Firefox tip: Disable unused plugins

I used to post a lot of tips and tricks for Firefox and Thunderbird, but I haven’t posted in a long time. Here’s a new one.

If you’re having speed/stability issues with Firefox, the cause of the problem is often one or more plugins. Mozilla offers a plugincheck tool, that tells you if you have the latest version of each of your plugins, so you can make sure all of your plugins are up to date with the latest security and stability fixes.

But many people don’t realize how many plugins they have installed. Seeing so many plugins should be an eye-opener in terms of:

  • how many are listed
  • how many you were aware of
  • how many you use
  • how many you need

Unfortunately, many plugins get installed without us knowing. Even on my mac, when I look at my list of plugins, I see something called “iPhotoPhotocast“. I use iPhoto, but I don’t know what the plugin is for.

One tip that should help improve the stability and performance of your Firefox installation is to disable any plugins you don’t need. To do that, open the Tools menu and click on Add-ons to open the Add-ons manager.

Select the Plugins panel.

For each plugin you don’t need, select it and click Disable.

  • If there is a plugin you need once in a blue moon, just re-enable it when you need it.
  • If you see a “Mozilla Default Plug-in“, leave it alone.

In my case, the only plugin I have enabled is Flash, because I watch videos on Youtube. I find that I’m needing it less and less using Firefox 4 Beta and joining the Youtube HTML5 Beta program.