Firefox logo on a purple background

Mozilla Firefox’s HTTPS-Only Mode provides extra privacy and security online. With it enabled, Firefox will try hard to only load encrypted HTTPS websites. If only HTTP is available, Firefox won’t load the unencrypted website without asking you.

Why Is HTTPS Important?

The secure protocol HTTPS is the bedrock method of maintaining privacy and security on the web. It sets up an encrypted connection between your browser and the web server that prevents third parties from eavesdropping on or tampering with the data being sent between you and the site you’re browsing.

Unfortunately, not all sites support HTTPS, and some that do may fall back to non-encrypted HTTP versions of a site if you visit them through an HTTP link (such as http://www.example.com instead of https://www.example.com—notice the missing “s” in the address).

Starting in Mozilla Firefox version 83, which was released on November 16, 2020, you can turn on HTTPS-Only Mode. Firefox will automatically attempt to load the HTTPS version of a website even if you visit the site through a link to an unencrypted HTTP address. If one isn’t available, you’ll have to provide explicit permission before Firefox will load an HTTP page. Here’s how to enable this option.

RELATED: What Is HTTPS, and Why Should I Care?

How to Enable HTTPS-Only Mode in Firefox

First, open Firefox and click the hamburger button (three horizontal lines) in any Firefox window. In the menu that pops up, select “Options” on Windows and Linux or “Preferences” on a Mac.

Tip: If you’re not running Firefox version 83 or higher, you’ll need to update Firefox to use the HTTPS-Only Mode feature. To check for updates manually, click the Firefox menu, then select Help > About Firefox. Then click the “Update Firefox” button.

RELATED: How to Update Mozilla Firefox

In Firefox, click the hamburger menu and select "Options."

In the “Options” or “Preferences” tab, click “Privacy & Security” in the sidebar menu.

In Firefox Options, click "Privacy & Security" in the sidebar menu.

On the “Browser Privacy” preferences page, scroll down to the bottom and locate the “HTTPS-Only Mode” section. Click the radio button beside “Enable HTTPS-Only Mode in all windows” to select it. (You also have the choice to enable HTTPS-Only Mode in private windows only, so select that instead if you prefer.)

In Firefox Privacy options, select "HTTPS-Only Mode in all windows."

After that, close the Options tab, and the change will take effect immediately. If you visit a website through a non-encrypted HTTP link that supports HTTPS, you will be redirected to the encrypted HTTPS version of the site automatically.

What Happens If a Site Doesn’t Support HTTPS?

If you visit a site with HTTPS-Only Mode turned on and the site does not support HTTPS, you will see an error page similar to this one.

With HTTPS-Only Mode enabled in Firefox, you'll see this error message if you visit a non-HTTPS website.

Also, if you visit a site that is only partially HTTPS-secure—that is, it pulls non-encrypted elements into the secure page—it may not display properly with HTTPS-Only Mode enabled.

In either case, Mozilla has provided a quick way to temporarily disable HTTPS-Only Mode. To do so, click the lock icon beside the website address in the URL bar.

In Firefox, click the lock icon beside the website address.

In the menu that pops up, click the drop-down menu below “HTTPS-Only Mode” and choose “Off temporarily” to temporarily disable HTTPS-Only Mode.

After clicking the lock icon in Firefox, select "Off termporarily" from the HTTPS-Only Mode drop-down menu.

Alternately, if you’d like to permanently disable HTTPS-Only Mode just for this particular site, select “Off” from the list. Firefox will remember these settings individually for each website.

After that, you’ll be able to see the site as usual. If the site ever upgrades to support HTTPS fully, you can enable HTTPS-Only Mode for the site again using the same menu option hidden under the web address lock icon. Happy browsing!


Web browsers like Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are encouraging websites to move away from HTTP to more secure HTTPS connections. It’s likely that Firefox’s HTTPS-Only Mode will one day become the default option, boosting privacy and security online—and further encouraging website owners to upgrade to HTTPS.

Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a Staff Writer for How-To Geek. For over 14 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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