Restore Firefox 32 context menu labels and remove icons

Firefox 32 will be released to the stable channel of the web browser later today. With it comes a change to the browser's main context menu that replaces some text labels with icons.

The commands back, forward, reload, bookmark and stop are no longer displayed as text when you right-click a page in the browser but as icons that are aligned horizontally.

The icons reduce the height of the context menu without modifying its functionality. Critics of the change state that it takes longer to load due to the fact that images take longer to load than textual contents and that an icon row does not fit well in there at all on the desktop.

Firefox is the browser that you can customize the most. It comes therefore not as a surprise that you can go back to the old context menu easily.

There is also an option to get rid of one or multiple of the icons instead, or move them to another location in the menu. This guide looks at both options.

Option 1: Restore labels and remove icons

firefox context menu text instead of icons

This is probably the preferred option for many users of the browser who dislike the icon row in the context menu. The Firefox add-on Classic Theme Restorer offers this option.

Note: only working if you run the default theme.

All you need to do is install the add-on in Firefox and open its preferences afterwards. Here you need to select General UI from the sidebar menu and scroll down until you find the option "Replace page context menu icons with labels (back, forward, stop, reload, bookmark page)" and check it.

Once done, Firefox will display a textual context menu again without any icons.

firefox text context menu

context menu

Option 2: Menu Wizard

If you prefer to remove some of the icons in the menu or move them to another location, then you may use an add-on such as Menu Wizard.

To use it install the add-on and restart the browser afterwards. Once you have done so, open about:addons and click on the options button next to it.

Expand the Main Context Menu tree and uncheck the following items to remove them from the context menu:

  • context-back
  • context-forwrad
  • context-reload
  • context-bookmarkpage
  • context-stop

Each item can be removed individually from the menu. It is alternatively possible to move each icon to a new location in the menu.

Conclusion

firefox new context menu

As soon as Mozilla makes a change to a core feature of the browser, it is certain that an add-on developer will come up with an option to restore the functionality again.

What's your take on the icons in the context menu? Do you like or dislike them, or are indifferent to the change? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Restore Firefox 32 context menu labels and remove icons
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Mozilla Firefox ships with icons in the right-click context menu. Find out how to replace these icons with text labels.
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Responses to Restore Firefox 32 context menu labels and remove icons

  1. Chris September 2, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

    Firefox seems intent on ruling itself out of the browser wars based simply on the erosion of the thing we all liked best: customization. Hard to say what the next worst alternative is... Chrome (please tell me we don't seriously think Google isn't hoovering up every scrap of information on what we do there). Safari (mac only and limited add-ons). Opera (not even considering that until they fix bookmarks back to Opera 12 level). Any suggestions?

    • ZzzZombi September 2, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

      Well, there's PaleMoon. I'm using Firefox but I always keep Pale Moon at ready. Like a good old friend you keep in mind but don't exactly see everyday.

    • Guest September 4, 2014 at 6:55 pm #

      @Chris:
      Speak for yourself. I liked Australis, and I like this. Firefox is moving towards multiprocess soon, which is a good thing, so we're moving forwards.

    • Anonymous September 14, 2014 at 4:09 am #

      Firefox USED to be the browser you could customize to work FOR you not AGAINST you!!!!

      Thank you for destroying my browser.

      It's SAD when IE can be depended on MORE than firefox.

  2. anohana September 2, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

    That's why I love FF! Did devs change something what you don't like now? You can change it! Thanks for the article!

  3. Chains The Bounty Hunter September 2, 2014 at 7:28 pm #

    Honestly (though I imagine if there were an ability to downvote comments on this blog, many would jump at the chance to do so for my having written this) I don't mind this change and haven't noted any difference in load (but admittedly am not clocking it to find a difference either).

  4. Gary5 September 2, 2014 at 7:31 pm #

    "What's your take on the icons in the context menu? Do you like or dislike them"

    I removed Back, Forward, Reload and Bookmark with Menu Editor about ten years ago. I will remove these new touch-screen versions too.

  5. Uhtred September 2, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

    not tried it yet, but if I'm laptop without a mouse presumably pg up and pg down keys are all i need to nav the menu, or do i need to fiddle with left right arrows too?

    • Martin Brinkmann September 2, 2014 at 10:46 pm #

      No it works with the up and down keys.

      • Uhtred September 3, 2014 at 10:53 am #

        that's good, thanks :)

  6. Ficho September 2, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

    Martin,I don't see that option in Classic Theme Restorer 1.2.3 .
    Maybe it is because of the BlackFox theme I'm using.

