How to Restore Firefox Settings to Their Default Values

Restore Firefox Settings to Their Default Values screenshot

Mozilla offers much-needed functionality that restores the browser to its default state without erasing important data including bookmarksbrowsing history, cookies, passwords, and auto-fill information. At times Firefox can become bogged down with crashes and overall slowness. The underlying cause of these intolerable annoyances is not always clear, leaving even the most experienced user helpless and frustrated.

This tutorial is only intended for users running the Mozilla Firefox browser on LinuxMac OS X, or Windows operating systems.

Why You Might Want to Restore Default Settings in Firefox

The majority of problems encountered with Firefox can be resolved by returning the application to its factory settings. In many browsers, however, this so-called hard reset results in a loss of valuable user components such as those mentioned above. The beauty of the Refresh Firefox feature lies in the specifics of how it achieves this restoration.

Firefox stores the majority of user-specific settings and data in a profile folder, a repository purposely placed in a separate location from the application itself. This is intentional, ensuring that your information remains intact in the event that Firefox becomes corrupted. Refresh Firefox makes use of this architecture by creating a brand new profile folder while saving most of your important data.

This handy tool corrects a large majority of common Firefox issues with just a few mouse clicks, saving valuable time and effort. This step-by-step tutorial describes Refresh Firefox in detail and explains how to utilize it on all supported platforms.

How to Restore Firefox Default Settings

First, open your Firefox browser. Click on the main menu button, located in the upper right-hand corner of your browser window and represented by three horizontal lines. When the pop-out menu appears click on the Help menu button, located at the bottom of the window and denoted by a blue and white question mark. In the Help menu, click on the Troubleshooting Information option.

Please note that you can utilize the following shortcut in lieu of clicking on this menu item:

  • Type about:support in Firefox's address bar.
  • Hit Enter.

Firefox's Troubleshooting Information page should now be visible, displayed in a new tab or window. To reset your browser to its default state, click on the Refresh Firefox button (circled in the example above). A confirmation dialog should now be displayed, asking if you want to reset Firefox to its initial state. To initiate the process, click on the Refresh Firefox button found at the bottom of this dialog.

During the reset process, you may briefly see Firefox's Import Complete window. No action is needed on your part at this point, as the window will close itself and the browser will restart in its default state.

Prior to resetting Firefox, be aware that only the following information will be saved.

  • Bookmarks: A user-created collection of direct links to specific Web pages
  • Browsing History: A record of all websites that you have visited within Firefox
  • Cookies: Small text files stored on your hard drive or mobile device when you visit certain websites. Each cookie is used to notify a Web server when you return to its site and can be helpful in remembering certain settings including authentication credentials
  • Form Auto-fill Data: Any time you enter information into a form on a website, Firefox may store some of that data. For example, you may have noticed when filling out your name in a form that after typing the first letter or two your entire name becomes populated in the field. This is because Firefox has saved your name from entry in a previous form.
  • Saved Passwords: When entering a password on a Web page for something such as your email login, Firefox will usually ask if you would like for the password to be remembered. If you choose for the password to be remembered, it will be stored by the browser and then prepopulated the next time you visit that Web page.

Several notable items including but not exclusive to installed extensions, themes, tab groups, search engines, and download history are not retained during the reset process.