Many of the most common issues that arise when using Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition are addressed here. Please read through the various topics to see if any of them address your question. You can also post a question in the Firefox Portable Support Forum.
Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition-Specific Issues
- Installing Firefox Portable
- Using Firefox Portable
- Upgrading Firefox Portable
- Copying your local Firefox settings to Firefox Portable
- Using a Second (or Third) Profile with Firefox Portable
- Improving Firefox Portable's Performance
- Configuring Proxies - Suggestions for moving between PCs with different network settings
- Installing Plugins (Java, Flash, Shockwave, etc.)
- Configuring Helper Apps (PDF reader, document viewers, etc)
- Running From a CD (Firefox Portable Live)
- When does a version become ESR?
- Known Issues
- Modifications - A list of the modifications made to Firefox in this package
Also, be sure to check out the Frequently Asked Questions in the forum.
General Mozilla Firefox Issues
- Mozilla Firefox Frequently Asked Questions
- General Questions
- Firefox Tips & Tricks
- Keyboard Shortcuts
- Mouse Shortcuts
Installing Firefox Portable
To install Firefox Portable, just download the portable package at the top of the Firefox Portable page and then double-click it. Select the location you wish to install to and click OK. A FirefoxPortable directory will be created there and all the necessary files installed. That's all there is to it.
Using Firefox Portable
To start up Firefox Portable, just double-click FirefoxPortable.exe file where you installed Portable
Firefox on your portable drive. Then, use it just like you would a local copy of Firefox. There are a
couple of things to keep in mind:
- Stay Safe - When using portable apps, it's always a good idea to practice
Safe Portable App-ing.
- Removing Your Drive - When you're done, exit Firefox and then wait for the
activity light on your removable drive to stop flashing. This may take a minute or more
on slow drives or computers. Then select the 'Safely remove [device]' option from the icon in the system tray.
If you remove the drive while it is writing, you may lose data.
Upgrading Firefox Portable
To upgrade to a newer version of Firefox Portable, just install a new copy of Firefox Portable right over your old one. All your data will be preserved. You can use the built in updater as well, but some non-personal files or directories may be left behind. This will be addressed in an upcoming release.
If you're upgrading from Portable Firefox (older name and directories), make a copy of your existing profile folder within the PortableFirefox\Data\profile directory on your portable drive. Then download the new version of Firefox Portable and copy your profile from the old version into the new version within
FirefoxPortable\Data\profile. If you added any plugins or searchplugins, you should copy those directories as well (PortableFirefox\plugins to FirefoxPortable\Data\plugins and PortableFirefox\firefox\searchplugins to FirefoxPortable\App\firefox\searchplugins).
Copying Your Local Firefox Settings
If you're using a local copy of Firefox, you may wish to just copy your local Firefox settings right into Firefox Portable. Your local Firefox profile is usually installed in C:\Documents and Settings\[user]\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\default.???\ After running Firefox Portable once to let it setup its data directories, just copy the contents of that folder (except the cache directories) to the FirefoxPortable\Data\profile directory. Then, and this is important, delete the file FirefoxPortableSettings.ini within the FirefoxPortable\Data\settings directory, if there is one. When you start Firefox Portable for the first time, it's recommended that you turn off disk cache, password saving and history if you're using a flash-based portable device. You can set all of these within the Privacy tab of the Firefox Options window. Sometimes, certain profiles will cause the launcher to fail or hang. It's best to give it a few minutes to see if it's just checking compatibility and adjusting the locations of the extensions before giving up on it. If it fails, it is usually due to an incompatible extension.
A second profile can allows you to setup another set of settings (bookmarks, extensions, preferences, etc) for Firefox Portable that you can use independent of your main settings. This is useful for sharing a flash drive with someone, testing extensions and configuration options or separating our work from personal details.
