Sunday, May 19, 2013


[Updated 19 May 2013]

Just like you, we sometimes wish to copy text from a web page. For the past couple of days, we have been unable to paste anything in Firefox on one of our laptops. COPY seems to work (not greyed out, acts like it normally does, no indication anything is out of the ordinary). PASTE is completely not an option (greyed out, Ctrl-V does not do the trick, no reaction to any attempt to paste something into any text field). This seemed an excellent opportunity to track down the culprit and document what happened.

There are several reasons Firefox users can no longer cut/copy/paste. One of the easiest to blame is a very old bug that creeps its way into your world occasionally (or more correctly, a series of bugs). While there may be something to it, it's very unlikely the true cause of the problem. Mozilla has more or less killed these bugs, as there have been no sightings in several years.

More likely the culprits are third-party add-ons or adware/spyware. Even if you believe you have no add-ons, it's best to double-check occasionally. Some sites will install tracking software or worse without you knowing, despite your (and your browser's) best efforts to block them.

Adware, spyware, and tracking software can interfere with the copy/paste operations in your browser. Pushow is one of these. Thankfully, it is also one of the quickest and simplest to remove. Here are the instructions for removing this specific adware program.

One-by-one, we disabled each add-on and restarted Firefox. Rather than working alphabetically, we started with the most likely candidates, including recently added or updated ones. Since we only had a few, it was a quick process. Recently updated add-on "Element Hiding Helper for Adblock Plus 1.2.3" seemed to be our culprit. Normally well-behaved and extremely useful, as soon as we disabled this add-on and restarted Firefox, we got back our ability to copy and paste. You don't have to restart Firefox when disabling/enabling this add-on, so we decided to keep it around and simply disable it until we need to copy/paste something.

Unfortunately, this turned out to be a red herring. There is no clear evidence pointing to the culprit. Your best bet is to keep the number of add-ons you use to a minimum and to double-check your search engine every time you search from the built-in search box. If you don't recognize the search provider logo, it could be Pushow. Be diligent. Early detection is the key to keeping these people from collecting and tracking your information.

NOTE:  As always, we will update this article if we find any other causes for this very annoying problem. If our current list of solutions do not work for you, we recommend you use the Check4Change add-on. Highlight the [Updated: ] line at the top of the page. As soon as we change that date, you will be notified.

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