Tinfoil for Firefox provides easy access to advanced privacy preferences

While you can make privacy related configuration changes in the Firefox options, many advanced options become only available when you load about:config or install add-ons that provide you with frontend access to those settings.

You can check out our list of best privacy add-ons for Firefox which gives you an overview of good extensions for that purpose.

Tinfoil is a brand new extension for Firefox that makes quite a few privacy related preferences available in its options.

It sets some automatically according to the extension description and ships with a "full tinfoil" button to make aggressive changes on top of that.

Recovery options to restore the add-on to its default state and to restore all Firefox settings to their values prior to installing Tinfoil are provided as well. There is also an option to keep the Tinfoil settings after removal of the add-on.

While some may like that approach, others may prefer to go through the preferences one by one instead to enable or disable them individually.

This is possible as well as they are listed by the add-on in its options.

firefox tinfoil addon

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Each preference is listed with its name and a description that explains what it controls so that you can decide whether you want it enabled or not.

Here is the full list of preferences that you can control using Tinfoil currently:

  • browser.cache.disk.enable
  • browser.cache.memory.enable
  • browser.cache.offline.enable
  • browser.nettabpage.directory.ping
  • browser.nettabpage.directory.source
  • browser.nettabpage.enabled
  • browser.nettabpage.enhanced
  • browser.newtab.url
  • browser.pagethumbnails.capturing_disabled
  • browser.safebrowsing.enabled
  • browser.safebrowsing.malware.enabled
  • browser.search.suggest.enabled
  • browser.send_pings
  • datareporting.healthreport.service.enabled
  • datareporting.healthreport.uploadingEnabled
  • datareporting.policy.dataSubmissionEnabled
  • dom.event.clipboardevents.enabled
  • dom.ipc.plugins.flash.subprocess.crashreporter.enabled
  • dom.storage.enabled
  • geo.enabled
  • media.gmp-gmpopenh264.enabled
  • media.peerconnection.enabled
  • network.cookie.behavior
  • network.cookie.lifetimePolicy
  • network.dns.disablePrefetch
  • network.http.referer.spoofSource
  • network.http.referer.XOiriginPolicy
  • network.http.sendRefererHeader
  • network.http.sendSecureXSiteReferrer
  • network.prefetch-next
  • network.proxy.socks_remote_dns
  • plugin.state.flash
  • plugins.click_to_play
  • plugins.enumerable_names
  • privacy.donottrackheader.enabled
  • toolkit.telemetry.enabled.
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You can change the state of any preference listed by the extension easily using it. The descriptions help a lot in determining whether it makes sense to to do. For some, you may need to have a certain technical background to understand what is going on but most are fairly easy to understand.

Firefox users who don't want to install an extension for that can load about:config manually to go through each preference manually by searching for it.

We have published several guides in the past that cover some of the preferences listed above.

  1. Remove all things Google from Firefox
  2. Block websites from reading clipboard contents in Firefox
  3. Block automatic connections that Firefox makes
  4. Firefox Prefetching explained

It makes sense to go through the advanced preferences at least once and modify privacy and security related preferences that you are not comfortable with.

Tinfoil does a great job at bringing important privacy related preferences to your attention so that you can go through them quickly and without having to research them all individually before you can do so.

Since you can configure it to keep the settings after removal, there is nothing that keeps you from installing it, going through the preferences it lists modifying those that you want and uninstall the extension after you are done doing so.

Now You: Is there a privacy related preference that you find essential? If so which is it?

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Software Name
Tinfoil
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Responses to Tinfoil for Firefox provides easy access to advanced privacy preferences

  1. happysurf January 30, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

    Very interesting extension.
    Thank you Martin.

  2. sns January 30, 2015 at 5:57 pm #

    A different extension called "Config Descriptions"
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/config-descriptions
    displays a modified about:config xul page containing an additional treeview column for description.

    This tinfoil extension, catering to dumbed down users, seems like a half-baked attempt. The poorly worded "descriptions" are word-wrapped within a ridiculously narrow layout column and, after ticking/ticking one or several boxes... upon later revisiting the page, user has no clue as to which items are currently set to default. (In contrast, about:config denotes items bearing user-set values in bold text and provides a context-menu "reset" command.)

    browser.newtabpage.enabled
    "Use a special page for new tabs. This could display private information, since the default is to show thumbnails of visited pages."
    Really? Tick this box to display a special page??? Tick this box if I wants to show my privates???