To use a second profile, install the Firefox Portable 2nd Profile 1.2 app in the same PortableApps directory that FirefoxPortable is in (so, if Firefox Portable is installed to X:\PortableApps\FirefoxPortable, you'd install this to X:\PortableApps\FirefoxPortable2ndProfile). In the PortableApps.com Menu, it will show up as "Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition 2nd Profile". You can easily rename it to something more useful by right-clicking and selecting rename. When you run it, it will start Firefox Portable up with your second profile without affecting your main profile. You can even install a 3rd or 4th profile by installing the 2nd Profile app again to another location (like X:\PortableApps\FirefoxPortable3rdProfile) and then renaming it in the PortableApps.com Menu.
- Java Runtime Environment - To use Java apps with Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition, just install jPortable alongside. If Firefox Portable is in X:\PortableApps\FirefoxPortable, jPortable should install to X:\PortableApps\CommonFiles\Java. The Firefox Portable launcher will automatically detect and configure the Java plugin for use.
- Flash Plugin - To install Flash, you can either try our easy to use Flash installer for Firefox Portable, or follow these steps:
- Flash is available as an extension. Just click the link.
- You'll probably see a yellow bar across the top of the browser (if not, skip to Step 5), on that bar, click Edit Options
- In the popup window, click Allow to add PortableApps.com to your whitelist and then click close
- Now try the link again
- You'll see a popup asking if you would like to install, click OK after the countdown and follow along the prompts
- Shockwave Plugin - To install Shockwave, follow these steps:
- Download the free Shockwave Player from the Macromedia website
- Run the installation routine and, instead of letting it install to a local browser, select to choose your browser
- Browse to X:\FirefoxPortable\App\firefox (where X is your device's driver letter) and continue with the installation
- You may need to restart Firefox Portable for the changes to take effect
- Other Plugins - Other plugin directions are coming soon...
If the above fails, try the alternate (and more geeky) method:
- Install the plugin in a local copy of Firefox (on your hard drive)
- Locate your plugins directory (usually C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\plugins\)
- Copy the plugin you need from there to your FirefoxPortable\Data\plugins directory (Some Exmaples: For Flash, copy NPSWF32.dll... for Shockwave, copy np32dsw.dll)
Notes: It should be noted that Adobe Flash does *not* officially support running in any portable configuration. And, as it is a closed source application, we can neither modify it nor package it into a more portable-friendly installer. It should also be noted that it is illegal to redistribute either flash or shockwave without the full installer.
Configuring Helper Apps (PDF reader, document viewers, etc)
Firefox Portable supports the ability to set other portable apps as helper apps to handle additional document types even as you move between PCs. So, you can set Sumatra PDF Portable as your PDF viewer, OpenOffice.org Portable as your DOC opener and VLC Media Player Portable as your AVI handler and it will all work as you move to other PCs.
The setting to do this in Firefox Portable works just like it does in a regular install of Firefox:
- Click Tools and then Options from the menu
- Select the Content tab
- Within the File Types section, click the Manage button
- In the list of types, select the one you wish to edit and click the Change Action button (if you don't see the type you want, see the note below)
- Select the "Open them with this application" radio button and then click Browse
- Select the portable app you'd like to open this file type with (example: SumatraPortable.exe)
- Click Ok. Click Close. And click OK to close all the windows.
Now, when you click on a file of that type in Firefox, it will open it in the portable app you selected. The PortabableApps.com Launcher takes care of any needed changes as you move between PCs.
Note: If you don't see the file type you'd like in the list of file types, that means Firefox doesn't know about it yet. Just search for a file of that type in Firefox and click on it. It'll either ask you what you'd like to open it with (in which case, just select the portable app you'd like to use) or it will automatically associate it with an application or plugin installed on the local PC. At that point, you can then follow the instructions above to tell Firefox to use a portable app to open that type of file.
Mailto Note: Mailto links are not controlled by Firefox's mimetypes setup, so this has no effect on being able to click on an email link and launching Thunderbird. Firefox simply passes mailto links to Windows and has it open the default mail client.
