Mozilla has been making a lot of changes to Firefox recently. Mozilla’s own Firefox Hello video chat service and the Pocket read-it-later service are now integrated and appear on Firefox’s toolbar by default.
Firefox will be gaining more integrated third-party services in the future. Unfortunately, Mozilla hasn’t made it easy to disable the features you don’t like and simply shoves every new service onto the toolbar as its own icon.
The Easy Way
The easy way to do this is by right-clicking the Firefox Hello or Pocket icon on the Firefox toolbar and select “Remove from Toolbar.” The icons will be hidden from view and won’t get in your way. To reenable it later, right-click the Firefox toolbar, select Customize, and drag-and-drop the icons back onto the toolbar.
This doesn’t completely disable the integration, however. Read on for instructions about that.
Disable Firefox Hello
Firefox Hello is a video-chat service created by Mozilla. It uses the WebRTC specification to provide video and voice conversations that don’t require any plug-ins, just your browser and web technologies without any additional software. You get a link you have to provide to the other participant — even user accounts aren’t required.
To disable Firefox Hello completely, you’ll need to change a hidden setting on the advanced about:config page. To access it, type “about:config” into Firefox’s address bar (without the quotes), press Enter, and agree to the “I’ll be careful, I promise!” prompt. Be careful with the settings you change here.
Type “loop.enabled” into the filter box at the top of the list of settings. You’ll see a “loop.enabled” preference which is set to “true” by default. Double-click it and it will be set to “false”.
Close and reopen Firefox and Firefox Hello will be completely disabled. To reenable it in the future, visit about:config and double-click the “loop.enabled” preference to set it back to “true”.
(“Loop” is the codename for the FIrefox Hello project, which is why all the Firefox Hello-related settings in about:config refer to “loop.”)
Pocket is a popular read-it-later service that allows you to save web pages for reading later. You can then easily read just the text of those web pages. They can sync to your smartphone or tablet using Pocket’s mobile apps, allowing you to read them entirely offline.
To disable Pocket, visit the same about:config page — type about:config into Firefox’s address bar and press Enter — and agree to the same warning.
Type “pocket.enabled” into the filter box. You’ll see a “browser.pocket.enabled” preference appear, set to “true” by default. Double-click the “browser.pocket.enabled” preference to set it to “false”.
Restart Firefox and Pocket will be completely disabled. To reenable Pocket in the future, visit about:config and double-click the “browser.pocket.enabled” preference to set it back to “true”.
Mozilla should make these features easier to disable. Features like these could just be provided as bundled or recommended browser extensions that could then be removed or disabled normally. This will hopefully happen in the future, removing the need to dig into about:config to do this.
After all, Firefox was originally created as a stripped-down, fast browser to replace the Mozilla Suite, which was overloaded with a variety of other features. The extension system was designed to plug these holes and allow nonessential features to be provided without having to build them directly into the browser itself. Firefox has now seemingly come full circle.