Current Version plugins

A look at Firefox's new about:config page

Mozilla launched an initial version of a redesigned about:config page of the Firefox web browser in Firefox Nightly.

The new page is built using web technologies, the old was based on XUL technology that Mozilla wants to remove completely from the browser.

Note: the page is a work in progress. Things may change before the new page lands in Firefox Stable. It is unclear if Mozilla will make the change in Firefox 67 or newer versions of the browser. Interested users can follow development by pointing their browser to the Meta bug on Bugzilla.

Firefox displays the warning again on first launch of the new interface even if the browser was set up to skip the warning.

The new interface is blank by default. All that is displayed is a search field at the top and one of the iconic background images that Mozilla uses for internal Firefox pages.

about config changes firefox

It is necessary to hit Esc or press the Enter key to display all preferences. The new web-technologies-based interface is not as compact as the old interface; and there are other changes.

One major change, right now at the very least, is that it is no longer possible to interact with any preference by double-clicking on it.

firefox about:config

You may remember that you could double-click on any Boolean preference to toggle its value, and on any String or Integer value to display the edit prompt right away.

This is no longer possible; Firefox users need to click on Edit or Toggle buttons to make these changes. Toggle changes the value of the Boolean value right away, Edit gives the ability to change the value of preferences using other data types.

Some preferences have a reset or delete button attached to them. Reset changes the value of the preference to the default value, delete removes it from the browser. Delete appears to be available for preferences that were added by the user manually, only.

Another change is that it is not possible to sort the listing anymore, at least not in this initial version. The old interface came with headers that you could click on to sort the listing accordingly, e.g. by modified preferences. Mozilla won’t add sorting options to the about:config page as it stands now.

More problematic than that is that Mozilla won’t allow deep links to about:config pages anymore citing that it “might not be a good idea” or even “risky in some regard”, and that users should just copy and paste preference names in the search box instead.

Closing Words

The planned about:config page is in some regards less usable than the previous one. It lacks sorting, throws away deep linking support, and uses an interface that displays less preferences per page than before.

Now you: what is your take on this redesigned about:config page?

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