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Change to how downloads are handled - no thanks

JED
Making moves

I have been very happily using Firefox for several years on both my laptop and mobile.  I am now going to deinstall from both after the change to how downloads are handled.

The recent arrival of Windows 11 as well as this change has caused me way too much grief and confusion.

I am sorry to have to do this since Firefox seems to have the best system for cleaning out the browser on exit.

Maybe I'll be back??

29 REPLIES 29

jscher2000
Contributor

Which part(s) bother you? For example:

(1) When a download starts, Firefox opens the Downloads list from the toolbar button automatically. (There is a hidden preference to turn this off.)

(2) On Windows and Linux, Firefox no longer uses the system "Temp" folder to save files for the "Open with [relevant application]" option but instead saves those files in the default download folder listed on the Settings page.

(3) When encountering an unknown content type, instead of showing the Download dialog, Firefox saves the file. (For known content types, you can change the behavior on the Settings page back with the "Always ask" option. See: https://support.mozilla.org/kb/change-firefox-behavior-when-open-file.)

(4) Something else.

The link seems to take me to a Firefox 97 article and I am not sure if it applies to version 98 that appears to introduce the issue.


@JED wrote:

The link seems to take me to a Firefox 97 article and I am not sure if it applies to version 98 that appears to introduce the issue.


The article should show info for the version you use to read it. If the Support site gets that wrong, use the version selector in the right column to switch it.


@jscher2000 wrote:

(2) On Windows and Linux, Firefox no longer uses the system "Temp" folder to save files for the "Open with [relevant application]" option but instead saves those files in the default download folder listed on the Settings page."

 That is the problem (I'm using Linux). I noticed recently that my "Downloads" folder was filling up with PDFs that I have viewed (but not saved). So I had to spend time looking at and deleting those extra files. I found the about:config option for setting browser.download.improvements_to_download_panel to false.

But as that option is likely to disappear from future versions it is not a permanent fix. If the new way of doing it has to be the default then so be it, but there should be an easily discoverable option to "save" "open with..." files to the system's temporary directory, as before.

(2) Using Downloads instead of Temp for 'Open with ...' is a horrible change. The reasoning given is that this way, files that were opened will not be lost. But having to constantly clean up files from my Downloads folder which I only wanted to open, not save - hence why I chose that option in the first place - is infuriating. The average Firefox user is smart enough to understand that opening files does not save them.

(3) Being able to change the behavior from 'Save file' to 'Always ask' in settings is nice to mimic the old behavior (provided (2) gets fixed so the 'Open with ...' option isn't useless), but having to do it on a per-file basis for known types, and unknown types always defaulting to 'Save file' behavior, makes it so that you have to fiddle with your settings daily. I propose having a setting as to what the default behavior should be for unknown types.

As a general final sentiment, people are upset with this change because it seems with every update Firefox tries to mimic Chrome more and more. You need to understand the Firefox userbase is using Firefox specifically because they do not like the way Chrome handles things. As Firefox becomes more and more of a Chrome clone, there's less and less reason for users to stick around instead of just ... kinda switching to Chrome instead.

JED
Making moves

I want to open, view and possibly print without saving anywhere.  I do not want to go round tidying up even more random hidden folders than programs fill up already.

I also want to save where I want a file to go when I choose.  Always Ask does not seem to do what it used to do.  I do not want to move it from some other random folder.

From what I have seen so far the other browsers are equally useless with this option!!!

The fact that a setting is hidden is ridiculous.

 


@JED wrote:

I want to open, view and possibly print without saving anywhere.  I do not want to go round tidying up even more random hidden folders than programs fill up already.

Firefox cannot pass a file to another program without saving it somewhere. However, the Temp folder was "out of sight, out of mind" so it created a problem when downloads were opened, viewed, closed and lost forever. The updated workflow resolves the data loss issue but does create a clean-up issue.

The Downloads list includes a new right-click context menu item, Delete, to remove a downloaded file from disk. That may be easier than looking through the folder.

I also want to save where I want a file to go when I choose.  Always Ask does not seem to do what it used to do.  I do not want to move it from some other random folder.


Could you describe this problem in more detail? As you know, Firefox has two broad categories: "Save files to" to set Firefox to always use the same download folder (this is the default folder for "Open with") and "Always ask you where to save files". With the second selection, Firefox should open a folder browsing dialog to let you choose where on your system to save the file. It sounds like you are choosing the location, but then on subsequent saves, what is happening? By default, Firefox remember the last download save location on a site-by-site basis. Is that the problem?

I am going to try again knowing it is not a windows 11 feature and see if I can find settings that work for me.  My brain is hurting going from one article to another to another to get the information.

It is very, very annoying that I am wasting so much time just trying to do what I always simply and happily used to do.