  7. menumus September 3, 2014 at 4:48 am #

    If I wanted to use arrows to navigate, I wouldn't have selected the MENU! STOP F'ng with things that have worked fine for ages and aren't broken

  8. ilev September 3, 2014 at 7:11 am #

    Portable Firefox 32 : http://portableapps.com/news/2014-09-02--firefox-portable-32.0-released

  9. Alx September 3, 2014 at 8:02 am #

    also this do without addons:
    http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?p=13591997#p13591997

  10. beachbouy September 4, 2014 at 6:17 am #

    I like the icon menu vs the text. I honestly don't see why anyone would not like this change. Except for the fact that some people don't like change... any change, even if it's a good one.

    • Fozzy September 4, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

      The problem is that it's too subjective. I don't like just icons myself, I prefer to have a text label (at least) so I know that when I click something, it (hopefully) does what I interpret the text to indicate. It makes my experience of browsing faster and less error prone.

      On my system, when I right click, I see icons one on each line, instead of all of them in a row. After changing the setting with the Classic Theme Restorer, I have the text back, but each line 'taller' than before. I probably have another addon that's getting in the way and I will see if I can find it.

      I'd hope that if Mozilla gets stats on addons that people install, that they look at the data. For example, if a good percentage (10%, maybe less.. they would need to figure out for themselves what threshold is good) of the users are installing the Classic Theme Restorer, would they maybe think "hmm, that's not an insignificant number of people installing the plugin, maybe we need to rethink some things."

    • cmcbell September 4, 2014 at 10:16 pm #

      Some of us prefer to use the keyboard to go back a page. Can't do that with icons.

    • sianz September 23, 2014 at 7:36 am #

      you like the icon menu because you have been using the browser inefficiently.

      it is very fast with the old context menu short cuts and you don't need to even move your hands if your left fingers are on B F R of the keyboard and your right hand is on the mouse when you are quickly fipping back and forth pages.

      change to a more inefficient manner of doing things is what we reject, which is somehow lost on you since you can even describe this abomination of a UI as "good".

      This is as good as how Windows 8 UI turned out.

    • sianz September 23, 2014 at 7:42 am #

      you like the icon menu because you have been using the browser inefficiently.

      it is very fast with the old context menu short cuts and you don't need to even move your hands if your left fingers are on B F R of the keyboard and your right hand is on the mouse when you are quickly fipping back and forth pages.

      change to a more inefficient manner of doing things is what we reject, which is somehow lost on you since you can even describe this abomination of a UI as "good".

      This is as good as the Windows 8.0 UI now I wonder how that turned out!

    • Gregory September 25, 2014 at 11:00 pm #

      When I saw these icons instead a text my first thought was deinstall Firefox and use something else :). Why Firefox crew forced me to use updated interface? I'm quite sure - when program upgrade ALL settings include UI MUST remains the same! I can select some new option/representatuin but not a development team! This is not a techincal thing, this is a principle - nobody can make a decision for me. NOBODY. NEVER.

  11. Anonymous September 5, 2014 at 8:23 am #

    I do not like the idea of making single UI for both touchscreen and mouse. Good UI for mouse and good UI for touch will be different.

  12. Richard Steven Hack September 6, 2014 at 8:45 am #

    As I always say with every Firefox release...they need to spend less time tweaking this crap and more time fixing the bugs...like the ones that throw Firefox into 100% CPU periodically and force me to restart Firefox.

  13. deafwiggle September 6, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

    This "fix" restores the text labels, but not the keyboard shortcut (i.e. "R" for reload). Anyone?

    • cobra September 8, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

      I, too, would like the "R" to reload back!

  14. guy2 September 7, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    Why the f*** they made those icon in context menu?! I updated the firefox from 31 to 32 and when I right click I found those stuid icons. I thought manybe some addon done this. But I didn't find any addon causing this. And then I did a quick google search and found your article! Thanks man, for helping me to get rid of those icons. Mozilla is screwing their own browser.

  15. Roy September 9, 2014 at 12:50 am #

    I have decided to stop using Firefox because of this change. I have used it since it was released, and I have been responsible for more installations than anyone I know. But this crap is seriously too far.

    Bye bye Firefox. I have been falling out of love with you since v3. I can't tell you how much I seriously hate the fricking icons in the context menu, and I refuse to install an addon that only works with the classic theme... good lord, what the hell is wrong with you guys?

    Hello SeaMonkey and PaleMoon!

  16. Anonymous September 9, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    Now reloading a page needs lateral mouse movement. Who likes lateral scrolling on earth? Isn't that what web developers avoid at all costs?

