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rschneider

PERMANENTLY DISABLE 1 FIREFOX EXTENSION FROM UPDATE CHECKING

Mar 28th, 2017
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  1. HOW TO PERMANENTLY DISABLE ONLY 1 FIREFOX EXTENSION'S UPDATE CHECKING
  2. (for Add-On Constantly Offered a Problematic or Buggy Update)
  3.  
  4. PROCEDURE TO REMOVE EXTENSION FROM "ADD-ONS MANAGER" AND INSTALL IT AS A "SYSTEM ADD-ON"
  5. (WORKAROUND FOR FIREFOX EXTENSION UPDATE-CHECKING SNAFU)
  6.  
  7. 1) Before removing the add-on (for which update checking is to be permanently disabled) from
  8. Add-Ons Manager, make all desired Preferences settings by clicking the "Options" button in
  9. its listing in Firefox's Add-Ons Manager (Ctrl+Shift+A).
  10.  
  11. 2) Before removing the add-on (for which update checking is to be permanently disabled) from
  12. Add-Ons Manager, ALSO find and copy its INSTALLED .XPI file, located in the folder:
  13. "C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\<random>.default\extensions\"
  14.  
  15. NOTE: In the Profiles extensions folder, about half my extensions have .XPI filenames that
  16. are identifiable in human-readable form, and about half use a UUID / GUID format:
  17.  
  18. The UnMHT add-on's INSTALLED .XPI has no human-readable name callout - it is
  19. {f759ca51-3a91-4dd1-ae78-9db5eee9ebf0}.xpi
  20. [The { ... } string is a GUID (Globally Unique ID) / UUID (Universally Unigue IDentifier)]:
  21. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universally_unique_identifier
  22.  
  23. A) Use File Size to find the .XPI that is the same size as the downloaded .XPI on the
  24. add-on's Mozilla Add-Ons Version History page; OR
  25.  
  26. B) Use the search box on website "http://www.systemlookup.com/" to do a Filename search
  27. (WITH or WITHOUT the .XPI extension - both work; OR
  28.  
  29. C) .XPI files are actually .ZIP files - the extension is simply changed to .XPI. Their
  30. contents can be viewed in the 7-Zip file archive freeware utility by simply right-
  31. clicking the .XPI and then click "Open Archive" in 7-Zip's context menu. (Other
  32. ZIP archive utilities may work the same - but if not, change the .XPI extension to
  33. .ZIP). Once the compressed archive is opened with the archive utility, open the
  34. "install.rdf" file (in Notepad - it's in XML format), and search for the "<em:name>"
  35. tagged entry, which will give the extension/add-on's name. (Incidently, the GUID name
  36. of the .XPI file may also be listed in a tagged entry, "<em:id>".)
  37.  
  38. 3) COPY (Ctrl+C) the proper INSTALLED .XPI, then navigate to the "Systems Add-Ons" folder,
  39. and PASTE (Ctrl+V) it there:
  40. C:\Program Files\Firefox\browser\features\ [64-bit Windows & Firefox]
  41. OR C:\Program Files (x86)\Firefox\browser\features\ [32-bit Firefox]
  42.  
  43. NOTE !!! >>> Paste into "...\browser\FEATURES\" ("NOT" "...\browser\EXTENSIONS\" !!!)
  44.  
  45. FURTHER NOTE: The .XPI file I downloaded from UnMHT's Version History page DID NOT WORK
  46. when PASTED into the "\browser\features\" folder, BUT THE INSTALLED .XPI FROM RUNNING
  47. THAT .XPI INSTALLER (from the "...\Profiles\<random>.default\extensions\" folder [see
  48. Step (2) above] "DID" WORK, as described in the forum page (linked below).
  49. [The author that offered the solution on that forum assumed INCORRECTLY that the offered
  50. .XPI (click to install from webpage, or download and then click to install) would also
  51. work.]
  52.  
