Tweak Firefox's "Responsiveness" Config Setting

Have you ever noticed that sometimes Firefox isn't very responsive while loading a page? As a frequent StumbleUpon user, this behavior grates on my nerves so I went looking for a solution.

When Firefox is loading a page it uses one of two modes: There's a high priority mode that doesn't pay as much attention to your mouse and keyboard, but loads the page faster. There's also a lower priority mode that interrupts the parser more often to respond to input events. It's even documented at Mozillazine.

What we can do is tweak the amount of time before Firefox switches from lower priority mode back into high priority mode.

Type about:config into the Firefox address bar, and then filter by the following:


Most likely the key doesn't exist yet, so you'll have to set it by right-clicking in the empty area and selecting New \ Integer. Use these values when prompted:

  • Key Name: content.switch.threshold
  • Key Value: 1000000

The default value is 750000, or 3/4 of a second. The more time that you tell Firefox to wait before resuming high priority mode, the more responsive the application will feel… but it will obviously take a little longer to load the pages. You could reverse this if you were more worried about speeding up page load time.

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Sometimes when we make changes in our preferences or configurationin Firefox, are not saved or remembered by the Browser. Following are the Conditions in which the Browser may not remember tha changes made by you:

  • Changes that you made to your toolbars do not appear when you restart Firefox.
  • Changes made to the browser window's size and position are not remembered when you restart Firefox.

Your personal bookmarks appear in the Bookmarks Manager, but they do not appear in the Bookmark menu and cannot be edited.

  • You cannot save bookmarks.


These symptoms or errors are caused by a corrupted file, in your Firefox user data, called localstore.rdf. This file is maintained by Firefox to manage some of your local configuration information.

Fixing the problem

To repair this issue, the localstore.rdf file must be deleted. When Firefox is restarted, the file is automatically recreated. This issue can be fixed by using either of the following methods.

  • No bookmarks are deleted or changed by these methods.

Note: If you have customized your toolbars, any unsaved changes are lost when you complete this fix and restart Firefox. Before you delete the localstore.rdf file, you may find it useful to take note of what you have on your toolbar.

Method 1: Using Safe Mode

  1. Close down Firefox completely: At the top of the Firefox window, click the File menu, and select the Exit menu item.Close down Firefox completely: On the menu bar, click the Firefox menu, and select the Quit Firefox menu item.Close down Firefox completely: At the top of the Firefox window, click the File menu, and select the Quit menu item.
  2. In Windows, click Start, open the All Programs list, and navigate to the Mozilla Firefox folder. In the Mozilla Firefox folder, select Mozilla Firefox (Safe Mode).Firefox 3, Mac OS:

Hold down the Option key, as you start Firefox.

Firefox 2, Mac OS:

Go to the Utilities directory (in the Applications folder) and open Terminal, then run:

/Applications/ -safe-mode

Go to your Terminal and run:/path/to/firefox/firefox -safe-mode

  1. Firefox should start up with a Firefox Safe Mode dialog.

Note: You can also start Firefox in Safe Mode by clicking Start, selecting Run (or use the Start Search box in Windows Vista) and then entering the following in the text field:
firefox -safe-mode

  1. In the Firefox Safe Mode window, select Reset toolbars and controls.

  2. Click Make Changes and Restart.

Method 2: Delete localstore.rdf manually

Caution: This method removes the copy of localstore.rdf in the profile folder. Do not delete the localstore.rdf copy in the Firefox program installation folder by mistake!

  1. From the menu at the top of the Firefox windowbar, select FileFirefox and then select the ExitQuit FirefoxQuit menu item.
  2. Go to your profile folder.
  3. In the folder, delete the file localstore.rdf.

Use Multiple Firefox Profiles at the Same Time

Did you know that you can run more than one Firefox profile at once? This can be extremely useful if you want to test out extensions more easily, create a web development profile, run a slimmed down profile just for Gmail, or if you just want to have a clean profile.
The first thing you'll need to do is create a new profile. You'll need to run the following from a run dialog or command prompt, adjusting the path if necessary.
C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe -profilemanager
Create an extra profile by using the Create Profile wizard, and make sure that each profile has a distinct name. You'll also want to leave the "Don't ask at startup" box checked.
The next thing you'll want to do is make another shortcut to Firefox. You can just copy/paste the current shortcut if you feel like it, then open up the properties page and go to the Shortcut tab.
Add the following to the end of the Target box. As you can see, my profile was named Geek, so that's what I used.
-P PROFILENAME -no-remote
Now on the second shortcut, which I suggest you give a relevant name to, go into the same place except use the profile name for the secondary profile. Make sure you use the -no-remote option!
Now you should be able to use either shortcut to open a new Firefox window specific to that profile. Extensions, bookmarks, themes, will all be specific to the profile, and a new profile will start off at default.
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