Resolve Firefox bookmarks and history issues with Places Maintenance

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 3, 2013
Firefox, Firefox add-ons

The Firefox web browser stores information about bookmarks and the browsing history in a database file called places.sqlite. Information stored include favorite icons, the user's input history, keywords and annotations as well.

The file has been used since Firefox 3 when it replaced the previously used bookmarks.html and history date files which the browser used before.

Firefox users find the places.sqlite database file in the root folder of their Firefox profile. The easiest way to get there is to type about:support into the browser's address bar, load the local page, and click on the show folder button near the top to open the profile folder in the default file manager of the system.

It is possible to move the places.sqlite file to another Firefox profile or computer to use the exact same set of bookmarks and browsing history information on all systems it is shared on.

Places Maintenance

The places file, just like any other file on the system, can become corrupt. This can happen for instance after a crash of the browser or system.

The effect of this corruption may vary, but it can happen that you can only access part of the bookmarks, or notice that Firefox does not record any new browsing history entries anymore.

The Firefox extension Places Maintenance has been designed to provide users with an easy to use way to resolve any bookmarks or history issues in the web browser.

The extension can run the following commands for you:

  • Check Integrity
  • Check Coherence
  • Rebuild Indices
  • Vacuum
  • Expire
  • Statistics

It ships with a set of presets that you can use to for maintenance or deep checking. It is alternatively possible to select options individually instead. A good point to start is the to select the check integrity and coherence options as well as statistics to check the database. You can then use the rebuild indices, vacuum and expire options if errors have been reported by the checks.

Note that it is also possible to delete the places.sqlite file as it will be rebuild by Firefox on next startup. While that may resolve any issues that you may have experienced, it will also remove any past information stored in the  database file.

It is possible to counter that somewhat, by using Firefox Sync for example or by exporting your bookmarks first to an HTML file to import the bookmarks file later again after the deletion.

Closing Words

If you are experiencing errors or issues in the Firefox browser that are related to bookmarks or the browsing history, then you may want to use the Places Maintenance file to resolve them. It is ideal for that. There is however no reason to keep the extension installed at all times in Firefox, unless you are experiencing regular bookmarking or history related issues.


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  1. Lumpy Grvy said on September 4, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    > The Firefox web browser stores information about bookmarks and
    > the browsing history in a database file called places.sqlite.

    … which is the reason why the inner workings of FF are more obscure and harder to understand for newcomers. I think it was a poor design choice to lump together bookmarks, favicons, browsing history and who knows what else into one non-human-readable (!) database, merely to make porting the profile a little more convenient. What a difference to the now defunct Opera <13 series of browsers where the bookmarks file, configuration files and practically everything else was stored in easily readable and maintainable flat files and where favicons, browsing history, caches and stuff were kept each in their own directory.

  2. jasray said on September 3, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Hmmm . . . I always have problems with favicons–in the toolbar, etc.

    Used to be Check Places, etc. Now down to one that sometimes works. Frustration–looking at ant lined boxes.

    1. Ken Saunders said on September 4, 2013 at 4:57 am

      “ant lined boxes”


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