  17. Bharat Bhardwaj September 10, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    I wish, you had also given the links to these two addons. Now i would have to looking for them. This is not to say i don't appreciate your hardwork & the research behind it!

    Thank you...!

  18. ROB HACK September 17, 2014 at 2:23 am #

    Nothing wrong with the way it was. Everyone just wants to keep changing stuff for no reason. Like Google maps for example.That was perfect now it's screwed up. Soon they are forcing the new one on you. I went to Yahoo for searching & deleted my google account. Now this change is not so big a deal but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before they screw up Firefox and I go somewhere else.

    • FoaRyan October 2, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

      That's the thing to do in software development nowadays. Change all sorts of aesthetics and ignore actual functionality issues. Claim you "fixed some bugs" in a release, but don't identify any of them (talking about iPhone app updates there, not so much Mozilla). Change text to hieroglyphics and leave people like me guessing as to what in the world a stylized icon is supposed to mean. Make everything mouse/trackpad/gesture-centric and destroy the functionality of the keyboard. That's how you get promoted in the early 21st Century software world.

  19. phil September 17, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

    Mozilla is digging its own grave; they are tweaking UI and other core features with rapid iteration and people are getting pissed off! I'm one of them. Forefox 32 won't open links from Mac Mail; I have tried every workaround on every forum I could find. I've spent 2 hours trying to make Firefox 32 open a freaking Mac Mail link!! What the hell is wrong with you Firefox developers? Let me tell you what's wrong. You have free reign to 'fix" things, so you are doing EXACTLY what MSFT did to it's bloatware - i.e. making it MORE unusable and confusing with every release! It's ridiculous, and the only reason this is happeneing is because a bunch of code monkeys are not be *managed* properly, and as a result the Firefox browser has become ***engineering driven*** instead of becoming user-driven.

    What I suggest is that you get some INTERACTION DESIGNERS inside at Mozilla and get this goddamned mess cleaned up, because I'm gone until it gets fixed. Mozilla is losing share EXACTLY because of this structural flaw. Wake up! And stop becoming MSFT!

  20. anonymous September 18, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    Since that guy who developed Firefox was "fired" (for his personal beliefs, not because he was stupid !?!?!?) and another one came in charge, Firefox is getting from worse to even worse. I think it's time to reconsider the old values - not only because there was and still are values but - because the new non-values will broke everything. Or maybe that's Firefox developers goal? It's a possibility. First get rid of the one who can oppose then start breaking it. I wonder what browser (forget Palemoon - it's closed sorce as I know) can replace Firefox. As fast as Firefox is blown up, we should move quick...

  21. sianz September 23, 2014 at 7:29 am #

    how do you enable the short cut for "Back" in the context menu?

    it used to be "right click" (using my right mouse hand) and hitting "B" on the keyboard with my left hand to go back without ever shifting the mouse or both my hands.

    The recent update is just plain annoying.

  22. Darren September 30, 2014 at 6:59 am #

    Ever since microsoft got involved with the firefox development I've been waiting for it to go downhil and it has, slowly but surely we are getting stupid change after stupid change. Microsoft are killing firefox from the inside.

    This latest change is annoying for me because moving the mouse to the right rather than down is very awkward, you have to be more precise aswell so it takes longer.

    Stupid little change after stupid little change slowly but surely microsoft is killing firefox.

    Hey Microsoft stick to screwing up windows and leave firefox alone yeah. Just because you wreck the competition doesn't mean we will start using your crappy browser again.

    Thanks to those who post solutions to this latest bad move, especially the ones that don't require an addon.

  23. Sandy October 1, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

    I don't like the icons. They're too big in relation to everything else in the menu. And as I never use the commands there (mouse gestures for me, thank you), I find the mega-images annoying. Thankfully I was already using the Classic Theme Restorer so it was just ticking one box to be rid of them.

  24. Ken October 13, 2014 at 3:34 am #

    I am getting pretty fed-up.

    I have no trouble with Mozilla tweaking the UI--that is one of the perks of writing this stuff for free. Developers get to try out new ideas, and sometimes these new ideas are very good or even brilliant.

    What I am having trouble living with is that these changes are imposed on me without my consent. One day I am happily using FF, the next day--what the heck? A trip to the help menu reveals that I am the proud user of a new version of FF.

    The fatal flaw is that these changes are opt-out, not opt-in. I imagine that there is a lot of ego involved with developers thinking that they know what is good for us and that we don't. This attitude has sunk a lot of Hi-Tech companies. That is why developers need a good product manager. Apparently, there are none to be had at Mozilla.

    That said, I really do appreciate all the hard work that developers are putting in to improve FireFox. As a former Netscape employee, I love the browser--and Mozilla.

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