  53. As a side Note, the UnMHT FILENAME CHANGES once the add-on's .XPI is installed:
  54.  
  55. Offered UnMHT 8.3.0 .XPI filename = unmht-8.3.0-an+fx+sm+tb.xpi
  56. Installed UnMHT 8.3.0 .XPI filename = {f759ca51-3a91-4dd1-ae78-9db5eee9ebf0}.xpi
  57.  
  58. The filename change MAY explain why Firefox recognizes only the INSTALLED .XPI as a
  59. candidate for moving to the "System Add-Ons" folder - even though the pre-install and
  60. post-install files both have the same file extension (.xpi), and essentially the same
  61. filesize. An internal change may occur during the extension's installation via Add-Ons
  62. Manager. And whatever that change is, it is recognized by Firefox in such a way that
  63. transferring the Add-Ons Manager INSTALLED .XPI works to make the resulting .XPI
  64. functional once it has been moved to the "System Add-Ons" folder, which makes this
  65. workaround succeed.
  66.  
  67. 4) Return to Firefox's Add-Ons Manager (Ctrl+Shift+A), and click the "REMOVE" button for the
  68. proper add-on, AND also REMOVE any in-waiting update version when clicking the Add-Ons
  69. Manager "Gear" icon, then clicking any "View Available Updates" link, if present. [Or,
  70. there would also be a "View Available Updates" listed in the left-panel navigation pane
  71. of Add-Ons Manager's "Extensions" page, if an update is "available").
  72.  
  73. 5) RESTART FIREFOX ("File" in the Menu bar -> "Restart").
  74.  
  75. If your results are the same as mine (and the user who was helped by the procedure as
  76. described by Developer "Toady" on "https://8pecxstudios.com/Forums/viewtopic.php?t=1460",
  77. you should be good-to-go - you will have successfully created your own "System Add-On".
  78.  
  79. YOU CAN VERIFY WHETHER YOUR ADD-ON HAS BEEN SUCCESSFULLY RECOGNIZED AND INSTALLED AS
  80. A "SYSTEM ADD-ONS" EXTENSION AS FOLLOWS:
  81.  
  82. A) Type into a Firefox "Address Bar"/"Location Bar": "about:support" (without quotes) and
  83. press ENTER on the keyboard. [Opens "Troubleshooting Information" page]
  84.  
  85. NOTE: Other "about: ... " pages are listed in the top section, 'Application Basics",
  86. with the exception of "about:config", which is omitted.
  87.  
  88. B) Scroll down to the "Extensions" grouping.
  89.  
  90. C) Look for your add-on in the alphabetically sorted list.
  91.  
  92. D) Make certain the "Enabled" column for YOUR System Add-On lists "true".
  93.  
  94. This list is for "Extension" Add-Ons only - no Themes, User Scripts, User Styles, or
  95. Plugins are listed in that section...
  96.  
  97. HOWEVER, every "EXTENSION" - whether installed in Add-Ons Manager or as "System
  98. Add-On" (in the "...\browser\features\" folder) are co-mingled and listed here.
  99.  
  100. That's why this listing DOES INCLUDE the Mozilla-installed System Add-Ons
  101. (if these were installed by Mozilla in your version of Firefox):
  102.  
  103. * "Application Update Service Helper" (aushelper@mozilla.org)
  104. * "Deployment Checker" (deployment-checker@mozilla.org)
  105. [Deployment Checker was removed by FF update v53.0]
  106. * "Multi-Process Staged Rollout" (e10srollout@mozilla.org)
  107. * "Pocket" (firefox@getpocket.com)
  108. * "Web Compat" (Web Compatibility) (webcompat@mozilla.org)
  109. * <AND of course, any extension you add via the instructions above>
  110.  
