Archive | Firefox Support

Firefox’s Gray Bar and Red Text Problem

Ever have the problem of Firefox’s main browser window being a little messed up looking?  What I am speaking of exactly is a large gray bar along the bottom, wish some red text in it.  I have not run into this problem in a long time, but I know others have – so wanted to cover it and how to fix it.

gray-bar-firefox

First thing you should do is follow the common Firefox troubleshooting tips:

Check for Faulty Add-ons

Next, take a look at your extensions.  It could be that one of your add-ons you have installed has a problem with it.  First thing I want you to do when checking out your add-ons is to go to Tools > Add-ons and then click on the “Find Updates” button.  See if updating any of your add-ons might help get rid of the issue.

The next suggestion would be to go to Tools > Add-ons, disable all the add-ons you have installed, and then restart Firefox.  If the problem has gone away after that, you can then enable add-ons until the problem comes back.  This should help you figure out which add-on is at fault.  It could also be caused by a combination of add-ons, that do not play nice together, so do not rule that out as a possibility too.

Could it be Spyware/Malware?

This suggestion from mozillaZine might also be worth checking into:

If the problem is in Firefox on Windows, check for a file named m3ffxtbr.manifest in the “chrome” folder of your installation directory (usually “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\chrome\m3ffxtbr.manifest”). If the file exists, delete it, then restart Firefox. This file is created by the “MyWebSearch Toolbar” (a form of spyware).

Be sure to check out this knowledge base post for more tips on working with this nasty problem.  Now the last and nuclear step would be to do a fresh or clean install of Firefox to see if you can get rid of the problem that way.  It is a drastic step, but has worked for me in the past.

Firefox Profile Files – What Do They Do?

Firefox Profile FilesWhen browsing through your Firefox profile folder, you might see a lot of odd files. Some might make sense, such as your searchplugins folder, however others might seem a little odd.

Here are some of the important files you might seen in your profile folder and what they are used for.

  • search.sqlite and the searchplugins folder – The first file, search.sqlite stores the order that your search engines (for the search box) are sorted. Inside of the searchplugins folder you can find all the extra search engines you have installed.
  • mimeTypes.rdf – your preferences with respect to what Firefox does when it comes across known file types.
  • formhistory.sqlite - this is where information that you have searched for or entered into forms on web sites (think autocomplete) is stored.
  • places.sqlite – this is the file that contains your bookmarks and previously visited web sites.
  • cert8.db – all your security certificate settings and any SSL certificates you have imported are stored here.
  • permissions.sqlite – the file here stores site specific preferences, such as if you allow it to install add-ons, show images, display popups or any special orders you have allowed for that domain.
  • key3.db and signons3.txt – these are the files that store your password information you have saved.
  • persdict.dat – this file will hold your words you have personally put into Firefox’s built in spellchecker.
  • cookies.sqlite – your web site cookies are stored here.

Now, I do know there are more files – however, these are the files that are most important for you to know about, just in case something bad might happen.  Hopefully, this additional documentation will come in handy when troubleshooting your own Firefox issues or problems.

Trouble Removing a Firefox Add-on?

Need Help Removing Add-ons?Ever have a Firefox add-on that just did not want to leave your PC?  Most of the extensions to Firefox are really easy to remove, however sometimes you run into a situation where one is so bad or tricky, it just doesn’t want to let go.  Here are some of the common ways to remove an add-on from Firefox.

The Traditional Way

The way you usually uninstall add-ons from Firefox is to go to Tools and then Add-ons from the menu bar.  In the next Window, you should see your extensions (if not, hit the “Extensions” tab at the top).  Now click on the one you wish to remove, and hit the button labeled “Uninstall”.  You can do this several times if you need to get rid of several add-ons.  Now, simply restart Firefox and your add-on in question should be removed.

Try Removing the Add-on via Safe Mode

Close out Firefox, and start up using Firefox’s safe mode.  Try to use the traditional steps above then to remove the addon that is bugging you.

Checkout Add/Remove Programs

This might change some (depending on what version of Windows you are using) but these general directions should get you to the right spot.  Click on the start menu (or windows globe) and go to the control panel.  From there, you want to go to the “Add/Remove Programs” settings.  Scroll down this list and see if you see the extension in question here that you can not remove via Firefox.  Some toolbars and add-ons install themselves here, rather than the traditional add-ons menu from inside of Firefox.

