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.

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.

8 Responses

  1. Jim B September 23, 2010 / 1:20 am

    One thing I just don’t get is why there isn’t a mandatory “uninstall” button for every plugin. Better yet, don’t put the control for that in the hands of the plugin supplier; firefox is providing a somewhat sandboxed ecosystem that these plugins live in, so it should be possible for firefox to be able to remove a plugin and all of its resources without counting on the plugin provider doing the right thing.

  2. Tony Mechelynck September 23, 2010 / 7:03 pm

    @Jim B: Most of the plugins used by Firefox are installed at a common global location used by all other browsers except Internet Explorer. On a multiuser system, uninstalling one of these plugins would make it unavailable to all users of the system, not only on Firefox but also on SeaMonkey, Konqueror, Opera, Safari, etc. That kind of uninstall should, if desired, be done by a system administrator at system level, by means not of Firefox but of some software package manipulation tool.

  3. Chris Ilias September 23, 2010 / 11:59 pm

    Plus there is some talk about what could be done on the Firefox-side, like automatically disabling new plugins, requiring the user to enable it. But AFAIK, it’s just in the discussion phase.

  4. Jim B September 24, 2010 / 12:24 am

    Thanks for the explanation. Things are always more complicated than they appear from the outside.

  5. pavan October 31, 2010 / 1:32 pm

    me 2 😀 e1 i use ff4 as my default and using utube html5 as default xcept for few wich r nt available!! FIREFOX u rock 😀

  6. Michael Stace December 8, 2010 / 3:01 am

    gah, nothing on your site is loading fast for me. I click something and it just sits for around 30 secs, then my anti virus thing pops up and says there’s a threat and asks if I want to proceed. Anyone else getting this or do I just have a crappy antivirus?

  7. Nicholas Linander October 26, 2011 / 2:38 pm

    Going to place this airtlce to great use now.

  8. SandyJ February 1, 2012 / 4:19 am

    Thanks for that info .. it increased my speed tenfold. Now to get rid of my other issues. 🙂

Comments are closed.