The new Reset Firefox feature is like magic

Planet Mozilla viewers – you can watch this video on YouTube.

Update: This feature is available in the latest Firefox. Download it now from mozilla.org/firefox

A little more than two years ago when I joined the support team, one of the first things that struck me was that most every support procedure we had involved a long list of troubleshooting steps. The idea seemed to be, let’s try to identify the exact cause of the problem and just fix that. That sounds reasonable but the practical implication of that often isn’t: Is your software up to date? If yes, let’s turn off your plugins and see what happens. Did the problem go away? No? Does the problem happen in safe mode? If no, let’s try turning half of your extensions back on. What about a new profile? Great, now just copy places.sqlite from your old profile to your new profile.

What a mess. What mere mortal has the time, skill and patience to work their way though all that? And if the thing that needs fixing isn’t easily reproducible? Forget it. It’s now become a part-time job. I suspect that for many people, it’s just easier to switch to another browser since you’ve already got one installed on your computer. Problem solved.

So the support team worked with product and engineering to create the Reset Firefox feature. The first implementation of this is a button on the Troubleshooting Information page (about:support). What is does is create a new profile and migrate your bookmarks, passwords, cookies and form data. Everything else gets set to the defaults.

I have to say, this thing is like magic. You basically get a brand new Firefox installation without the penalty of losing all your data. This is especially useful as a quick fix for the thousands of posts we see on social media where people often express vague complaints about Firefox. “Firefox is slow.” “Firefox crashes too much.” “Firefox sucks.”

The big gap in the current implementation is that, for the most part, people won’t know about this feature unless we tell them about it. Future plans involve making it discoverable. Soon we’ll give users the option to reset Firefox when it crashes on startup for the third time. And the really big thing will be giving Windows users this option when re-installing Firefox. Maybe one day the phrase, “I tried re-installing Firefox but it didn’t do anything” will go away.

Read more about Reset Firefox on the support site and then download the latest Firefox and try it out.

    Notes:

  • It only saves bookmarks, passwords, cookies and form data. You will lose your add-ons, Sync settings, open tabs and tab groups.
  • It only works with the default profile. If you’ve opened Firefox via the command line or shortcut with a profile that isn’t the default, you won’t see the Reset Firefox button.