Firefox changed the download workflow, and I’m not a fan

ByLance T. Lee

Mar 17, 2022

Jack Wallen walks you through the steps to change Firefox’s new download workflow to the previous (more efficient) method.

Firefox has been my default browser for longer than I can remember. Sure, there have been times when I’ve switched to another browser (thanks Opera and Workspaces for showing me how effective and efficient tab management can be), but I inevitably come back to Firefox.

Recently, however, the developers decided to simplify the download workflow. I had actually forgotten about the ad until one day I went to upload some screenshots which I uploaded to google drive from my android device and then needed to work with them on my desktop computer. I went to download the images, expecting to be prompted to allow GIMP to open them.

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Nope.

The only thing I could do was save the files.

Which give?

And then I remembered the ad. Firefox changed a behavior that had been part of the workflow for years.

I was not a fan of this new method. Of course, it’s much simpler, and those who download files and never have them automatically opened by a specific file will have no problem with that. In fact, the simplistic upload workflow will be a small concession for those who prefer a much simpler route to save files. But for those of us who prefer to associate files with downloads, so they can be opened automatically, this new method is a thorn in the finger that needs to be removed.

Let me show you how to change this behavior.

What you will need

The only thing you will need to make this change is a running instance of the latest version of Firefox. I’m working with version 98.0 on Pop!_OS Linux.

How to modify the upload workflow

The first thing you will need to do is upload a file that you want a specific application to open. When you first download it, you won’t be asked if you want to open it, just where you want to save it. However, once the file is downloaded, you can click the Download Manager icon (in the Firefox toolbar), right-click the file, and check the Always open similar files box (Figure A).

Figure A

Configuring Firefox to always open .jpg files.

Once you’ve taken care of that, Firefox won’t ask you what to do with the files, they’ll just open with the associated app.

How to specify the application used to open files

At this point, you’re wondering, “How do I set which application to use?” Fortunately, the developers have also thought of this. If you go to Settings | General | Applications, you can locate the file type, click the drop-down menu in the Action column, and select the application to use (Figure B).

Figure B

Configuring Firefox to open JPEG files with GIMP.
Configuring Firefox to open JPEG files with GIMP.

If the app isn’t listed, click Use Other and find the app in the list (or, in the case of Linux, find the file’s executable binary, such as /usr/bin/gimp).

And that’s how you change the new default download workflow in Firefox. If you’re like me, this little tweak will ensure that your experience with the latest version of Firefox is as smooth as it always has been.

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