Firefox 83 gets vastly improved pinch to zoom functionality

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 25, 2020

Mozilla plans to include improved pinch to zoom functionality in the upcoming Firefox 83 Stable web browser. Already a thing in preview versions of the web browser, including Firefox Nightly, Firefox users may use pinch to zoom on touch-capable devices to zoom in and out of webpages.

While zooming is supported in current versions of the Firefox web browser currently as well, it is linked to the page zoom feature and as such less granular and eye-pleasing. When you use touch to zoom in current versions of the Firefox browser, you will notice that the page's zoom level changes immediately; this is reflected in Firefox's address bar as the zoom level is highlighted there if is not at the default level of 100%.

Starting in Firefox 83, Firefox's pinch to zoom functionality mimics that of the Safari browser and Chromium-based browsers. Users who zoom using touch will notice that the zooming is much more fluent and granular as a result, and as such provides a superior user experience to the current zoom functionality of the web browser. Using Pinch to Zoom in Firefox 83 or newer won't affect the zoom level of the webpage in question. You can verify that by looking at the address bar or the menu, as the zoom level is still set at 100% if you use the new zoom feature.

firefox pinch to zoom new

Users who need to zoom using the old way can still do so in multiple ways, e.g. by using Ctrl- or Ctrl+ to do so, by holding down the Ctrl-key and using the mouse-wheel, or by using the Firefox menu.

Firefox users who want to try the new zoom functionality right now in Firefox Stable may do the following to do that:

  1. Load about:config in the Firefox address bar.
  2. Confirm that you will be careful.
  3. Search for apz.allow_zooming.
  4. Set the preference to TRUE.
  5. Restart Firefox (just to be sure).

When you use pinch to zoom after the restart, you should get the new zoom behavior in the browser. The zoom is kept as long as the page is not reloaded in the browser.

firefox allow zooming

Mozilla introduced support for APZ, Async Pan Zoom, in 2015 in the Firefox web browser.  Mozilla plans to release Firefox 83 Stable next month on November 17, 2020.

Now You: Do you zoom regularly in your browser of choice?

Firefox 83 gets vastly improved pinch to zoom functionality
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Firefox 83 gets vastly improved pinch to zoom functionality
Mozilla plans to include improved pinch to zoom functionality significantly in the upcoming Firefox 83 Stable web browser.
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  1. Jens Kirk said on September 16, 2022 at 7:48 pm

    Really hope Mozilla is gonna speed this font&style up at least optionally.. Today pages are designed for high DPI and fast computers. My personal computer like good DPI but personally I don’t need and I would prefer not decreasing quality by zooming fonts in and out while increasing demand of CPU usage for simple things. I kinda despise shat is happening to top browsers. At least I’m syre it will lead to other kinds of GPUs and they probably exist.

  2. Eric said on February 17, 2021 at 9:45 pm

    I much preferred the old method. With the new zoom, the text just gets bigger, but then it overflows the window on the sides. The old method would reformat the page so that the text still fit within the window. I know I can still get it the old behavior with Ctrl + and -, but I would like to get that with pinch-zooming. I tried setting apz.allow_zooming to false, but that took away all zooming for me.

  3. Anonymous said on December 6, 2020 at 5:41 pm

    The “old” method was to use pinch to zoom out. i
    I use a tablet and you are basically saying I need to attach a keyboard or hide a portion of my screen. Would be nice to upgrade back to v82 but that isnt available either.

  4. Anonymous said on November 23, 2020 at 4:30 pm

    I vastly preferred the old way, it gave me a % & I was able to zoom out.
    This new way does not allow me to zoom out, which is a must for me.

    Please advise me how or fix it.

    1. Anonymous said on November 24, 2020 at 8:07 am

      Go to about:config and set apz.allow zooming to false. Reload firefox. Works for me but as someone mentioned above it is unreliable from time to time now.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on November 23, 2020 at 5:09 pm

      You can still zoom using the old method, e.g. by holding down Ctrl and using the + or – keys.

  5. Anonymous said on November 22, 2020 at 3:38 pm

    this new zoom mode has new bugs. it sucks, if you are used to zoom with spreading out/together your fingers on touchpad.
    zooming out does not work any more, one cannot make a website smaller than original.
    also in about:config after setting apz.allow_zooming to false, the usual zooming with 2 fingers seems somehow restored, yet is unreliable and not working as before the update.