@jscher2000 wrote:

However, the Temp folder was "out of sight, out of mind" so it created a problem when downloads were opened, viewed, closed and lost forever. The updated workflow resolves the data loss issue but does create a clean-up issue.

Why "lost forever"? Such a download would be in the temp folder and would appear in the downloads list via the taskbar icon, which would give direct access to the folder and highlight the file ('show in folder' function). Or there is the 'show all downloads' function.

As far as I can see, for the most part the use of the default download folder rather than the 'temp' folder does little other than create a massive clean-up issue, affecting both the default download folder and the recycle bin.  Am I wrong?


 

Other than these changes (which config:'false' doesn't totally reverse on it's own) being a 'pain in the proverbial'....  "The Downloads list includes a new right-click context menu item, Delete, to remove a downloaded file from disk. That may be easier than looking through the folder." That is a) a tedious 'one at a time' feature good for occasional use b) is limited to the very recent downloads shown in the downloads drop-down box c) is only needed, in the main, because 'temp' isn't the default.

For those who are, excuse my phrasing, daft enough not to understand how FF works (pre-V98) then I suggest some willingness to learn is appropriate rather than a fundimental change forced upon all. For those who prefer how things are done in Chrome (for example) then there is Chrome. If FF developers feel that FF must mimic other browsers, then why not just set a 'make FF work like Chrome' switch in settings?

I would strongly suggest a policy of making FF mimic another browser as default operation is 'writing on the wall' for FF going forwards.

jscher2000
Contributor

Programs and the system can remove files from the Temp folder at any time, so files there definitely were not safe. But it wasn't a problem most of the time because you could just have Firefox retrieve the download again.

Never had a problem myself. 'Always ask' allows users to save any files they specifically want to keep for another time, or if an 'open' (view) choice is made one could save via the program being used if the file was considered to be useful upon viewing. Or a file 'subsequently considered useful' could be located in temp and copied or moved to a location of users choice.

Mihai_giurgiu
Making moves

We miss the pop-up that allowed us to choose where to save, or to open the file.
It was the main reason that we chose mozzile over crome, exept its ownership.

JED
Making moves

I have spent even more time and brain power trying to understand how to get this to work for me.

The notes with the update may be accurate however they are circular in logic terms and overactive on the touch pad to do the flying from one bit of the screen to another.  

It is a mess and so far only seems to work for PDF files.  I cannot find a way of adding other file types and I am heartily fed up with reading 'stuff'.

 

 


@JED wrote:

It is a mess and so far only seems to work for PDF files.  I cannot find a way of adding other file types and I am heartily fed up with reading 'stuff'.


If the server specified a particular content type, then, when you right-click that item in the Downloads list, there will be an option for "Always Open Similar Files". If you click that, a new entry is added to the Applications list on the Settings page, set to "Use [application]". You can change that to "Always Ask" after it is added.

Some servers do not identify the content type specifically, but simply use a generic identifier (application/octet-stream). Firefox will not offer to add a content type in that case. One of my add-ons can help work around this, if the automatic saving really gets to you. (https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/addon/content-type-fixer/)

Add on added on, thanks.  

UserFromWayback
Making moves

The point it, we should not have to be going to all this rigamarole and trouble to get Firefox back to doing what it did last week with no issues.  Your "upgrades" are becoming downgrades, just like what we hate about Microsoft programs.  Have all the Mozilla employees migrated from MS???

FireFoxUser3589
Making moves

This new download behavior I find to be very annoying, especially with the PDFs. This can become a security problem.

Jernaugh
Making moves

I also find the new download behavior very annoying after more than a decade happily using Firefox. I get the problem that is being addressed, however. My suggestion would thus be to add a setting:

Use system "Temp" path or specified path for "Open file" option (default to specified Download path so that less savvy users don't lose their files)

This way, users like me can use the "Open file" option without clutter and having to choose a path for every file we open (as I prefer not to use a central Downloads folder), but users who would otherwise lose files actively have to set an option for that risk to manifest.

nescobarc
Making moves

The whole idea of users being dumb enough to 'lose' files because they hit Open instead of Save is kind of insulting... if you really want to stress the difference a disclaimer in the Save-Open dialog box would do the job.

This new behavior is infuriating and frustrating, I don't want to go through my Downloads folder file by file to distinguish between the files I actually want and the trash that Firefox now permanently stores there. Why can't Firefox let us choose between the behaviors at the very least? The idea of the temp folder is that you don't have to go file by file checking if there is something useful, you just clear ir once in a while and that's it.

Honestly, this particular issue is so annoying that if I can't go back to the old behavior in a reasonable time window I'll be switching browser...