    • Boris January 30, 2015 at 6:16 pm #

      "Config Descriptions" gives more information but it is often outdated since extension was not updated for more than two years. Also, you comparing apples and oranges. "Config Descriptions" is for the whole config file. It takes a long time to go through all of these. I would prefer Tinfoil for taking options relevant only to privacy.

      However you are right that Tinfoil descriptions are vague at best. Maybe English is not the first language of its developer?

      • Odyseus February 1, 2015 at 11:02 pm #

        Hello, everybody.

        Just an FYI. "Config descriptions" doesn't need to be updated, at least not in regard to the descriptions, because the descriptions are extracted directly from the application's files (resource:///defaults/preferences/firefox.js, etc.).

  3. Boris January 30, 2015 at 5:59 pm #

    Hm, Some of these options I changed manually. This is a easier way to do this.

  4. tuna January 30, 2015 at 8:33 pm #

    BRILLIANT! It;s a tedious task hunting/removing all the semi-useful(YMMV), presumptuous features. Considering Moz's feature-bloat pathology doesn't seem to be winding down anytime soon, if ever, hope this extension stays maintained/current.

  5. Pants January 30, 2015 at 9:34 pm #

    Well f***k

    First option: Keep settings on uninstall:
    Firefox settings are normally reverted to preinstallation state when Tinfoil is uninstalled. This setting stops Tinfoil from making any changes when disabled or removed. WARNING: Due to a bug in the Mozilla SDK this does not currently work.

    ^^ so if you install this and you want to disable or remove it, you need to click on the Restore button first (4th option listed) and of course leave the first option unchecked (until the bug is resolved)

    • theMike January 31, 2015 at 11:18 pm #

      this made a few of my sites non-responsive with the default settings. before removing the add-on I clicked "restore" or "revert" (what ever it was) then removed it. It didn't restore anything. I did a restart and still nothing was restored. I had to refresh firefox and reinstall my add-ons. my bookmarks were still there, luckily I have Moz Backup just in case.

      • Pants February 2, 2015 at 1:55 pm #

        Indeed. I use a portable FF (besides, it's easy enough to backup/copypasta a profile folder). I didn't trust that Tinfoil to not mess things up when removed (especially after reading the warning it gave) - so I did a backup, added it, looked at all the settings (made a note of two I would change manually), and then restored.

        And for sure, some of those settings will break websites - eg some of the referer settings will break third party content (think of the images on discogs which come from pixogs etc). In these cases I believe its better to have a dedicated addon in which you set a default, but allow whitelists etc

  6. CHEF-KOCH January 31, 2015 at 7:35 am #

    *Meh*
    Every time the same situations with such addons, after the hype is over they not getting any updates anymore and we must again waste our time to search for another (soon outdated) addon.

  7. PJ January 31, 2015 at 7:01 pm #

    Does Tinfoil work properly with Firefox if the relevant about:config pref is already manually changed to non-default value ?

    For instance, if you had already set network.http.sendRefererHeader = false [default: true], & you enable Tinfoil with the same pref ticked (ie. stop Firefox from sending referrer headers), would the final value still be false ?

    I notice that for some privacy add-ons, 2 'false' set for same pref => Firefox starts treating this as 'true' ! That is, double negatives for the same pref result in a positive; & for the above example, FF sends the referrer header.

    For such add-ons to work as intended, I found that FF's pref must be reverted to default (ie, opposite of what you want), while the add-on's pref must set to what you want.

  8. All Things Firefox February 2, 2015 at 3:53 am #

    This is very interesting. I will have to try it soon. I knew about a lot of the about:config preferences but not some others.

  9. Peter Wills February 2, 2015 at 10:26 pm #

    Could someone please provide a link to the tinfoil extension. The only link I can find is ot a Collection of other privacy based add ons.

    Thanks.

  10. Peter Wills February 2, 2015 at 10:38 pm #

    Duh!! Sorry Martin. I'm having a bad day!! Thanks.

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