Monday, 16 June 2014

Zotero & Pale Moon - solve Word communication error

If you get "Word could not communicate with Zotero. Please ensure Firefox or Zotero Standalone is running and try again", when trying to use the Pale Moon browser (see Pale Moon review) with Zotero and Word in Windows, here's how to solve the problem.

Don't waste your time trying the usual fixes for that communication error, something more specific is needed for Pale Moon. The following worked for me in Windows 7 Pro and Word 2010.

1. Use the 32-bit version of Pale Moon

The 64-bit version has compatibility issues with Zotero, so even if you have a 64-bit computer, it's best to download install the 32-bit version of Pale Moon.

If you've already installed the 64-bit version of Pale Moon, just uninstall it in the usual way (eg for Windows 7) and then install the 32-bit version.

2. Install the Zotero add-on

Install the Zotero for Firefox add-on in Pale Moon in the usual way.

3. Do NOT try to install the Zotero plugin for Word from within Pale Moon

Where you previously had Firefox and Zotero working with Word integration, you should not try to install the Zotero Word plugin again from within Pale Moon. That will just make even more stuff stop working. Tried that, just made things worse for me, Word integration stopped working altogether even with just Firefox open!

(But if you did that already, you can fix it this way: close Word, close Pale Moon for luck, open Firefox and then reinstall the Word plugin for Firefox direct from the Zotero webpage, open Word, and check that you can add citations normally in Word again.)

4. Edit the Zotero Word plugin

After some searching and tinkering (here's where I got the clue about the Startup folder!), I worked out how to implement the required edits.

Do not try to edit Word's normal.dotm file in the Word templates - you can't edit the Zotero macros from there. Instead:

  1. Open Word
  2. Menu File > Open
  3. In the File Open dialog box, click in the top address bar (or press Alt-d), then type or paste in the following:

  4. Then hit the Enter or Return key, or click the right arrow button outlined in red in the pic above. The correct sub-folder will open.
  5. Open the file in that sub-folder. You'll just get a blank Word document.
  6. Now in that Word document, press Alt-F11 (ie hold down the left Alt key and tap the F11 key). A new window will open, with the title "Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications - Zotero". Click on "Project (Zotero) on the left to highlight it:
  7. Next go to menu Tools, choose Macros, and you'll see this pop up:

  8. Click on "ZoteroInsertCitation" to highlight it, as shown above, then click the Edit button, and a sub-window should open up.
  9. Now find the section that reads:
    ' Try various names for Firefox
        Dim appNames(5)
        appNames(1) = "Zotero"
        appNames(2) = "Firefox"
        appNames(3) = "Browser"
        appNames(4) = "Minefield"
        For i = 1 To 4
    (you can search for 'various names' to get there - menu Edit Find or Ctrl-f)
  10. You need to make two changes
    1. insert the line:
          appNames(5) = "Pale Moon"
      after the appNames(4) line.
    2. change the 4 to read 5 in the "For" line
    so  it now looks like this:
  11. Now go to the menu, File Save Zotero, and close that window, then close

5. Further tips on using Zotero with Pale Moon

Don't have both Firefox and Pale Moon open! Just have Pale Moon open to insert citations etc from your Pale Moon Zotero library.

Syncing. You can transfer your Zotero library to Pale Moon by syncing it from Firefox to the Zotero Sync Server, then (using the same username and password) syncing it again in Pale Moon - it may take some time each way. If you don't already have a free Zotero account to enable syncing, it's worth creating an account, if only for the peace of mind with backups!

PDFs. Yes you can view PDFs in Pale Moon and add PDFs to Zotero using Pale Moon. You just need PDF plug-ins for Pale Moon. (Added 17 June)

Credits: this forum and patch. I just added some shortcuts and screenshots!

Fix Pale Moon migration tool problem

There's a migration tool to move all your Firefox settings, bookmarks, add-ons etc to the Pale Moon browser (see Pale Moon review and tips). This post is on how to sort out one problem you may get with the too.

