Auto Plugin Checker for Firefox checks for plugin updates automatically

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 23, 2014
Firefox, Firefox add-ons

While more and more sites and services switch to versions that don't require plugins, there are still many out there on the Internet that only run if you have the right plugin installed.

One reason why browser developers such as Mozilla or Google want to eliminate the need for plugins is security. Since plugins are loaded from external locations by the browser, the browser itself has little control over it.

While it is possible to automatically block plugins or set them to click to play instead, something that Mozilla implemented recently in version 30 of the browser, it is not possible to update plugins from within the browser.

There are other reasons why plugins are not desirable: stability comes to mind but also the fact that they are usually proprietary and not open technologies.

Mozilla has created the Plugin Check website to check for plugin updates during Firefox updates. It is possible to visit the service directly as well to perform a manual check for updates instead.

The Firefox add-on Auto Plugin Checker automates the process in the browser. It adds an icon to Firefox's main toolbar that indicates whether plugin updates are available.

You can use it to run manual checks with a left-click on the icon and the selection of check for plugin updates from the context menu.

check for plugin updates

A red icon indicates that updates are available. You can select the Mozilla's update page link in the context menu to run the check (again) on Mozilla's official page.

The reason for doing so is that it will provide you with options to update plugins that are out of date, something that the add-on itself does not.

What makes the add-on special is that it will check for updates automatically. The default interval is set to 24 hours which means that it will run the update check every day.

It is possible to increase or decrease the interval in the options. Here you find other interesting options that you may like:

  • Open update tab on plug-in update - This will open Mozilla's Plugin Check website automatically if updates are available. Can be useful to optimize the process but may also be the only indicator that updates have been found if you have removed the add-on icon from the Firefox interface.
  • Check on Firefox start - This option runs a plugin updae check on every start of the browser.
  • Check also inactive plugins - Mozilla's Plugin Check service does not check inactive plugins. The extension resolves this by setting the plugins to click to play during the check and back to inactive afterwards. This may slow down the check according to the developer.

Auto Plugin Checker is a useful add-on for Firefox. Mozilla should consider adding it to Firefox to improve the process for all users of the web browser.

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  1. Mr James said on March 28, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    I have well gone off Firefox after finding that the android version without any plugins is listening in to DLNA broacast messages from devices like XBoxes and Samsung Smart TVs and then making a UPNP request to the devices to recive XML data back from these devices.

    In my case this not only includes the make and model of the TV but also the serial number and its not like my simple android device can steam to the TV or play XBox games.

    I know Google pays Firefox $50m a year and they don’t do that without getting something in return as you can see if you type About:config into the URL and search for Google but I will not put up with Firefox hacking my local area network to then upload all the device data back to central server.

    Shown below is the HTTP Request and response.

    GET /smp_24_ HTTP/1.1
    Host: X.X.X.40:7676
    User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Android; Tablet; rv:36.0) Gecko/36.0 Firefox/36.0
    Accept: text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8
    Accept-Language: en-GB,en;q=0.5
    Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
    Connection: keep-alive

    HTTP/1.1 200 OK
    CONTENT-TYPE: text/xml; charset=”utf-8″
    Date: Thu, 01 Jan 1970 03:59:18 GMT
    connection: close
    Application-URL: http://X.XX.40:80/ws/app/
    SERVER: SHP, UPnP/1.0, Samsung UPnP SDK/1.0

    1 0 urn:dial-multiscreen-org:device:dialreceiver:1 [TV]Samsung50 Samsung Electronics Samsung TV NS XXX9200 1.0 XXXXXXXXXX uuid:0dbXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXOMKVUK Resolution:1280X720,Y2013 urn:dial-multiscreen-org:service:dial:1 urn:dial-multiscreen-org:serviceId:dial /smp_26_ /smp_27_ /smp_25_

  2. Richard Steven Hack said on June 29, 2014 at 1:32 am

    It’s worthless for Linux. I went to the Web site and almost all the plugins in my Firefox on openSUSE 13.1 are “unknown” since they use the Gecko utility. Not terribly helpful.

  3. Ademas said on June 25, 2014 at 3:00 am

    It big icon is really annoying..

  4. Sylvio Haas said on June 24, 2014 at 1:34 am

    Hi, Martin. Doesn’t this add-on compete with Qualy’s Browser Check? That’s the one I use for plugins and add-ons updates. Would you say that the Auto Plugin Checker works better? Thank you.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 24, 2014 at 7:26 am

      Qualys seems to do more than just scan for the update. I have not used it so cannot really say if it is better. If its database is updated regularly, it probably is in many regards considering that it is cross platform and offers extended options. Then again, if all you want is to check your plugins, plugin check should be sufficient.

      1. Sylvio Haas said on June 25, 2014 at 5:27 am

        Thank you for your answer!

  5. Karl Gephart said on June 23, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    Maybe Mozilla will take the hint, huh?! :)

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