Privacy Note: When Firefox hands off a file to another application, it will usually store that file in the local PC's TEMP directory. This file may be left behind if you close Firefox Portable before closing the application launched to view the file and that application locks the file (for example, Microsoft Word locks .doc files while it has them open). Just close the helper app before closing Firefox Portable to ensure any opened files are deleted. (This issue will affect any portable software that passes a document to another via the TEMP directory, not just Firefox Portable and not just applications on the PortableApps.com Platform.)
Improving Firefox Portable's Performance
Firefox Portable runs quite well from faster flash drives (and portable hard drives or iPods) when connected to a USB 2.0 port. But what if your flash drive is a bit below average speed-wise (and just because it says "USB 2.0" on it, doesn't mean it's fast)? Or what if you're stuck connecting to USB 1.1 ports at work or school? Well, there are a few ways to improve performance.
First off, it helps to realize why things are slow. Firefox Portable has to read and write bits of data to and from your portable device while it's running. On most flash drives, every time something is written, all reads stop. When this happens, Firefox Portable can appear to "freeze" or "hesitate" momentarily. Add to this the fact that most flash drives aren't as fast as they promise. They all say "USB 2.0 high speed" on them, but they're actually limited by the speed of the memory chips inside them and the controller chip that handles communication between those chips and a PC. There's about a 40x speed difference between a slow drive and a fast drive when dealing with writing small amounts of data. And, even if a drive can write a 5mb MP3 file quickly, it may be slow with writing lots of tiny files.
Here's a list of different things you can do to speed things up:
- Disable Cache - Cache is disabled by default because on most drives, cache will actually slow Firefox Portable down. If you've copied in a local profile or enabled it, you can disable it within the Options window.
- Disable Session Restore / Undo Close Tab - Firefox 2.0 introduced a new feature called session restore. It keeps track of all your open windows and tabs and can restore your session if Firefox should crash. While a handy feature, it does have the unfortunate side effect of writing to disk on every page load, which slows down Firefox Portable. In Firefox 3.0, this feature was enhanced to provide more features but at the cost of more disk writes (which is why Firefox Portable asks on first run if you'd like to disable it). There's no option to disable it in the usual Tools - Options windows, but you can disable it manually. For Firefox 2 or Firefox 3, disable it this way:
- In Firefox's address bar, type in about:config and then hit enter
- Right-click on any entry and select New - Boolean
- For the name, enter browser.sessionstore.enabled and click OK
- Select false and then click OK
In Firefox 3.5 and later, this was changed so that now session restore is disabled this way:
- In Firefox's address bar, type in about:config and then hit enter
- Into the Filter text box, enter browser.sessionstore.max_tabs_undo
- Double click on the value which appears in the list below
- Enter the value 0 into the popup window and click OK
- Into the Filter text box, enter browser.sessionstore.max_windows_undo
- Double click on the value which appears in the list below
- Enter the value 0 into the popup window and click OK
When you restart Firefox, session restore (and undo close tab) will be disabled and you should notice an improvement in browsing speed.
- Disable Anti-Phishing - Firefox comes bundled with an anti-phishing filter that warns you of fake sites pretending to be things like ebay and bank login pages. As with the ression restore, though, it results in additional writes to the drive. This is especially noticable in the first several minutes of using Firefox Portable as it has to download the anti-phishing database and store it within your profile (a 3mb+ file on Firefox 2 and a 50mb+ file on Firefox 3). You can disable this feature by clicking Tools - Options and then selecting the Security tab. Uncheck the box next to "Tell me if the site I'm visiting is a suspected forgery" and then click OK. The anti-phishing filter is now off. If you'd like to get back the space taken up by the database of forged sites, exit Firefox Portable and then head to the FirefoxPortable\Data\profile directory on your drive. Delete the urlclassifier*.sqlite file.
- Disable History - Disabling history will prevent Firefox from writing a small bit of data to your drive for every page you visit.
As you move between different computers, you may encounter systems on networks that use proxies and don't allow direct access to the internet. You'll need to update Firefox Portable' connection settings to use in the new environment. You can find these settings within Tools - Options - General - Connection Settings. If you routinely use PCs with different proxy settings (for example, work and home or work and school), you can set up the options for both and easily switch between them with the SwitchProxy extension. If you need to determine the connection settings of the PC you are on to add to Firefox Portable, just run our Proxy Get Utility and it will let you know what they are.