  111. "ADD-ONS MANAGER", HOWEVER, DOES "NOT" LIST ANY OF THE "SYSTEM ADD-ONS". THEREFORE,
  112. YOU PROBABLY "DO" HAVE MOZILLA "SYSTEM ADD-ONS" THAT YOU DON'T KNOW ABOUT. Read the
  113. info on "http://www.ghacks.net/2016/03/29/mozilla-system-add-ons-controls/" if you
  114. want to know more about Mozilla's System Add-Ons. More info about any of these
  115. System Add-ons can be obtained from Google search results.
  116.  
  117. YOU WILL FIND ALL THE INSTALLED "SYSTEM ADD-ONS" .XPI files (including yours) in:
  118. "C:\Program Files\Firefox\browser\features\" [64-bit Windows & Firefox]
  119. OR "C:\Program Files (x86)\Firefox\browser\features\" [32-bit Windows]
  120. (unless you changed the Firefox installation folder's name).
  121.  
  122. WARNING: Any update to a new version of Firefox WILL "DEFINITELY" reinstall any Mozilla-
  123. added System Add-On(s) the user has deleted !!! [Unless Mozilla discontinues it.]
  124. [NOTE: My added UnMHT as a System Add-On (transfering its installed .xpi to the
  125. "...\browser\features\" subfolder) DID INDEED SURVIVE the update from FF 52.0.2 to FF 53.0!]
  126.  
  127. Still, keep a copy of your preferred add-on's old-version INSTALLED .XPI in a safe location,
  128. so you can reinstall it if necessary. And, if you need to reinstall your old version after a
  129. Firefox browser update, realize putting its downloaded .XPI into "...\browser\features\"
  130. will probably NOT work - it MAY have to be installed first in Firefox's Add-Ons Manager,
  131. then have its "Profile\ ... \extensions\" post-install .XPI COPIED, and then THAT .XPI
  132. PASTED into the "...\browser\features\" folder, as described in steps (1) to (5) above. That
  133. WAS the case for me [a CAVEAT NOT MENTIONED on the forum webpage I cited above in (5),
  134. "https://8pecxstudios.com/Forums/viewtopic.php?t=1460"]
  135.  
  136. READ THE INFORMATION ABOVE THIS SECTION regarding "System Add-Ons" for background info
  137. regarding the sneaky "System Add-Ons"; why their silent installation method (that doesn't
  138. show up in Add-Ons Manager), results in Mozilla-pushed add-ons without user consent or
  139. knowledge (and doesn't give the user an easy way to disable them - unless you know about
  140. their folder location so you can delete them if you wish); and why this method for the
  141. user to install their own chosen "System Add-Ons" is a workaround for add-ons a user
  142. wants, but is outside the clutches of Add-On Manager's update checking snafu.
  143.  
  144. R. Schneider
  145. rschneider@engineer.com
  146.  
  147. ********************************************************************************************
  148.  
  149. EXTENSION MOVED FROM "ADD-ONS MANAGER" INSTALLATION to "SYSTEM ADD-ONS" FOLDER
  150. TO ELIMINATE FIREFOX ADD-ONS MANAGER UPDATE CHECKING CRAP
  151.  
  152. THE PROBLEM THAT INSTIGATED A SEARCH FOR A WORKAROUND
  153.  
  154. UnMHT WAS DE-INSTALLED ("Remove" button in Add-Ons Manager), THEN RE-INSTALLED INTO THE
  155. "System Add-Ons" FOLDER, to eliminate the shameful way Firefox's Add-Ons Manager handles
  156. disabling Update Checking/Offering for Add-Ons that the user does NOT want to update with
  157. the new version. UnMHT v8.3.1 introduced a bug - inserting 2 copies of the "Saved by" block
  158. (which includes the date and time the webpage was saved, and the URL link to the original
  159. webpage). The add-on author's website was offline (for weeks), including his Support Forum
  160. (both are on the same domain). For several years, I've used his excellent add-on - and at
  161. least 3 other times his website was offline for extended periods of time. He's located in
  162. Japan. So, with no way to report the bug to the author and hope for a fix, I reverted his
  163. add-on to the previous version (v8.3.0) - which worked fine - by downloading v8.3.0 from the
  164. Version History page linked from UnMHT's Mozilla Add-Ons page. I also saved the old version
  165. .XPI installation file (right-click & "Save Link As") from UnMHT's Version History page, so
  166. it can be used in the future, if an update to a newer version also turns out to be buggy.
