How to Get Back FlashGot in Firefox Quantum

Mozilla’s transition to Firefox Quantum brought many changes. One of the rather upsetting changes for long time users of the browser was the introduction of WebExtensions which meant all add-ons had to be rebuilt using this new API.

Some extensions that we had grown accustomed to however never got around to having this rebirth which meant they became incompatible with all new Firefox versions. For those that had to use them, this meant sticking with outdated Firefox versions. Meanwhile, for those that gave in and updated to Quantum, Mozilla added insult to injury with some annoying update notifications.

For a few months I held my ground using Firefox ESR but eventually I too capitulated to the new brave world of Quantum. It’s here that I unfortunately realized that FlashGot wasn’t available in the Add-ons store.

I’ve since then tried many extensions but nothing has ever comes close to the awesomeness of FlashGot. Desperate, I installed Palemoon and used FlashGot with it whenever I needed to until it eventually got outdated there too. That’s until recently when I came across a fork of FlashGot for Palemoon called Grabit.

This got me wondering if somebody else had attempted to make a fork in the WebExtension format. That led me to the FlashGot forums where surprisingly I found this thread of someone that had attempted to make a FlashGot-like extension.

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Download Grab – A Flashgot-like Addon for Firefox

The extension I’m referring to is called Download Grab and is developed by one Pouriap. Its development seems to have stalled however the add-on still works. You can check the add-on’s repository on GitHub here.

It should be noted that this add-on is not a clone of Flashgot. The only feature that it has replicated so far is that of grabbing download links for external download managers. Currently it supports many popular download managers including the likes of:

  • Internet Download Manager
  • Free Download Manager (FDM 5 & 6)
  • Free Download Manager (FDM 3)
  • EagleGet
  • Download Accelerator Plus
  • Download Accelerator Manager
  • Internet Download Accelerator
  • Xtreme Download Manager

You can find a complete list of supported managers on GitHub here. Personally, I’m a long-time fan of FDM 3 (FDM 5 pales in comparison) and it’s the biggest reason behind my stubborn clinging to FlashGot.

While a major selling point, this add-on doesn’t have the ability to sniff and grab media links like FlashGot use to but fortunately there are plenty of WebExtensions that do just that. Now let’s see how to go about installing it.

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How to Install Download Grab

A couple of things to note before proceeding:

  • The add-on is not signed, so it has to be installed manually
  • As per the developer, the add-on is still in alpha stage
  • This extension only works on Windows

With that said I’m yet to encounter issues using it. As a preacution though you may want to use or test it on another Firefox installation. The developer advises to use the Developer or Nightly editions though it works just fine on the stable release I’m using (v80).

You can also opt to install the add-on either temporarily or the usual “permanent” way. The developer suggests installing it temporarily but doing this will uninstall the add-on on exiting the browser, and you’ll have to reload it for every new session.

On the stable release you can however only install it temporarily but on the developer edition you can install it either temporarily or permanently. I haven’t tested the Nightly & Beta versions.

Steps

  1. Download the latest version of the extension’s XPI from the GitHub releases page. At the time of this writing the latest version is version v0.11.0a from 16 Jun 2020.
  2. On the same page download and install the latest Native Host executable.
  3. Launch Firefox and in the address bar go to about:config.
  4. Search for xpinstall.signatures.required and set it to false. This overrides the settings so that you can install unsigned add-ons.
    override add-on signature
  5. Go to the Add-ons page by pressing Ctrl+Shift+A or selecting it from the menu.
  6. To install the add-on temporarily, click the cog icon and select Debug Add-ons.
    install debug add-on
    Next, click the Load Temporary Add-on button and select Download Grab’s XPI.
    load temporary add-on in firefox
  1. On the other hand, to install the add-on permanently click the cog icon, choose the option Install Add-on from file… then select the XPI to install.
    install add-on from file in firefox
  2. After installation, you should now see the Download Grab icon on the extension’s bar.
    download grab's extension icon
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Using the Extension

The extension will automatically detect supported download managers (at least it did for my trusty FDM 3). You can however switch between different download managers and configure some download options by going to its options.

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selecting download grab options

You can find these options by going to the Add-ons page and beside the Download Grab add-on click the three dots and select Options. At the bottom of the options window you’ll see a dropdown with detected managers as shown below:

download grab settings window

Now give it a test run by downloading a file. The extension will override the Firefox’s inbuilt and launch your external download manager.

overridden firefox download dialog

If you however disable the option Override Firefox’s Download Dialog a window will pop up as shown above, and you’ll be able to choose between downloading with Firefox or your Download Manager. Cheers!

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Author

Kelvin Muriuki is a web content developer that's passionate about keeping the internet a useful place. He is the founder and editor of Journey Bytes, a tech blog and web design agency. Feel free to connect with him regarding the content appearing on this page or on web and content development.

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