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Virtually every random site you go to these days wants you to subscribe to its push notifications. It’s one of the many small annoyances on the open web, but thankfully, those pop ups may not be for long — at least if you are a Firefox user. With the release of Firefox 59 for the desktop, Mozilla is adding a useful little feature to its browser that lets you stop websites from asking to send notifications.
This same settings dialog also allows you to block sites from asking about getting access to your device’s camera, microphone and location. For quite a few web apps, those settings are actually useful, of course. It’s a bit hard to have a browser-based video conference without your camera and microphone working, after all. And sometimes you do want a mapping app to know where you are. Chances are you don’t want to subscribe to push notifications from every random site you visit.
For now, this new setting is still a bit buried in the settings menu. To find it, head to the Firefox Options menu, then Permissions > Notification Settings > Block new requests asking to allow notifications.
Most sites use a web standard for sending push notifications to pop up these notification requests. Firefox can easily block those. A number of sites, though, have moved to an HTML5 overlay to request notifications and because that kind of overlay can be used for lots of other things, Firefox can’t really block it yet. The good news, however, is that Mozilla is also working on this.
After a number of major Firefox releases in the last few months, version 59 is a relatively minor release. Other new features include faster graphics rendering for Mac users, a couple of updates to the Firefox Home page, the ability to add annotations to screenshots and better support for pen and touch screen pointer input. The team also made a small change to the Private Browsing Mode that will remove path information from referrers when you use this feature. That should make it a little bit harder to track you as you move from site to site.
If you haven’t tried Firefox lately because you always thought it was slow and cumbersome, now is a good time to give it another try. This is not the Firefox you think you remember.