Before you start

Before you consider using the migration tool, you need to note a couple of things (and see the limitations listed on the migration tool page):

  1. It may be best to set up everything clean, from scratch, in Pale Moon - download your fave extensions, tweak their settings as you like them, etc. This would avoid carrying over any possible problems with corrupt or odd settings etc from Firefox. It's more time-consuming to do, but I think it's well worth it (as do others), and this is what I did personally.
  2. If you have multiple Firefox profiles, the tool only moves the default profile - if you don't know what multiple profiles are, you're probably not using them! (I only have multiple profiles myself because problems with previous Firefox profiles caused me to create new ones and I haven't deleted the old profiles yet just in case).

Using the migration tool

If you've opened Pale Moon at least once before trying the migration tool, you should do this first before launching the tool (you'll see why later):

  1. Go to your existing Pale Moon profile folder (how to find your Pale Moon profile)
  2. Make a note of the full name of the profile folder, eg 12a34b78.username. Better still, copy/paste the name somewhere.

Make sure you close both Firefox and Pale Moon before running the tool, and say Yes to overwrite the current minimal profile data, if you're trying this tool this right after installation.


How to fix the Pale Moon migration problem - possible solution

This suggestion seemed to involve a lot of steps so I tried something else, and it worked! Below is solution I came up with (which hopefully will help some people, but if it doesn't you could try the more drastic one - at your own risk!).

If you've had problems with the migration tool, where it looks like no settings have transferred over from Firefox (see next section):

  1. Make sure you've closed Pale Moon and it's not running.
  2. Go to your Pale Moon profiles folder (here's how).
  3. If you see not one, but two, sub-folders inside the profiles folder (each named with a mix of characters and numbers), you're in luck!

  4. One of those profile folders will be the same as the original profile folder whose name you noted in the previous section (before you ran the migration tool). The other profile folder will be completely new.
  5. Note down the full filename of the new profile folder (you'd have noted the name of the other profile folder earlier, but if not, note it now, so that you know which name is for the original folder and which is for the new one).
  6. Now, rename the original profile folder - anything different, eg old.blah.
  7. Next, rename the new profile folder so that its name is exactly the same as that of the original folder (whose name you noted at the start before you ran the migration tool).
  8. (If you've already run the migration tool without noting down the name of the original profile folder, don't despair - look at the modified dates of the two folders. The older one is likely to be the original folder. Also, look inside the profile folder, at the "extension" sub-folder. The profile folder that contains your Firefox extensions, that you tried to migrate over, will be the new profile folder.)
  9. When you start Pale Moon again, the settings etc should have transferred over this time.
  10. If you made a mistake and renamed the wrong folders, and Pale Moon won't work or still doesn't show the transferred settings, just close it, get the filenames from your notes and try the above again the other way round!

Further action. When you start Pale Moon after all that:

  1. it may say that the Classic Theme Restorer isn't compatible etc. That's fine, you don't need it with Pale Moon
  2. the Status Bar may not be visible - you may have to rightclick the empty space to the right of the tabs and:
    1. tick the Status Bar (and also Menu, etc as you wish) to display it, then
    2. rightclick the same place again, choose Customize, then drag the Status text, Progress etc, and other icons down to the status bar as you wish.

Explanation? What seems to have happened in this particular case (though there might well be other problems with the migration tool) is that, although I'd asked for the old basic profile to be overwritten, the tool had failed to do that, but had created a brand new profile instead, in a separate profile folder, containing all the transferred settings. However, Pale Moon wouldn't recognise the new profile folder (even using Profile Manager, it claimed there was only one profile there - the original one that should have been overwritten). By renaming the original folder to something else, and giving the new profile folder the same name as the original profile folder, Pale Moon was made to recognise the new profile. Sorted!

(To save you trying this: what didn't work was deleting the original profile folder. Pale Moon wouldn't start at all when I tried that. Hence the rename trick.)

Background - problems with the migration tool

In case you got similar error messages, here are the background details.

I tested the tool on a friend's Windows Vista PC who had only one Firefox profile. It started out fine, it seemed to find the right folders so I clicked "Copy profile":


It seemed to progress OK, eg saying that Status-4-Evar wasn't needed in Pale Moon (which it isn't):


But the migration tool didn't seem to work! A message kept popping up, where I had to keep clicking "Continue" multiple times:
Script Control
The script you are executing is taking longer than expected to run. Click End to abort the script or Continue to continue script execution.


And then I got a message:
Copyfolder - Error Number: 76
Error Source: Microsoft VBScript runtime error
Desc: Path not found


It listed the paths just to the Firefox and Pale Moon folders in AppData (but not the specific profile sub-folders).

