.json file (C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\distribution\policies.json).

    In addition, Born has a report that the picture-in-picture function for video playback keeps gobbling up memory.

    Can you confirm any of those reports?

  • Firefox users don’t be fooled: The “Contact Windows support” message is fake.


    Dan Goodin at Ars Technica takes a shovel to this message, now appearing in Firefox:

    Apparently the message appears as the result of a bug in Firefox and it appears if you venture onto an infected site — you don’t have to lift a finger..

    The attack works on both Windows and Mac versions of the open source browser. The only way to close the window is to force-close the entire browser using either the Windows task manager or the Force Close function in macOS.

    Looks like the Firefox folks are working on a fix.

    Thx CA…

  • Did Firefox suddenly forget all of your passwords? Blame Avast. Again

    If Firefox suddenly forgot all of your passwords in the past day or so, blame Avast.

    It looks like Avast Antivirus and AVG Antivirus are both blocking the file that Firefox uses to store passwords. Your passwords are still there. You just need a new version of Avast or AVG.

    Martin Brinkmann has the details on ghacks:

    Firefox, just like any other modern browser, supports the saving of authentication information to improve the sign-in process on websites. Instead of having to enter the passwords manually each time they are requested, Firefox would provide the password when needed.

    Firefox saves the data in the file logins.json in the Firefox profile folder.

    Reports suggest that Avast and AVG security applications cause the issue for Firefox users. It appears that the software programs somehow corrupt the login.json file so that Firefox cannot read it anymore.

    Lawrence Abrams on BleepingComputer has the inside story:

    In a Mozilla bug post about this issue, Lukáš Rypáček, an engineering director at Avast, explained that the AVG Password Protection program will block a process’ access to saved logins unless the process is signed by a known and valid Firefox certificate. As Mozilla had issued a new certificate on 5/31/2019 and signed Firefox 67.0.2 with it, but AVG had not included it in the AVG Password Protection program, the Firefox processes were being blocked.

    Apparently Avast has released updates to fix the problem.

  • Woody’s Windows Watch: Dispatches from the browser-war’s front lines

    Internet Explorer isn’t a web browser. According to Microsoft, it’s been demoted to a “compatibility solution.”

    Edge has some big fans, very few users — and it’s about to get a heart transplant.

    Chrome’s the crowd pleaser, but one hare-brained idea (recently rescinded) has to give you pause.

    Firefox keeps on foxing, but in terms of usage numbers, it can’t get a break.

    What should you do?

    Out this morning in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 16.6.0. Now available – yes, for free — on AskWoody.

  • Mozilla stops rollout of its latest version of Firefox, version 65

    Lawrence Abrams on BleepingComputer says

    Mozilla has halted the automatic updates to Firefox 65 as users are unable to browse web sites due to certificate errors. These errors are being caused by conflicts between various antivirus program’s HTTPS scanning and Firefox 65.

    Here in the browsers forum we have confirmation from Charlie and others.

    Abrams goes on to say:

    If you have upgraded to Firefox 65 and are seeing errors when browsing the web that state the “Connection is not secure”, then you are most likely affected by this bug and seeing a conflict between the browser and your antivirus software.

    And offers two workarounds. Various antivirus manufacturers are also distributing a bypass.

  • Keizer: IE and Firefox catch a break last month

    Gregg Keizer has his usual excellent analysis of the monthly browser statistics:

    For the first time since June, Microsoft’s two browsers managed to hold onto their share of the browser market; the same could not be said of Firefox.

    Edge usage share was flat last month, but IE bumped up a little bit. Astounding.

    It’s a dog-eat-dog world. Surprisingly, Firefox is doing very well financially. But Chrome continues to swallow the earth.

  • Edge is in much worse shape than originally thought

    Great analysis from Gregg Keizer at Computerworld:

    Analytics firm Net Applications revised its methodology to cull bots from its browser share numbers and found that as much as half of the traffic to Edge on Windows 10 was artificially inflated.

    For those running Windows 10, Edge accounts for 10 to 11% of all browser usage, and IE hovers below 10%.

    With Firefox’s new-found moxie, we have a real horse race going here. May the best browser win.

    Until the next one comes along.

  • Recently updated topics you may have missed

    It’s possible you may have missed recent security updates that have been made to Chrome, Firefox, Thunderbird, Java and Flash Player. The following topics have now been updated with the US-Cert alerts, with links:

    Chrome Security Update: US-CERT (Browser)

    Mozilla Security Update: US-CERT (Firefox)

    Mozilla Security Update: US-CERT (Thunderbird)

    Oracle Security Update: US-CERT (Java etc)

    1000002: Links to Flash update resources

    Subscribers to those topics should have received emails with details of the new posts. However, we have had some reports that some people are currently not receiving those emails. If your subscription emails aren’t working, please let us know.

    Also updated recently is AKB3000005: On the subject of Botnets, which was posted last month, but promptly disappeared in a backup-reset of the site.

  • Beware fake “patches” for Firefox

    Just got an email from Q, warning that he saw this fake update notice in the wild:

    From the Firefox site:

    To our knowledge those notices are a form of “malvertising“: those fake notices get triggered by code contained in ads that are displayed on otherwise legitimate websites you are visiting and get spread through advertisement networks… they are hosted on randomly generated and quickly changing domains