How to fix Firefox annoyances

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 11, 2013

Mozilla Firefox is my main web browser and even with Australis looming over it, it is likely that this is not going to change.

If you use a web browser for a long time you will get into a flow when you are working with it. You do things a particular way and while it may not be the optimal way in a lot of times, it does work for you and that is all that counts.

I recently experienced issues -- or annoyances -- in the Firefox web browser that I did not want to experience any longer.

What is funny about those is that I published guides here on Ghacks on how to cope with them before, but for whatever reason, did not use the fix myself on this particular version of Firefox.

On we go:

Firefox Annoyances

Select text without trailing space

If you select a word or phrase in Firefox by double-clicking it, it will automatically be highlighted including a trailing space character. While that may not make a huge difference if you copy words occasionally, it does make one for me as I copy and select a lot on a day to day basis.

With the trailing space, I always have to remove it before I copy -- by using Shift-Left for example or the mouse -- or remove it after I have pasted it.

I also have to remove the space before I edit the selected text, for instance to bold it or add a link to it.

To fix this do the following:

  1. Type about:config into Firefox's address bar and hit the enter key.
  2. Confirm that you will be careful if this is your first time.
  3. Search for layout.word_select.eat_space_to_next_word
  4. Double-click the parameter to set it to false.
  5. Restart the browser.

Pro Tip: Triple-clicking words will highlight the whole sentence.

Use Esc to stop page loads

This is probably even more annoying. Previously, you could hit the ESC key on the keyboard to stop Firefox from loading data from this point forward.

This was helpful to correct a spelling mistake you made and noticed after hitting the enter key. If you mistype a domain you want to go to now, you cannot stop it by using the Esc key. The same is true for searches from the address bar or search engines either if you have misspelled them.

There is no option to add the functionality back without extension. One extension that you can use for that is SuperStop which brings the functionality back to Firefox. You do have to press Shift-Esc though to stop the loading.

If you prefer the "old way", try BetterStop which maps it back to the ESC key and offers more configuration options.

Add protocol and trailing slash at all times


Mozilla started to remove information from Firefox some time ago. The company removed the favicon for example, and also made the decision to remove the http:// protocol information at all times and the trailing slash for root domains.

So, instead of displaying in the address bar, the browser displays only there.

The problem? If I want to add information after the domain name manually, I first have to type the trailing slash to do so. Plus, I was never a fan of removing information from the browser just for the looks of it.

  1. Type about:config into Firefox's address bar and hit the enter key.
  2. Confirm that you will be careful if this is your first time.
  3. Search for browser.urlbar.trimURLs
  4. Double-click the entry to set it to false.
  5. Restart the browser.

Now Read: Mozilla Firefox Cheat Sheet

Are you experiencing other annoyances? Let me know in the comments.


Tutorials & Tips

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  1. dp said on October 16, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    This came up when I searched for pages on Firefox 33 annoyances. But I see this page pre-dates that version.

    I dislike the new menu and tabs layout. Particularly the absence of controls along the lower edge.

    Thinking it would be nice if someone has developed a theme or extension to revert those stylings.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 17, 2014 at 12:03 am

      Have you tried the Classic Theme Restorer extension? It can revert several of those things.

  2. Noe said on February 27, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added”
    checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several
    emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?

    Appreciate it!

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on February 27, 2014 at 11:09 pm

      You get unsubscribe links with each email. I searched for your address but could not find it, did you subscribe with a different email?

  3. Ken Saunders said on November 15, 2013 at 3:17 am

    If you click on the highlighted word, yes, the link will open.
    If you drag the cursor to highlight a word or words starting from the space between the words (before or after them), you can then press Ctrl + C to copy or right click > Copy.
    It took me a few tries to get the technique down.
    I think that there’s a bug that forces you to hit Ctrl + C twice for some reason, but it works and to be sure you could just right click > Copy.

