This post was first published in June 2016. It was updated in June 2017
Like everything else in life, even the traditionally swift Firefox is prone to slowing down with time as it gets encumbered with updates, add-ons, and increasing numbers of processes to deal with. So to keep getting the best out of Firefox, you’ll need to give it a bit of spring cleaning from time to time to get it up to the speeds you expect of it. Or maybe it’s working fine, but you just want to crank that bit more performance out of it because you’re greedy.
Whatever your reasons, here are a bunch of ways you can speed up Firefox.
1. Use New HTTP Cache
In among Firefox’s under-the-hood tweaks in
about:config, you’ll find a whole bunch of things that can turbo charge the browser. One of these is using the latest HTTP cache for Firefox which should improve the stability and speed of Firefox when it’s under pressure by reusing online resources and content you’ve previously visited.
To use this, go to
about:config and type
browser.cache.use_new_backend into the search box. Double-click the “use_new_backend” option and change the “0” to a “1” to activate the new cache, and you’re away.
2. Use uBlock Origin Instead of Adblock
Adblock may be the most popular kid on the … adblocking block, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best for everyone. If your PC isn’t the most powerful, then there’s a good chance Adblock is slowing down your Firefox performance because it’s not all that efficient with its memory usage.
For a long time uBlock Origin has been used as a viable alternative precisely because it manages CPU and memory resources better, thereby causing less strain on Firefox and helping it run faster. It does a great job of blocking ads, too, in case that was ever in doubt.
3. Click-To-Play Flash Content
First thing I do whenever I start using a new browser is to disable Flash content or simply set it to “click-to-play.” Many websites still use Adobe Flash player to load videos and other Flash content, including ads. This leads to taking more time to load a page even if you don’t want to see the Flash content. When set to “click-to-play,” Flash content will only load when you click on it, thus giving you full control.
To set Flash content to “click-to-play” in Firefox:
1. Click on the Firefox main menu in the top-right corner and then click on “Add-ons.”
2. On the add-ons page click on the “Plugins” button on the left side and search for the “Shockwave Flash” plugin.
3. Click on the drop-down menu next to it, and select “Ask to Activate.” You can also completely disable Flash if you don’t use it at all.
4. Disable Add-ons
This is another common thing you can do to speed up browsers, including Firefox. Add-ons and extensions take up resources, therefore also slow down your browser if there are too many. You should disable the add-ons that you don’t use to get the best performance. Although you can just go to the “Add-ons” page from the main Firefox menu and disable/remove the ones you don’t need, it is best to make a decision according to how much resources an add-on is taking.
For this purpose you can use the extension “about:addons-memory.” Install this extension and visit the page
about:addons-memory, and you will see all the installed add-ons and how much resources each one is using. Use this information to remove the ones that use the most memory and that offer little benefit.
5. Free up Memory
If you are continuously using Firefox and find it slowing down, then you can free up some memory to speed it up. To do so, type
about:memory in the Firefox address bar and press Enter. On the next page click on “Minimize memory usage” under “Free memory” to free up memory.
6. Enable Firefox Pipelining
This is a neat little hack that lets Firefox create multiple connections with a server instead of just one to speed up the page loading speed (similar to what a download manager like IDM does). To enable Pipelining, enter
about:config in the Firefox address bar and hit Enter. Here you need to search for the below-mentioned entries and change their status to what is mentioned below:
To quickly find all of these options, type
network.http.pipelining in the search bar and then double-click on the value column next to each entry to change it. You can check out Derrik’s detailed article regarding Firefox Pipelining to get more details.
If you don’t like doing all this manually, then you can also use the Pipelining Firefox add-on to automatically do all this for you.
7. Disable Firefox Animations
Similar to how you can speed up a Windows PC by disabling animations, you can also speed up Firefox by disabling its animations. To disable animations in Firefox, type
about:config in the Firefox address bar and press Enter. Now type “animate” in the top search bar and set the value to all entries that show up as “False.” This should make your browsing experience faster, but you will lose all the smooth animations that make the browser look cool.
8. Use Add-ons to Speed Up Firefox
Similar to Chrome there are many add-ons available for Firefox that can help speed up your Firefox experience. Some of the good ones are listed below.
Auto Unload Tab: This add-on will automatically unload idle tabs and free up all the resources taken by them and then let you easily load them when needed.
Image Block: This will block all the images on websites, thus leading to faster browsing, as less data will need to be downloaded. If you don’t mind browsing without images, then go for it.
Speed Tweaks: This extension can make all the tweaks we have done above in the
about:config page and some additional ones as well to increase speed. You can also do all this manually, but this extension makes it a one-click process.
9. Refresh Firefox
If the above tweaks aren’t enough, or your Firefox browser is acting up (including crashes) due to continuous use, then refreshing Firefox could be a fix. Firefox lets you refresh it and change all its settings to default and remove all the third-party data (like add-ons). Type
about:support in the Firefox address bar and hit Enter. Click on the “Refresh Firefox” button on the right and confirm the prompt to refresh it.
Don’t worry, this will not delete your personal data like browser history, passwords, cookies, bookmarks or auto-fills.
You can use the above-mentioned tips to speed up your Firefox experience. Some of these tips can further speed up Firefox even if it is working fine for you, so do give them a try and reap the benefits. Also, if messing with the entries in the “about:config” page is negatively affecting your browsing experience, then immediately revert the changes and let us know in the comments to help other users.