And inexplicably it ended with "Status: Completed", suggesting the transfer had worked, and that you could just click "Exit":


However, when I reopened Pale Moon it seemed that nothing had been migrated! No extra add-ons were visible, no bookmarks were moved, etc.

The rename trick explained in the previous section solved the problem.

Pale Moon browser review - best Firefox alternative

palemoonThis post contains a review and tips on using the free, open source Pale Moon browser - the best Firefox alternative that I've found, because it's based on Firefox, so your fave Firefox add-ons / extensions should work in it. There are versions for Windows and Linux (no Mac). I'll mainly cover Windows here.

A real thumbs up to Pale Moon - I've found this excellent browser to be a complete lifesaver, because Mozilla have been increasingly scuppering Firefox to the point where it's now almost unusable for me and lots of other people. It's well worth donating to them.

Moving from Firefox to Pale Moon

You can download Pale Moon here and install it in the usual way by doubleclicking the installation file. There are versions for Windows and Linux, and even a portable version.

Tip: get the 32-bit version. Even if you have a 64-bit computer, I recommend strongly that you do not download the 64-bit version - it's much better to download the 32-bit version first, as it's more compatible, especially with Zotero (see more on getting Zotero to work with Pale Moon). If all works well and you want to experiment with the 64-bit version, go ahead (but you're on you own!). If you're not sure what kind of Windows operating system you have, it's safest to try the 32-bit version.

Installation tip. If you're only testing Pale Moon and don't want to make it your default browser yet, be sure to UNtick "Use Palemoon as my default web browser" when you get to that stage of the installation.


You can always make it your default browser later once you're absolutely sure. Unfortunately there's only an option to import from Internet Explorer, not Firefox, inexplicably, so if you don't want it to import your IE settings, choose "Don't import anything".

If when starting up Pale Moon for the first time you get "Pale Moon is not currently set as your default browser. Would you like to make it your default browser", you should UNtick "Always perform this check when starting Pale Moon, then click No. Again you can always make it default later.


Also, it allows you to import your settings etc from Internet Explorer (so if you're thinking of using Pale Moon as a Firefox substitute, don't import anything). Unfortunately it doesn't import settings from Firefox - see further below.


Migration of your Firefox settings. Pale Moon provides a migration tool to move all your Firefox settings, bookmarks, add-ons etc to Pale Moon. This seems not without issues so I've written a separate post on Pale Moon migration - be warned, read that first before you try to use that tool!

Tips on using Pale Moon

Running Pale Moon and Firefox in parallel. As mentioned earlier, yes, you can use both Firefox and Pale Moon at the same time - I've had no problems with having both open at the same time (except that you shouldn't when using Zotero, see below). Once my period of testing Pale Moon is over, I'll be switching over completely to Pale Moon from Firefox. But I've already made Pale Moon my default browser (if you didn't do that when installing it, you can set it in menu Tools > Options > Advanced > General). Tip: keep Firefox for a while until you're 100% sure, as you can check your add-on settings in Firefox to make the same settings in Pale Moon, if the migration didn't work 100%.

Menu Bar, Navigation Bar. Personally, I like having the Menu toolbar. Rightclick in an empty space to the right of the Tabs and make sure Menu Bar is ticked to get it back. Same for the Navigation Bar if it's not there, etc.

Tabs on top. Just rightclick in the empty space in the tabs bar to tick Tabs on top if you prefer that (ie to move the address bar and other toolbars and bookmarks bar to below the tabs bar).

Add-ons. Every single Firefox add-on I've tried to install (ie all my usual extensions) all work in Pale Moon, yay! In Pale Moon, just go to the Mozilla Firefox add-ons site and search for your add-ons and install them from there. As you can run both Pale Moon and Firefox at the same time, you can switch between them to check your list of Firefox extensions.

Zotero in Pale Moon. If you use the Zotero add-on, please see my separate post on how to make Zotero work in Pale Moon, fix the problem of “Word could not communicate with Zotero. Please ensure Firefox or Zotero Standalone is running and try again”, and transfer your Zotero library across to Pale Moon. Works really well for me.

