Firefox 79 for Android tweaks and tips

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 29, 2020
Firefox, Google Android

Mozilla's new mobile browser for Android, Firefox 79, has been released. Users of the classic browser will be upgraded to the new version automatically over the coming weeks, and new users may install the new stable version of the browser soon from Google Play and other sources.

Firefox 79 is a redesigned version of Firefox for Android that shares many of the features of the classic version but not all of them. Migrations include important bits of data such as the bookmarks, open tabs, or saved passwords if no master password is set.

With any new browser release, it is a good idea to go through the settings at least once to make sure everything is set up correctly. The following tips and tricks help you make educated decisions about some of the features and settings of Firefox 79 for Android.

Tip 1: Search Engines

firefox 79 search

Custom search engines are not migrated when classic Firefox is upgraded to the new version. Users who have used non-standard search engines in Firefox, e.g. Startpage search, need to add these again to the browser.

A tap on Menu > Settings > Search opens the configuration. Select "add search engine" on the page that opens a selection of additional search engines and an option to add a custom search engine.

The process of adding a custom search engine is quite cumbersome as you need to supply the full search URL of the desired search engine plus the placeholder for the search query; this may work okay on desktop devices but is not user friendly at all on mobile devices.

Firefox does not appear to add search engines that you use to the list of engines that it displays automatically on that page.

Tip 2: Data Collection

firefox 79 android data collection

Firefox 79 collects data by default and also shares some of the data with the customer engagement platform Leanplum.

Tap on Menu > Settings and select Data Collection on the page that opens to control the options that Mozilla provides. All three available options were enabled by default:

  • Usage and technical data -- "shares performance, usage, hardware and customisation data about your browser with Mozilla to help us make Firefox better".
  • Marketing data -- "Shares data about what features you use in Firefox with Leanplum, our mobile marketing vendor".
  • Experiments -- "Allows Mozilla to install and collect data for experimental features".

The page offers no additional information and there is no link to Mozilla's or Leanplum's privacy policy. It is unclear which data is shared, e.g. what usage data under "usage and technical data" entails.

For an organization so focused on privacy, it is problematic if users are not even informed about these settings in first place.

Tip 3: Add-ons

firefox 79 addons

Firefox 79 supports nine add-ons at the time of writing that were handpicked by Mozilla. The organization promised that full add-on support will be introduced in a future version of Firefox for Android but for now, it is these nine extensions that Firefox for Android users may install.

The installation process is very straightforward as all of them are listed under Menu > Settings > Addons.

Each add-on is listed with its name, a short description, rating, and the current number of users (Android version only it appears).

To install an extension, tap on the plus icon, check the permissions that it requests, if any, and click on add to proceed. The extension is downloaded and installed, and you may enable it in private browsing mode as well.

The settings of extensions that we tested are identical to the desktop versions, and Mozilla picked several good ones including uBlock Origin, NoScript Security Suite, or Privacy Possum.

Nine is not a lot on the other hand, but it is definitely better than nothing.

Tip 4: Site Permissions

Autoplay blocking is enabled by default, which is good. If you don't care about notifications, you may want to turn them off instead of keeping them at the "ask" setting.

Select Menu > Settings > Site Permissions, and then Notification. Switch from "ask to allow" to "blocked" to prevent any notification permission request.

Tip 5: Customize

firefox android address bar top

The Customize settings page lists two of the new features of Firefox for Android. Use it to switch the theme to light or dark permanently, and to move the toolbar from the bottom to the top.

Other tips and information

  1. While on a site, tap Menu > Desktop site to request the desktop site.
  2. To use and configure installed add-ons, select Menu > Add-ons > Name of add-on, or Add-ons Manager.
  3. Select Menu > Add to top sites, to add the current site to the New Tab page's top sites listing.
  4. Firefox Stable for Android does not allow you to use about:config.
  5. You can manage font sizes under Menu > Settings > Accessibility.
  6. Enhanced Tracking Protection is set to default. You may change that to strict or custom in the Settings.

Now You: What would you like to see in the new Firefox for Android?