Firefox Portable supports running from a CD right out of the box, and it's a snap. Start off by downloading and installing Firefox Portable to your hard drive... it doesn't matter where. Run it at least once to generate the default settings. Then, customize it as needed, being sure not to move FirefoxPortable.exe or any of the other critical files. Next, download FirefoxPortable.ini and save it to the same directory as FirefoxPortable.exe. Then, burn the whole FirefoxPortable directory to a CD and you're ready to go. Note that Firefox doesn't actually support running directly from read-only media, so the portable app and the profile are copied to the local PC's temp directory and run from there.
If you use Firefox Portable from a USB flash drive with a write-protect switch, you're covered, too. The Firefox Portable Launcher will automatically detect when you protect the drive and offer to run your files locally for you.
Additional information about the options in the INI is provided in the readme.txt file within the FirefoxPortable\Other\FirefoxPortableSource directory. Please note that you must follow Mozilla's Trademark Distribution Guidelines if you are distributing your customized version to anyone else.
When does a version become ESR?
We'd like to clarify ESR releases with this example of when 31 stable and ESR are released by Mozilla alongside 24 ESR. 31 ESR and 31 Stable are the exact same browser. So, if you want 31 ESR, just use 31 Stable. In fact, if you want to switch to 31 ESR as soon as it comes out, you should not be using ESR at all since you're not getting any of the benefits. The point of ESR is to take your time adopting a new version to ensure web apps and extensions that are business critical to you work with the new version before upgrading. So, you'd stay on 24.x for production but install 31.0 in test to begin testing all the important stuff.
If you're using ESR because you think it means you have to upgrade less often, you're using it wrong. Every time a new stable full version of Firefox comes out, a new point release of ESR comes out to fix the same bugs but not get the new features, so you upgrade just as often.
All of the above is why Mozilla points out that ESR is not for end users and makes the download purposely harder to locate.
The only point of our ESR build is to allow extension developers and web developers to continue to test on it for the handful of corporations and organizations that use ESR. Right now, they need to test on Firefox 31 (which they do on Firefox Portable) and Firefox 24 (which they do on Firefox Portable ESR). If there is a 31.0.1 release, stable will be updated to that and ESR will be updated to 24.8.0. When Firefox Portable 32.0 is released, Firefox Portable ESR will be moved to 31.0 and 24.x will be dropped.
- Renaming FirefoxPortable.exe - Once on your portable device, the launcher can be renamed to anything you'd like except for firefox.exe. It tries to detect an existing instance of Firefox so it doesn't just launch a new local one and if it is named firefox.exe, it will detect itself.
- Themes and Extensions - Most themes and extensions will work with Firefox Portable -- including those that make use of the component registry. A handful will still fail, though.
- Read/Write Required - Both the Firefox directory and the Profile directory must be writeable on the USB drive. Drives with a writable switch can not be in read-only mode. The launcher will attempt to detect this and switch to read-only mode allowing you to copy it to your local PC's TEMP directory and run from there.
I made some modifications to the default version of Firefox
to make it more USB key friendly (decreasing the
number of writes to the drive, which will increase drive life). These
changes are listed here so you'll
know what they are, and so you can recreate the process, if so desired.
Obviously, you can change many of these settings
(ex cache) by changing the options in
Firefox, but you will increase the number of writes to your
flash drive, thus decreasing its life.
- PortableApps.com Launcher - Firefox Portable Launcher
is included. It performs a number of functions including: adjustment of paths to external programs (mime types), adjusting extenion paths, adjustment of paths to local homepages, intelligent recreation of the component registry as you move drives, backup/restore of certain registry keys in certain instances, cleaning of folders and directories in certain instances, adjustment of some extension setting paths making non-portable extensions portable.
