Vista UAC: Firefox (and other Mozilla apps) automatic updates

If you disable the automatic installer detection of User Account Control (UAC), for instance because it interferes with your every-day operations (like in my “Git and Windows Vista” article), you will notice that the Mozilla updaters don’t work as expected. Automatic updates will fail. This is due to the fact that the updater will not be automatically elevated any longer.

As the easiest workaround, you should perform the following steps:

  • Once you get notified about the update and you are asked if you want to install it, say “No”.
  • Close the Mozilla application in question.
  • Search for the application in your “Start” menu.
  • Right-click the entry and choose “Run as Administrator…”
  • Choose “Check for Updates…” in the “Help” menu
  • Confirm you want to install the update and walk through the update process.

The installation will now work. For security reasons you should close the application once installation is finished, because it will still be running with elevated privileges. Now start the application again normally.

The same principle works for any application that is not Vista-aware and fails on automatic update. For security reasons make sure you keep the time you run with elevated privileges as short as possible.

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