Firefox 79 for Android tweaks and tips
Article Name
Firefox 79 for Android tweaks and tips
Here is a collection of tips, tricks, information and suggestion that help you get the most out of Mozilla's new Android browser Firefox 79.
Ghacks Technology News

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  1. flit said on August 28, 2020 at 1:19 pm

    Two things would reconcile me to this, enough to find out what else I like or don’t.

    1. The option to lock the toolbar in place – how could it possibly be a good idea to make a fundamental function harder?

    2. The option to use other search engines on a one-off basis with a single tap, as previously.

    Maybe it’s there, in hiding. It used to be obvious.

  2. Anonymous said on August 25, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    Firefox 79 leaves me with about 25% of the features and functions that I used before.
    Deeply disappointed. Searching for a usable, customer-friendly browser on Android now.

    1. Iron Heart said on September 2, 2020 at 9:31 am


      Bromite. Various instructions how to install it out there.

  3. PtrK said on August 22, 2020 at 10:14 am

    Seems print and download functions have disappeared in the ‘renewal’…

  4. Anonymous said on August 21, 2020 at 3:26 am

    Firefox 79 = terrible mess

  5. Sam said on August 20, 2020 at 7:27 am

    I had quite a surprise yesterday when, in the morning I was happily browsing as I usually do and then in the afternoon my browser looked nothing like it did in the morning. Without warning. Stuff was gone, missing. Customizations, gone. Nothing worked the same way. It was disorienting. I really had no idea what to do and it seemed there was no way to rollback. So…

    I no longer use Firefox Android on my phone or tablet. I saw a pic on twitter of one of the moz team giving the finger “to all the haters”. Feeling’s mutual.

  6. JS said on August 18, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    Beside all the stuff mentioned by others:

    I like to use shortcuts(1) in the address line to open a bookmark but that does not work on the new Firefox.

    (1) example: Typing the shortcut name “wiktionary car” in the address line opens my bookmark to and show meaning of “car”

    I’m starting to look for an alternative browser to my Android phone…

  7. Jeffrey said on August 17, 2020 at 5:14 am

    I need a new version of android

    1. Iron Heart said on August 18, 2020 at 7:42 pm

      Custom ROM.

  8. Dan said on August 16, 2020 at 6:01 pm

    I had quite a few bookmarks which I was going to get round to syncing to Nextcloud with the Floccus add-on. Then I updated before reading this. Toolbar at the bottom and dark mode are nice.

    Then I find there’s no no way to sync bookmarks using Floccus and no way to export by opening in tabs and using a tab exporting add-on (exporting bookmarks still isn’t allowed by the Quantum webextension API two and a half years later).

    Oh Mozilla, not again.

  9. R said on August 10, 2020 at 8:54 pm

    Ghostery doesn’t work anymore, Adblock doesn’t work anymore, the shortcuts when you opened the browser are now super small, and they don’t contain the shortcuts I used to have. The address bar looks like a Google banner.

    I only have 60% of the browser I used to have before the update.

  10. Jiris said on August 10, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    About tip 2: Data Collection: Are all data collection features turned off when options are than in the picture?

    1. Iron Heart said on August 11, 2020 at 6:53 am


      No, some data collection remains active even if the settings are being set to off. We used to have about:config to stop the remaining phoning home features, but no more (about:config got removed from the stable channel).

      Consider Bromite or Fennec F-Droid if you want a real private browser.

  11. Gerhard said on August 7, 2020 at 8:54 pm

    So unhappy with what happened to Firefox. I found several website that are broken with the latest (79) version.

  12. Anonymous said on August 7, 2020 at 2:23 pm

    Who the hell designed new UI of 79 firefox version.
    How can I access top pages (option add to top pages remained but there is no option to access them), how to access history favorites?
    Tablist is nighmare in orientation. Active tab is on top but active tab may be the last one openned – total mess.
    New tab icon is bad joke – small icons with almost unreadable content (I have a bit smaller phone S10e)
    New animated features are ugly.

    Firefox was my favorite browser, wide addon support intuitive navigation, wide option of customization (about:config). Now I am lost when I open it.

