How to Disable Firefox Quantum Update Notification

In a recent update to the new Firefox Quantum, the Mozilla team removed the option to Never check for updates in the browser's update settings. They however left two of the three original options:
  • Automatically install updates (recommended)
  • Check for updates but let you choose to install them

Now I'm not sure what prompted this decision, but if I were allowed to speculate my guess is that the Mozilla team is merely trying to protect users from themselves; that is, pushing security updates they deem urgent and that would otherwise go ignored by some users.

This is all good but it takes away from the countless more, usually the more experienced tech-savvy crowd, the choice to make this decision at their own discretion. In place of the now defunct option, Mozilla seems to expect such users to make do with the check updates and notify to install option.

Now this option would have been slightly bearable were it not for that pestering notification to update that pop ups a few minutes after one begins a new browsing session.
notification
Update Notification

If this is not enough, they also include a "sticky" update notification on the hamburger icon and menu just to further remind you of the urgency of the update.
notification on menu
Update Notification on Menu

After having had enough of that distracting pop up, two weeks ago I caved in and finally updated Firefox 63.0 to the new 64.0 version. My reprieve however only lasted a week before the notification reared its ugly head with a new update (64.0.2).

It's here that it dawned on me that I would never be able to keep up with Firefox's rapid release cycle. A more permanent solution was thus necessary.



Disable Firefox Updates using Enterprise Policies

The first place I checked was the about:config preferences but it would seem that Mozilla preemptively took out any setting there that would have easily circumvented their new dispensation.

Messages on the Firefox support forum however soon revealed that this was indeed the case and that to disable updates one had to use a policy file that was mainly geared for use by administrators in enterprise environments.

Disabling updates this way would also get rid of the update notification. If you wanted to keep the update checking without having to see that notification it would seem that's not possible.

I've since implemented this policy on my one-man enterprise and can hereby confirm that it works. Here's how to do it for yourself.


Create Enterprise Policy JSON

1. Open a plain text editor like notepad or notepad++ and paste the following code in it:
{
 "policies": {
    "DisableAppUpdate": true
  }
}
2. Save the file as a json file named: policies.json

3. Go to the installation directory of Firefox and create a new folder with the name: distribution. On Windows the directory is:  C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\distribution

4. Now just copy the policies.json file into this folder.



Confirm Updates Have Been Disabled

After doing the above, restart Firefox and go to the settings. You should get a notification embedded at the top of the setting's page with the message: Your organisation has disabled the ability to change some options.
policy settings
Policy Settings Activated

When you scroll down to the Updates settings and you should find the message: Updates disabled by your system administrator. The Check for updates button will also have been disabled in the process.
updates disabled
Updates Disabled Permanently

If you want your browser's search engines to be updated automatically, remember to enable that option as it's turned off after activating this policy setting.

On the other hand, should you wish to revert this setting, just delete the json file. Otherwise have yourself some peace of mind free of forced updates.

Kelvin is a writer and registered nutritionist based in Nairobi. Passionate about writing and helping people solve problems, he's been actively blogging since 2014 on tech, nutrition and "pseudo poetry".



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