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How to set the default paper size to A4 so that when Firefox next opens it is still set to A4 rather than reverting back to US Letter.


This question/suggestion pertains to Firefox 3.6.13. (My sincere thanks to all involved in this work.) I am using both Windows (within an Oracle Virtual Box) and Ubuntu Linux. The UI Menu options for these two operating systems differ so I will describe the issue in terms of Ubuntu Linux but a similar problem exists in the Windows version. ("A nice to have" would be to standardise the UI for both operating systems. Intuitively, I suspect doing this could lessen the support workload.) To set the page size in Ubuntu, you go to File, Page Setup. The user has two drop down boxes, "Format For:" and "Paper Size:". When paper size is set to A4, on closing and opening Firefox , the setting reverts to US Letter. I suggest there should be a check box or a button for Set As Default or (logically) once set, it becomes the default. Another possibility would be to have a section in Edit, Preferences (Tools, Options in Windows version) dealing with paper size, margins etc. Putting it all in the one place within the program would simplify things for users. In Windows, I can't find within File, Page Setup, any provision to change the paper size at all. When you try to print a page from (for example) a banking transaction, it can be inconvenient to try to change the setting half way through. When you resort to about:configure (with dire warnings about warranty!!..hmmmm), and try to find any mention about paper size, US Letter or A4, it can't be found. Hope this question and my suggestions are helpful.

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  • User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-GB; rv: Gecko/20101203 Firefox/3.6.13

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I am not even sure where such values are stored on XP, but I guess as a registry key, and then as you apparently noticed firefox stores values that you can access using about:config.

The warning about the warranty or dragons is an intentionally humorous, reminder that some changes could cause problems. Looking at your System Details and comments I am sure you will be more than capable of taking suitable precautions when using about:config.

If you want to make comments for firefox developers to read one of the other forums may be a better choice. If you are looking for info regarding firefox and the printing you may be interested in:

Utente che ha posto la domanda

John, Thank you very much for taking the time to reply. In Linux (Ubuntu 10.10), the procedure is to: 1. make sure you only have one session of Firefox going. 2. Type "about:config" in the URL pane (for the benefit of beginners that may be reading this, that's where you type in the web address you want to browse to). A new Firefox window will appear. 3. In the "filter" pane (near the top of the screen) you type "paper_size". Magic happens (we hope) and you see a long list of things. 4. With a little bit of detective work you can identify the thing you have to change and set it to A4. Close Firefox immediately after doing this and restart. All is well. The default is now A4. A bit tricky for a non-technical user and plenty of opportunity to mistype things.

In Windows, when you type in about:config, you encounter only a few lines containing what are called enumerated variables (ie, things like 1 or 0 for the benefit of beginners) with no hint of what to type to set these parameters. The measurements for page size are in inches and the means of changing these entries to millimetres or centimetres is not evident.

I can't find anything in the Windows Registry with respect to Mozilla, nor Firefox, that gives a clue as to how it might be able to be changed there. (Not to say they are absent - only that I couldn't find them.) Regional Settings (Advanced) within the Windows Control Panel are set for metric but Firefox (quite reasonably) does not look to the Windows Registry; most probably intentional so that Firefox can be platform independent.

As previously suggested, it would seem to be a good idea for Firefox to exhibit the same user interface for all Operating System Platforms (as is the case with OpenOffice ... and which is one of its great strengths and "selling" points) and to place these settings all in one place rather than follow the out-dated Microsoft model of having page setup under "File". It would be refreshing if the software industry, as a standard, included in the menu bar "Setup" just as it commonly provides File, Edit, View, etc. Almost every application I know has the need for some form of setup of customisation so why not provide a menu option for just that purpose? At present setup is found variously under "File", "Edit" or "Tools". Hope this is helpful.

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Hi Kevin,

I use XP pro sp2.

The about config in my windows setup also has the filter. If I use a filter string of 'print' two of the prefs are

  • print.save_print_settings
  • print.use_global_printsettings

These both show as: default; boolean; true;

If I right click then I get an option to toggle them, which sets them as 'user defined' ; boolean; false

To me it seems similar to what you describe in your Linux version. As for the A4/legal paper size, my all in one printer only has one papersize, so I do not see an option to change that anyway.

Whilst I see your point about it being a good idea to standardise menus across Mozilla, I imagine users of the individual OS are content with menus that are consistent with other applications on their particular OS.

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There are no Firefox user preferences in the Windows Registry, everything is in the default program files or in the prefs.js file in the Profile folder, if a pref has been "user set". A printer setting like that can be changed for Firefox using the Properties button in the "native print dialog box" (what appears with File > Print or {Ctrl + P} ) with the correct printer selected in the Printer - Name box drop-down.

You can also change it using the advanced preferences configuration "page".
Type about:config in the URL bar and hit Enter.
If you see the warning, you can confirm that you want to access that page.

Pref = print.printer_printer_name.print_paper_size_unit
1 = A4 size and (zero) 0 = Letter size

That is for Windows versions of Firefox. Linux is a bit more complicated when it comes to printer prefs in about:config. What with a lot of PostScript prefs that seem to be there by default, it baffles me, to put it mildly. I'm a real noob with Linux.

blacktusk 0 soluzioni 1 risposte

I have tried using the Pref = print.printer_printer_name.print_paper_size_unit 1=A4 on a couple of different laser printers, I have also tried changing the paper setting from the Properties for each printer.

Using the Properties setting it will print correctly for a single Print, but the setting always seems to revert to default (Letter). Using the about:config and setting the print_paper_size_unit=1 seems to have no effect.

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Have you tried setting the printer preferences in the printers own controls ? What happens if you print something else eg a text document using a word processor, does that default to letter or A4 ?

I take the the-edmeister's comment to mean that the correct way to set printer preferences such as that is with the printers own native controls, (I wonder if those settings are then registry values) which then apparently result in a userset firefox preference. Presumably at some stage of startup, printing or preview process firefox checks those settings to produce the user set preference.

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Are you restarting Firefox after changing that pref in about:config?
A setting that is changed in about:config isn't going to be saved unless you restart Firefox.

From my experience, a setting changed in Properties is a "one time" change. For instance, change from Portrait to Landscape paper orientation in Properties and the next time you do to print it prints in Portrait. But if you change that setting in the Print Preview screen, it will hold until you change it back in the Print Preview display and then print something from that screen.

Unfortunately, there is no way to set paper size in the Print Preview window, it has to be done thru Properties (which is "one-time") or thru about:config.

Firefox saves its' own prefs for print functions in prefs.js (which is displayed in about:config), it doesn't store any prefs in the registry - but it may use the registry for its' initial load of printer prefs or after the user does a Reset in about:config of a printing pref.

As far as Firefox not saving a printer pref, print.save_print_settings is to True by default - if that would be changed to False, any change wouldn't be saved for the next time a printer was used.

How this all translates to paper sizes is beyond me at this point, as "localization" settings seem to come into play. A few years ago I installed an en-GB version of Firefox to try to figure this out, and found the "print defaults" were all coming up in millimeters and for "A" type paper, instead fractional-inch and US-paper sizes.