Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Using Firefox Profiles

As I mentioned in my last post, I have just reinstalled XP SP3 in my desktop machine. I was worried very much about having to reinstall Firefox in my new OS. I used the saved password feature to log-in to numerous sites. With the passing years of Firefox usage, right from version 1.0, I have picked up many good add-on. Then there is my library of bookmarks, which contains 1000+ links, all meticulously tagged, acquired through the years of browsing. I needed a way to transfer all these as seamlessly as possible to my new machine.

What I needed to transfer were (in order of importance):

  • Bookmarks
  • Saved passwords
  • Firefox Add-on
  • Auto-complete list
  • Browser History

Firefox Profile

very few people are aware of a feature called Firefox Profile, which is:

Firefox saves your personal information such as bookmarks, passwords, and user preferences in a set of files called your profile, which is stored in a separate location from the Firefox program files.

Profile contains the complete set of user information that Firefox uses. Any changes that we make in the program settings are also saved. The program updates, the search engines, toolbars, add-on, saved passwords, in short everything that you would like to export is all saved in profile. Another great thing about Profile is that it is inherently exportable. You do not need to be a geek to do all these.

Where is this Profile

The profile is located in a folder “xxxxxxxx.default”, where the xxxxxxxx string is generated by Firefox installer, and is random in nature. The folder can be found in location “%APPDATA%\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\”. Please note that the path given is for Win 2000 and Win XP. For other OS, please consult the official guide.

Backup & Restore

Backup the “xxxxxxxx.default” folder. To restore the data, go to the same location of a newly installed Firefox, and copy the contents of the old “xxxxxxxx.default” folder to the new “xxxxxxxx.default” folder. This should do the trick, now start Firefox and see the results yourself.

Cross OS

What is most interesting is that this procedure is cross OS compatible. I copied the contents of my Windows Firefox profile folder to the Fedora Firefox profile (I had to change one .ini file too), and it ran seamlessly.

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