  4. XenoSilvano said on November 13, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    That sounds rather peculiar, why would normal Firefox usage use up your bandwidth any more than any other browser.

    I had noticed that ‘something’ was using up a great deal of my network’s bandwidth about a month ago, long story short, I later found out that it was in fact an iDevice that was leeching all my bandwidth by means of an unsolicited update.

    I would recommend that you conduct an investigation so that you can get to the bottom of what is placing so much demand on your network.

    You could try using an add-on such as Tab Traffic Monitor:-
    [ ]

    If you’re using Windows 8 you could consult the Resource Monitor to see if it can give you any leads:-
    [ Start > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Resource Monitor > Network tab ]

    1. XenoSilvano said on November 13, 2013 at 8:12 pm


  5. smaragdus said on November 13, 2013 at 1:08 am

    @Martin Brinkmann
    Many thanks for ‘Select text without trailing space’ tip- I didn’t know this could be changed and it was driving me crazy. This tip was a life-saver for me!
    Unfortunately Firefox is steadily heading for disaster, the developers from Mozilla are deaf and blind and do not pay any attention to what Firefox users say. They will lose more and more market share if they continue to dumb down their browser, which is exactly what happened to Opera- from 2.1% share it fell down to 1.7 after the real Opera was killed and the Chrome clone was released.
    I will not accept the abominable Australis and there would be many who will migrate to other browsers (SeaMonkey or PaleMoon more probably, but the future of SeaMonkey is uncertain since Mozilla is planning to kill it).

  6. exlnc said on November 12, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    I still can’t figure out how to select words which are hyperlinked.

    1. Ken Saunders said on November 13, 2013 at 12:44 am

      That used to be a huge annoyance for me too.

      Press the Alt key > highlight the word.
      You can drag the cursor to the left or right to highlight.

      1. EXLNC said on November 14, 2013 at 4:37 pm

        pressing the alt keys highlights but also opens the link in the new tab. :(

    2. Waqar said on November 12, 2013 at 7:51 pm

      @exInc, I assume you want to select partial text from a hyperlink. I do this. Right click on link> Click ‘inspect element’. Select the partial text from the bottom area and press CTRL +C (not, right click > copy). Hope this helps.

      1. EXLNC said on November 14, 2013 at 4:37 pm

        I was hoping for something simpler….

    3. Robert Palmar said on November 12, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      Just hold down the left button and drag along the
      beginning of the hyperlink letting go at its end.

      1. Robert Palmar said on November 12, 2013 at 9:21 pm

        I have never encountered that effect. Try this approach then.
        Place the cursor at the beginning of the link you wish to copy.

        While holding down the control and shift keys, press the arrow keys,
        right or left depending on whether you start at the beginning or end of
        the hyperlink, and move along highlighting link words by repeatedly pressing.

        Hit Control +C to copy the final selection.
        Hope I explained that well-enough.

      2. Exlnc said on November 12, 2013 at 5:58 pm

        If i try to select a linked word, it either opens the link or the link will be picked up by the mouse waiting to be dragged somewhere.

  7. Gruz said on November 12, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Superstop and BetterStop are no restart addons, but more outdated is Superstop. However, I think BetterStop won’t work properly beyond Firefox 23.

  8. Uhtred said on November 12, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Handy article, thanks Martin

    escape to stop load…will remmember that when travelling and no mouse.
    when with mouse Instead of escape button, I use the stop load button
    I previously followed advice here on ghacks and made visible reload and stop load buttons side by side, very useful

  9. Karl J. Gephart said on November 11, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Thanks for the trailing space tip, Martin! So many things we just deal with everyday unproductively and forget to research until you do the homework for us!

  10. Robert Palmar said on November 11, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    All great tips, Martin. Thanks.

    I have encountered a recent annoyance which began
    in the recent versions of Firefox and is present on
    both Windows 7 and Windows XP systems. reloads entirely at random
    about 20 seconds after the site is loaded.
    It happens once for each sign-in session.

