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Disabling download history only

  • 16 replies
  • 15 have this problem
  • 854 views
  • Last reply by Gregory

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Back in the "good old days" of Firefox, users had the option to disable their browsing history and their download history separately. These days, Mozilla has apparently decided the average user is too stupid to handle such a plethora of options, and combined the option into one.

Prior to version 26, one was able to disable download history only by editing some about:config strings (useToolkitUI and downloadManager.retention - see this thread for more details: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/956553).

This approach no longer works.

How, therefore, can you disable download history only, but leave browsing history turned on?

(P.S. extensions which auto-clear downloads are only workarounds, not solutions.)

All Replies (16)

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You can no longer separate the download and the other history as both are stored in the same database

The new Download Manager that uses the Library and the places.sqlite database file treats downloads like other history items and adds an annotation (places table: moz_annos) to identify these items as downloads.

The classic Downloads Manager stored the download history in the downloads.sqlite file.


Note that the Downloads folder in the Library is present since Firefox 8 (2011), so this is not a recent addition and you may have missed this folder in the past (i.e. they were kept in two separate places).
Only now that the new Download Manager, that uses this folder, is being used its presence can't be overlooked.

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If it's not possible to separate both histories, why is there the option to "Clear Downloads" in the new download manager window?

In v24, at least, you were still able to hide the downloads by using the "downloadManager.retention" property to stop them being displayed in the download window.

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Hi soulhunter123, you wrote:

If it's not possible to separate both histories, why is there the option to "Clear Downloads" in the new download manager window?

I think what cor-el means is that when you clear a download, it is removed both from the download list and from history. Example screen shots attached.

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It is the same history item that is shown in two places.

The download history knows that it is a download because such items have a specific annotation that identifies them as such.

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Before Firefox 20 (or before Firefox 26 if you kept using the old window), you could clear the Download Manager window, but this actually did not clear Firefox's corresponding history record. This was convenient for keeping an uncluttered view, but it created an illusion of privacy: the same information was available in history unless you also cleared the history entries. I've attached some screenshots from Firefox 19 showing what I mean. (Portable edition)

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I find the solution to that my friend and it called https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/addon/s3download-statusbar/


(removed language in link - c)

Modified by cor-el

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I understand that there was (or is) a difference between "Clear Downloads" and "Remove from History", but that is probably a separate issue.

The core issue here is that there's no way to simply completely stop Firefox from collecting history about downloads at all.

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@Gregory: I appreciate the link to the extension (I saw it in your other thread) but don't feel it's the solution. For one, it adds bloat to the browser, and it shouldn't even be needed in my opinion.

We have to remember that in Firefox 25, the about:config strings "useToolkitUI" and "downloadManager.retention" were able to be used to resolve (or at least cure the symptoms of) this issue to satisfaction.

As of v26, this no longer is an option.

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Quote:

We have to remember that in Firefox 25, the about:config strings "useToolkitUI" and "downloadManager.retention" were able to be used to resolve (or at least cure the symptoms of) this issue to satisfaction.

That is not really true.

The Downloads folder in the Library is present since Firefox 8 (2011), so this is not a recent addition and you may have missed this folder in the past.
Your downloads were stored in the Library that uses places.sqlite independent from the downloads as shown in the classic Downloads Manager that used the downloads.sqlite file, so removing the downloads in the classic Downloads Manager automatically would still have the other set in the Library unless you would clear these history items.

Only now that the new Download Manager, that uses this folder, is being used its presence can't be overlooked. Support for the browser.download.useToolkitUI pref has been removed in Firefox 26+ releases, so you can no longer bring up the classic Download Manager.

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@cor-el

I understand that clearing the downloads from the Downloads Manager isn't the same as deleting their history items.

My point was, in Firefox 25 we at least had the option to clear them away from sight using those about:config strings I mentioned.

Now in version 26 there is no way to clear them automatically.

I just don't understand why the developers chose not to have an "auto-clear" option for downloads. Do they really think everyone wants to see a list of everything they've ever downloaded every time they open the Downloads Manager?

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the usetoolkit is at about:config options the other it isn't

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Apologies; it's browser.download.manager.retention

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See:

You can vote for this bug

  • bug 838681 - Figure out use-cases of the retention preference, and support them in the new downloads experience

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And what these two values do exactly?

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@Gregory the values *used to* bring back the classic downloads window and make it so that downloads were automatically cleared as soon as they completed. Since v26 the values no longer work, hence my complaint.

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The downloac cleaner plugin is completely USELESS because simply doesn't work.