How to Install and Configure Firefox

List of sections on this page:


2.0 About Firefox

Firefox has many easy-to-use settings for protecting your privacy and security whenever you access the Internet. How frequently you may have to configure these settings depends on your particular situation:

  • If you are using your personal computer, and do not allow others to use it for browsing purposes, you need only configure these settings once.

  • If you are in a public location or at work, you may have to repeatedly re-configure these settings for your own use.

Note: You may also use a portable version of Firefox on a USB memory stick with you. This lets you configure Firefox according to your requirements, and you can use this version on any public computer. For more information about Firefox portable, please refer to Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition.

2.1 How to Install Firefox

Installing Firefox is a simple and straightforward process. To begin installing Firefox, perform the following steps:

Step 1. Double click ; the Open File - Security Warning dialog box may appear. If it does, click to activate the Extracting progress status bar.

A few moments later, the The Welcome to the Firefox Setup Wizard window will appear.

Step 2. Follow the steps in the guided installation process, and simply accept the default options and settings.

Note: Do not change the default options and settings unless you know what you are doing and why you are doing so.

2.2 How to Configure the General pane options

To begin configuring Firefox, perform the following steps:

Step 1. Select Tools > Options... in the Firefox menu bar as follows:

Figure 1: The Tools menu with the Options item selected

This will activate the Options window as follows:

Figure 2: The Options window displaying the default General pane

Tip: Click if the General pane is not automatically displayed as shown in Figure 2 above.

The General pane lets you configure a few basic Firefox settings, among them your preferred home page and the location of your Downloads folder.

The default setting for the When Firefox starts drop-down menu is Show my home page, and the default home page is the Mozilla Firefox Start Page.

Tip: Click to automatically set another page you know to be trustworthy as your home page.

2.3 How to Configure the Privacy pane options

The Privacy pane lets you manage privacy and security options for the browser.

Step 1. Click to activate the following screen:

Figure 3: The Options window displaying the Privacy pane

The Privacy pane is divided into three sections: The Tracking section, the History section and the Location bar section.

  • The Tracking section

The Do Not Track section lets you determine whether you wish your internet activities and behaviours to be monitored or tracked by third parties, for instance, advertising companies, analytic services, or market researchers. The first time Firefox is installed, the default setting is Do not tell sites anything about my preferences and must be changed; enabling the Tell sites I do not want to be tracked option notifies participating companies and organizations that you do not wish to be tracked.

Note: The Do Not Track option is based on an honour system and is voluntary; as such, individual web sites are neither legally nor technically compelled to respect such requests. Although a growing number of respectful and responsible organizations are participants, the Do Not Track option must be complemented by other add-ons or plugins that effectively target the commercial or malicious interests; enabling this option reduces your exposure to potentially harmful advertisements online. For more information about Firefox add-ons, please refer to More Useful Firefox Add-Ons.

Figure 4: The Tracking section

Step 1. Check the Tell sites I do not want to be tracked option (as shown in Figure 4 above) to have your privacy and security respected by the participants.

  • The History section

The History section lets you manage your Firefox browser 'history', that is, a list of all the different sites you have visited since you began using Firefox. The default Firefox will: option is Remember history and must be changed to protect your internet privacy and security.

To eliminate traces of your browsing history, perform the following steps:

Step 1. Activate the Firefox will: drop-down list and select the Never remember history item as shown in Figure 3.

Step 2. Click to activate the following screen:

Figure 5: The Clear All History window

Step 3. Select all check-boxes and click to clear Firefox of all potentially revealing data, and return to the Privacy pane.

  • The Location Bar section

The Location Bar section uses addresses, cookies and other temporary data from bookmarked web sites, and the web history to prompt or suggest addresses in the Firefox Universal Resource Locator (URL) bar for your browsing convenience. The default When using the location bar, suggest: option is History and Bookmarks, and must be changed to protect your internet privacy and security.

To eliminate traces of your browsing habits and history, perform the following steps:

Step 1. Activate the When using the location bar, suggest drop-down list and then select the Nothing item as shown in Figure 6 below and Figure 3 above:

Figure 6: The Location Bar displaying the Nothing item

Step 2. Click to confirm your settings and exit the Options window.

Note: For a more secure and thorough approach to deleting temporary data, please refer to the chapter on CCleaner.

2.4 How to Configure the Security pane options

The Security pane is divided into two sections: the first deals with potentially threatening actions from external sources and the second, or Passwords section, with password management.

Note: For more information on password storage, please refer to the chapter on KeePass.

Step 1. Select Tools > Options in the Firefox menu bar to activate the Options window, and then click the Security tab to activate the following screen:

Figure 7: The Options window displaying the Security pane

Step 2. Accept the default settings in the first section.

  • The Passwords section

The Passwords section lets you manage your passwords. The default Remember passwords for sites option is enabled the first time you install and run Firefox, and must be disabled to ensure your password privacy and security. We recommend to securely store passwords in KeePass.

Step 3. Click to complete the configuration of the Security pane in the Options window.

2.5 How to Configure the Advanced pane options

The Advanced tab, as its name suggests, is designed with the Advanced or Experienced Firefox user in mind. However, users of all levels will benefit from enabling the following option in the General tab.

  • The Warn me when websites try to redirect or reload the page option enables Firefox to prevent web sites from automatically redirecting you to another page, or reloading themselves without your consent or knowledge.

Figure 8: The Advanced pane options with the default General tab displayed

Step 1. Enable checkbox Warn me when websites try to redirect or reload the page option as shown in Figure 8 above.

Step 2. Click to apply these changes and exit the Advanced tab.

Congratulations! Firefox is now configured to browse the Internet in a private and secure manner.