Firefox users who download files from the Internet will soon notice that Mozilla has changed the default process from displaying a prompt for each download to automatically downloading files, just like Chrome and most Chromium browsers.
Starting with Firefox 97, Firefox will download files immediately after activating the download link. The browser displays the downloaded file in the download panel and users can interact with it from there. Options include opening the downloaded file or managing all downloads.
Firefox 96 and earlier versions of Firefox show a download prompt by default. It provides users with information about the selected file and options to select an application to open the file or to save it directly.
The second option downloads the file immediately, unless users have changed the default browser configuration.
Firefox preferences only list one option for downloads. Users can switch from downloading all files to a single folder, for example, downloads, to a download prompt that gives them the option to select a folder each time.
- Select Menu > Settings to open preferences or load about:preferences directly into the address bar.
- Scroll down the General page to the Files and apps section.
- Downloads are configured to save files to a specific directory by default. On Windows, this is the Downloads folder (which Windows users can edit).
- Switch to “Always ask where to save files” to get a prompt each time to select the download directory for the selected file.
Firefox displays a save prompt whenever a download is initiated in the browser. You can use it to save files to different folders on the local system.
Why you might want to enable download prompts
Downloads are verified by the built-in Safe Browsing component, but anything that passes verification is downloaded automatically. In 2017, a new attack was discovered that used Chrome’s auto-download behavior. The file in question was an older .scf file format, which Windows automatically processed when opening the folder.
A drive-by-download attack, which automatically downloads files without user interaction, or tricks users into clicking the download link, was enough to crash the prepared file on the user’s system.
Our suggestion at the time was to enable the “ask where to save each file before downloading” option in Chrome to prevent this attack from happening, as Chrome will ask you to choose a download location for the file before the file is saved on the local system.
Mozilla’s new automatic download system for Firefox makes downloads more convenient for users. Firefox users who want more control over download behavior or block automatic downloads should enable the “always ask you where to save files” option under Downloads in Firefox settings to achieve this.
Firefox 97 Stable is scheduled for release on February 8, 2022.
Now you: automatic downloads or download prompts, which is your preference?