Bookmarks. To manually copy your bookmarks from Firefox, the easiest is to export your Firefox bookmarks to an HTML file that you save on your computer, then in Pale Moon you just import that file. In Palemoon, click the Pale Moon logo top left, then Bookmarks > Organise Bookmarks (or, if you have a menu bar, you can select the menu Bookmarks > Organise Bookmarks). Then select Import and Backup > Import Bookmarks from Html… Then navigate to and select the HTML file you saved from Firefox.

Tip: faster way to copy bookmarks across? I also found that in Firefox if I opened  Bookmarks > Organise Bookmarks view, on the left highlight All Bookmarks (or just Bookmarks Toolbar if you prefer), clicked in the right pane and copied it with Ctrl-c, then in Pale Moon opened the Organise Bookmarks view and highlight the equivalent on the left (ie All Bookmarks or Bookmarks Toolbar), clicked on the right pane and pasted with Ctrl-v, it also worked to copy the bookmarks or Bookmarks Toolbar across without having to export or import anything! The favicons in the Pale Moon Bookmarks toolbar may be blank, but once you visit a site by clicking its toolbar icon, the usual icon will reappear.

How to speed up Pale Moon. I've found Pale Moon to be pretty speedy (eg faster than Internet Explorer and it seems faster than Firefox), despite some views that it's not as fast as Firefox. For example, Pale Moon already includes most of the optimisations recommended for Firefox in this helpful post. However, I found that I could make Pale Moon run even faster (or feel faster at least!) by:

  1. doing the tweaks from the optimisation post on:
    1. network.http.pipelining.maxrequests
    2. network.http.proxy.pipelining
    3. reduce initial page delay (I used the value 50)
    4. use memory cache (even though I don't have an SSD drive), and
  2. disabling hardware acceleration in Pale Moon (menu Tools > Options > Advanced > General, then UNtick "Use hardware acceleration where available") then click OK.

PDF support. Despite views to the contrary, yes you can view PDFs inline in Pale Moon. There are two ways to do this:

  1. install the PDF Viewer add-on, or
  2. install a PDF reader which has a Firefox plug-in (like the lightning quick free Sumatra PDF reader), and then disable any built-in PDF viewer this way.

Voila! And, bonus: I've found that Zotero (on which more in a separate Pale Moon + Zotero post) will save PDFs in Pale Moon when displayed either way.

Moving Session Manager sessions from Firefox to Pale Moon manually - if you use the wonderful Session Manager, which has saved my bacon on more than one occasion after Firefox crashes in the past, you may have noticed it no longer auto-saves every X minutes automatically in Firefox 29 (see the May/June 2014 reviews for Session Manager).

However, I found that (with both Firefox and Pale Moon closed), even if without using the Pale Moon migration tool, I could copy over my Session Manager sessions from Firefox to Pale Moon, and they open! Here's how:

  1. In Firefox, go to the Tools menu >  Session Manager > Session Manager > Open Session Folder.
  2. Copy everything in the folder that opens up, except the "Deleted Sessions" folder.
  3. Now go to Pale Moon and open up its Session Folder in exactly the same way as above.
  4. Paste what you copied from the Firefox session manager folder. NB - if it says there's already a file with the same name, choose "Copy, but keep both files" if you don't want to overwrite your existing Pale Moon sessions! Make sure you first tick, at the bottom left, the box saying "Do this for the next X conflicts", to avoid having to repeat this for every file with the same name, before you click "Copy, but keep both files".
  5. Now, in Pale Moon, when you go to Tools > Session Manager, you'll see your old Firefox sessions listed, and you can open them - worked like a charm for me, and they open really quickly too!

Where's your Pale Moon profile folder? Easiest way to find it is to open Windows Explorer and type or paste:
%appdata%\Moonchild Productions\Pale Moon\Profiles
in your Windows Explorer address bar, then hit Enter to get to the folder. The profile folder is in there, a folder whose name is a mix of characters then a dot then probably your Windows username. Tip: or you could go to the Start menu and then type or paste the same thing (%appdata etc) in the Search box.


Backing up your Pale Moon settings etc. It's always wise to backup as soon as possible after you've set everything the way you want it, and backup regularly thereafter.

There's a backup tool, though it only backs up your default profile - not a problem for most people, as most people only have the one profile. Password protection seems to be greyed out. Be warned backing up takes some time, about 5 hours.

