Display recent Firefox Updates in the browser

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 18, 2013
Updated • May 1, 2013

Most Firefox components are set to auto-update whenever a new version gets released by Mozilla or an author of an extension, theme or plugin. This is true for the browser itself but also for add-ons and themes that you may have installed in the browser. While there are options to change that default behavior to install add-on updates manually instead, it is fair to assume that the majority of Firefox users use the automatic updates feature.

One of the issues associated with automatic updates, besides the obvious lack of testing on the end user system before it is applied to the productive system, is that it is relatively easy to miss update notifications. It is hard to tell what has been updated unless you will notice a difference in the user interface or behavior of the browser.

This is all going to change with the introduction of the recent updates log that Mozilla added to the most recent Nightly test version of the web browser today.

firefox recent updates

The recent updates list is a log that lists all recent changes made to the browser in regards to the browser's core, themes, add-ons and plugins. All of these different types of files are listed together on a single page so that you know exactly what has changed in recent time in the browser.

The update log looks a lot like the extensions listing on first glance and it provides you many of the features available in that menu. You can enable, disable or remove extensions and themes here for example. The list can only be sorted in chronological order, either with the newest or oldest updates on top.

The recent updates listing serves a couple of purposes in my opinion. First, it lets you find out what changed recently in the browser which can be helpful if you are troubleshooting issues that you are experiencing.If an add-on or the browser itself behaves different for instance, you may find out why in the update log. Second, it improves the overall security if you check the update log frequently to make sure nothing slipped by and got installed automatically.

The recent updates listing on the about:addons page is definitely a welcome change, especially if you combine it with helpful extensions such as Current Pushlog which highlights changes made during Firefox browser updates.

Update: As some readers have pointed out, the feature has been there in Firefox for quite some time (since Firefox 4 at least). You can display the extra menu on the extensions manager by clicking on the gear icon and selecting the view recent updates context menu item.

There is also an add-on available that displays more items there which can be really useful if you find the default listing insufficient.


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  1. Mystique said on April 19, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    I have recently installed an addon which extends the recent update options to show more than just the last ones installed, its called ‘Addons Recent Updates’ and can be found here.


    1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 20, 2013 at 2:10 am

      Interesting, thanks.

  2. Siavash said on April 18, 2013 at 6:26 am

    This was added to Firefox 4(accessible from the icon next to search input). I cheked it in Firefox 20.0.1 and it has this feature. All this time I didn’t know or simply had forgotten!

    You wrote about this too:
    Firefox 4 Minefield Now With Improved Add-Ons Manager

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 18, 2013 at 7:08 am

      Now that is strange. Maybe recent updates was only displayed temporarily back then and it is now a permanent option? I’m using Firefox daily and I have not seen that recent updates link in the add-ons manager for a very long time.

      1. Ken Saunders said on April 20, 2013 at 12:46 am

        I think that it used to be shown automatically, but I too have not seen it displayed (automatically) for a long time and I don’t recall it ever showing anything more than add-on updates.

        I just noticed that there’s a Services category in the Add-ons Manager. Did you see that? Perhaps worthy of an article.

        I forgot about this setting which is kind of cool at least until the new panel is added.
        toolbar.customization.usesheet true
        Try it and then select Customize

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on April 20, 2013 at 2:02 am

        That’s where the service providers get in that use the Social Api. I prefer separate windows over menus attached to the browser, that’s why I switched back to the old download manager and also prefer to keep the setting to false that you mentioned. Have a nice weekend Ken.

  3. osman said on April 18, 2013 at 5:48 am

    it has been there for a long long time, you just have to ask it explicitly (click “view recent updates” from the tools menu in the extensions view)

    1. Karl J. Gephart said on April 18, 2013 at 5:34 pm

      Thanks! It works great! I didn’t remember seeing that there! :)

  4. Karl J. Gephart said on April 18, 2013 at 2:19 am

    Would I be safe to assume (without checking) that this Recent Updates feature would also be available in Firefox 21 beta?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 18, 2013 at 2:35 am

      It may be, can’t really tell as I do not run that edition of Firefox.

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