With Firefox Quantum, Mozilla 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 then the most likely reason is that Mozilla 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 the annoying update notification that pop-ups a few minutes into a new browsing session. If this is not enough, they also include a “sticky” update notification in the hamburger menu just to further remind you of the urgency of the update.
As much as I understand the urgency of some of these updates, I find all these cues a bit unnecessary. In any case, I’ve always updated my Firefox manually and prefer to keep it that way. For this reason I decided to find away to disable these notifications, and initially I was successful.
In an early iteration of this post I shared on how to do this, but subsequent Firefox updates have rendered the settings we utilized useless. I have however retained the video tutorial should you be interested in finding out more.
Fortunately, there’s a second option which has worked all through the subsequent updates, including in the new Firefox Proton. This second method is fool-proof as it involves disabling automatic updates using Firefox Policies. The update notifications are also disabled in the process.
Disable Firefox Automatic Updates using Policies
Firefox comes bundled with a list of Enterprise Policies which can be viewed by going to the address about:policies and choosing Documentation. The policy we are however interested with here is the DisableAppUpdate policy.
This policy can be enabled in a couple of ways depending on the operating system. They include:
- By using a JSON file inside Firefox’s installation directory on Windows, Linux or macOS.
- Enabling the policy through the registry editor on Windows.
- Activating the policy through the command line on macOS.
- Enabling the Policy through the Local Group Policy Editor on Windows.
- Enabling the policy through a Property List file (plist) on macOS.
I’ll cover the first four, which should suffice for most users on all platforms.
Please note that this policy will only disable the checking and installation of automatic updates. You’ll therefore still be able to update Firefox manually by downloading and running the Firefox offline installers.
Disable Updates using Enterprise Policy JSON (Windows/Linux/macOS)
1. Open a plain text editor like notepad or notepad++ and paste the following code in it:
2. Save the file as a json file named: policies.json
The following policy JSON file has to be saved in the installation directory of Firefox in a folder called Distribution. This folder is by default not included, and so you’ll have to create it manually. The default installation directories on the three platforms are as follows:
C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\distributionor;
C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox (x86)\if you’re running a 32-bit Firefox installation on a 64-bit Windows.
firefoxis the installation directory for Firefox in the distribution you’re using, or ;
- you can specify a system-wide policy by saving the file inside
Before you can install the file on your Mac, you need to remove the quarantine set by macOS which breaks an app should its installation be modified.
To do that, open the terminal and navigate to the applications’ directory by running
cd /Applications. Next, run the command:
xattr -r -d com.apple.quarantine Firefox.app
After doing that, save the policies.json file inside:
/Applications/Firefox.app/Contents/Resources/distribution. You’ll have to make the directories if they’re not present.
If you run Firefox after this and get an error message that ‘Firefox is damaged and can’t be opened. You should move it to the Trash‘, that means the quarantine wasn’t removed correctly.
To avoid this error, you may consider using the command line option discussed further down below.
Disable Firefox Updates on Windows through the Registry
1. Open notepad and paste the following code:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
2. Save the file as
3. Double-click the file to install the key into the registry. Click OK to dismiss the warning.
Alternatively, you can install the key manually in the registry editor as follows:
- Press Windows Key + R to launch the Run window.
- Enter regedit and press Enter to open the registry editor.
- Navigate to the following key:
- Right-click the Policies folder and go to New and create a Key called
- Right-click the Mozilla folder and create a key called
- Click to select the Firefox folder then on the right pane right-click and create a new DWORD (32-bit) Value named
- Double-click to open the value and give it a Hexademical value data of 1.
- Restart Firefox.
Disable Firefox Updates on macOS using Command Line
The following commands will require
- Launch the terminal.
- First, enable policies by running the following command:
sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/org.mozilla.firefox EnterprisePoliciesEnabled -bool TRUE
- Enter your admin password when prompted.
- Next, run the following command to disable the updates:
sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/org.mozilla.firefox DisableAppUpdate -bool TRUE
Disable Firefox Updates on Windows using Local Group Policy Editor
Starting from Firefox 60 and Firefox 60 ESR, Firefox policies can be integrated into Windows Group Policy. Using the Local Group Policy Editor one can then easily enable or disable specific policies which will apply to all users who are members of a given Group.
Using this method is therefore especially useful for System administrators managing multiple users as it’s not ideal to go creating the policies.json on individual computers.
Nevertheless, you can also opt to use this method as an individual PC user as its less cumbersome and ensures the policy remains active should you reinstall Firefox.
For this to work however you should be running a Windows edition that supports Group Policy. They include:
- Windows 10: Pro, Enterprise & Education
- Windows 8/8.1: Pro & Enterprise
- Windows 7: Professional, Ultimate & Enterprise
If that checks out, do the following:
1. Download the Firefox Policy Templates. Make sure to download the release for the version of Firefox you’re running.
2. Extract the ZIP package and copy the entire contents inside the windows folder.
3. Now to install the polices, paste the copied files inside the following directory:
4. Next, launch the local group policy editor by running
gpedit.msc via the Run… window (Win Key +R).
5. In the editor’s sidebar go to Computer Configuration and expand
Administrative Templates > Mozilla > Firefox
6. In the Polices window open the Disable Updates item and configure it to Enabled. That’s it.
- For some reason on Windows 7 this policy setting disables the updates for all user accounts (Standard and Administrators) except for Guest accounts. It however works with Window’s 10 Visitor account.
Confirm Updates Have Been Disabled
After enabling the policy, 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.
When you scroll down to the Updates settings you should find the message: Updates disabled by your system administrator. The Check for updates button will also have been disabled in the process.
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 or revert the Disable Update policy to Not Configured. Otherwise, have yourself some peace of mind free of forced updates.