Web Browser Wednesday

Portable Firefox One of the things that really seems to draw people to CyberNet is the posting of Firefox Portable builds for pre-release versions of Firefox. Right now Mozilla is testing out Firefox 3 Alpha builds, and the ability to play with it appeals to a lot of people. A while back I wrote a guide on setting up your own version of Firefox Portable, but that was still when the application was called Portable Firefox.

I receive requests all of the time for providing nightly builds of Firefox 3 in a portable fashion so that there is no fear of messing up your stable profile. Heck, I’ll even show you where to copy the contents of your existing profile to in the Firefox Portable so that it is really easy to see if your extensions will work. Let’s go ahead and get started…


–Setting Up Your Own Firefox Portable–

  1. The first thing that you’ll need to do is download my “blank” Firefox Portable ZIP file. I say that it is blank because it doesn’t include the actual Firefox files that are needed to run the browser. You’ll be adding those in a few steps from now. Also, it is important to note that the installation I am providing to you is setup to not show a splash screen and to allow multiple instances of Firefox to be running side-by-side. That means you’ll be able to run your nightly build at the same time you’re running your stable build! See this article for an explanation on how I did that.
  2. Extract the contents from the file you downloaded in Step 1 which should result in a folder called “FirefoxPortable“.
  3. Download the latest nightly trunk to play with the bleeding edge version of Firefox. This is the most recent that you can get, and to find the file that you want to download look for the most recent date that has a “” extension.
  4. Extract the contents from the file you downloaded in Step 3 which should result in a folder called “firefox“.
  5. Drag the firefox folder from Step 4 into the FirefoxPortable -> App folder from Step 2:
  6. That’s all, now just go back to the FirefoxPortable directory and run the FirefoxPortable.exe file. This is what your directory structure should now look like:
     Firefox Portable Directory
  7. Note: For future reference, you can update Firefox Portable the same way that you update regular Firefox by going to the Help Menu -> Check for Updates.


–Copying Your Current Profile To Firefox Portable–

When you’re testing out Firefox, it would be nice to just copy all of your settings, bookmarks, and extensions over to the portable version so that you can see what works and what doesn’t. No problem! It just takes a few steps to copy everything over:

  1. Locate your existing profile:
    Windows 2000/XP: C:\Documents and Settings\<Windows login/user name>\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\<Profile name>\
    Windows Vista: C:\Users\<Windows login/user name>\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\<Profile name>\
    Firefox Profile
  2. Copy ALL of the files and folders of your existing profile into the FirefoxPortable -> Data -> profile folder (make sure to delete everything in that directory if it is not already empty):
    Firefox Profile Copy
  3. That’s all, the next time you start Firefox Portable it should run your existing profile.



That is basically what I do each time that I test out Firefox builds. Similar things can be done using the portable versions of Thunderbird and many other applications. After you have done it once you’ll be able to do the whole process in a matter of seconds because it really is that easy. The thing that takes the longest to do is download the files. Enjoy! ;)