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Easy Life with Firefox by DonEc

When I started using Firefox I found that updating to new versions or adding new extensions could cause a problem with Firefox. Since I was new to Firefox and I tend to try a lot of new stuff, this seemed to happen to me quite often. I didn't know there were things you can do when you set up Firefox to reduce such headaches.

So I decided to develop my use of Firefox features a little further and see if I could find something a solution. A solution is exactly what I found. Allowing me to have the best web browser with the best web tools and easy restoration after problems rolled into one.

Here is how I recommend setting up Firefox in Windows. Open Firefox using the profile manager. The current version does not provide a shortcut to open the profile manager so you will need to create one yourself. What I did was to copy the desktop shortcut and then edit it. When you look at the shortcut properties you will see a box called Target: and in that box you will see between quotation marks the path to where you have installed your version of Firefox. Here is what my target box contains

       "D:\Program Files\web\Firefox 1.0.7\firefox.exe"     

To make a shortcut that will open the Firefox profile manager you need to ad a space and -profilemanager to the target box. Here is what mine looks like

"D:\Program Files\web\Firefox 1.0.4\firefox.exe" -profilemanager

then save it where you will know how to get to it if you want to.

Now open fire Firefox with the profile manager. Click on “Create Profile” you will be ask to give a name to your profile and you will be given a chance to select where you want to store your profile. I recommend you save it in your My Documents folder under the name "firefox profiles" and in a subfolder named with the name you want for the profile itself. Be sure the box named “Don't ask at startup” is checked and then click on “Start Firefox”. You now should have a very simplistic Firefox running on a page called Start Firefox. From now on if you use a regular shortcut for opening just Firefox you will bypass the profile manager, but in the event you want to use the profile manager then the link you made will open it.

Now you need to go into your folders and create a backup of the folder you just made and all that is in it. To do this open the folder firefox profiles and create a subfolder in it named backups. Right click on the folder with your profile name and drag it to the backups folder. When you release it a small window should open and you should select copy. If the folder named with your profile name disappears then you used left click and not right click. (If that has happened just hold down “Ctrl” and press “z” that will undo the move you did with the left click drag.)

Now that you have both a profile and a backup of it you are ready to get some extensions and make Firefox do what you want it to do.

Note: When you want to get an extension be sure to right click on the link to it and save as and save it in your downloads folder. If you don't have one create one in your My Documents folder. The reason for this is if you find an extension you like it may not be on a site that is always available. By saving it you will always have access to it. As with most things there is an exception to this. The spell checker may require you to do some complicated things to install it unlike most other extensions so it is best to just install it from the installation page nice and easy.

Some basic extensions I recommend are....

Spell checker called SpellBound from....

Tabbrowser Preferences from....
Tabbrowser Preferences allows you to set too many helpful features of tab browsing to list here.

Tab Mix from....
Tab Mix a few of the same features as Tabbrowser Preferences but the main one I use it for is the ability to double click on any tab and have it open a new tab with my home page in it.

Session Saver from....
Session Saver is a very important extension. Suppose you have several tabs open and you hear thunder and decide to hurry and shut down you computer. You may not have time to check to see which pages you want to come back to so you just close Firefox and when it ask you if you want to close multiple tabs you just click on Close Tabs. Then when you restart Firefox Session Saver brings you right back to where you were when you shut down.

Bookmark Backup from....
Bookmark Backup is possibly the most important extension. When you shut down Firefox it makes a backup of all your bookmarks into your profile folder, but that is not the only thing it does. It also optionally backups other Firefox settings like history, passwords, preferences, security databases, cookies (I have 4 I need to keep so I delete all others before shutting down and it backs up the important ones), permissions and more.

CustomizeGoogle from....
CustomizeGoogle is a nice extension as it allows you to remove adds from the search pages and mostly it gives you a link to 10 other search engines so that all you do is click on the search engine link and you automatically search for the same phrase in the other search engine.

These are all what I call necessary extensions for a pleasing experience browsing with Firefox.

Once you have the extensions saved to your hard drive just open the folder and drag them one at a time to your open Firefox browser and it will pop up a window asking if you want to install just click on the Install button and when it is done do the next one.

When you are all done close all of your Firefox windows and reopen Firefox. All extensions will be working and ready to go. You can click on tools in the menu and select extensions for a list of your extensions with the option of clicking on an extension and setting the options for that extension. Now once you have completed all this make sure you copy your profile folder to your backup folder.

Now when you for whatever reason reinstall Firefox and find you no longer have all your extensions or even any of them working then just start Firefox with your profile manager link and select the profile you made and everything should be working fine. (Often reinstalling Firefox overwrites the default profile and if you have customized your Firefox with extensions and themes using the default profile you could loose it all but by creating your own profile and keeping it backed up you avoid this problem among others.

If you install new extensions and Firefox quits working then you need to start Firefox in safe mode. The newer versions of Firefox create a safe mode link in your start button programs listing when it is installed. If for some reason you don't have one or can't find it then just create one the same way you created the one for the profile manager except use
       -safe-mode     instead of      -profilemanager   
then when you get Firefox open go to the tools menu and select extensions. When the window opens select the new extensions and uninstall them. Then shut down Firefox and restart the normal way and every thing should work the you can just reinstall the extensions one at a time until the incompatible one messes things up again and you just install it. This is a rare occurrence but it can happen especially if you use a lot of extensions and themes. Sometimes themes will not be made to work with all extensions.

About the Author:

DonEc is the designer, creator and owner of Best Web Stop ( He has been working with computers since 1974 and been creating websites with WYSIWYG non-HTML web programs since 1992. He is retired and provides No Cost WebSite instruction via Best Web Stop as a service to people that want to have a totally free, no cost presence on the web or just want to avoid learning HTML. In some cases he has been known to build sites for a small fee if asked. However, he requires the owner of the site to learn how to create a site so they can maintain the site themselves.

Copy and/or reproduction of this article is allowed as long as it is not altered in any way and the section "About the Author" is kept with the article including these instructions. Article Copyright © 2005 by DonEc
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