Last (but not least) Remove the Add-on Manually

You can also remove add-ons manually, but I would leave this as a last resort.  You will need to navigate to your Firefox profile folder.  Once you make it there, look for a folder called “extensions”.  Inside of that folder, you will see more folders with names that look like random ‘bit of text thrown together.  Each folder represents an extension that has been installed. Go through each folder, and look for install.rdf.  Open that up in your standard notepad program and it should tell you the name of the extension you are looking at.  If you can’t find it, search the install.rdf for the phrase “em:name”.  After that, the name of the extension should be given.  You may also find a few themes inside this folder too.  Once you find an install.rdf that matches that addon you want to remove, you can delete that extensions entire folder.

As you noticed, this pretty much covered things for the Windows people to some extent.  If any Apple or Linux fans want to let me know how they do things, please drop in a comment and share with the group!

Faster Refreshing for Live Bookmarks

Live Bookmarks in ActionHow do you get Firefox’s live bookmarks to refresh faster?  By default, the Live Bookmarks are set to refresh every 60 minutes to check for new headlines.  However, if you want to get your news a little quicker, there is a tweak you can do to make the process go a little faster.

In the address bar, type in about:config, and then hit enter.

At the warning, click the button that says, “I’ll be careful, I promise!”.  Now you are ready to do some configuration changes.  We want to setup a new option though, so right-click anywhere inside of the about:config screen and then go to New > Integer.

For the preference name type in:

browser.bookmarks.livemark_refresh_seconds

Now, for the value, you will need to add your time up by seconds.  For example, if you wanted it to be reloaded every two minutes you would type in 120 (because there are 120 seconds in two minutes).  The smallest number you can put in here is 60 seconds.  If you put in anything lower, Firefox will slap you in the face – and then say, “Oh yeah, you wanted to put in ’60′ right?”.

You can also reload a Live Bookmark manually to by right-clicking it and choosing “Reload Live Bookmark”.  However that isn’t nearly as fun as diving into about:config.

How to Recover Your Master Password

Reset Master Password

Have you lost your master password?

If you want to add another layer of protection to your Firefox browser, you can turn on the master password option.  In short, this will allow you to secure your login information – especially if your PC is used by more than one person, so they can’t snoop through Firefox’s options and find your passwords.

Now if you find yourself not remembering your master password, there is an easy way to reset it.  There is a down side though, because resetting your master password will remove all of your saved user names and passwords. To start the process, copy and paste this location into your Firefox address bar:

chrome://pippki/content/resetpassword.xul

This is your “Reset Master Password” page.  For one more time, it warns you:

If you reset your master password, all your stored web and e-mail password, form data, personal certificates, and private keys will be forgotten. Are you sure you want to reset your master password?

Then you will be given the option to “Reset” or “Cancel”.  Hit the button labled “Reset” and your master password should be reset.

How to Clear Private Data in Firefox

Clear Private DataWorried somebody is going to snoop around on what you are doing from within Firefox?  Have no fear!  Although private browsing hasn’t made its way to Firefox yet, you can still clear your private data in Firefox very easily.

What is Firefox Saving About Me?

Now the first question you may have is what type of content is saved by Firefox?

  • Browsing History: contains a log web locations you have previously visited.
  • Download History: keeps a list of files you’ve downloaded.
  • Saved Form and Search History: contains a list of phrases you have entered in text fields, such as web searches, and name and address fields.
  • Cache: stores temporary files, such as web pages and other online media, that you have downloaded from the Internet.
  • Cookies: stores files created by web sites, that store information on your computer, such as your preferences when visiting that site. (When a web site has a “remember this” check box, they are using a cookie.)
  • Offline Website Data: information web sites have stored on your computer for use without an internet connection.
  • Saved Passwords: contains a list of user names and passwords you have opted to have Firefox remember.
  • Authenticated Sessions: keeps you logged into secure web sites, you have already used the password manager to log in to.

Firefox makes it very simple to clear a few or all of these settings.  From the top of Firefox, in the menu bar – select Tools > Clear Private Data.  (You can also pull this up by using the keyboard combination Ctrl + Shift + Del )  Check mark the data you want to clear, then click on Clear Private Data Now, to clear the data; or click on Cancel, to close the Clear Private Data window, without clearing any private data.

How to Automate the Private Data Cleaning

I have my Firefox set to clear certain private data when I close Firefox.  To do this, go to Tools > Options and then click on the Privacy Tab.  From there, look at the settings listed under Private Data.  you have the option to:

  • Always clear my private data when I close Firefox
  • Ask me before clearing private data

Clicking on the “Settings” will allow you to choose what is cleared when you exit Firefox.

What Firefox Features Could You Do Without?

firefox features Everybody and their grandmother has done a list of Firefox features you would like to see come to the browser, but what features could you do without?  There is no doubt that fans of Firefox like a light browsing experience, so could Firefox do with a little house cleaning of features not used or loved by many? 