    I have tried all “fixes” out there and none work.
    This may be a Microsoft specific bug but at
    this stage Microsoft does not think so.

    1. Ken Saunders said on November 13, 2013 at 12:57 am

      Have you tried Mozilla Support?

      I don’t use but from what I understand is that there’s an auto refresh feature to check for new messages but it shouldn’t be a full page reload.

      I don’t recommend browsers other than Firefox and IE apparently has some serious vulnerabilities (, but you could see if it is a Firefox specific issue.
      Have tried using another browser to see if that issue still occurs? If it does, it’s an one. If not, it could be a Firefox add-on or other issue.

      1. Robert Palmar said on November 13, 2013 at 7:25 pm

        Thanks Ken. I have found it to be a Firefox specific issue
        and Mozilla support had no worktable fixes at this stage.

        Whilst is occurs only on Firefox it can be some incompatibility
        with Microsoft and perhaps even the auto refresh you mention
        is wrongly triggering a full refresh of the site itself.

        Oddly, it only happens once per sign-in session and there
        are several refreshes later which do not cause the site reload.
        There is a bug somewhere at Mozilla’s or Microsoft’s end and
        I suppose because of its recent nature is yet to be fixed.

  11. Balaji said on November 11, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    I’m long time user and die hard fan of FF.
    Recent changes forced me to try other browsers.I tried Chrome, couple of times and never liked it.
    I hope they will not remove customization options.Thanks for the trailing space tip.

  12. Gonzo said on November 11, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Animated New Tabs annoy me (too slow). Set the following to false:

  13. Ron said on November 11, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Great tip on the trailing space selection. That was/is always an annoyance with me. Now if only there was a way to fix that in Notepad/Wordpad. (Anyone?)

    FTR, Palemoon did not implement the trim URL feature. Just one small reason (among a lot of small reasons and a few big ones) why I prefer Palemoon over Firefox.

    I never used the Esc key to stop loading pages as I didn’t know that trick. Just tested it in Palemoon and it works there.

  14. Arne Anka said on November 11, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    I’m using version 25.0 da and Esc is still working…

  15. gary said on November 11, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Esc still works for me.

    Must be something specific to your config Martin. I paniced when I read your post. I use esc all the time. but thankfully it is still working on my rig.

    One thing I try is to use hardly any extensions. Extensions can have negative effects. That’s why I always take issue with Mozilla brushing everything aside saying Extensions will handle that. My goal is to not use extensions at all. Currently I only run 3, all essential security/privacy related.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 11, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      Mozilla did remove that option from Firefox. Which version are you running?

      1. Dwight Stegall said on November 14, 2013 at 4:12 am

        Esc working for me in Cyberfox 64-bit.

        One thing I have noticed about Firefox is when you are having system problems, Firefox is the first browser to experience problems. Functions in other browsers tend to keep working no matter how bad things get.

      2. hum said on November 12, 2013 at 11:29 am

        When typing “test” in the urlbar in the locationbar of a new blank tab, I can cancel the operation.

        If I let the search continue until the Google-results page comes up, and then start a new search from the locationbar, I cannot cancel the loading.
        I suspect this is because Firefox changes the focus to the search-field of the Google-results page, for whatever reason.
        This does not happen with Wikipedia or Amazon set as the searchengine, though. Maybe Google’s not playing nice?

        But in general, cancelling with Esc is working fine.

      3. hum said on November 12, 2013 at 8:20 am

        Stopping animations with Esc was removed. You can still use Esc to cancel loading.

      4. Martin Brinkmann said on November 12, 2013 at 9:58 am

        I somehow cannot stop searches being made from the address bar. Esc does nothing to block the process. Can you try and let me know if ESC works for you in this case?

      5. fokka said on November 11, 2013 at 4:13 pm

        esc still working for me on ff25, too. already wanted to install betterstop ^^

  16. Daniel said on November 11, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    I’d be curious to see a list of your installed addons Martin.

