Tweaks for Firefox 3 download manager

The download manager was dramatically improved for Firefox 3: a progress indicator in the status bar, automatic antivirus scans, a streamlined interface with filtering capabilities, and most notably, download resuming across sessions.

As usual, you can use all these enhancements without touching anything, or go the customization way and tweak a preference or two.

You will need to access the advanced preferences entering about:config in the location and looking for the related setting. To change it, just double click it and enter the new value.

  • By default, documents you download with Firefox are automatically added to the My Recent Documents folder on Windows’ Start menu. If it is cluttering your menu, you can deactivate it by setting browser.download.manager.addToRecentDocs to false.
  • By default, downloaded files are passed by Firefox to your antivirus for scanning. Since some antivirus already monitor and scans downloaded files on their own, this may be redundant. To deactivate automatic scanning, set browser.download.manager.scanWhenDone to false. Note that the feature is available on Windows only.
  • When you close Firefox, active downloads are paused and resumed automatically the next time you start. To change this behavior, modify browser.download.manager.quitBehavior and set it to 1 to pause downloads but don’t resume automatically; or set it to 2 if you prefer to cancel active downloads (you won’t be able to resume).
  • Now that there’s a download status indicator in the status bar you may no longer need the download complete notification. To deactivate it, set browser.download.manager.showAlertOnComplete to false.
  • If you don’t need to keep a full log of all the files you have downloaded, you can set Firefox to clear all download manager entries as soon as they are completed or as soon as you quit. To do so, set browser.download.manager.retention to 0 to discard them as completed, or 1 on quit. The default value is 2 which discards nothing.

Happy tweaking!

32 thoughts on “Tweaks for Firefox 3 download manager”

    1. It IS a good extension, but FF3’s new download manager is more than Ok for me… so no Download Statusbar here 😉

      But I’m using DownThemAll! though.

  1. Can someone please help me.
    Is there anyway to set the FF downlaod manager to prompt you to “Open File” once the file is download is complete. Right now the file says download complete and thats it.
    This would be similar to the Microsoft Download manager in IE.
    I hate having to remember the exact folder and dig thru folder trees to find where I just downloaded a file

    1. As far as I know there isn’t.

      But you don’t have to remember anything. You can open the download manager (Tools/Download Manager, or press Ctrl + J (cmd + K on Mac)) and double click on the file to open it, or right click on it and select Open Containing Folder.

    2. lib4: Like you, I have been frustrated by having to drill down through Windows explorer in order to handle my downloads.

      See text above “… set Firefox to clear all download manager entries as … they are completed or as … you quit. To do so, set browser.download.manager.retention to 0 to discard them as completed, or 1 (to discard) on quit. The default value is 2 which discards nothing.”

      Having read this, I found that MY default was 0, which empties the download manager listing as soon as the download was finished.

      I tweaked the value to 1, which forces the download manager to retain the name of the downloaded file(s) until Firefox is closed. Now that the downloaded filename(s) remain listed, one can right-click on the filename to access choices such as to open the containing folder.

      I can live with this, now that I have fixed these bad manners. In IE it’s only one right-click less complex.

  2. Is there any way that makes Firefox 3 confirm quitting if you are downloading something? Firefox can’t always resume downloads and it is annoying…

    1. I usually open the download window (Ctrl+J), and minimize it because of this. That way when you forget about the download and close FireFox, the downloads continue till you close the download window.

  3. Percy Cabello:
    On your second-to-last bullet, I think you meant to say “set browser.download.manager.retention to 0″ not “0 0″.

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  5. I had AutoCloseDownload Manager in FF2, but it doesn’t work in FF3, How can I make the download manager close when I hit Clear List?? Does anyone know how to do that? Thank you

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  8. Is there any way to tweak the download manager so multiple active downloads are displayed in chronological order top to bottom rather than the reverse?

  9. WELL FIREFOX, SINCE YOU WONT LET ME KNOW WHO OR WHATS INFILTRATING MY COMPUTER, LIKE YOU DID THE LAST TIME AND YOU WONT GET ALONG WITH MY DELL COMPUTER AND YOU DONT HAVE A SPLIT==FIREFOX/EXPLORER SET-UP AND YOUR MY BROWSER. I GUESS I’LL HAVE TO DOWNLOAD INTERNET EXPLORER AS A BROWSER FOR MY COMPUTER DELL TO GET RID OF THE INFILTRATORS ON MY COMPUTER. THE NEXT EXPLORER THAT COMES UP, I’LL DOWNLOAD.

    1. Those caps look nice.

      Also, Dell computers don’t have a different architecture, why do you think it makes a difference? My guess is you have your OS (windows, otherwise you wouldn’t use “explorer”) all messed up. Though.

  10. i can’t pause my downloads. i’ve been using these long time. but when i upgraded to firefox 3 i can’t seem to pause my downloads .thanks a lot.

  11. I agree with boiche, download manager is bogus, if i go to download a file, i cannot pause it, if i do, it says it cannot resume and i have to download again from scratch, very annoying when i have a file like 500 mb.

  12. yah Agree with Boiche, up to now i still can;t pause. when FF2, i have no problem with Download Status bar.

  13. My Downloads all go to C:/Downloads, but I can’t SEE them with Cntrl-J, or Tools-Downloads. that window appears empty. Explorer shows many files. Is there a FF3 fix for this in about:config??

  14. Download overrides a file with same name in same folder; former versions asked if file name should be adjusted by adding an extension like (1), (2) etc. How can I get this again?

  15. Same here, I cannot pause my downloads at all! This is not good at all, and needs to be repaired ASAP

  16. I downloaded FireFox 3.6.10 recently. One of the features I found especially useful was that when I downloaded files there was an info bar that would appear at the bottom of the screen containing the names of all the files I’d downloaded during that browsing session. I inadvertently closed this bar yesterday and now I can not figure out how to restore it.

    I’ve searched all the help sites without success. I’ve even tried uninstalling/reinstalling FireFox but nothing will bring this info bar back. This feature was a HUGE help in my work.

    Does anyone know how to restore this feature in Firefox? I’m fairly certain it was a default FireFox feature (vs an add-in) since it was working immediately after the installation.

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