I use Firefox stable, beta, aurora and nightlies on OS X 10.7.*. While automatic updates work as expected with aurora and nightly builds, they don't work (and never have) with stable and beta versions.

When I check the "About Firefox" menu item and hit the "Search for updates" button it tells me Firefox is already up to date - although there are updates available.

What could prevent Firefox from recognizing available updates?

  • Have you tried uninstall, clean up all folders, then reinstall ? – harrymc May 13 '13 at 8:09
  • Yes of course. That did not make any difference. I also double checked if all necessary network connections are permitted. – Saucier May 13 '13 at 10:16
  • Does this happen with Firefox in Safe Mode ? – harrymc May 13 '13 at 17:32
  • Good point. I just started Firefox Beta in safe mode. Again I also deleted the entire profile of my Beta version. Unfortunately it does not give me better results. – Saucier May 13 '13 at 17:41

Verify that you are the owner of the Firefox app directory and all files and directories under it (recursively).

If so, enter about:config in the URL bar, search for preference app.update.log, and (if not already set to true) double-click on it to change it to true. Then quit Firefox and restart. After an update check, go to Tools » Web Developer » Error Console, scroll to the end, and look for blue log messages from the update service (AUS). This should show the URL it was using to check for updates and whether there were any errors or updates.

If there are no obvious issues, copy the URL from the log and paste it into the URL bar to manually check the XML to see whether any updates are listed. The URL is generated based on app.update.url (in about:config) and includes the version you are updating from as well as platform, locale, and other information. For example this is the URL generated for Firefox 21.0 beta 6 on Mac OS X 10.8.3: https://aus3.mozilla.org/update/3/Firefox/21.0/20130430204233/Darwin_x86_64-gcc3-u-i386-x86_64/en-US/beta/Darwin%2012.3.0/default/default/update.xml?force=1. Because there is a beta 7 available it should show an update. If there are no updates for this combination of variables you should see <updates> </updates>. If you see no updates but you think there should be updates available, check for components of the URL that do not match the example URL above (other than the specific version and build id) and try replacing them with those from the example. This will determine whether you have an unsupported product, build target, locale, channel name, os version, distribution, or distribution version.

  • Thanks for your comprehensive answer. ls -laR confirms that I'm the owner of all installed Firefox versions. The log does not show critical errors/warnings related to the topic. Fetching the xml shows an empty <update> tag but there should be updates for my v20 beta. The url is: https://aus3.mozilla.org/update/3/Firefox/20.0/20130220104816/Darwin_x86_64-gcc3/de/beta/Darwin%2011.4.2/default/default/update.xml?force=1. Replacing the platform BUILD_TARGET parameter with Darwin_x86_64-gcc3-u-i386-x86_64 lists available updates (21.0 Beta 7). – Saucier May 13 '13 at 22:49
  • So it seems the BUILD_TARGET variable is not set correctly. Where could I change it? Should I change it at all? – Saucier May 13 '13 at 23:16
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    @Ube: Darwin_x86_64-gcc3-u-i386-x86_64 means a universal binary supporting both i386 and x86_64, running on x86_64. Darwin_x86_64-gcc‌​3 means that you are running an x86_64-only version. The distribution Mac builds are universal; there are no x86_64-only updates. Did you build it yourself or strip out the i386 part? file /Applications/Firefox.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox in a Terminal will show which architectures your firefox binary supports. I don't know how it got that way but you could potentially edit app.update.url and replace %BUILD_TARGET% with Darwin_x86_64-gcc3-u-i386-x86_64. – mark4o May 14 '13 at 2:19
  • Ah that's a good point again! Indeed I stripped the i386 part away in all (stable, beta, aurora, nightly) of my Firefox editions. file /Applications/Firefox{,\ Beta,\ Aurora,\ Nightly}.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox confirms that. I'm going to test if an unstripped edition would make a difference. Then the question would be why Aurora and Nightly does not care about stripping. Are they 64bit by default? – Saucier May 14 '13 at 2:28
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    The aurora/nightly builds are automatically generated and I don't think it uses all of the variables to pick one, whereas beta and stable are tested and have officially supported versions and platforms. – mark4o May 14 '13 at 2:51

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