    Don’t know if you’re religious, but today is November 11 – Saint Martin de Tours’ feast day!

    As someone once repeated to me many times, ‘you know Martin? Martin up!’ ;)

  17. hessam said on November 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm
  18. Alex said on November 11, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Great tips, one tweak I hate working without with is browser.tabs.insertRelatedAfterCurrent

    In regards to using Pale Moon – a problem is compatibility with plugins (RES, Sticky Password, others) and lack of third party support (Outpost Firewall access lock, in my case).

    1. Transcontinental said on November 11, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      There shouldn’t be plugins compatibility problems with Pale Moon 32-bit version. The 64-bit version on the other hand will deal only with 64-bit plugins such as Adobe Flash 64-bit.
      I had Firefox for years, 80+ add-ons (add-ons, not plugins) and moved easily to Pale Moon with the same profile. I chose Pale Moon 64-bit, shifted Flash plugin to 64-bit, and regretted only non availability of Google earth plug-in (no 64-bit at this time).

      I’m sure you are aware but for many users, a 64-bit browser will have the advantage of serving as a natural defender against 32-bit intrusive plugins. I have a neighbor whose Firefox was filled with plugins from everywhere and was surprised to have problems and slow-downs … cleaned up almost all invaders and the browser came back to life :)

    2. clas said on November 11, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      exactly my thoughts…i would love to use palemoon but sticky does not work with fault of either, just the way it is. i will just be staying with an older version of ff, sandboxed and using common sense.

  19. pd said on November 11, 2013 at 9:20 am

    I was wondering what happened to the Esc stopping the loading. The Mozilla Morons got rid of that TOO? WTF is wrong with these people? Why don’t they just release a browser for old school users and what the perceive to be new school users? These days, all they are doing is catering for what they perceive to be new-school users.

    Any idea what possible justification they gave for removing this feature? I mean really, it was FRICKING FINE for the best part of 20 years and all of a sudden, oh no, let’s take yet another aspect of user control away!

    1. guest said on November 18, 2013 at 10:35 pm

      Logical reason for removing Esc feature seems to be getting a big $$$ from AV companies.
      Imagine you have Windows and you’ve made a typo in domain. Malware website loads in. The first impulse is to press Esc. Not wander your mice through the new “discoverable” UI looking for “stop” key while some EXEc is loaded by JS.
      If you have ever been in any workshop near a lathe or other machine of such type, you’ve probably noticed a big red button labeled “STOP” fastened in place in which it can be easily used from nearly any position near machine. Removing of Esc feature is like moving this button to a drawer in the nearest control room.

    2. hum said on November 12, 2013 at 8:19 am

      “The Mozilla Morons got rid of that TOO?”

    3. Martin Brinkmann said on November 11, 2013 at 12:25 pm

      Here is the reason behind this:

      Basically, pressing the ESC key aborts XMLHttpRequests and WebSocket, which I still think is the idea of that in the first place.

      So, users can break applications with it. And since they never learn not to press ESC while they are using web applications, the feature had to be removed.

    4. Transcontinental said on November 11, 2013 at 9:52 am

      Try Pale Moon, seems to correspond to your expectations.

  20. Prithviraj said on November 11, 2013 at 9:19 am

    I am facing a situation. I do not know why but firefox has started consuming more internet data now a days. So, i tested my data usage statistics by installing other browsers like Opera and Google chrome and they were fine and consumed less data as compared to firefox. So, is there any workaround for this bug?? Firefox used to be my priority and default browser but now Opera has taken its place. But I love firefox!! :( Please note that windows updates are off and no background process is consuming data too but firefox has got some bugs i think. Help!!

    1. insanelyapple said on November 11, 2013 at 1:40 pm

      Maybe it’s because of Firefox’s telemetry options? Have you these disabled?

      1. Prithviraj said on November 11, 2013 at 3:06 pm

        Thank you for the reply. Yes Telemetry is disabled! But still problem persists.

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