Mozilla permanently removing FTP access from Firefox

After a year-long delay because of the concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mozilla announces they are disabling FTP in version 88 of Firefox and will altogether remove it in version 90.

Mozilla removing FTP access from Firefox

Around the same time Google removed FTP access from Chrome in April 2020, Mozilla announced they were also removing it from Firefox. Mozilla planned first to disable it and then remove it in a later version – a plan that mimicked how Chrome removed its FTP functionality.

At the time of the announcement in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning, and to mitigate the risk of potentially causing breakages during the COVID-19 pandemic, Caitlin Neiman, Add-ons Community Manager at Mozilla, stated, If the pandemic situation has not improved by July 28, 2020 (the expected release date for Firefox 79), there may be further delays. As everyone found out, the pandemic situation did not improve, and it delayed Mozilla’s plans to remove FTP from Firefox for an entire year.

Almost a year to the day, Neiman announced that Firefox 88 would be released on April 19, 2021, and will have FTP access disabled. Mozilla will then altogether remove it from Firefox in version 90. The removal of FTP means that users can no longer view and access files from FTP servers in the browser.

FTP file list in Firefox
FTP file list view in Firefox 87

On macOS, Safari and Chrome prompt the user to open an FTP server in the Finder app.

Open FTP server in Finder app
Chrome browser prompt when attempting to access an FTP server

Users can then view and download files via Finder.

FTP file view in Finder app
FTP file view in Finder app on macOS

Firefox 90 is expected to have a similar prompt, but Mozilla has also provided an alternative for developers. Using the protocol_handlers for browser extensions, developers can specify which application to open when users click on FTP links in Firefox, providing an alternative to using Finder.

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Jon is the founder and Managing Editor of Coywolf. He has over 25 years of experience in web development, SaaS, internet strategy, digital marketing, and entrepreneurship. Follow @henshaw