Tech Tip: What to Try When the Firefox Browser Stalls


Q. What is Firefox complaining about when it shows an error message about an “unresponsive script” in the middle of the page? Sometimes the box goes away and sometimes I have to restart the browser.

A. The “unresponsive script” error message often pops up when Firefox encounters a bit of JavaScript code that is not performing as it should. This could be because of a problem with that particular script from the website you are visiting. It could also be an issue with your computer, like a misbehaving browser extension, the hardware acceleration option being enabled in the browser settings or memory problems.


Restarting the Firefox browser in “safe mode” temporarily disables browser extensions and helps you troubleshoot problems.

The New York Times

Make sure your browser and any add-ons and extensions you use with it are up-to-date. If you want to rule out browser extensions as a factor, restart Firefox in safe mode to temporarily disable them all. Quit Firefox and hold down the Shift key (Windows) or Option key (Mac) while restarting the program. Click the “Start in Safe Mode” button and see if you get the same script errors when visiting those pages; the same dialogue box also offers the Refresh Firefox option, which resets the browser’s preferences and removes added extensions and themes.

If the error messages do not appear, odds are a Firefox add-on was causing the problem. Remove the suspected add-on and check to see if you still get script errors.

If you get the error on the same page each time you visit but other sites seem fine, the problem is most likely with that page. If you suspect this is the case, Mozilla’s help site suggests installing the YesScript extension (available in the Firefox Add-ons page) to stop scripts from running on selected websites. This may inhibit some sites, but the script warning should disappear.

Sometimes just waiting a little longer and letting the script try to finish its task might work around the problem. You can change your Firefox settings to allow more time before tossing up the unresponsive script alert. Mozilla’s support site has the steps for changing the browser’s configuration to do that and a list of other troubleshooting suggestions.

Script errors are not solely a Firefox issue. Check the support pages for your preferred browser if you are having problems. For example, Microsoft has troubleshooting steps for Internet Explorer and Apple has a similar page for its Safari browser.

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