How to fix Firefox starting with a blank user profile

Mozilla released Firefox 67.0 recently and integrated in that release came a — long-overdue — feature that assigned unique profiles to each Firefox installation on the system.

The change should not have affected existing Firefox installations and profiles on the system but reports are coming in from all over the Internet that this is not the case for some users of the browser.

Mozilla’s implementation assigns a unique profile to any new Firefox installation. That is a good thing for systems with multiple Firefox installations as you don’t have to create and assign profiles for these installations manually anymore using the profile manager or other means.

Firefox uses the set profile from that moment on during start so that it is no longer necessary to tell the browser what to do (either manually on start or by using shortcut parameters).

Some Firefox users who upgraded the browser to version 67.0 noticed that it started with a blank profile; all their user data, bookmarks, open tabs, passwords, history, and other data appeared gone.

The problem that these users experienced is that Firefox assigned a new default profile to the installation; this should not have happened, but it appears to have happened to some.

Good news is that the user data is not deleted or gone. All that is needed is to assign the old profile to the installation of Firefox to restore it.

You have two main options to do so, one uses the Firefox interface to change the assigned profile, the second loads it using a parameter that you add to the Firefox shortcut.

Option 1: Set a default profile for Firefox in the interface

firefox set default profile

  1. Load about:profiles in the Firefox address bar. The page that opens displays all known profiles and the paths assigned to them.
  2. The page displays the current profile at the top and any unused profile (that the current Firefox installation does not touch) below.
  3. Locate the previous user profile. If you cannot locate it using the folder name, you may use trial and error until you get the right profile, or use open folder to browse the profile folder and check it out.
  4. Select “Set as default profile” to assign a new profile to the installation. You may also use “launch profile in a new browser” to check it out without switching to it permanently.

Option 2: Adding a profile parameter to the Firefox shortcut

firefox shortcut load profile

The second option forces Firefox to load a specific profile or the profile manager on startup.

  1. Windows users right-click on the Firefox shortcut and select Properties from the context menu.
  2. The Shortcut tab lists the target, and it is here that you add the instructions.
  3. Add the parameter -p -no-remote to the end of the target line (leave a space) forces Firefox to open the profile manager on start that displays a list of all available profiles. The parameter -no-remote lets you run multiple Firefox installations side-by-side.
  4. Add the parameter -p profile -no-remote to load a specific profile right away. You need to replace “profile” with the name of the profile. Check about:profiles to find out about the names.

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