Jernaugh
Making moves

I understand the frustration and the feeling of being insulted, but I have some perspective from having to deal with users of software who really are that incapable when dealing with computers in general. A surprising number of people exist who don't read their computer's messages at all, sometimes from impatience, sometimes from a deep-seated feeling that they won't understand anyway.

As a user with at least some expertise, I find the new behavior very annoying as well, but I also support the idea of allowing the user to choose. Set the defaults to the "stupid" option for all those PEBKAC users and let us customize it.

Speaking honestly, I probably won't end up switching because of this alone, but if more changes like this come and stick, I will certainly start looking around.

DuvieR
Making moves

I teach my students that it's bad for business to piss off your users/customers.  Do it enough, they won't be your customers for long.

Microsoft is my long-time go-to for examples of how-not-to.  This is not how you want me (and others who teach software engineering) to portray you - it's an 'honor' no company should want.

Show respect for your users by assuming they want a say in how applications work when they use them, particularly when they have their environment set up with a workflow that works for them.  If you (the Firefox developer community) think you know better than your users what works best for us, perhaps you should retire now.

I avoided updating to FF 98 precisely because I didn't want you 'resetting' anything about how I work.  I reluctantly (and regrettably) went to 98.0.2 for security reasons - underscore regrettably.

I always want to be asked where to save files, which is why I set FF to do so - I download coursework, student submissions, administrative materials, lecture recordings, personal 'stuff', etc.  They don't go together!!!  They each have their appropriate locations but you, in your infinite lack of wisdom, waste my time on every **bleep** download because I now need to find where you put it so I can manually move it to where it belongs.

I worked in industry for a long time, as a software engineer, architect, manager, and much customer support.  If you worked for me and pulled a stunt like this, you'd be looking for a new job; and asking me to be a reference would be a great way to ensure your next job would be far, far away from high tech - I would do everything I could to bury you.

You pissed off the users.  Fix it.  Make it glaringly obvious how we can fully restore the prior download behavior and make sure it works properly.  Then, maybe you'll earn another week where MS is my example of how-not-to, not you.

pilleriin
Making moves

This update really makes some of my work processes MUCH slower. Temp folder is easy to clean once a month (never saved there anything I need to save), now I have to save the file, open it, do what I need and then delete manually each of them right after use not to have them "hanging around".
Thanks for not improving things 😞

KarMcm
Making moves

AGREE !!!!  if it isn't broke - DON'T FIX IT!!  These downloads have been a nightmare!!  Can't find my stuff.... ignores where I chose to download files...  so aggravating !!

Mel182
Making moves

Oh so this is WHY my downloads have been all messed up since March...
Honestly I think this change was "Idiotic", at least you could had it create another folder specifically for this, named something like "opened files" or something like that so they don't mix with the files that I actually want to keep in the download folder and even better allow to turn on/off this "feature"


@Mel182 wrote:

... at least you could had it create another folder specifically for this, named something like "opened files" or something like that so they don't mix with the files that I actually want to keep in the download folder and even better allow to turn on/off this "feature"


Good timing - next week, Firefox 102 will introduce a preference to use the Windows Temp folder or Linux /tmp folder for the downloads where it was used before, specifically, when you choose either of these on the Settings page, Applications list:

  • "Use [relevant application]"
  • "Always ask" + in the download dialog, "Open with [relevant application]"

For future reference in Firefox 102+:

(A) In a new tab, type or paste about:config in the address bar and press Enter/Return. Click the button accepting the risk.

More info on about:config: Configuration Editor for Firefox. Please keep in mind that changes made through this back door aren't fully supported and aren't guaranteed to continue working in the future.

(B) In the search box in the page, type or paste browser.download.start_downloads_in_tmp_dir and pause while the list is filtered

(C) Double-click the preference to switch the value from false (use the "Save files to:" folder) to true (use the system Temp folder)

 

 

Worth a check, thanks.

It is also annoying that the settings seem to change for no reason so that just when you think you know what it is going to do it stops doing it!!!

 

 

 

But why not a user choice in "settings"?

if: "Please keep in mind that changes made through this back door aren't fully supported and aren't guaranteed to continue working in the future."

Because that seems to be where we are already with:

browser.download.improvements_to_download_panel  = "false"

isn't it? (I'm having a job to understand the difference....)

 


@JonJ wrote:

But why not a user choice in "settings"?

if: "Please keep in mind that changes made through this back door aren't fully supported and aren't guaranteed to continue working in the future."

Because that seems to be where we are already with:

browser.download.improvements_to_download_panel  = "false"

isn't it? (I'm having a job to understand the difference....)


I don't know how the UI/UX team decides what to put on the Settings page. Over time, more and more accumulates, and then there is a great simplification and the cycle starts again. Best not to delay this change while that is decided since that could add another 3-6 months or more.