Fix: Cannot Delete Firefox 3 Bookmarks

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 12, 2008
Updated • Oct 8, 2012

Something strange happened today. Deleting a Firefox bookmark in the bookmarks toolbar or in the bookmarks folder removed that entry from Firefox. It did however reappear after a restart of the browser which was puzzling and annoying as it was not possible to remove old bookmarks from the computer system using the default way.

The best way to start the analysis of the issue is to create a backup of the Firefox 3 bookmarks file to be on the save side. A quick search on the Internet suggested to delete the files places.sqlite and places.sqlite-journal which contains the bookmark information. Deleting them forces Firefox to rebuild the bookmarks from the last backup. The best option is to simply move them from the profile folder into another folder for safety purposes instead of deleting them outright.

Firefox did recreate both files but it did not solve the problem. It was still not possible to delete bookmarks permanently. Next option was to remove both the files and the bookmark backups so that Firefox could not recreate the bookmarks and would have to start with a new blank bookmarks file.

This includes deleting or moving the folder bookmarkbackups and the files in the Firefox profile folder.

A restart of Firefox revealed that all bookmarks were finally gone. It was also possible to delete and move the default bookmarks in Firefox. The last step was to import the bookmarks from the backup that was created at the beginning and move them into their correct places again.

To import bookmarks into Firefox, open the Bookmarks Manager with a click on the Firefox button and the selection of Bookmarks from the menu. In the manager, click on import and backup and select import bookmarks from HTML from the list. You can alternatively import them from another web browser if you are syncing your bookmarks across browsers.

A test to delete and move those imported bookmarks was positive and solved the issue of being not able to delete Firefox 3 bookmarks.


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  1. Miep said on June 21, 2009 at 11:35 am

    At some stage there was an extension that would (1) remove tab names, and (2) sort the tabs automatically. Do anyone remember which one this is?

  2. Kishore said on March 17, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    Thanks it helped a lot. I tried to remove all my book marks n deleted bookmarks.html and backup files in all the places. i wondered why they were coming up still then i deleted places.sqlite file as you said and all the bookmarks disappeared. thanks for your post.

  3. Dan said on December 16, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    I had this problem. I believe it was caused by a bad pref setting which was set to automatically recreate the places query folders or automatically import bookmarks.html. I found such a pref I knew was set incorrectly, toggled it and my problem went away.

  4. yiauta said on December 13, 2008 at 4:21 am

    I have been having the same problem of deleted bookmarks coming back, and also not saving new bookmarks, after restarting firefox 3. The work around I have found is clicking on organize bookmarks and doing a backup before closing the browser. Upon restarting firefox 3 all the deleted bookmarks are still gone and the added bookmarks are still there.

  5. Steven said on December 12, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    I encountered the same problem a couple of times. The way I tried to resolve it was a bit more complicated as I’m running the portable version & it has a few ‘dummy’ bookmark backup files to deal with. I’d manage to import the bookmarks but then on the next run, the old bookmarks were still there. It was really annoying. In the end I did a fresh install of portable Firefox & decided to use the FEBE extension to perform backups.
    Today I encountered another small glitch, this time caused by an extension that created a folder ‘Bookmark Trash’. The problem is the extension had no options to empty this folder on a scheduled basis, in fact no options to empty it at all. All old ‘live’ bookmarks ended up there so pretty soon the folder was bursting with ‘trash’. After uninstalling the extension it left the folder in place so I had to go through it & delete over 500 bookmarks !

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