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About every two days I'll open up a tab in Firefox and it'll say:

"You have to restart yadda yadda, here's a cute dinosaur."

It breaks my flow, and is not worth it in the least because I don't care about updates more than once a year.

enter image description here

Is there a setting anywhere in about:config that'll stop Firefox from this incessant behind the scenes updating which then interjects with a "stop everything and restart" the moment I open a new tab?

Can I maybe make the updates happen when I open Firefox instead of when opening a new tab?

Can I perhaps make it update on a yearly basis rather than this constant one?

If not, how can I make Firefox stop bothering me about updates entirely?

I did see some posts about stopping automatic updates and that kind of thing, but I'm primarily looking for a way to just keep them from interjecting in the middle of what I'm doing.

EDIT: When it was suggested that I disable updates from the setting in preferences, I found that setting already disabled.

EDIT2: Currently running FF68 Dev edition, on OSX 10.14

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  • 6
    The Firefox update that was released a few days ago fixed a critical security issue which was being actively exploited. Installing this update is really, really important.
    – user89623
    Jun 21, 2019 at 5:41
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    Thank you for the info. I read the link and things it linked to. Some things to note: this exploits uses are for UXSS and "maybe stealing crypto currency". Also, the last zero day for FF was in December 2016. So if a users last update was Jan 2017, and they navigated to a sketchy site while their bitcoin wallet was open in another tab, they might get pwned. Updating is still important.
    – Seph Reed
    Jun 21, 2019 at 15:21
  • Is "Use a background service to install updates" unchecked? If unchecked there should be no background (hidden) updating. Also, your OS & FF version should be in your question, though it may not matter here. I am presuming Windows 7 recent FF versions, but you really need to add the versions to your question, as there are FF interface differences between different OSs.
    – user3169
    Jun 21, 2019 at 19:01
  • I updated my question. I'm using FF68 and OSX 10.14. The uis are indeed different, but the capabilities tend to be the same, especially in the about:config territory. Then again, perhaps this is just not something FF on OSX can do.
    – Seph Reed
    Jun 21, 2019 at 20:06
  • Sorry, I don't have an OSX installation to check. While the Windows 7 FF has what I mentioned, the Ubuntu linux FF does not, because FF is updated by the system Software Updater, not by FF itself. It's important to understand whether FF is updating itself or OSX is.
    – user3169
    Jun 22, 2019 at 4:43

3 Answers 3

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Go to 'about:config' and type in 'app.update' and you'll see a long list of configurable values. One of these is 'app.update.auto', which you can set to be FALSE, which should disable auto-updating alltogether.

Or perhaps you could alter the 'app.update.interval' value, which for me defaults to 43200 seconds, or 12 hours, and set this to a much higher value if you only want the auto update checked every month or even every year (31536000 seconds) as the OP requested.

Edit: It would be nice though if there was a configuration that checked and updated regularly but just stopped the forced restart.

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    Absolutely. They tell you "you won't lose anything", well EVEN if the restart worked (it doesn't always), I will lose something. I always have a PGAdmin session running, and I'm going to lose my database session. So, I'm fine with it automatically downloading updates (as Chrome does) but restarting on MY schedule. I think this is a dealbreaker for me and Firefox
    – Auspex
    Jul 18, 2021 at 18:14
  • yeah, tabs will be reloaded when you click on them, unless there's a way to save and load website data to a file, such as the content on the web page, and running scripts
    – mekb
    Mar 14, 2022 at 22:54
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    It's all well and good for people browsing youtube and face book, but not for anyone using more advanced things with specific sessions etc. I often have debug tabs and data dumps, remote connections to things. it's just so inconvenient to force me to restart when they want, there are moments when it'd be ok to do it and me start over but give me the choice. Stupid.
    – James
    Mar 25, 2022 at 11:20
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    app.update.auto=false Does not work.
    – miguel
    Oct 27, 2022 at 23:56
  • It also closes the tab you were in when it popped up that message. Really bad UX. So say you type a really long search query and hit enter; the fu**ing message opens and on restore the query is gone.
    – John Glen
    Feb 1 at 15:50
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The majority of people arriving here will be running Linux (the original question was on Mac OS X), so I want to repeat my answer from: How can I make Firefox allow new tabs with an update pending?

