Firefox 101 Beta brings back the download prompt allowing users to choose whether to open or save files

May 5, 2022

Mozilla changed the download behavior of Firefox when it released version 97 of the browser, by skipping the prompt that allowed users to choose whether to Open a file, save it, or cancel the action. When you click on a download link, the file gets saved to your Downloads folder.

Firefox 101 beta brings back the download prompt
Most other browsers have this behavior enabled by default, so Mozilla was following the trend. That's not always a good idea. Since the browser downloads files by default, this could result in the Downloads directory getting cluttered with files that you did not want to download, i.e. accidentally clicking a link, or clicking the wrong link. It wasn't surprising to see that many users weren't happy with this change.

There are a couple of ways to prevent files from being downloaded, the first of which is to simply change an option under Firefox's Settings > General > Files and Applications. Set it to "Always ask you where to save the Files", and Firefox will display a File Explorer dialog that prompts you to select the download folder, you can hit the Cancel button to skip the download. A better solution is to change a preference in the about:config page that restores the classic behavior, i.e. the prompt that has the Open With and Save options. You can find how to enable the old behavior here.

Firefox 101 Beta brings back the download prompt

After listening to feedback from users, Mozilla has added the Download prompt back in Firefox's beta channel. A reddit user spotted that the latest version, Firefox 101.0b2, displays the old prompt, giving more control to the user on how the download should be handled.

Firefox 101 Beta brings back the download prompt allowing users to choose whether to open or save files

A support page on Mozilla's website explains the change. It also highlights a new option that is available in Firefox's settings. Take a look at the two options below the "Applications" section.

The first radio button, when enabled, will Save files by default. The other one, will "ask whether to open or save files". This is essentially the same as changing the preference, but is a more user-friendly way to enable the old download prompt. Opening a file quickly, an easy way to cancel a misclick, and the choice of where the file should get saved are all very useful options to have.

Mozilla plans to add an option to allow using the Temp Folder for starting downloads

Regardless of whether you clicked on the Open or Download option (while clicking on a link), the file gets saved on to the computer's drive. The only difference between the two options, is the folder where Firefox saves the files to. In prior versions of the browser, clicking the Open button would save the file in the Temporary folder, before opening it in the corresponding program. This option was particularly useful in some scenarios, e.g. if you wanted to read a PDF once. But since Firefox 97 removed the download prompt completely, all files were dumped in the Downloads folder.

This has caused some inconvenience for users, there is a lengthy discussion about it on reddit and Bugzilla. The issue has been updated by a Mozilla developer, who stated that a future update for Firefox will add an option to re-enable the use of the Temp folder, (via a sub-folder) for starting downloads. The new option will be an opt-in, i.e., it will not be enabled by default. The "use temp folder" option will be a toggle under about:config, and will also be available via an enterprise policy.

Mozilla plans to add an option to allow using the Temp Folder for starting downloads

Mozilla's developers believe that a file that is saved in the temp folder could result in it being deleted, so users could lose an important file. There are also some concerns regarding the performance on network shares. That's why users will have to decide whether they want to enable the option to use the temp folder for starting downloads, or stick with the default download flow. I think they shouldn't have messed with these options in the first place.

Firefox 101 Beta sees the return of the classic download prompt
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Firefox 101 Beta sees the return of the classic download prompt
Mozilla has brought the classic download behavior back in Firefox 101 Beta. Users will now be able to choose to open or save files.
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  1. poopooracoocoo said on May 30, 2022 at 6:39 pm

    Thanks Mozilla! This is a great reversal. I wish Mozilla listened to their community more though.

    They also seriously need to work on their Android browser. I don’t think you can even search your tabs or bookmark all of them. There’s a lot of desktop-only features.

  2. Mele20 said on May 16, 2022 at 5:34 am

    No wonder I stay on now “abandoned” Basilisk browser as my default browser and Fx 91.9 ESR neither of which have such absurd behavior!

    I’m curious though, what happens if you do not (and never have used that stupid downloads folder for downloads)? I have always set my Windows computers from many years back to current to save downloads to Downloaded Programs folder on my D drive.

  3. Minel said on May 9, 2022 at 4:38 am

    What do you think is the best browser?

  4. Anonymous said on May 8, 2022 at 6:36 pm

    Well written article! Kudos!

  5. Anonymous said on May 6, 2022 at 7:46 am

    It never left my browser. I revert firefox changes from about:config immediately after their obviously not well studied move

  6. Anonymous said on May 5, 2022 at 11:43 pm

    Can they revert the button tabs as well? They are so ugly.

  7. Anonymous said on May 5, 2022 at 9:19 pm

    Why censor :RT’s name and profile image? It’s public information that everybody can see by following the link.

  8. Anonymous said on May 5, 2022 at 8:08 pm

    I don’t open downloads instead I choose cancel or save it, only two options for me. I am simple.

    Disk avoidance, application data isolation, eyeballs…

    /* 5009: disable “open with” in download dialog [FF50+]
    * Application data isolation [1]
    * [1] ***/
    // user_pref(“”, true);

  9. steve99 said on May 5, 2022 at 3:57 pm

    Change for the sake of change is why Firefox is in a downward death spiral to its eventual, unavoidable end. Mozilla once had an excellent, powerful, customizable product called Firefox. Back then, users could create a shortcut that allowed them to rapidly change download settings on the fly in two seconds, with one click and one edit,


