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Stupid Geek Tricks: How To Download Firefox On a New Computer Without Using Internet Explorer

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Internet Explorer-haters often say that the only good use for Internet Explorer is downloading Firefox or Chrome. But if you really don’t like IE, you can use Windows’ built-in FTP support to download and install Firefox without ever opening IE.

Sure, you could just open Internet Explorer and download Firefox from Mozilla’s website, but where’s the geeky fun in that? This trick is about Firefox because Mozilla provides an FTP server, while Google doesn’t seem to.

Downloading Firefox without using Internet Explorer may also come in handy if Internet Explorer is crashing and isn’t working properly on your system.

Graphical Method with Windows Explorer

To access Mozilla’s FTP server in Windows Explorer, type ftp://ftp.mozilla.org into Windows Explorer’s address bar and press Enter.

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Navigate to the following folder:

pub/firefox/releases/latest/win32/en-US/

You can also just enter the following address in Windows Explorer to go directly to the appropriate folder on Mozilla’s FTP server:

ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/firefox/releases/latest/win32/en-US/

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Now copy the Firefox Setup .exe file to your computer. You can drag and drop it, use the Copy To Folder option in its right-click menu, or do a Copy and Paste.

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Windows Explorer will download the Firefox installer to your computer, no IE involved.

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You can then launch the Firefox Setup application to install Firefox.

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Command-Line Method with Command Prompt

If the above trick wasn’t geeky enough for you, you can also download Firefox using the ftp utility in the Windows Command Prompt.

Launch a Command Prompt window from the Start menu and type the following command to connect to Mozilla’s FTP server:

ftp ftp.mozilla.org

Type anonymous at the login prompt, then leave the password field blank and press Enter.

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Use the following command to change to the directory containing the latest release of Firefox:

cd pub/mozilla.org/firefox/releases/latest/win32/en-US

Then, run the following command to see a list of the files in the directory:

ls

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Use the get command to download the latest Firefox installer to your hard drive:

get “Firefox Setup 15.0.1.exe”

Replace the file name in the above command with the name of the current version – this is displayed beneath the ls command.

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The downloaded Firefox Setup .exe file will appear in your user folder at C:\Users\NAME.

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You can also use Windows Explorer and the ftp command to connect to other FTP servers you have access to. If you have upload access to an FTP server, you can use these tools to upload files – you don’t necessarily need a third-party FTP program.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 09/28/12

Comments (32)

  1. FrancisD

    completely mind blown! ^_^ thank you very much for this neat trick and the title shouldn’t be stupid geek tricks because this is very smart!

  2. cam2644

    It’s certainly not stupid to want to download Firefox and it’s not stupid not to want to be forced to use IE

  3. Israel

    Haha, great tip! Too bad Chrome does not provide an FTP server address for download. Firefox is quite exellent though :)

  4. spike

    awesome trick :) will use this for sure – good party trick :)

  5. jan

    Technically speaking, using the Windows Explorer for FTP means still using the Internet Explorer! ;-p

  6. Michael

    Oh, do forward slashed now work? hee hee :-)

  7. George

    Or put a portable browser of a USB stick.

  8. z0me

    Stupidest geekiest trick ever !
    I will most certainly use for my new laptop :P

  9. John

    Good one, I’ve don it
    The thing is that if your internet explorer keeps crashing this is the best way to get another browser

  10. fermier

    If the trick is “stupid” (not sure why but is stated to be in the headline) then is their value to broadcast it?

  11. John

    Good call!

    Or if you have an Asus motherboard use Express Gate

  12. dlbgt

    I just keep the set-up file in my back-up folder then I upgrade if I have to….works with most software or bookmarks
    that’s why they call it “back-up” cd I guess!!

  13. WhytteDragun

    @Jan: technically speaking, no. Internet Explorer is a completely separate program from Windows Explorer.

  14. 0xRiddle

    Wow, I’m impressed , I hate IE. And I thought I was being fanatic ..

  15. BlackKnightRebel

    Wow that’s awesome man! I didn’t even know Windows Explorer had built-in FTP functionality!

    Bonus Stupid Geek Trick:
    Having my mind blown by this one, I tried loading up Google.com in File Explorer and it turns out it will load the site in you default browser without you having to waste time loading up the browser and waiting for your home page to load. Pretty nifty!