- Default Profile - A default profile exists within the firefox directory with setting to improve portability.
- No Default Browser Check - Firefox won't check to see if it is the default browser on startup.
- Download Prompt - Firefox will ask where to save downloads.
- No Disk Cache - The browser disk cache has been disabled to decrease disk size and the number of writes to the
disk, increasing disk life.
- Update Prompt - As updating the browser on a flash drive can be very slow, Firefox Portable asks you if you'd like to update rather than doing it automatically.
- PortableApps.com Format - Firefox Portable is packaged in PortableApps.com Format with a PortableApps.com Installer. It allows for easy installation to a portable device, detection of existing installs of the PortableApps.com Platform, in-place upgrades allowing you to install a new version right over your existing one, automatic upgrades with the PortableApps.com Platform and tight integration with the PortableApps.com Menu.
- 184.108.40.206 - May 31, 2007
- Firefox updated to 220.127.116.11
- New PortableApps.com Installer (auto-detects existing PortableApps.com install, better progress meter, etc.
- 18.104.22.168 - April 3, 2007
- Firefox updated to 22.214.171.124
- Default options changed (history, form filling and download history enabled)
- Added launcher feature to process mimetypes. Allows portable apps to be used as helper apps.
- 126.96.36.199 & 188.8.131.52 - February 27, 2007
- Firefox updated to 184.108.40.206 / 220.127.116.11
- Slight name change "Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition"
- 18.104.22.168 - February 15, 2007
- Firefox updated to 22.214.171.124
- 126.96.36.199 - November 20, 2006
- Firefox updated to 188.8.131.52
- Vista compatible
- 184.108.40.206 - September 26, 2006
- Updated to Firefox 220.127.116.11
- New Launcher: 1.3.1
- Improved CD support on Windows 9x
- New Intelligent Start feature for faster startup
- Dropped support for all alternate INI locations
- Dropped support for most alternate directory layouts (see help file)
- Launcher now cleans up the pluginreg.dat Firefox leaves on the local PC
- INI files format updated (if you use it, grab the new one from the FirefoxPortableSource directory and customize it)
- 18.104.22.168 - Auguest 2, 2006
- Firefox updated to 22.214.171.124
- 126.96.36.199 - July 27, 2006
- Application renamed to Mozilla Firefox - Portable Edition
- Updated to Firefox 188.8.131.52
- Partial Updates Now Fully Supported
- New Splash Screen and Branding In The Help File
- New Launcher: 184.108.40.206
- Added CD and Read-Only Media support with auto-detection
- Added default data set to allow in-place upgrades
- Fixed bug: Blank profile when first-launch within Wine
- Fixed bug: File error when first-launch in Windows 95
- Improved Wait For Firefox Support
- 2.0 Beta 1 - July 27, 2006
- Combined new launcher with Firefox 2.0 Beta 1
- 1.0.8 - July 27, 2006
- Combined new launcher with Firefox 1.0.8
- 220.127.116.11 - May 2, 2006
- Updated Firefox to 18.104.22.168
- Fixes for plugins and userprofile directories
- 22.214.171.124 - April 28, 2006
- Updated Firefox to 126.96.36.199
- Switched to self-extracting package (smaller)
- Switched to App/Data directory structures
- 2.0 Alpha 1 (Bon Echo) - April 6, 2006
- Packaged with Bon Echo 2.0 A1
- 188.8.131.52 - April 6, 2006
- Updated Firefox to 184.108.40.206
- Added ability to use local homepages
- 1.5 Final - December 9, 2005
- Updated to Firefox 1.5 Final
- Updated Launcher to 1.1.2
- Detection of other Firefox instances
