A bit of a minor post today. I have been meaning to write down my preferred settings for Firefox as its defaults leave a lot to be desired. This is unfortunate actually, as it might throw someone off if their first impression is less good because of this. Firefox is a great browser that feels fast, is privacy focused, and is not owned by a company that has a direct financial benefit to making the browser less useful for the end-user. That, and it's important for the internet as a whole that we are not too dependent on a single browser (again).

Some of these settings will be specific to my preferences or apps/services I rely on, but perhaps there are a few interesting tidbits here for you as-well. Let's get going.

The Toolbar

By default the top area of Firefox has quite a bit of space allocated to unnecessary buttons and other UI elements, so I start by removing these. This includes the home button, the two empty spaces next to the address bar, the download, library, sidebar toggle and Firefox account icons. None of these are actually used frequently enough by me to justify them taking up permanent space, and they're all accessible through the hamburger menu on the right-hand side anyway.

The end result looks something like this:

Much better.

Preferences

Let's go over the settings that I modify. Any other setting I don't specifically mention is left to its default.

General

For some unknown reason Firefox (still) by default does not restore your session, so that's the first thing to enable. I also set Firefox as my system's default browser, so I enable the Always check if Firefox is your default browser just in case something causes that to change, although I don't think that's really something I have to be concerned with with the operating systems I use.

I enable Play DRM-controlled content, which might not be enabled by default depending on your OS.

I keep Use smooth scrolling enabled. If you experience issues with how things look when scrolling and you're using Linux, try looking into vsync settings as your system might not have that properly enabled (an issue that still plagues most distributions for some weird reason).

Home

I like things to open up in a snappy way so I can go to the page I'm visiting without unrelated stuff popping in or whatever, so I set both Homepage and new windows as-well as New Tabs to Blank Page.

Even though I don't actually use the Firefox Home view, I still disable all options under Firefox Home Content. This is wholly unneccessary though, but should I ever use a rogue keyboard shortcut or mis-click and have the page open, nothing unneccessary will load in at least.

My default search engine is DuckDuckGo. I know it's not perfect, but I love what its trying to do and to be frank its results are more often than not exactly what I need. If I ever have a more obscure search query or technical issue that yields no usable results, I'm one !g prefix away from Google.

I disable all One-Click Search Engines as I don't need the clutter in my UI, though I leave both Show search suggestions in address bar results and Show search suggestions ahead of browsing history in address bar results enabled as they're quite handy.

Privacy & Security

I set Enhanced Tracking Protection to Strict, which even though warns that it might break sites usually works fine. Some sights might not work, but they tend to cause issues anyway with inline popovers for noticing ad blockers or whatnot, and I leave those sites as soon as that stuff pops up anyway. If you do end up running into an issue with a specific site, you always have the option to override the default setting by clicking the little shield icon in the address bar and setting an exception for the site you're on.

I disable all password-related stuff Firefox has as I rely on 1Password, so I don't want Firefox to suggest saving things for me.

Under Permissions I check the Block new requests asking for.. option for Location, Camera, Microphone, Notifications and Virtual Reality. While this does not fully solve the annoyance of Marketers thinking people actually want browser notifications for whatever marketing stuff they want to push to you, it helps it a little bit at least.

You can optionally here under Autoplay disable autoplay altogether, but in my case I like Firefox' default of Block Audio so leave that as-is.

I disable all options under Firefox Data Collection and Use except the last one, as I think it's useful for them to get crash reports, should I actually experience crashes.

Sync

I use Firefox Sync, but disable syncing of Add-ons as I need to rely on 1Password X on Linux but can rely on the proper desktop app version on macOS, and there doesn't seem to be a way to have a device-specific override other than just not syncing extensions. Bit odd, but it's a minor issue at most.

Extensions

Lastly, I mentioned that I use 1Password so that's always the first and pretty much only extension I use. I also have the Vue.js devtools extension installed, but only enable it when I am actually working on a project that involves Vue. 1Password is also the only button aside from the refresh button that I keep visible in the main toolbar, as you might've noticed in my screenshot shared above.

Closing thoughts

That's it, really. It's certainly not rocket science, but it's a few steps and I usually forget at least one of them until I run into something that reminds me of it. With these small tweaks in place I feel like it's a really nice browser that does exactly what it should do; be out of the way so the content of whatever websites you're on are the main focus. With the tweaks in place I feel like the end-result is similar to Chrome in its early days, back when its lack of traditional window titlebar and other UI clutter was quite amazing and a total game changer.

Firefox has become my main browser of choice for over a year now. Before this I was using Safari mainly, and Chrome when developing. To be honest I struggle to make good use of Safari's Web Inspector ever since they implemented the modern XCode-style UI, some parts just have become really clunky and unintuitive for some reason. With me switching to Firefox I no longer need to use two browsers, so that's a nice bonus.

If it's been a while since you checked out Firefox, I can highly recommend you give it a(nother) try. Even if you have no problems with your current browser, ensuring we collectively avoid relying too much on a single browser avoids potential (or; inevitable) issues now or later. And Firefox is a very competent, very capable choice that you might end up liking very much.