How To Upgrade From Firefox 3.6 To Firefox 12 More Easily

About 2.7% of internet users (i.e. millions of people) have been clinging onto Firefox 3.6 but now Mozilla have confirmed it is officially no longer supported – there will be no further security updates or stability fixes for Firefox 3.6 so it will quickly become an obsolete and insecure browser.

Continuing to use Firefox 3.6 poses a significant security risk – 3.6 users will see a message asking them to update and will be prompted once more before being automatically updated to Firefox 12 in the near future (unless they turn off updating).

After upgrading to version 12 you may want to get back some of the look and feel of your favorite 3.6 – although the user interface and some features of version 12 are radically different, there are many ways to make it more ‘3.6 friendly’ if you wish:

1. See how to change the layout of Firefox to tweak the new layout to make it look and feel more like 3.6 – the article covers the major Firefox 4+ user interface changes.

2. Top-level pictures are now displayed at the center of the screen with a very dark grey background – see how to change them back to the traditional white background and top left aligned style.

3. FF 12 uses the Site Identity button instead of a padlock icon to notify users of encrypted websites – see how to add a traditional secure site padlock icon.

4. If some favicons (website icon pictures) for bookmarks disappear upon upgrading – see how to add them back.

5. If you have Java installed you may see an add-on error message stating that the Java Console add-on is incompatible with Firefox – for most people this should not matter as the Java ‘Console’ is not Java. See here for an explanation.

6. Google Toolbar is not compatible with FF 12 (or new versions of Chrome for that matter) – for a great alternative see my review of the Growee search toolbar.

7. Mozbackup is still a great way to backup your FF 12 profile. If you have used an older version of Mozbackup you may need to upgrade it for Firefox 12 – see my review of Mozbackup which includes the download location.

8. Many technical improvements and new features have been introduced since Firefox 4 was released. An in place upgrade to version 12 is likely to leave your Firefox profile full of features that are no longer used and add-ons that are no longer used or incompatible with Firefox 12…

To gain full benefit of FF 12 (and as so much has changed), now would probably a good time to do a clean install from scratch – see my guide on how to reinstall Firefox – recommended for more advanced users.

In that article I checked the default Firefox user profile on a computer continually upgraded over the years from version 2 to 7 (latest version when I posted the article last October):

  • Before – 37MB (171 files)
  • After – 16MB (39 files) – after removing Firefox 7 and reinstalling it from scratch (including all bookmarks/passwords and add-ons)

The huge decrease in profile size and cleaned up program folders resulted in a noticeable speed and stability improvement.

That improvement would likely be even more dramatic now because there have been many changes between Firefox 7 and 12 and the user profile would have grown even more bloated during that time.

Conclusion

Some people would argue that you should just bite the bullet and get used to the new user interface and features of FF 12. However, if you have stuck with Firefox 3.6 for all this time, you probably had serious reservations about the newer versions.

The changes detailed above should help ease the transition and retain much of the look and feel of 3.6 whilst still enjoying a secure browser supported by future updates.