  13. G. said on August 6, 2020 at 2:40 am

    I like to customize my systems and apps. I’m in a minority.

    Firefox was always a browser I could trust and customize.

    Now is less and less power user friendly.

    It’s infuriating that every big update I have to configure again the possibility to download mp4 videos instead of playing them in the built in player, among other settings.

    And now I can’t even use about:config to do that.

    Giving your back to the people that supported you from the beginning, could lead you to some day cry for help when masses go to the next trend and leave you alone…

    Time will tell. But it happened before.

    1. Alexander Gieg said on August 31, 2020 at 7:23 pm

      Well, time did tell, and pretty quickly at that, as 5 days after you wrote Mozilla laid off 250 employees, and is now thinking their future lies on selling VPN services.

      So, their strategy for years has been roughly this:

      1) Make a browser for power users;
      2) Remove power users features while chasing after casual users;
      3) Lose power users while not gaining casual users;
      4) Watch their market share fall, and fall, and fall;
      5) Do more of the same, expecting a different result;
      6) When finally getting to the rock bottom, pivot;
      7) ???
      8) Profit!

  14. Thorky said on August 1, 2020 at 12:01 pm

    Though Firefox is on PC still my #1 … sorry, too late, Mozilla. I will stay with Opera on Smartphone. 😏

  15. Peterc said on July 30, 2020 at 11:43 pm

    I do as little browsing as possible from my phone — basically, only when I’m away from home without a laptop, and when I’m AT home and need to check whether my cable ISP is in fact suffering an outage. I spend even less time THINKING about my phone, but I seem to recall that early announcement of some of these Firefox changes were the reason I turned off automatic app-updating. Which reminds me: I’m overdue on checking for updates manually. And also on looking for a different default browser.

    To echo another commenter, it would be terrific if Pale Moon maintained a current version for Android. It’s my default browser in Windows and Linux, and I’d love to be able to sync my Pale Moon settings and browsing data between my computers and my phone. But Pale Moon has a tiny development team and Android, coupled with today’s mobile Web, apparently poses technical obstacles that would take a lot of work to overcome (to the extent they even could be). Pale Moon had an Android version going for a while but abandoned development sometime in 2017 at the latest — apparently for good.

  16. Chris said on July 30, 2020 at 1:21 pm

    Moved to Fennec on Android as 79 would not allow any of the addons I use. Good thing is I can still sync with lappie, PC etc. using Firefox.

    Realize I will have to keep an eye on security updates.

  17. Vishal said on July 30, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    It is time for Pale Moon devs to get in Action! Since Mozilla Changed much of Firefox for Android, Pale Moon, if Community pushes seriously & effectively, can start thinking of resuming Pale Moon for Android. Most Pale Moon users stuck with other options when they work mostly in Pale Moon on Desktops.

    1. Iron Heart said on July 30, 2020 at 4:00 pm

      Nice idea, but they have stripped Android-related code en masse from UXP, implying that they are moving in the opposite direction.

  18. the confused said on July 30, 2020 at 5:38 am

    Why don’t images load on ghacks homepage with firefox android

  19. GoodMeasure said on July 30, 2020 at 12:09 am

    I have been using the F-Droid Fennec browser for quite some time. I like it. Yeah, as has been stated above, its an “Unmozillaed Firefox” basically. Supports quite a few add-ons. I wonder what its future holds, now though? Anybody know?

    F-Droid has several interesting browsers, all with varying ideologies and levels of support. Also, I have not yet tried Vivaldi.

  20. Ray said on July 29, 2020 at 9:10 pm

    Use Beta or Nightly if you want to use about:config flags.

    1. Iron Heart said on July 29, 2020 at 10:47 pm

      „Use unstable builds if you want full control over your software!“

      1. Ray said on August 3, 2020 at 9:55 am

        Don’t use it, then. Don’t be snarky.

  21. computer said no said on July 29, 2020 at 7:52 pm

    I have noticed that firefox has become quite slow in recent months.
    I now use the vivaldi browser and it is consistently snappy and a great replacement for firefox.

