Automatic add-on updates can be a fine thing. You save some time and make sure that your add-ons are always up to date. That's great to resolve security or stability issues as soon as possible. It can however also mean that you get feature additions that you did not want or expect.
I just read about the Download Statusbar add-on fiasco over at Donation Coder and the add-on's reviews page at the official Mozilla website. According to information posted on both sites, the popular Firefox add-on Download Statusbar turned adware for a period of time before it was pulled from the add-on repository only to be reinstated without the sponsorship mechanism.
Regardless of that, it shows that automatic updates can cause problems. Sometimes you may want to block add-ons from being updated automatically. Maybe because you know that a new version that is already out is causing issues on your system or adding unwanted features, or because you want to research each update before you install it.
The Firefox web browser has two options for users who want to customize the automatic add-on updating mechanism of the browser.
Update: the first option changed in recent versions of Firefox. You do not find the option that handles automatic add-on updates anymore in the Firefox Options. Instead, you need to load about:addons in the browser, click on the settings icon next to search at the top right of the browser, and check or uncheck "update add-ons automatically".
The first option is to disable automatic add-on updates completely. This is done under Options > Advanced > Update. Here you need to remove the checkmark of the Add-ons listing under Automatically check for updates to.
For extra protection, make sure that Ask me what I want to do when updates to Firefox are found is enabled.
Sometimes you want to make sure that only some installed add-ons do not update automatically, or that some do if you have selected the do not check for automatic updates option mentioned earlier in this guide.
Open the Firefox add-on manager. You can do that by entering about:addons in the address bar. All installed add-ons are displayed under Extensions there. To configure automatic updates for a specific add-on do the following. Click on the More link next to the add-ons description.
Look for the Automatic Updates listing on the page. Default means that it will use the global automatic update options of the Firefox options. You can set automatic updates to on or off instead. It is furthermore possible to check for updates manually with a click on the link of the same name.
You can also click on the settings button at the top to perform various operations, including a check for updates, reseting all add-ons to update manually or enabling or disabling add-on updates automatically.
To paraphrase. Firefox users can keep automatic updates turned on and turn off updates for specific add-ons only, or turn off automatic updates and turn them on for trusted add-ons instead.
Firefox users who have set their add-ons to update manually only will see a new listing in the add-ons manager. Available Updates list the available updates for all add-ons set to update manually.
Have you set your Firefox add-ons to update manually or automatically?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.