    But Firefox remove these excellent hot linking abilities and offered bs corporate speak as to why. Hot linking to hundreds of settings such as the download dir, gave Firefox users great flexibility and speed of operations, allowing them to easily ad hoc adapt their browser to conform to their current workflow – offering maximum efficiency which Chrome could not touch. Personally, I used them 30+ times a day; everything from enable/disable javascript, mp4 (to force download of video), tab control, etc. This and hundreds of rapidly customization settings is why advanced users once loved and exclusively used Firefox. But with each Firefox release, these sort of features slowly got removed; taking with them millions of hours of aggregate user knowledge, effort, and settings along with the reasons we used Firefox. From my perspective, all that remains of Firefox now is a slow browser seeking parity with Chrome, which it will never achieve. To that end, Mozilla continues to remove Firefox’s raison d’être. So I tapped out, enough is enough, I finally got rid of Firefox two weeks ago; deleting all traces of this pox and will never go back. Its corporate self inflicted death cannot come soon enough and at this point, I could care less of google owns the internet and moves into my basement to head up its ops. Firefox was my last touchstone to internet hope, which I removed. The internet is slowly becoming a blight on humankind, a powerful tool for corporate spying that if done 20 years ago when democracies were not complexly owned by multinationals, every board of directors would be in prison for wiretapping. I’m not saying the fine old days of bbs and dial up modems was a superior experience, but they sure as hell were allot more carefree and fun before corporations owned the internet – especially before the current top twenty corporate internet poxes bullied their way into our daily lives to spy on our every move and thought.

    But I digress, back to download dirs… It is a MAJOR security risk to not frequently clean out your temp & download dirs. And if you’re security conscious, you will disable the execute bit on internet enabled machines, using a tool which can rapidly enable/disable that execute bit on those two dirs. Better yet, disable the execute bit on the entire c:\users*.* structure. It is how 99.99999% of malware infects a box over the internet. Cautions, never do this direct via ACL rights. It is cumbersome and causes issues such as halting the d/l of exe, zip, etc. Also, you have to be able to quickly enable the execute bit to install software, which is another reason using the ACL is not viable; it causes major headaches.

    1. yanta said on May 6, 2022 at 2:58 am

      The problem with disabling execute on c:\users is that many developers, getting lazier and more sloppy by the day, write code that runs out of %APPDATA%. Discord is one that comes to mind. Disabling execute on c:\users will break a good deal of programs for a large number of users.

      IMHO, programs should never be run from %APPDATA%, but it is what it is. I refuse to install such programs so this would not hurt me, but everyone else I know would be totally screwed :)

      1. steve99 said on May 6, 2022 at 3:20 pm

        You’re right, I agree on both your points. I recently installed the last version of Ableton Live for Windws 7. After installing it, it took a few minutes to find the exe and tens of GBs of files, which were all buried in the user dirs. This sort of nonsense is another reason not to use Windows ACL for this task. Third party security systems allow whitelisting of files and dirs. Even MS Windows SRP and Applocker allow whitelisting. SRP is a bit too enthusiastic to protect though, and will block you from downloading exe & zip files into a no execute dir. But let’s say there are two products protecting your machine from execution, with one being SRP. I’ll give MS this, SRP blocks access before third party products even know of a threat. I think this is impressive because SRP runs closer to the core OS than third party products do and thus SRP receives first notification. But the weaknesses and big flaws of SRP outweigh its strengths and make is unusable.

        All that aside, for me and machines that have internet access, they are throw away VMs. Among many other “settings”, my Inet VMs are locked down with all but a few ports blocked, all apps outbound blocked but a few, 95% of services disabled, and alterations to most all files & dirs are locked. The only apps installed are inet use types, a few utilities but never vulnerable production apps. Today’s hackers are far too clever to expose valuable assets to the internet, as well as the corporate spies from whom we buy software – who siphon off our private data along with “telemetry”. For instance, for a current & fascinating read on industrial internet espionage, check out the recently revealed “Operation CuckooBees / Winnti Malware”; which displays clever hacking approaches. It also illustrates why locking down the execute bit along with locking out changes to the entire %windir% dir are critical. Those simple precautions would have blocked CuckooBees’ very clever designs. Now granted, this group would have tailored a way around this to get at their industrial targets, but it ups the effort required so protects from all levels of causal hackers.

    2. Anonymous said on May 5, 2022 at 7:03 pm

      so much time wasted to write this bs
      so much…

  10. anonymous said on May 5, 2022 at 3:17 pm

    “After listening to feedback from users, Mozilla…”

    Never thought I’d be reading that. Ever.

    1. Frankel said on May 5, 2022 at 3:21 pm

      Don’t worry, they will fire the guy soon enough for his mistake. Every employee paid is less money in the pocket of their CEO with yearly mandatory salary raise, as per contract.

  11. Frankel said on May 5, 2022 at 2:59 pm

    >Why is every user running away?!

    Gee, why Mozilla? As much as I love Firefox, Mozilla’s mismanagement couldn’t be more out of touch with the desires of the userbase. Had only someone explained to them by not copying popular trash browsers you are a safe haven.

  12. Herman Cost said on May 5, 2022 at 2:31 pm

    I’m also glad to see Mozilla actually responding to user feedback. But it is also fair to add that comments that praise this behavior only tend to get made because of Mozilla’s long track record of ignoring the wishes of their user base. Hopefully this is not a unicorn.

  13. John G. said on May 5, 2022 at 1:52 pm

    It’s always good to read that Firefox take care about the costumer’s opinions. I wonder when MS will hear all the amount of complaints about W11, it should be really glad to read about it. Thanks @Ashwin for the article! :]

    1. owl said on May 5, 2022 at 2:03 pm

      If they cared about feedback, they wouldn’t have removed it in the first place. There was a lot of criticism when they announced it, and far from accepting that it was a bad idea, they instead announced that the option to keep the old settings in about:config would disappear after only 1 release.

      Mozilla regularly belittles their users, that on rare occasions they bow to pressure and undo one of their many stupid things doesn’t change anything.

      1. John G. said on May 5, 2022 at 6:37 pm

        @owl, that’s right, thanks.

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