  22. Vivian Giselle said on July 29, 2020 at 7:04 pm

    1. No login manager for http/https server side sessions anymore
    2. No view source button anymore
    3. Can’t see URLs anymore (search for “test” on the default search engine google and try looking at the URL – impossible. The character string “test” will laugh into your face instead)
    4. Only 9 addons anymore (might be fixed)
    5. Opening up a new tab and entering the URL bar now takes 33% more taps than before
    6. Closing a tab now takes 50% more taps than before and an additional scrolling by random amount of pixels(??) beforehand to show the toolbar
    7. The toolbar can’t be unhidden all the time, even if you’re using an 8K TV with an Android box connected to it, meaning you have acres of screen estate – nope, you absolutely must scroll now in order to switch a tab
    8. When sharing links to Firefox, it now doesn’t ask anymore if you wish to reroute it to another synced device, bookmark it, visit it now or later – it opens it immediately. Fun fact: Microsoft Edge has this feature nowadays instead
    9. Despite points 5 & 6, which mean having to go to a tab overview in order to accomplish what you tried to do, tab previews are now smaller by at least(!) 100%. Much more smaller
    10. Keyboard shortcuts still don’t work. Ctrl-Shift-T for restoring tabs in Firefox? Forget it, that tab is gone for good

    Cool engine, mozilla. But that’s worth nothing for me now, literally. I NEED (as in “can’t work without it”) the http/https server side session password manager dozens of times a day. And then all of the 9 other points on top?

    My verdict for now: Thanks for the free stuff, but no.

  23. Iron Heart said on July 29, 2020 at 7:03 pm

    The people who claimed that the built-in trackers (Adjust, Google Analytics, Leanplum) were only temporary in nature and wouldn‘t be carried over to the stable release owe me an apology now, it seems. /s

    On a more serious note, though, I think it is laughable that a browser which is often pitched as privacy-respecting comes with non-removable tracking scripts that are also active by default (not even user permission is being requested). But regardless of this, it will of course be heavily advertised by the usual suspects and Mozilla itself as „the“ privacy browser. People in the know realize of course that there are better alternatives like Bromite or Fennec F-Droid (which is basically „Unmozillaed Firefox“, if you will), so my answer to Martin‘s question can only be…

    > What would you like to see in the new Firefox for Android?

    …that I‘d like to see it gone completely, so that actual privacy-respecting alternatives to Chrome have a chance to live.

    PS: Quite a bold move of Mozilla to move this to the stable channel with only limited extension support, I wouldn‘t necessarily have expected that.

    1. Iron Heart said on July 29, 2020 at 11:02 pm

      EDIT: I have just noticed that the new and „much improved“ Firefox won‘t allow for about:config on stable builds. User.js friends and about:config experts, what will you do now?

      1. ShintoPlasm said on July 30, 2020 at 9:23 am

        @Iron Heart:

        Regarding about:config – it is available in the Firefox Beta version (which has recently been moved to the new Fenix codebase). As far as I can see, Firefox Stable hasn’t been updated yet so I can’t comment on that.

      2. Iron Heart said on July 30, 2020 at 9:40 am


        It will remain available in the Nightly and Beta (= unstable) builds, but not in the release version, according to the info I have at hand. Mozilla probably wants to protect their users from breaking anything, as if they were children. They also want you to accept their default privacy level.

  24. Tobi said on July 29, 2020 at 6:07 pm

    I’m using Opera on my smartphone, the only thing that really annoys me is the lack of settings… maybe I will try Firefox again, but yeah it is sooooo slow

  25. Benjamin said on July 29, 2020 at 5:43 pm

    I have ever since two android Firefox browsers in my Android devices one of them being the Nightly Versions the other the standard Firefox.