- Auto-correction of profile XUL cache disabled or default browser check
- New splash screen in compliance with Firefox visual identity guidelines
- 1.5 RC3 - November 18, 2005
- Updated to Firefox 1.5 RC3
- 1.5 RC2 - November 10, 2005
- Updated to Firefox 1.5 RC2
- 1.5 RC1 - November 2, 2005
- Release based on Firefox 1.5 RC1 and Firefox Portable Launcher 1.1.1 Beta 7
- 1.5 B1 - September 28, 2005
- Release based on Firefox 1.5 B1 and Firefox Portable Launcher 1.0.8
- 1.0.7 Beta - September 21, 2005
- Updated to Firefox 1.0.7
- 1.0.6 Beta - July 20, 2005
- Updated to Firefox 1.0.6
- Added window icons for Windows 95/98/Me
- 1.0.5 Beta - July 13, 2005
- Updated to Firefox 1.0.5
- Updated launcher:
- Added Mozilla Calendar support
- Added support for split Data and Apps directories (detailed in readme)
- 1.0.4 Release Candidate 2 - May 17, 2005
- Fixed compression of the Firefox directory
- Released to general public
- 1.0.4 Release Candidate 1 - May 12, 2005
- Updated to Firefox 1.0.4
- Updated to PFF Launcher 1.0.8 (adds suppport for renaming firefox.exe)
- Removed INI from main directory
- Limited release to 1.0.3 users
- 1.0.3 Beta - April 27, 2005
- Updated to Firefox 1.0.3
- Added launcher 1.0.6
- Removed Talkback
- Added ability for INI to be in subdirectory
- 1.0.2 Beta - March 23, 2005
- Updated to Firefox 1.0.2
- Added ability to pass additional commandline parameters
- Disabled Firefox update notification
- 1.0.1 Beta 2 (Open) - March 11, 2005
- New Firefox Portable launcher features:
- Allow Spaces in directory names
- Relative Path rewriting (backwards compatibility with pre1.0.1 portable profiles)
- Local Profile path rewriting
- New Firefox Portable launcher features:
- 1.0.1 Beta 1 (Semi-Closed) - March 2, 2005
- Minor Polish Adjustments
- 1.0.1 Internal Alpha - February 24, 2005
- Updated to Firefox 1.0.1
- Completely new Firefox Portable launcher with:
- Absolute Paths
- Optional INI
- Commandline Passing
- Multiple Instance Support
- Extension Install / Uninstall
- Profile Creation / Detection
- EXE detection
- 1.0 Final Release - November 9, 2004
- Updated to Firefox 1.0 Final Release
- 1.0 Release Candidate 2 - November 7, 2004
- Updated to Firefox 1.0 Release Candidate 2
- 1.0 Release Candidate 1 - November 3, 2004
- Updated to Firefox 1.0 Release Candidate 1
- Added in default bookmarks.html from standard install
- 1.0 Preview Release - September 14, 2004
- Set cookies to session only to decrease disk writes
- Updated to Firefox Portable Launcher 0.0.3 due to profile changes
- Updated to Firefox 1.0 Preview Release
- 0.9.3 (Revision 2) - August 6, 2004
- Fixed error in Bookmark Manager (packaging issue)
- 0.9.3 - August 4, 2004
- Added Firefox Portable Launcher by default to automate portable extensions
- Updated to Firefox 0.9.3
- 0.9.2 - July 10, 2004
- Updated to Firefox 0.9.2
- 0.9.1 (Revision 2) - July 2, 2004
- Repaired packaging issue affecting extensions
- 0.9.1 - June 29, 2004
- Updated to Firefox 0.9.1
- 0.9 (Revision 2) - June 19, 2004
- Removed Flash plugin due to licensing issues
- 0.9 Final - June 15, 2004
- Updated UPX comression switches to leave icons alone
- Updated to Firefox 0.9 Final
- 0.9 RC (Revision 2) - June 11, 2004
- Disabled browser history and disk cache
- 0.9 RC - June 9, 2004
- Further compression to 8Mb
- Re-enabled Java based on feedback
- Updated to Firefox 0.9 Release Candidate
- 0.8+ (Revision 2) - June 8, 2004
- Compressed the JARs to decrease size from 11Mb to 9.8Mb
- 0.8+ - June 4, 2004
- Initial Release with basic edits to a default profile and a .bat launcher.
- Based on the previous nightly build