Load programs right from within Firefox

Martin Brinkmann
May 11, 2013
Firefox, Firefox add-ons

If you are using Firefox throughout the day you may encounter situations during that time in which you may need to launch another program on your system. While you can do so using the taskbar or a comparable solution, it sometimes may not be the most suitable solution. First of all, to launch programs from the taskbar you need to have them pinned to it.

You may not want to pin a program like notepad or the Windows Control Panel to the taskbar, and that is one of the situations where the Firefox extension Easy Access may help you with. It can also be useful if you run Firefox in fullscreen mode all the time or hide the taskbar automatically after a certain time of inactivity.

It adds the option to Firefox to load any program from the underlying operating system with a single click of the mouse button.

Once you have installed the extension in the browser you will notice that it adds its icon automatically to Firefox's add-ons bar. If you do not see the add-ons bar use the shortcut Ctrl-/ to display it.

firefox load programs

A left-click on the icon displays the available shortcuts and a link to the settings of the extension. You can launch any program listed here with a left-click and while the default programs, Notepad, Paint, Calculator, My Computer and Switch Profile, may be useful to some, it is likely that you may want to add custom programs to the list instead.

Click on the manage your own EasyAccess link here to get started with that. The first tab that opens up provides you with the means to add the five default links directly to the add-on bar of the browser so that you can run them with a single click.

Switch to customize your quicklaunch to configure your own programs.

launch programs firefox

  1. Click on browse or paste the full path to the file directly into the first field of the form.
  2. The name is filled out automatically, but you can modify it if you want.
  3. If you want to launch the program with arguments add them here.
  4. Check the add to addonbar box if you want it displayed directly in the add-on bar of the browser. Otherwise, it is only available when you left-click on the main menu button of the extension.

Note that programs are always displayed with their program icon and that their name is only displayed on hover.

firefox easyaccess

The extension can be quite useful to some Firefox users at least.


  1. Note that you can move the icons to another toolbar if you prefer that. You can only move all icons together unfortunately.
  2. You do not need to add executable files, all file types are accepted and can be launched directly from the browser.

Tutorials & Tips

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  1. Ken Saunders said on May 12, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Nice find Martin. There have been a few of these types of add-ons over the years, this one looks like a good one.

    There’s a way to display your Windows desktop (assets), or any folder in Firefox and launch programs, browse folders, open files, etc.

    Install IE Tab V2 (or whatever one you’re comfortable with)

    Type in the path of the folder that you want displayed in Firefox into the location bar (or you can drag it to Firefox).
    Example: file:///C:/Users/Ken/Desktop
    Right click on the tab > “Switch rendering engine”
    Now you have access to your desktop with icons and all.
    You can pin that tab, or bookmark it and add a keyword.

    A few years back, I had things setup so that I wouldn’t have to leave Firefox for everything. I used the tip above, I had Firefox set to open (nearly) all image files and other types as well as a few other things.

    Opening local files in Firefox usually allows you to use your add-ons with them so for example, by opening a folder with images, I can use the Web Slide Show Extension add-on to view the images which is a better image viewer than Windows default (or any other). If Images are set to open in Firefox, you can use other add-ons to edit them, upload them, etc. You can also edit/compose local documents like plain text, HTML, PHP, CSS, etc, and preview them and so on.

    I don’t want a full Chromebook type of experience, that’s all Google and not local, and not my choices or control. I just want control I guess.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 12, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      Great tip Ken.

  2. ProcessHacker said on May 11, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    I am using applauncher here.. Uses a context menu when you right click.

    I use it for fixing the addon called “ProxySel” with a third party app called Find and Replace the binary is called fnr.exe ( http://findandreplace.codeplex.com/ )

    SO I make a batch file “fixextension.bat” like so…
    “c:\x\fnr.exe” –cl –dir “C:\Documents and Settings\ProcessHacker\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\8l9hzjvt.default” –fileMask “extensions.ini” –caseSensitive –find “{71e95839-6f7e-470d-be54-77012fec6345}.xpi” –replace “proxysel”

    Then I click the Restart firefox and boom Proxy Select is now back on the toolbar for Aurora, Nightly (I ain’t checked UX)

    I never liked all the new proxy manager addons. This one just works with list imports, page read imports and the Vidalia bundle’s toggle of TOR. haha sounds like some new crazy world ruler, “Beware, the toggle of tor”

    I’ve tried a few of these launcher programs, and making a button from scratch, this is just easiest for me. I could script up a bunch of buttons, but I already batch/shell script out of VB6 for most of that productivity killing noise (where noise means clicking over and over on the same stuff)

  3. Karl J. Gephart said on May 11, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Oh, sweet! Haven’t tried External Application Buttons 2 because a reviewer said you can’t access Win Explorer with it. With this, you can. Downside here is you have to keep the 5 apps they give you – Notepad, Calculator, Paint, Switch Profile (a keeper!), and My Computer (a keeper!). This add-on is also low on memory usage (291.0 KB). Thanks, Martin!

    1. Transcontinental said on May 11, 2013 at 9:17 pm

      There is no problem in loading Win Explorer with ‘External Application Buttons 2’. In fact when you choose to add a new button you select the file, explorer.exe included! Whatever file in fact. The only thing you cannot perform is add command parameters, i.e. C:\WINDOWS\explorer.exe /n,/e,/select,C:\. But what you can do is create a Windows link with the parameters, than ask ‘External Application Buttons 2’ to open that shortcut : et voila!
      Works like a charm.

  4. Transcontinental said on May 11, 2013 at 10:12 am

    I use at this time a similar Firefox add-on called ‘External Application Buttons 2″ which has the advantage of setting a button to open whatever file and allowing this button to be placed on ant tool-bar, the only restriction being that these buttons must stay grouped.

  5. kalmly said on May 11, 2013 at 9:23 am

    I’ve always got other programs running while FF or any other browser is open. I open and close the other apps at will. I just use my launcher, type a few letters and up it comes. All that taskbar stuff is just slow and troublesome.

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