Security Zone Policy Errors – This seems to be more of a problem than most people realize.  From this one blog post, I see people coming in every day having issues with it.  So, should Firefox be relying on Windows security settings for downloading applications and other potentially unsafe files from the Internet?

Descriptions for Bookmarks – Have you ever right-clicked a bookmark, Went down to properties and typed in a description about a page you had saved?  No, I haven’t either – so this might be another Firefox feature ready for the junk yard.  Name, Location, and Keyword is good enough for me.

Now it is your turn, what Firefox feature could you live without?

intensedebate-logo Firefox Facts Bonus!  This morning I installed Intense Debate for FirefoxFacts.com.  I am really excited to see how much better this makes the commenting system here on the web site.  No registration in necessary, but if you do – there are some cool extra features you will get, such as reputation points, comment voting, and tons of other cool things.  (Learn More!)

Did You Know About These Firefox Mouse Shortcuts?

computer-mouse Want to make your mouse work for you in Firefox?  There are several handy keyboard and mouse combinations you might want to start memorizing.  For those of us who spend our day with one hand on the mouse and the other on the keyboard – these shortcuts can sometimes be faster than doing things the manual way or with keyboard shortcuts alone.

Shift + Scroll Down = Go Back a Page

Shift + Scroll Up  = Go Forward a Page

Ctrl + Left Click or Middle Click = Open Link in Background Tab

Ctrl + Shift + Left Click = Open Link in Foreground Tab

Shift + Left Click = Open Link in New Window

Alt + Scroll = Scroll Line by Line

Middle Click on Tab = Close a Tab

Double Click on Tab Bar = Tab New

Ctrl + Scroll Up = Text Size Decrease

Ctrl + Scroll Down = Text Size Increase

Know of anymore good ones?  Be sure to leave a comment, and share with the rest of us.  For more keyboard shortcut fun, remember to check out Mission Ctrl? All the Ctrl Key Shortcuts for FirefoxFirefox’s Navigation Bar Keyboard Combo Cheat Sheet and Ctrl + Shift Your Way Through Firefox.

Troubleshooting Firefox Problems

safe-mode Firefox works fine, but then the worst might happen (even to you!).  Something goes wonky and Firefox goes from a browsing tool to an annoyance.  So how exactly do you troubleshoot an issue with Firefox?

For most people, I would suggest trying to run Firefox in Safe Mode first.  You can use the command line:  firefox -safe-mode to get there (for Windows users).

On Linux, you can go to your Terminal and run (for Firefox): /path/to/firefox/firefox -safe-mode

On Mac OS X, go to Utilities (in the Applications folder) and open Terminal, then run (for Firefox): /Applications/Firefox.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox -safe-mode

From there you can disable add-ons, reset toolbars and controls, reset bookmarks to Firefox defaults, reset all user preferences to Firefox defaults and restore the default search engines.

What if Safe Mode Does Not Help?

If that does not do the trick for you, you might want to try opening up a clean profile to see if you are still getting the problem.  Check out this previous post to fine out how to launch the profile manager to do so.

Key thing to remember here is if it is a problem with all of your Firefox profiles (your current one or a new one) then you might want to backup and do a clean install of Firefox.  If not, then you might be able to cure you problem by creating a new profile for yourself to use from now on.

The Basics of Places and Smart Bookmarks

places-in-firefox-3 No doubt that Firefox 3 and the new places query syntax is going to lead into a lot of new and creative ways of managing the bookmarks saved on your machine.  For those unsure what these are they would be your “Recently Bookmarked” or “Recent Tags” selections you see in your bookmarks menu now with Mozilla’s newest browser.

You can think of them as commands for how you wish to pull up your bookmarks.

When creating one, you do it the same way you would create a bookmark.  Hit Ctrl+Shift+B to bring up your Library window.  Click on Bookmarks Menu (or any other location you would like to create it) then right click where your bookmarks are listed and select “New Bookmark…”.

Tearing Apart Your Places

Now in the new popup window, instead of typing in an address, we are going to type in the places query syntax.  For an example:

place:queryType=0&sort=8&maxResults=10

The queryType=0 is telling us to only look at the user’s history and not the bookmarks. 0 would be history, 1 would be bookmarks, and 2 would be both.

The parameter sort= gives us the information on how to organize the results.  Here we are using 8 which means to sort by visit count, descending.

Last but not least you have maxResults=10 and it is probably the one you’ll know right off the bat.  This number setup here will tell your smart bookmark how many results to show.  Setting this number to 0 would give you all the results returned.

Yes, it might still be a little more on the geekier side of things, but play with it some, tear it apart and see what you can come up with.