On Linux, disabling Firefox updates in Firefox itself will not fix this issue, because Firefox's own updater doesn't actually have this bug! You get this warning when the Linux package manager has already replaced the files underneath the running program. The update has already happened. That's why there's no option to disable or skip this; this page is really a warning that things are already completely messed up and the only alternative is very likely an instant crash: the files on disk no longer match the program that's running.

A fairly simple solution that works is to install the Firefox build from Mozilla itself. As said, Firefox's own updater does not have this bug. Snap and Flatpak also avoid this bug by design.

Edit: In January 2024 Mozilla published .deb packages from an own repository that also avoid this problem: https://blog.mozilla.org/en/products/4-reasons-to-try-mozillas-new-firefox-linux-package-for-ubuntu-and-debian-derivatives/

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    If the binary is already loaded and running, it doesn't matter if the file saved on disk was modified. Several linux apps keep working after an update without issues. I get that the sqlite db that firefox uses changes in some updates, but those changes are applied when the new binary starts and not during the update itself. I believe it would be fairly safe for firefox to continue running. May 16, 2023 at 18:37
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    "Most apps" aren't nearly as complex as a multi-processed browser. Data-files on disk can change to new versions and be incompatible, libraries that are shipped with the browser can change in an incompatible manner, and new copies of the binary can be launched as helper processes that will now mismatch when doing IPC. Looking through Bugzilla will easily find examples, e.g. bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1345872. They didn't add that extra screen for no reason!
    – gcp
    May 18, 2023 at 7:15
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    Sure, they must have reasons, I just don't think it's strictly necessary. Forking a new process doesn't necessary read it from the disk as far as I know and other browsers don't exhibit this behaviour. May 18, 2023 at 11:57
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    Surely, some updates can break a running Firefox, but far from all updates actually do. Most updates to Firefox are inconsequential to me such as corrected i18n files and for those there are no reasons to force a restart. Restarting Firefox is so annoying that I'd rather take my chances than have Firefox forcing my hand. Jun 13, 2023 at 9:51
  • "Snap and Flatpak also avoid this bug by design." I have Firefox installed via snap (Kubuntu 22.04) and this forced-restart problem still occurs. (What makes it even more annoying is that it DOESN'T restart! I have to manually restart it anyway! And that's been happening for at least the last couple major Kubuntu versions!)
    – dirtside
    Aug 17, 2023 at 4:25
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You can tell Firefox that you want it to stop automatically installing updates.

Use the "hamburger" menu (the three horizontal lines) in the upper right, then choose Options.

Then, in the General section, scroll down to the Firefox Updates section. Change to the Check for updates but let you choose to install them option:

screenshot of the Firefox Updates section of the Options dialog where the option is present

While some have reported that this option has been removed, it still shows up in Firefox 81.0 (64-bit, Windows).

Other systems, perhaps where the system's own package manager is responsible for keeping Firefox up-to-date, do not show the option (screenshot is from a 64-bit Linux system):

screenshot of the Firefox Updates section of the Options dialog where the option is missing

Disclaimer

Preventing software from being kept up-to-date is not a good security practice. It is strongly recommended that you let the updating mechanism do its thing. If you only update once a year, it is likely that more than just "your flow" will get broken.

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  • I've had that option checked for as long as I can remember. I still get this update restart thing.
    – Seph Reed
    Jun 21, 2019 at 5:20
  • Is "Use a background service to install updates" unchecked? If unchecked there should be no background (hidden) updating. Also, your FF version should be in your question, though it may not matter here.
    – user3169
    Jun 21, 2019 at 5:52
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    @user3169 I do not see that setting anywhere. Also, searching "background" in about:config did not yield any booleans.
    – Seph Reed
    Jun 21, 2019 at 15:02
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    If you are on Linux and have FF installed through a package manager then you don't have this option. Some package managers update the FF package very frequently, for example, for minor i18n changes, which exacerbates the problem and makes FF's forced update behavior incredibly frustrating. Jan 29, 2021 at 10:56
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    Updating once in a year is ridiculous, yet forcing the user to restart by preventing any new windows is extremely annoying. If I have html forms filled and not submitted, for example, I just lost the data. And, in general, if I am working and I need 10 more minutes before restarting you give me ten minutes, not force me to stop my work right now. This is a really, really bad usability issue. Dec 22, 2021 at 7:30

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