Possible Firefox Bug: Cannot open downloaded HTML documents

I’m busy right now and I didn’t have time to look up if this is a bug or not. So here’s a quick record in case I decide to tackle it later on.


  • Operating System: Microsoft Vista Ultimate 64-bit
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 is the default browser
  • using Mozilla Firefox 3.0.x


While doing research for my white paper, I was using the InfoTrac General Science eCollection database to pull up some articles. One of the options available is to download the articles as an HTML document. Upon clicking the Download link, it tries downloading an HTML document and prompts me if I would like to Open with or Save File. The default program for the Open with dialog is Internet Explorer, but I decided to change it. Firefox, however, was not listed as an alternative; I ended up having to navigate to the Firefox executable (File: firefox.exe). As soon as I pressed OK, I got the following error:

Firefox is already running, but is not responding. To open a new window, you must first close the existing Firefox process, or restart your system.

Possible Explanations of Error

  • Firefox cannot handle opening an HTML document as a download within itself
    • tries to execute another instance of Firefox, but that clashes with already-open instance
  • Since the default browser on the system is Internet Explorer, it originally tried to open the HTML document with that and it worked. When I tried to change it to Firefox I encountered the problem above.
    • How would this be handled if Firefox were the default HTML document viewer?
    • Does this behaviour exist when opening an HTML document from a local filesystem (via double-clicking and letting Windows run with the associated program)?
  • Desired Functionality
    • To open a New Window in the currently running instance of Firefox with the document.
    • Prompting to run in:
      • a new instance of Firefox, possibly with an option to choose which Profile
      • a new tab in the originating Firefox window
      • a new window from the originating Firefox instance
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