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 into Windows Explorer’s address bar and press Enter.

Navigate to the following folder:


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

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.

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

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

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:


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

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

cd pub/

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


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.

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

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.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »