Pale Moon: Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)

Since there are a number of common questions people have been asking, they are listed here. Please read through these questions and answers before asking for support, as your question may already be included here. This F.A.Q. is limited and will not be expanded further because focus of support has moved to the Pale Moon forum.

A more comprehensive list of frequently asked questions can be found in the F.A.Q. section of the Pale Moon Forum. Please make sure to also check there if the question you are looking for is not listed here.

Specific issues with Pale Moon 25 and later:


Feature preferences:

The following FAQ entries relate to general questions:

Is Pale Moon safe to use?

Absolutely! Pale Moon is based on the Mozilla release source code that has a large community of developers and security-aware people, next to having seen over a decade of development by now. In addition, the Pale Moon team checks and verifies any reports of issues that might impact your safety on the web. It includes, among other things, protection against dangerous add-ons, automatic checking for updates of add-ons, password protection (master password), website-identity information in the address bar, and private browsing.

Pale Moon's development includes a critical evaluation of potential security risks which are addressed in each new release, with on occasion a point-release for critical issues that is released as soon as possible after the security issue comes to light.

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My antivirus software complains that Pale Moon is a trojan, keylogger, PUP, PUA, ...

Some Antivirus software is a little too paranoid in their scanning for potentially dangerous programs. It seems scanning with what is called "heuristics" is still something extremely difficult for antivirus suites to implement properly, and as a result, some AV scanners are rather paranoid whenever a complex piece of optimized software is encountered, especially if it interacts with multiple other programs and the Internet (like the plugin container does). Pale Moon has been scanned by several leading and independent software distributors and found to be 100% clean and safe.

If your anti-malware package keeps complaining and your system is otherwise clean, please report it to your security software vendor as a false positive. Reporting it to the browser author serves no purpose as it's the malware detector's scanning engine that needs fixing.

A critical note: the popular AVG and Norton scanners seems to be particularly paranoid about Pale Moon and have, in numerous cases, "fixed" what wasn't broken, i.e. deleted parts of the browser resulting in a broken or destroyed browser. It's therefore recommended to never let an AV suite "automatically clean" your system. There are plenty of free-for-home-use antivirus packages available to verify the detection and get a "second opinion" if you don't trust what you downloaded.

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Why do some add-ons not work (properly) with Pale Moon?

Pale Moon is forked from Firefox, and there are some significant differences between the two browsers. As such, Pale Moon has its own (exclusive) extensions that were specifically written for it, which should always work. In addition, Pale Moon also allows "legacy" Firefox extensions to be installed. These Firefox extensions are not guaranteed to work, but in most cases can be made compatible with a few small alterations. This incompatibility can be caused by several different things, the most important:
  • Difference in user interface or back-end code: Pale Moon is different from Firefox "under the hood" as well as in what is visible. Firefox extensions that use specific part of the user interface or back-end code that aredifferent will have compatibility issues.
  • Difference in GUID (unique identifier): Firefox and Pale Moon use a different unique identifier. This identifier is used to cater extensions or parts thereof (like overlays) to specific "target applications". If Pale Moon's GUID isn't included in such extensions, it will likely be missing user interface elements. You will have to contact the extension developer and ask for pale Moon's GUID to be added in the proper places to make it compatible.
  • Naming: some add-ons or external programs expect the program to be called "firefox.exe" - a simple problem with a simple solution for the add-on programmers to implement.
  • Use of components not present in Pale Moon: If an add-on tries to use components that are specifically excluded from Pale Moon (like accessibility features, WebRTC, parental controls) it will fail.
  • The extension was never written for our extension API level (e.g. Australis-only extensions).
That being said, quite a few add-ons do function without a hitch. Even so, you are encouraged to check the Pale Moon add-ons site for Pale Moon specific add-ons or alternatives to what you are using if you suspect there may be a compatibility issue.

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Does it come with a preloader?

Pale Moon does not come with a preloader, or "quick start" tool that loads components of the browser in memory and keeps them resident there. As it is, startup times of Pale Moon are generally sufficiently low not to need something like that. External preloaders may not work with Pale Moon for the same reason some add-ons may not work.

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Will there be a version in my (non-English) language?

Pale Moon is released as a US-English browser. If you prefer a different language for the User Interface, you can install a Pale Moon language pack and set your browser to use it.
More information here:

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How do I update Pale Moon?

Pale Moon has a built-in update checker. If you let Pale Moon automatically check for updates, you will be notified and given the option to download and install the later version from within the browser. You can also manually check and start the update from Pale Moon's Help menu.

To be informed more quickly of new releases, and stay updated with some other miscellaneous news related to Pale Moon and the Pale Moon web site, you have a few options:
  1. You can register on the Pale Moon forum, and subscribe to the Announcements board, which will send you an e-mail when a new announcement is posted to it. Your e-mail is safe, it will never be disclosed to anyone for any reason.
  2. You can use the RSS/Atom feed of the forum's Announcements board, either by using a separate RSS reader or simply by going to the following URL and making it a Live Bookmark (built-in functionality of Pale Moon):
  3. You can also follow the Twitter feed
To update Pale Moon manually, simply download the installer of the new version and run it. No need to uninstall first! You can install the new version in the same location as the old one, and it will perform an upgrade.

Note: If you are one of the people using a ZIP packed version, it is recommended you remove the old browser installation first, and not unpack a new version on top of an old one, because the program structure and included files may have changed across versions.

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What are the differences with Firefox?

Firefox and Pale Moon have similar roots in the Mozilla Community code, and Pale Moon has been originally based on Firefox code, but as a product, Pale Moon has diverted significantly from its sibling, and has its own code, development path and future, independent of what the Mozilla Corporation does with Firefox.

Starting with v28 of Pale Moon, it is also using an independently-maintained platform to build on, called UXP. This platform focuses heavily on the XUL interface language and its unique features, and continues and expands on the platform-for-many-applications premise behind what has always been Mozilla's strength. Mozilla, on the other hand, has moved to a singular product in Firefox and is working on removing XUL-technologies from it. This makes for a rapidly-increasing gap in how similar both browsers are and it's been long since past the point already where they should be directly compared.

Note that Pale Moon will never adopt the Australis (Firefox 29 and later) interface and aims to remain a fully XUL-driven browser with full user interface customizability.

Also please note that Pale Moon has not run rampant with its releases and even though there is a big gap in version number between the two, you should never assume Pale Moon is somehow an "outdated Firefox". Pale Moon is a completely separate product with its own roadmap, direction, versioning and release schedule, unlike other "Firefox-based" browsers out there that are primarily re-builds of a stock Mozilla Firefox.

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How does it compare to other browsers?

This is very much a subjective question, and there is no single answer to it. Short answer: YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) -- it all depends on what you are looking for in a browser to choose which one would work best for you. In general, Pale Moon aims to be full-featured, but without compromise to efficient resource/hardware use. It doesn't necessarily aim to be a lightweight browser, but seems to achieve that goal in some circumstances as a side effect. Pale Moon also targets modern hardware, and may not run particularly well if your computer is beyond its normal usage life. Overall, comparison between browsers would put Pale Moon in a similar position to Firefox since it it has its roots in the same rendering and scripting engines. Goanna is a fork of Gecko, and they both use *Monkey-based JavaScript engines.
Synthetic benchmarks aren't the end-all of things, so it's difficult to obtain unbiased comparisons between different browsers through them, and a higher benchmark score doesn't necessarily mean that a browser would perform better in a real-world browsing situation. Quite the opposite is the case in some situations.

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Can I run Pale Moon and Firefox at the same time?

Yes, you will be able to start Firefox and Pale Moon at the same time since they are completely different products that only share a common ancestor.

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How do I copy my existing Firefox profile to Pale Moon?

Unfortunately, due to Mozilla's incessant changes to the different storage formats of data in the profile, that are not directly compatible with Pale Moon and regularly cause issues, we currently do not have an easy way to import existing Firefox profiles as a whole.
You can, however, import your bookmarks by first exporting them from Firefox (Bookmarks -> Show all Bookmarks -> Import and backup -> Export bookmarks to HTML), then importing them in Pale Moon (in the same location, but then choose "Import bookmarks from HTML").
Other data like stored passwords can possibly be exported/imported using extensions. For more assistance, please ask for help on the forum.

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Will Firefox and Pale Moon work together in the future?

Since the Mozilla Corporation has obviously chosen to follow a different path at the management level and has set different goals for its browser, it doesn't seem likely that Pale Moon and Firefox will ever see a unification or joining of forces. Quite the opposite, in fact. Of course, that doesn't mean there is no communication or that there is a "browser war" going on between the two - in fact, there is regular communication about security updates, for example, and one could say that the diversity seen here offers different users a closer match to what they need.

There have been and are growing conflicts of interests between Pale Moon and Firefox as far as the so-called UX (User eXperience) developments are concerned. This results in a different user interface approach in Pale Moon. For example, less stress is put on minimizing the size of UI elements or saving every pixel possible to benefit the content area - in this day and age of full HD monitors and laptops that seems to be very counter-intuitive. Australis is considered unacceptable, and will not be used.

On the flipside, some developers seem to complain that Pale Moon "is no different than other optimized (re)builds out there", meaning other people who have built Firefox from source with minimal tweaks or changes. Following the step-by-step instructions in the Mozilla Developer Center, and probably with some trial and error, anyone with a decent level of computer knowledge could build Firefox (if you have the right hardware and software), but that doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be stable or efficient, or that the result would be more than just a differently configured rebuild of Firefox.

Pale Moon is most certainly not "just a rebuild" of existing Firefox code, unlike other "alternative" Firefox browsers out there. As Pale Moon has developed, so has the amount of individual code for the browser, steadily diverging Pale Moon from its sibling in the direction aimed for in this browser - having transformed it from an optimized build (which it was when it first started out in 2009) into a true "fork" of Mozilla code and being completely independent now.

Some have even claimed that the Pale Moon project as such was given shape to gain fame -- they should consider that the popularity was unexpected. Pale Moon is, and has always been, released in the hope that it might be useful to its users, nothing more. It is a full-time commitment of our small but dedicated team of developers, and I'm happy to see it finding good use among its growing number of users.

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Will Pale Moon bundle the extension/add-on {xxxx}?

Pale Moon releases come without any pre-defined and pre-installed add-ons/extensions.
There are a number of "custom" browsers out that are basically a stock Firefox with simply added a number of add-ons and released as a package - this is fine if you are looking for a browser that comes pre-installed with extensions for a specific purpose and you don't want to install them yourself, but this is not part of Pale Moon's goals.

Pale Moon will be released as a browser without any extensions, since users of Pale Moon should have freedom of choice to install or not install any extensions/add-ons that are available for it. I would of course strongly recommend to look through the add-ons site for Pale Moon and Firefox and pick some that you think work well for you, or use the add-ons window in the browser to search for extensions on specific keywords, as there are some real gems out there, but by policy, Pale Moon will not bundle any add-ons with the browser.

If you see Pale Moon offered bundled with extensions or "extra functionality" or whatever people would like to call it, it will be an unofficial download and is not recommended (and potentially dangerous or unstable - you don't know what all has been added to or changed in the browser). Don't rely on unofficial downloads or releases offered with add-ons/extensions already in it. Go the official route if you need extra functionality and install Pale Moon, then add your extensions to it.

Historical note: The one notable exception was the Pale Moon status bar add-on that came with versions 4 to 9; this was chosen as a solution over editing the core layout of the browser to prevent incompatibilities and unnecessary bugs, as well as being a result of getting direct feedback from Pale Moon users. It was therefore considered a "core functionality add-on" that forms an essential part of the browser itself. In later versions, this add-on is no longer included as an add-on, since the functionality has been re-integrated into the browser.

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How do I restore Tab Groups/Panorama in Pale Moon 24+?

Pale Moon 24 and later do not include Tab Groups (formerly known as Panorama or Tab Candy) in the core of the browser anymore.
To restore this functionality, you have to download the palemoon-tabgroups add-on, which you can download from this website (Tools menu).

After restarting, you will have access to Tab Groups like before.

To get the Tab Groups button back after installing the add-on:
Right-click a toolbar area, and select "Customize". In the customization window that pops up, you will find the Tab Groups icon, which you can drag to any preferred location in your browser interface.

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The following FAQ entries relate to feature preferences:

Preference: I prefer the Firefox Ctrl-Tab behavior

If you don't like the graphical preview pane for switching between browser tabs, you can restore the method as also found in Firefox:
In the address bar, type about:config and press enter. This opens the advanced configuration editor.
Find the parameter browser.ctrlTab.previews and set it to false

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Preference: I prefer related Tabs to be inserted next to the current Tab

If you prefer related (linked) new browser tabs to be inserted immediately to the right of your currently active tab, Pale Moon does offer this feature (like some other browsers).
You can find this feature under Options, category Tabs.

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Preference: I prefer to use the old style menu bar.

On Windows versions that support it, Pale Moon 4 and later will, by default, hide the menu bar and show an application menu pane from a button in the title bar, instead. If you prefer the standard windows application layout with a menu bar and the page title shown in the title bar of the application, hover over Options until the sub-menu opens (or click the arrowhead), then click "Menu Bar":
Version 4: how to restore the menu bar.
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