Firefox to get option to manage optional extension permissions on about:addons

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 22, 2020

Firefox users who install browser extension may be familiar with the permissions prompt that is displayed when extensions get installed. Extension developers may use a default set of features that require no permissions but need to request permissions if APIs are needed that provide extra functionality.

While most of the permissions are required for functionality, e.g. a tab managing extension needs access to browser tabs and website data, some permissions may be optional. Optional permissions are usually required if a user enables certain functionality that is not enabled by default.

To give you an example. The Simple Tab Groups extension requests six required permissions when it is installed. You may enable access to the browser's bookmarks in the options, and that requires the permission to access bookmarks of the browser; this is an optional permission as it is not enabled by default and not required for the extension's default functionality.

Optional permissions are not listed in about:addons, Firefox's internal management page for extensions, at the time of writing. That's a problem, as managing of these optional permissions depends on the extension's author integration of an option to revoke these permissions again. Additionally, it is impossible to quickly check which extensions have optional permisssions.

Mozilla added an option to Firefox 84 Nightly to display and manage optional permissions on the about:addons page.

firefox revoke optional permissions

Just open any of the installed extensions on the page and switch to the permissions tab. There you find required and optional permission groups.

While you cannot modify required permissions, you may toggle optional permissions with a click or tap on the switch on the page. Revoking optional permissions may lead to a loss of functionality, as certain features will become unavailable due to a lack of permissions.

Closing Words

The change is a welcome one as it gives users of the browser control over optional permissions of extensions. The target for a stable release is Firefox 84, which will be released on December 15, 2020. The milestone is not set in stone, and it is possible that the rollout gets delayed. You can follow the bug on Mozilla's bug tracking site Bugzilla.

Now You: How many extensions have you installed in your browser?

Firefox to get option to manage optional extension permissions on about:addons
Article Name
Firefox to get option to manage optional extension permissions on about:addons
Mozilla plans to introduce options in Firefox 84 that enable users of the browser to manage optional permissions of installed browser extensions.
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  1. owl said on October 23, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    In this kind of topic, there are some discussions centered on “fingerprint” measures, but it is a unique distinction from fingerprints and is a separate issue from security measures.
    In addition, extensions also have the role of “improving the user experience” and cannot be easily declared “futility and useless”.
    Those decisions are made by the end user himself based on his values and preferences.

    As a system routine:
    NordVPN: Obfuscated Servers (OpenVPN)
    I’m using a “BrokenURL” as Windows URL router.

    “Firefox ESR” is my favorite browser, but “Brave” is enough when I need Chromium. That is my conclusion.
    In the others, I use “Firefox DeveloperEdition” to support AMO development, and also use “Firefox Nightly” for testing new features and such.
    And, Pale Moon, Tor Browser, Iridium browser are implemented too.

    I use many extensions:
    Auto Tab Discard
    Bitwarden – Free Password Manager
    Bookmarks Organizer
    Cookie AutoDelete
    Copy All Tab Urls
    Copy Selected Links
    CSS Exfil Protection
    Dark Background and Light Text
    DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials
    Firefox Multi-Account Containers
    Forecastfox (fix version)
    Grammar and Spell Checker – LanguageTool
    Header Editor
    Hide Private Mode
    HTTPS Everywhere
    IDM Integration Module
    Image Max URL
    IP Address and Domain Information
    Keep or Delete Bookmarks
    New window without toolbar
    Popup ALT Attribute
    Reader View
    Reading List
    Request Control
    Scroll To Top
    SimpleLogin: Open-source Email Protection
    Skip Redirect
    Smart Referer
    Speed Dial
    Tab counter
    Temporary Containers
    To Google Translate Create disposable address
    Tree Style Tab
    uBlock Origin
    word count

    As reference information:
    Firefox Privacy Guide | privacytoolsIO
    How Tracking Protection works in Firefox
    Tweaking Cookies For Privacy in Firefox
    Tweaking Referrers For Privacy in Firefox
    user.js — Firefox configuration hardening | GitHub – pyllyukko

    1. ShintoPlasm said on October 25, 2020 at 8:59 am


      Why do you use both HTTPS Everywhere and DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials? The DDG extension integrates HTTPS-E from upstream, so having both is unnecessary.

      1. owl said on October 26, 2020 at 12:07 pm


        Thank you for pointing out.
        As you mentioned,
        DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials
        Enforce Encryption — force sites to use an encrypted (HTTPS) connection where available, protecting your data from prying eyes, like from unwanted snoopers and Internet service providers.
        I renewed that recognition.

    2. ULboom said on October 23, 2020 at 7:19 pm

      Wow! Surprised the browser works at all. :)
      I use four, none of which really extend functionality, just make features more accessible.

      For example, Forget Button which adds a button to clear cache, history, etc. to the main tool bar.

      New Tab Homepage, loads your homepage in new tabs.

  2. Mothy said on October 22, 2020 at 11:19 pm

    How many extensions have you installed in your browser?

    I have yet to install any extensions in Firefox ESR since I started using it a couple years ago. I just haven’t found a real need for any so far. It’s also in part due to I’m very strict on what software is installed primarily to keep the system’s attack surface as small as possible but also because I prefer to operate via the KISS principle (design rule that states that systems perform best when they have simple designs rather than complex ones).

    For blocking functionality I use a custom hosts file instead of extensions along with the browser set to block all third party cookies. Then upon closing the browser it’s set to always clear everything (history, cookies and cache) after which I then run a custom batch file that deletes the cache2 folder and the webappsstore.sqlite file (both are re-created on next browser launch) along with various other temp files in the current Windows user profile.

    1. DarwinAwardGoesToAlex said on October 25, 2020 at 1:16 am

      Chromium has defect tickets that have been open for over twelve years – that’s it’s entire lifetime. How disgusting and useless. People should stop using chromium NOW

    2. ULBoom said on October 23, 2020 at 7:10 pm

      Maybe explain each one and what they affect and why they need to be fixed.

      VSync’s not an issue for me at all, vids play exactly the same as they do with Chromium. Windows has had tearing issues, those using ooooold versions of it may encounter them as well as those with weird graphics card settings or lacking the knowledge to address frame rates in about:config.

      There’s a website that tests browser video playback and shows tearing in FF that I’ve never seen. Of course it’s easy to make a video tear…

      I have a laptop from 2011 that plays vids fine in FF just doesn’t display them as nicely as our newer ones, typical retina burner of the era.

      1. Yuliya said on October 24, 2020 at 12:33 pm

        Because I said it, frametiming issues? Not tearing. This affects the whole UI with its animations of firefox, but video playback, especially at higher framerates (48-60fps) is the most affected one.
        You can learn more here:

      2. ShintoPlasm said on October 25, 2020 at 9:56 am


        I know about VSyncTester, but have you actually witnessed any real issues in FF on any modern computer? I just can’t see the practical ramifications of this so-called bug.

    3. Yuliya said on October 22, 2020 at 6:30 pm

      It still does not have proper VSync implementation, and that’s a bug since WinVista was released, in 2006. The issue is marked as fixed and closed, yet the frametiming is screwed. These will never get fixed, firefox will die with those issues open.

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