Firefox is very popular among the netizens because of its features, security and the power it provides in the hands of the users to customize it through the use of thousands of extensions ans scripts. Since its inception around a decade ago, Firefox has come a long way and with the faster update cycles, it intends to go a long way too. Each of the major Firefox updates brings something new both in terms of the security features and the improved interface. If you do not want to wait for final stable releases to check out all the new features that the developers of the Mozilla community are cooking up for Firefox, then you may try the beta, nightly or aurora releases that are not so much stable but give a glimpse into the future of the Firefox. In order to try these releases, all you have to do is change the update channel for Firefox and it will automatically update itself to the latest version from that particular update channel.
Here is how you can change the update channels in Firefox:
- Close all the running instances of Firefox browser.
- Since the file we have to modify is located inside the “Programs Files” folder in Windows, we need to run Notepad with the administrator privileges. You can right-click on the Notepad shortcut (in Start Menu in Windows 7 and earlier versions, or in the Search charm in Windows 8) and select Run as administrator for this.
- When Notepad window is opened, press the hotkey Ctrl+O to open a new file.
- In the Open file dialog, browse to the defaults\pref sub-folder inside the Firefox programs folder (typically “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox/defaults/pref” on 32-bit Windows and “C:\Program Files(x86)\Mozilla Firefox/defaults/pref” on 64-bit Windows. Select All Files (*.*) to show all the files, select a file named channel-prefs.js and click on the Open button.
- When the channel-prefs.js file is opened in Notepad, change release in the line pref(“app.update.channel”, “release”); to beta, nightly, aurora, esr or default to change the update channel to these channels. In the following screenshot, I have changed the update channel from release to beta.
- Restart Firefox, press Alt key to make the menubar appear. In the menubar, select Help → About Firefox. Firefox will check for the new update from the changed update channel and start downloading the new version. After a few minutes, it will install the new version from new update channel and restart itself.