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Firefox 87 Released: Look Out for These New Features

Firefox 87 was first offered to Release users on March 23, 2021. Coming hot on the heels of Google’s Chrome 89 release, this recent update boasts of major improvements to help you get the most out of your Firefox browser.

For instance, Firefox has simplified the Help menu by reducing redundant items, such as those that point to its support pages that you can also access via the Get Help item.

Mozilla envisions a world where you can browse fast, free, and free from privacy concerns. As a result, a number of privacy and performance enhancements accompany Firefox 87.

What’s New in Firefox 87? Key Features to Look Out For

Let’s dive into what’s new in Firefox 87 and how they can improve your browsing experience and online security in subtle ways.

1. SmartBlock for Private Browsing

Firefox’s in-built Enhanced Tracking Protection automatically blocks scripts, images, and content from third-party trackers (including social trackers from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), advertisers, or analytics services. However, this also blocks essential website components from loading, leading to website content breakage in some cases.

Thanks to SmartBlock, you can now enjoy less website breakage in Private Browsing. SmartBlock is an intelligent tracker blocking mechanism that allows you to enjoy increased privacy and improved performance in the Private Browsing window and Strict Mode.

SmartBlock intelligently fixes pages that are broken by Tracking Protection by providing local stand-ins for blocked third-party tracking scripts. Local stand-ins are dummy scripts that Firefox inserts into sites to replace those broken by Tracking Protection.

These dummy scripts mimic the original script, allowing the content to load properly, while simultaneously blocking trackers found on the page.

2. HTTP Referrer Policy

To further protect your online privacy, Firefox 87 will now trim HTTP referrer by default. According to Mozilla, ”…this is a stricter, more privacy-preserving Referrer Policy.” To prevent sites from accidentally leaking your sensitive data, Firefox will now trim path and query string information from referrer headers.

A lock on a keyboard

Browsers typically send HTTP referrer headers telling a website which location referred you to it. This can be the full URL in your address bar, including navigation and subresource request. Sites can legally harness this information for optimizing caching, logging, etc.

Sites can also mine your private user data from the HTTP referrer header, such as the page last visited on the referring site, your online account info, among others. By default, most browsers trim HTTP referrer headers when navigating from HTTPS to less secure HTTP sites, but send the full URL when navigating between HTTPS sites.

Firefox 87’s new referrer-policy now trims HTTP referrer headers for both HTTP and HTTPS sites by default.

3. ”Highlight All” Now on Find in Page

The Find in This Page feature allows you to search and find on-page content by typing a query into the search bar. It now features Highlight All, which highlights all matches to your query.

You can also set the Find in Page option to match case, match diacritics, and whole words. To view the new Highlight All feature:

  1. On an open Firefox webpage on desktop,
  2. Click on the menu button
  3. Click Find in This Page
  4. You should now see the search bar at the bottom of the page. (Below is an example of Highlight All in action for the query “Firefox 87” on this page)
Highlight All feature in action

4. Full Support for macOS VoiceOver

If you use an Apple Mac device, you can now access full support for VoiceOver, the macOS built-in screen reader, just like Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS users.

Screen readers like VoiceOver allow you to interact and engage with computers through synthesized speech or braille. Full support for this assistive technology is now available on macOS with Firefox 87.

What’s Changed in Firefox 87?

Here are some of the key changes in the new Firefox update.

1. Backspace Key Disabled

Mozilla also introduced key changes to Firefox via the new update, chief of which is the Backspace key. When filling out forms, you could lose data by accidentally clicking on the Backspace key. It has now been disabled as a navigation shortcut for the back navigation button.

Comparison of Firefox's library menu

Items like Synced tabs, Recent highlights, and Pocket list were removed from the Library menu due to infrequent use or having alternative access points within the browser.

A comparison of Firefox's help menus

Similar to the Library menu, the Help menu has also been decluttered by removing items with optional access points. For example, items pointing to Firefox support pages have been removed because you can equally access them via Get help.

The full list of features, changes, and bug fixes is accessible from Mozilla release notes.

Related: Reasons to Switch From Google Chrome to Mozilla Firefox

Check and Update Your Browser to Firefox 87

You can download the official Firefox browser from the Mozilla website, or follow these steps to update your browser to Firefox 87.

  1. Open Firefox
  2. Click the menu button
  3. Scroll down, click on Options

    The main menu on Firefox

  4. Scroll down to Firefox Updates.
  5. Your Firefox will be up to date if you have set it to allow automatic updates
  6. Otherwise, click Check for updates, then Install.

    Firefox update on desktop

How to File a Firefox Bug Report in Bugzilla

What if you’re experiencing a bug when using Firefox? Here’s how to report a bug.

  1. Visit the Bugzilla homepage
  2. Sign in with your email address or via GitHub
  3. Sign up if you are new to Bugzilla. Under I want to help, read the Bug Writing Guidelines, and the entire code of conduct.
  4. Supply your email address, await confirmation, set a password, and your account is created.

On Bugzilla, you can submit patches, comments, code, and any other content, as well as report bugs and help to fix bugs, including those that may arise in Firefox 87.

What to Expect From Future Firefox Releases

Firefox claims to take your online privacy seriously. Features like SmartBlock and the new HTTP Referrer header policy appear to corroborate such claims.

As Chrome struggles with poor privacy ratings across the board, alternative browsers like Firefox can take advantage to develop more privacy-enhanced browsers.

The 10 Best Chromium Browser Alternatives Better Than Chrome

Want to switch from Google Chrome without losing extensions? Here are the best Chromium browser alternatives with the same DNA.

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