  16. Ben

    Wow, this trick is really impressive. This is the first article in a long time that has something valuable that I didn’t know about in the Windows OS. Kudos to Chris.

  17. r

    @ WhytteDragun : actually, IExplorer has had shell integration with Win Explorer since version 4.
    It’s only since Win7 that Microsoft has made it possible to safely remove IExplorer from it.

  18. JeRrYFaR

    It’s a great tip! Don’t forget to turn on hash though or you’ll be waiting forever in the CLI and have no clue if you’re dloading or not:

    ftp> hash
    Hash mark printing On ftp: (2048 bytes/hash mark) .
    ftp>

    Example:

    ftp> get “Firefox Setup 15.0.1.exe”
    200 PORT command successful. Consider using PASV.
    150 Opening BINARY mode data connection for Firefox Setup 15.0.1.exe (17790056 bytes).
    ############################################################################################################################################################————–snip—————–
    ##############################################################################################################################226 Transfer complete.
    ftp: 17790056 bytes received in 6.95Seconds 2560.83Kbytes/sec.
    ftp>

  19. Jack McGann

    …but it’s still possible to get Chrome without using IE. simply ftp + install firefox and use it to get Chrome. no IE there.

  20. lonelydad

    Unless Windows is a lot different than all the other FTP clients I have used, shouldn’t there be a ‘set mode binary’ in there somewhere?

  21. Krishnapriya

    Mind blown! But an easier option would be to use Chocolatey.
    Open up Command Prompt and paste the text below to install Chocolatey:

    @powershell -NoProfile -ExecutionPolicy unrestricted -Command “iex ((new-object net.webclient).DownloadString(‘http://bit.ly/psChocInstall’))” && SET PATH=%PATH%;%systemdrive%\chocolatey\bin

    After it completes the action, next type “c:\> cinst Firefox” to install Firefox. Simple!

  22. SatoMew

    Opera also has a FTP server: ftp://ftp.opera.com/ , which for Windows users, the latest version can be found at ftp://ftp.opera.com/pub/opera/win/ , with the current latest release (12.02) available at ftp://ftp.opera.com/pub/opera/win/1202/int/ (note that I’m pointing to the international setup file).

  23. Keith

    My copy didn’t get saved to users; it went into the root folder c:\. Not that it matters.

  24. Keith

    @fermier: I read that the idea of “stupid geek trick” comes from a segment on David Letterman’s show. It was called “stupid pet tricks”. Pet owners would show off some strange ability that their dog or cat etc. had. It was amazing sometimes, but nothing very useful on an everyday basis.

  25. Dim Wit

    I’m bored… I think I’ll reinstall Firefox, just for the geeky fun. :)

  26. Srinivas

    You’re real geek..Yippee!! no involvement of IE

  27. Zakariah

    Well their stupid. IE9 is the best. And yeah it is better than Chrome and Firefox.
    Why?
    Firefox = Too slow, uses too much RAM
    Chrome = NO PRIVACY AT ALL!!!

    But it is good for downloading. And it’s fast and beautiful :).

    It has good privacy and doesn’t use too much RAM.

  28. RadStew

    Wow – been reading these for quite a while now- that was really cool.
    And FYI, you can use Windows Search in Win7 – type in ftp://ftp.mozilla.org into Windows Search and it opens up the FTP site too.
    Nice
    will be using windows search for more FTP sites in the future – thanks.

  29. Meena Bassem

    seriously? why bother and do all of that?
    what’s wrong with links like these?
    i always use them
    http://www.filehippo.com/download_firefox/
    http://www.filehippo.com/download_google_chrome/

  30. Qrazydutch

    Eh….mosaic is dead? Or the fastest one yet…. Opera? FTP to Norway and try it out

  31. Joy

    One word…AWESOME!

  32. mhenriday

    Kudos, Chris ! But shouldn’t that title rather have been «Stupid Geek Tricks: How To Download Firefox On a New Windows Computer Without Using Internet Explorer» ? After all, on a new Ubuntu computer, I don’t have to do diddly squat to download and install Firefox….

    Henri

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