    Switching to Cntr+ / Cntr- is too heavy impact on usability flow, while browsing and scrolling with touchpad.

    1. Anonymous said on January 10, 2021 at 12:17 pm

      THANK YOU!!!!!

      I hate the Chrome/Edge approach to pinch to zoom, which adds scrollbars everywhere.
      The original pinch to zoom linked to true web page scaling was always one of the benefits of Firefox.

  6. Yuliya said on October 27, 2020 at 10:25 am

    The way Chromium implemented this is by actually having two different zoom features. The touch zoom is completely independent from Ctrl+. It’s annoying but it works, I wonder how mozilla did it, will probably try it later today on my Surface. Current firefox is unusable in this regard on a touch screen device.

  7. archie said on October 26, 2020 at 9:51 am

    oops: to reset, just zoom out: won’t go past 1:1.

  8. archie said on October 26, 2020 at 9:46 am

    That’s good to know Martin: tested and adopted. Thanks for the tip. Wish there was a reset gesture though.

  9. Anonymous said on October 26, 2020 at 7:57 am


    Try suggestions from TheQueefGoblin in the following Reddit-thread:

    Specifically try the settings titled: MS Edge smooth scrolling

  10. PD said on October 26, 2020 at 4:08 am

    Is this going to be applied to mobile Firefox? Being able to over-ride sites that *still* lack decent mobile support, and where “Request desktop version” does not invoke a better experience, would be a milestone in usability for Firefox on mobile.

  11. bevode said on October 25, 2020 at 5:52 pm

    One more step in the chromisation of Firefox…
    “functionality mimics that of the Safari browser and Chromium-based browsers”

    So after that, why can’t you just install chrome, edge, vivaldi or brave it will be faster than just wait the clone of chrome by firefox …

    1. hain said on October 27, 2020 at 12:25 pm

      I dont mind that faster. Lol

  12. Anonymous said on October 25, 2020 at 5:34 pm

    I wish Firefox had a smooth scroll so smother as the one in Edge browser.

    1. Don't let grammar errors spoil your essay! said on October 26, 2020 at 10:43 pm

      What is this smooth scrolling? And why it is so important? How can someone see differences between smooth-scrolling and non-smooth-scrolling? Feeling stupid now, might be smarter tomorrow.

      1. Anonymous said on October 27, 2020 at 12:48 pm

        It’s two things:

        1) Higher refresh rate, which is better, just like in games.

        2) Acceleration of scroll-speed in the start of the scrolling and deceleration of scroll-speed at the end of the scrolling. It mimics how objects move in the real worlds.

        It’s an aesthetic thing.

        Some people don’t notice any difference or care about it and some really like it :)

    2. Anonymous said on October 26, 2020 at 8:54 am

      Try this:

      1. Create a user.js file inside your Firefox profile folder (see Help -> Troubleshooting Information -> Open Folder)

      2. Paste one of the following sections into the file and save it.

      3. Restart Firefox.

      MS Edge smooth scrolling section to paste in the js file:

      user_pref(“general.smoothScroll.msdPhysics.continuousMotionMaxDeltaMS”, 250);
      user_pref(“general.smoothScroll.msdPhysics.enabled”, true);
      user_pref(“general.smoothScroll.msdPhysics.motionBeginSpringConstant”, 450);
      user_pref(“general.smoothScroll.msdPhysics.regularSpringConstant”, 450);
      user_pref(“general.smoothScroll.msdPhysics.slowdownMinDeltaMS”, 50);
      user_pref(“general.smoothScroll.msdPhysics.slowdownMinDeltaRatio;0”, 4);
      user_pref(“general.smoothScroll.msdPhysics.slowdownSpringConstant”, 5000);
      user_pref(“mousewheel.min_line_scroll_amount”, 22);
      user_pref(“toolkit.scrollbox.horizontalScrollDistance”, 4);
      user_pref(“toolkit.scrollbox.verticalScrollDistance”, 5);

      This is not my idea, I found it at and they make a huge difference.

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