    I do not like at all the direction Mozilla is going…

    The tap feature is nonsense (it needs more clicks because the taps are not open but hidden in another window)
    The missing Addons are nonsense and the undefined date in a future Mozilla defines alone are unacceptable.
    That the logons and passwords from visited websites which have their origins in Firefox since this is the browser i am using are now controlled by the OS password security technology (the very same ugly face in windows) . There is no independence of the App i am using and the Operating System which i find unacceptable.
    Privacy features are disabled by default.
    All bookmarks are lost during the forced upgrade and there is no way to export import them without trusting the Mozilla Corporations Cloud Storage.
    Advertising the Mozillas Cloud Service and at the same time the missing import export function of Firefox’s settings and data.
    Why should i give away all my logons and passwords to a private entity at once.
    The browser is todays most used internet application and as such in definitely needs much more democracy built in. I do not mind state sponsored money, from technology funds for example, to be a competitor to private funding.
    All technology is controlled by US Corporations.
    The search engine options are a disgrace.


  26. anoa said on July 29, 2020 at 4:50 pm

    What point is there to use Firefox now?

    If you want lots of features built-in, you use Opera or Vivaldi on Android.
    If you want extension support, you can use Yandex or soon Brave. Or keep the old Firefox version from updating.

    The only reason to use Firefox now is to support Gecko and thereby engine diversity. That’s very noble but won’t persuade many.

    1. Anonymous said on July 29, 2020 at 9:09 pm

      It’s not just for noble engine diversity reasons, I simply prefer Gecko over Blink. Like, the way it renders pages (especially regarding text selections) looks better to me.

    2. Anonymous said on July 29, 2020 at 6:19 pm

      Really? Last time I checked Vivaldi wasn’t doing anything towards privacy of the Chromium project it’s based on, other than saying “your privacy matters to us”. How has this developed since then?

    3. Anonymous said on July 29, 2020 at 5:50 pm

      “If you want lots of features built-in, you use Opera”

      If you care about privacy you wouldn’t use Opera, or it’s data-collection “VPN”.

      1. syrup said on July 30, 2020 at 2:41 am

        Opera remains the only mobile browser that can do text reflow properly, so I continue to be stuck with it despite my unease about the company nowadays. It does at least work with zero permissions which is more than can be said for many apps of concern that induce you to enable permissions unnecessarily (and it’s often the more ‘reputable’ companies that are guilty of it). I am thankful for Firefox mobile nonetheless and use it if I need to login to any sensitive accounts via browser, and do long for it to be my primary browser on mobile as it is on the desktop.

      2. Cerberus said on August 27, 2020 at 3:14 am

        Kiwi Browser has text reflow, which seems to work fine for me. It needs to be enabled in Settings → Accessibility.

        Incidentally, Kiwi can run (all?) Chrome extensions, like Ublock Origin.

  27. random-gfhdar said on July 29, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    [quote]For an organization so focused on privacy, it is problematic if users are not even informed about these settings in first place.[/quote]

    Sadly that’s just what Mozilla says. What they do is completely different and ghack’s user.js is the best proof of how much spying the browser does by default.

    The only browsers which really limit data collection are Vivaldi and Brave.

  28. Yuliya said on July 29, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    On Samsung Galaxy S10 and Google Pixel 2 XL, this browser is very very very slow. 😐👎

    1. Unknown person said on August 6, 2020 at 1:26 pm

      Given your extreme antipathy towards Firefox, your information is tainted thus unreliable.

    2. motang said on July 30, 2020 at 2:41 pm

      On my Essential PH-1 it is very fast and responsive. I haven’t use Chrome … ever.

    3. ShintoPlasm said on July 29, 2020 at 4:30 pm

      On a Google Pixel 3a, this browser is nearly as fast as the Chromium ones.

      1. beachbubba said on July 29, 2020 at 9:10 pm


      2. Yuliya said on July 29, 2020 at 5:21 pm

        On my devices this browser is about twice as slow as any other browser. Low framerate animations everywhere, horrid scrolling, long page load times, etc. On Yandex.Images is horible.

      3. Markus said on July 29, 2020 at 7:24 pm

        It’s certainly no coincidence that – for Yuliya – Firefox is supposedly so much slower than every other browser. Just not take seriously what she writes.

      4. Yuliya said on July 30, 2020 at 2:11 pm

        It is about twice as slow as Chromium:

      5. ShintoPlasm said on July 30, 2020 at 9:59 pm


        Wow, your Pixel is so much faster than mine… I’m stuck at around 14-16 for all browsers (FF+Chromia) on my Pixel 3a…

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