Mozilla released Firefox 78.0 on June 30th, and followed up with Firefox 78.0.1 the next day, to fix a specific issue which “could cause installed search engines to not be visible when upgrading from a previous release.”
Changes in Firefox 78
The new Protections Dashboard, accessible from the Firefox menu or by browsing to about:protections, provides a summary of various protections provided by the browser. If Enhanced Tracking Protection is enabled, you’ll see the number of times Firefox has blocked social media trackers, cross-site tracking cookies, fingerprinters, and crypto-miners. If you’re using Firefox’s password manager, Lockwise, and you’ve signed up for breach alerts, those alerts will be shown here, along with references to exposed passwords.
The Firefox uninstaller will now offer an alternative to uninstalling Firefox when it’s not working properly: a Refresh button. “Refreshing Firefox can fix many issues by restoring Firefox to its default state, while saving your essential information like bookmarks, and passwords.”
The new version also includes improvements to video calls and videoconferencing, as well as graphics performance.
Firefox 78 addresses thirteen security vulnerabilities in earlier versions.
Firefox updates itself automatically by default. If you’ve disabled that option, or just want to get the new version right away, navigate the browser’s ‘hamburger’ menu at the top right to
About Firefox. You’ll see an update button if a newer version is available.
Announced on May 5, Firefox 76 tightens up password management and related security in several ways:
- Lockwise, the password manager built into Firefox, now prompts for your Lockwise master password when you try to show or copy a password. If you’re not using a master password, Lockwise will prompt for your device’s password. Previously, Lockwise only prompted for the master password once, on Firefox startup.
- Firefox now checks all your saved passwords against records from known breaches. Any password known to have been revealed in any breach will show in your Logins & Passwords list with a special icon. A different icon is shown if the associated site was breached since you last changed your password for that site.
- Firefox can now generate secure, complex passwords for you.
Other changes in Firefox 76 include improvements to the Picture-In-Picture feature, and native support for more complex audio applications, including Zoom. There are also some minor cosmetic tweaks to the address bar and bookmarks bar.
There are eleven security fixes in Firefox 76 as well.
Default installations of Firefox keep themselves up to date, but you can hurry the process along by navigating its ‘hamburger’ menu to
The release of Firefox 76 was followed up quickly by Firefox 76.0.1, which fixes two bugs, neither of which are security-related.
April 7’s announcement of Firefox 75.0 came just a few days after the release of Firefox 74.0.1, a special version that addresses two critical security vulnerabilities.
Firefox 75.0 features a reworked address bar, and includes fixes for another six security bugs.
The new address bar functionality may trip up some users initially, but it does appear to be an overall improvement. The changes are as follows:
- Searching using the address bar on smaller screens is now optimized, and should be less confusing.
- Clicking the empty address bar, or clicking on an address in the address bar, will now show a list of ‘top sites’. These are the sites you visit most often.
- The address bar is now slightly larger, and expands slightly when clicked. The font is also larger, and suggested URLs are shortened to provide more useful context.
- When entering search terms, Firefox will now suggest additional terms it thinks may be relevant.
- If you start entering a URL that is already open in another tab, Firefox will show a ‘Switch to Tab’ entry in the suggestions.
Depending on your configuration, Firefox will typically update itself in the days following a new release. If you prefer to do this yourself, or you’re not sure which version you have, navigate Firefox’s ‘hamburger’ menu (at the top right) to
About Firefox. If a newver version is available, you’ll be given the opportunity to install it.
A new version of Firefox fixes some annoying problems with pinned tabs, improves password management, adds the ability to import bookmarks from the new Chromium-based Edge, resolves some long-standing issues with add-on management, introduces Facebook Container, and addresses several bugs, including twelve security vulnerabilities.
The release notes for Firefox 74.0 provide the details.
Starting with Firefox 74.0, it is no longer possible for add-ons to be installed programmatically. In other words, add-ons cannot be added by software; it can only be done manually by the user. Add-ons that were added by software in previous versions of Firefox can now be removed via the Add-ons manager, something that was previously not possible.
Facebook Container is a new Firefox add-on that “works by isolating your Facebook identity into a separate container that makes it harder for Facebook to track your visits to other websites with third-party cookies.” People who are concerned about Facebook’s ability to track their activity across browser sessions and tabs can use this add-on to limit that tracking, without having to access Facebook in a separate browser.
You can wait for Firefox to update itself, which — assuming that option is enabled — may take a day or so, or you can trigger an update by navigating Firefox’s ‘hamburger’ menu to
About Firefox. You’ll see an
Update button if a newer version is available.
There’s another new version of Firefox: 73.0. Despite the major version bump, there are no big changes. However, it’s an important update, because it addresses several security vulnerabilities. There are also fixes for a few long-standing annoyances.
According to the security advisory for Firefox 73.0, six security bugs are addressed in the new version. None of them are flagged as having Critical impact, but they all look nasty.
Firefox’s page zoom feature is very handy for viewing web sites with unfortunate font size choices. It’s not new: Firefox has had this feature for years. What is new is that you can now set a global zoom level, which seems likely to be useful for folks with impaired vision.
To zoom the page you’re looking at, hold down the
Ctrl key and move your mouse’s scroll wheel up and down. To change the global zoom level, click Firefox’s menu button, and select
Options. In the
General section, change the
Default Zoom setting.
Firefox now shows web page background images with a border when Windows is configured to use high contrast mode. Previously, background images were disabled in high contrast mode.
Firefox will now only prompt to save login credentials if at least one form element has been changed.
To see which version of Firefox you’re using, navigate its menu to
About Firefox. If a newer version is available, you should see a button or link to install the update.
Security fixes and some welcome changes to notifications and tracking protection were released in the form of Firefox 72.0 on January 7. Firefox 72.0.1 followed the next day, adding one more security fix.
Site notifications are those annoying messages that pop up when you’re browsing web sites, asking — somewhat ironically — whether you want to see notifications for that site. You can still choose to see those, but now Firefox lets you suppress them. To control notifications, navigate Firefox’s Settings to
Privacy & Security >
Permissions, then click on the
Settings button next to
Firefox’s already helpful tracking protections were enhanced in version 72 with the addition of fingerprint script blocking. Fingerprinting is a technique used by many companies to better understand you and your online behaviour. While arguably harmless (it’s mostly about providing better ad targeting) fingerprinting is also creepy and a privacy concern. By default, Firefox now blocks scripts that are known to be involved.
Current versions of Firefox default to updating themselves automatically, but you can check for available updates by navigating Firefox’s menu to
Firefox is my current web browser of choice. I use Google Chrome sparingly, because it’s gotten so bloated and resource-intensive that I can’t leave it running. Perhaps that will change; it wasn’t that long ago that Chrome seemed like the best choice.
I still use Opera and Vivaldi for certain specific activities. And while there’s still no way I can stop using Internet Explorer altogether, I only do so when absolutely necessary. I avoid Edge completely, as it seems hopelessly buggy. There are other alternatives, but for now, Firefox is my main browser.
The latest version of Firefox is 71.0. The new version improves some existing features and adds a few more. Several bugs are fixed, including some security vulnerabilities.
New in Firefox 71.0
- The integrated password manager, which Mozilla calls Lockwise, now differentiates between logins for different subdomains. If you have one login for
subdomain1.domain.com and another for
subdomain2.domain.com, they will no longer be conflated.
- Lockwise will also now display a warning if it finds one of your passwords in a list of potentially compromised passwords.
- The Enhanced Tracking Protection feature will now show a notification when Firefox blocks cryptomining code. You can see what Firefox is blocking by clicking the small shield icon at the far left of the address bar.
- You can now view video in a floating window using the Picture-in-picture feature. Look for a small blue button () along the right edge of a video and click it to pop out the PiP window.
Eleven security vulnerabilities are addressed in Firefox 71.0. None of them are ranked as critical, and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that any have been used in actual attacks. Still, it’s best to close those holes before they can be exploited.
How to update Firefox
Check which version of Firefox you’re running by navigating its ‘hamburger’ menu (at the top right) to
About Firefox. If you’re not running the latest version, you should see a button that will allow you to upgrade.
A small update to Firefox 69 was released last week: 69.0.1. The new version addresses a single security vulnerability, fixes a rather annoying new bug that caused processes launched from Firefox to be hidden by Firefox, and fixes a few other minor issues.
Check your version of Firefox by clicking its ‘hamburger’ menu button at the top right, then navigating to
About Firefox. If a newer version is available, you’ll see an
The latest Firefox includes fixes for at least twenty security vulnerabilities, and improves overall privacy and security by enabling Enhanced Tracking Protection by default.
When enabled, Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection reduces your exposure to the information-gathering efforts that otherwise silently occur when you browse. It also provides protection against cryptominers, which surrepticiously use a portion of your computer’s resources to make money for someone else.
New in Firefox 69.0 is a feature that allows you to block any video you encounter, not just those with autoplayed audio: Block Autoplay.
The ‘Always Activate’ option for Flash content has been removed. Firefox now asks for permission before it will play any Flash content.
Default installations of Firefox will usually update themselves, but if you’re not sure what version you’re running, click the browser’s ‘hamburger’ menu button at the top right, then navigate to
One security fix and a handful of other bug fixes were released in the form of Firefox 68.0.2 on August 14.
The lone security fix closes a hole in the way Firefox handles saved passwords. Before Firefox 68.0.2, it was possible to extract password information from the browser’s encrypted password database — even when it was protected by a master password — without entering the master password. That’s a rather large and (at least to anyone who uses Firefox’s password store with a master password) disturbing security hole.
As always, you can wait for Firefox to update itself, or expedite things by navigating the browser’s ‘hamburger’ menu to