  167. After following the procedure in the preceding section, UnMHT no longer appears in Firefox's
  168. Add-Ons Manager, and is therefore no longer checked for updates, or announces an unwanted
  169. "Available Update". The extension IS however, still installed in Firefox - but as a
  170. "System Add-On" (NOT an Add-Ons Manager extension) due to its presence in the appropriate
  171. Firefox subfolder, and fully functional. It had been liberated from Add-Ons Manager's
  172. incessant update checking/offering.
  173.  
  174. This procedure can be tried for other add-ons (and possibly themes), if reverting to an
  175. older add-on version is done, and further update checking for that add-on is NOT wanted.
  176.  
  177. Other websites and user forums include users having the same problem I had - a Firefox
  178. update version with a bug could NOT be properly disabled from Add-Ons Manager constantly
  179. offering the new, buggy version as an available update. Even if the user disables Add-Ons
  180. Manager update checking for the offending add-on (click the Add-On's "More" link, then set
  181. "Automatic Updates" to OFF), Add-Ons Manager always offers the offending buggy update
  182. version as an "Available Update" - following Firefox's automatic update check at browser
  183. restart, or at the once-daily update check, or when a user manually checks for updates.
  184. The new, unwanted version is then shown on the "Available Updates" page, WITH THE BOX
  185. "Include in Updates" PRE-CHECKED. If the user UNCHECKS that box, Firefox ALWAYS "RECHECKS"
  186. it (even if "Automatic Updates" is set to OFF on the "More" link pages for both the old,
  187. installed version, and the new, unwanted, offered "Available Updates" version. The ONLY
  188. thing turning OFF "Automatic Updates" being set to OFF does, is prevent the update from
  189. being completed silently at the next Firefox restart, or during the once-daily automatic
  190. update check. It does NOT turn off Update Checking; constantly offering a new version as
  191. an "Available Update"; OR keep its "Include in Updates" box from being automatically
  192. CHECKED, and then RE-ENABLED after a user UNCHECKS it. Many Firefox users have complained
  193. about this Firefox crap for years (even on Firefox's Add-Ons Blog) - about Firefox
  194. constantly trying to goad users into installing an unwanted, known-buggy update - and
  195. without any action taken by Mozilla to fix the problem.
  196.  
  197. THEREFORE, the procedure I found in a Google search of a method to DISABLE UPDATE CHECKING
  198. FOR ONE PARTICULAR FIREFOX ADD-ON is noteworthy. Firefox does NOT present the user with any
  199. means to do so, not even with an "about:config" preference setting. Removing the add-on from
  200. Add-Ons Manager, AFTER COPYING its INSTALLED .XPI file from the proper user's Profile
  201. subfolder, then PASTING that .XPI into the "System Add-Ons" subfolder, will cause the Add-On
  202. to be installed, but outside the Add-Ons Manager's clutches regarding update checking.
  203. Indeed, the Add-On Manager no longer shows the add-on. Luckily, my add-on doesn't require
  204. access to the "Options" button in the Add-Ons Manager listing - it is listed in the Firefox
  205. "Tools" Menu, with a context menu link to its "Preferences" settings dialog. (For an Add-On
  206. without a Tools Menu inclusion, or taskbar icon, setting any Preferences/Options before it
  207. is REMOVED from Add-Ons Manager is recommended). The Google search result source for the
  208. procedure I found and modified in the section above is:
  209.  
  210. https://8pecxstudios.com/Forums/viewtopic.php?t=1460
  211.  
  212. R. Schneider
  213. rschneider@engineer.com
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