You can access Firefox’s configuration menus, options, and hidden features via “chrome://” URLs. If you’re the curious sort, you might be wondering why it’s not “firefox://” instead. Read on as we dig in.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

The Question

SuperUser reader ChocoDeveloper really wants to know what the deal is with Firefox and the “chrome://” schema:

Why does Firefox use the “chrome://” protocol / schema in URLs?

When I want to configure an addon, for example Ghostery, the tab shows a URL like this one:


What does it mean? Does it have something to do with the Chrome browser?

It is a rather curious designation, no? It’s almost like finding out that the secret configuration menu on your new Ford truck has the password “Honda”. What’s the story?

The Answer

SuperUser contributor Mark Henderson clears things right up:

The phrase chrome has been used by Mozilla since long before Google Chrome came on the market. Typically the phrase “Chrome” referred to all the area around your viewport, but not the viewport itself. Sort of like the chrome plating some cars have around their windscreens or headlights.

See here for more details – but no; nothing to do with Google Chrome.

Another contributor, Konrad Rudolph offers further insight into the naming of Chrome:

Actually a lot to do with Google Chrome: Google Chrome is explicitly named after the user interface chrome of a browser. In their very first marketing video (or was it the comic?) they explain something along the lines of focusing on reducing the chrome and focus on the content instead.

So Chrome is both the term for the adornments and GUI surrounding the browsing pane as well as the name of a browser that eschews all of it for a cleaner browsing experience.

Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
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