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.
Released on February 11, Thunderbird 68.5.0 adds support for new authentication techniques, fixes a few minor bugs, and addresses seven security vulnerabilities.
Update Thunderbird by navigating its ‘hamburger’ menu (at the top right) to
About Thunderbird. If there’s a newer version available, you should see a button or link that allows you to install it.
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
Earlier this month Mozilla released a new version of its (still free, and still pretty good) email client, Thunderbird. The new version (60.8) includes fixes for ten security issues in earlier versions.
If you use Thunderbird, you can check which version you’re running by clicking its (‘hamburger’) menu button, and navigate to
About Mozilla Thunderbird. If a newer version is available, you should see a prompt to install it.
There are at least twenty-one fixes for security issues in the latest Firefox, version 68.0. If Firefox is your browser of choice, and it prompts you to install this update, you should let it proceed. If Firefox’s automatic version checking is disabled, you can always wake it up by navigating the ‘hamburger’ menu to
About Mozilla Firefox.
Other changes in Firefox 68.0 include the spread of “Dark mode in reader view” into the surrounding browser interface. Blecch. Well, it’s not for me, anyway.
Extension management, via the about:addons page, is improved in the new Firefox. It’s now easier to report security and performance issues with extensions and themes. It’s also easier to get detailed information about extensions. And there’s a new section that provides extension recommendations.
The release notes page for Firefox 68.0 has more information.