How to Use Firefox Permissions Manager

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Sean Martell/Wikimedia Commons 

Firefox's site-specific Permissions Manager gives you the ability to configure a number of settings for individual websites that you visit. These configurable options include whether or not to store passwords, share your location with the server, set cookies, open pop-up windows, or maintain offline storage. Rather than configuring these privacy and security options for all sites in one fell swoop, the Permissions Manager allows you to define different rulesets for different sites. This step-by-step tutorial explains the various components of the Permissions Manager, as well as how to configure them.

First, open your Firefox browser. Type the following text into Firefox's address bar: about:permissions and hit Enter. Firefox's Permissions Manager should now be displayed in the current tab or window. By default, the current settings for all websites will be shown. To configure settings for a specific site, first, click on its name in the left menu pane. 

Store Passwords

The permissions for the site which you selected should now be displayed. Store Passwords, the first section on this screen, allows you to specify whether or not Firefox should save any passwords entered on this particular website. The default behavior is to allow passwords to be stored. To disable this feature simply select Block from the drop-down menu.

The Store Passwords section also contains a button labeled Manage Passwords... Clicking this button will open Firefox's Saved Passwords dialog for the respective website(s).

Share Location

Certain websites may wish to ascertain your physical location through the browser. The reasons for this range from the desire to display customized content to internal marketing and tracking purposes. Whatever the desired reason may be, Firefox's default behavior is usually to ask your permission first before providing your geolocation data to the server. The second section in the Permissions Manager, Share Location, deals with this behavior. If you do not feel comfortable sharing your location and do not even want to be prompted to do so, select the Block option from the drop-down menu.

Use the Camera

Occasionally a website will contain a video chat feature or some other functionality which would require access to your computer's webcam. The following permission settings are offered in relation to camera access.

  • Always Ask (default value): Firefox will prompt you anytime a site tries to access your camera
  • Allow: Websites will always be allowed to use your camera without asking for your permission (This setting can cause obvious privacy risks and should be avoided)
  • Block: No sites will be allowed to access your camera while this setting is active

Use the Microphone

Along similar lines as the camera access, some sites will also request that you make your microphone available. Many models have built-in microphones that you may not even realize are there if you've never had to use it. As is the case with the camera, allowing access to your microphone is something you probably want full control over. These three settings allow you to have this power.

  • Always Ask (default value): You will be prompted whenever a site attempts to access your microphone
  • Allow: All websites will have access to your microphone by default
  • Block: All sites will be prevented from utilizing your microphone

Set Cookies

The Set Cookies section provides a number of options. The first, a drop-down menu, contains the following three choices:

  • Allow (default value): Allows all cookies (both persistent and session) to be saved on your hard drive or mobile device
  • Allow for Session: Allows only temporary cookies to be saved on your hard drive or mobile device, which are deleted at the end of your browsing session
  • Block: Blocks all cookies from being saved on your hard drive or mobile device

The Set Cookies section also contains two buttons, Clear All Cookies and Manage Cookies... It also provides the number of cookies stored on the current site. 

To delete all cookies saved for the site in question, click on the Clear All Cookies button. To view and/or remove individual cookies, click on the Manage Cookies...button.

Open Pop-up Windows

Firefox's default behavior is to block pop-up windows, a feature that most users tend to appreciate. However, you may want to allow pop-ups to appear for specific websites. The Open Pop-up Windows section allows you to modify this setting. To do so, simply select Allow from the drop-down menu.

Maintain Offline Storage

Maintain Offline Storage specifies whether or not the selected website has permission to store offline content, also known as application cache, on your hard drive or mobile device. This data can be utilized when the browser is in offline mode. Maintain Offline Storage contains the following three options in a drop-down menu.

  • Always Ask: Firefox will prompt you for permission before storing any offline data
  • Allow: Offline storage data will always be saved to your hard drive or mobile device
  • Block: Offline storage data will never be saved to your hard drive or mobile device

Forget About This Site

In the upper right-hand corner of the Permissions Manager window is a button labeled Forget About This Site. Clicking this button will remove a website, along with its individual privacy and security settings, from the Permissions Manager. To delete a site, first select its name in the left menu pane. Next, click on the aforementioned button. 

The website which you have chosen to remove from Permissions Manager should no longer be displayed in the left menu pane.