The indispensable free Mozbackup utility, which I use a lot, is meant to work to backup your Pale Moon profile - but you have to unhide your AppData folder first,  to unhide it see eg this post). However, when I tried it, I got an error message the first time, and the next time, it took about 7 hours to backup, which is odd as it doesn't take so long with Firefox. Be patient, even if it seems to be calculating diskspace for ages, just leave it to do its thing.

Other alternative browser options

Opera - I also use this free browser sometimes, because it's lightning quick, but - but…:

  1. I stick to version 12.16 and stop it from upgrading or updating (step 1 - changed it to "Do not check for updates" - + step 2), because after that version they've dumbed it down and tried to make it look and work like Chrome (just like Mozilla have done with Firefox, ruining it in the process). If I'd wanted a browser that was like Chrome, I'd just use Chrome!
  2. The kicker - I need certain Firefox extensions like NoSquint and Zotero. There's nothing like that for Opera. Which is why it's not my main browser.

Chrome - I try to avoid using Chrome because there's no easy tab switching based on most-recently used tab (MRU), plus there are security risks and privacy issues. The only reason I'd use it is to 'cast' a tab from Chrome via Chromecast to my TV, ie to get a webpage playing video on my computer to display on my TV.

Seamonkey - I tried it, but many of my essential or favourite Firefox extensions don't work in it, so I gave up.

Many thanks to those who recommended trying Pale Moon!

Background - and possible workarounds if you want to stick with Firefox

The nail in the coffin for me was Firefox 29's terrible un-userfriendly interface changes and its constant freezes and crashes, with the inability to recover properly from those because Session Manager stopped working properly in Firefox 29 too! Not to mention Firefox previously breaking add-ons / extensions constantly, forgetting that the main reason many people use Firefox is for the extensions, not Firefox itself.

For those reluctant to switch completely to Pale Moon, here are some other solutions or workarounds for Firefox 29's problems.

Problems with Firefox 29 (& 30)? - possible fixes

Fed up with Firefox 29 or 30? You're not the only one. Here are some solutions, fixes or workaround to try - I hope they help some other people.

1. Get the old user interface back

You can install the Classic Theme Restorer add-on, as covered previously. NB: after that you may need to rightclick in an empty area next to a tab, choose Customise, and then drag your status bar text (if you have Status-4-Evar) back down to the bottom left, and also draft your NoScript and other icons from the top right down to the status bar location, then Exit from the Customise view.

Mozilla have since given more guidance on how to restore the old look.

2. More drastic - restore an older version of Firefox

Eg you could download Firefox 28. If you want to make absolutely sure that you don't lose your existing settings, it's safest not to uninstall the existing Firefox 29 first (contrary to Mozilla's instructions) - instead, install the older version of Firefox over it, which has worked for some people.

There's a quick way to downgrade Firefox, instead of running the downloaded setup file for the older version to reinstall it (which worked for me when I tried it):

  1. open the setup file using the free 7-Zip, and open the folder named "core"
  2. copy its contents (ie all folders etc inside the "core" folder, called "browser", "defaults" etc)
  3. paste the copied folders/files to overwrite the existing folders/files that are inside your Mozilla Firefox program folder - ie open your Firefox program folder, then paste the copied folders/files and overwrite existing files, but NB:
    1. you may want to backup the contents of the Firefox program folder first, ie copy and paste them elsewhere, before you try this, so you can copy/paste them back if anything goes wrong
    2. my Firefox program folder is at C:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox, yours may be in different location eg C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox - here's how to find your Firefox program installation folder

Important: ideally you should disable your network connection before downgrading Firefox, and turn off automatic updates (ie switch to "Never check for updates") on Firefox immediately after the downgrade when you re-open Firefox. Otherwise, it will just update itself back to a newer version of Firefox as soon as you launch your downgraded version!

Big red warning: downgrade and disable updates only at your own risk, because you'll lose the security updates rolled out in the later versions! Older versions are less secure. The next option, below, may therefore be a better bet.

Tip: if you don't manage to stop Firefox downloading an update at least partly, you can try this:

  1. close Firefox ASAP after you've turned off the automatic updates (disable that quickly!)
  2. delete the downloaded update files (here's where they are located). This worked for me and I was able to re-open Firefox without it trying to update itself.

I tried downgrading to 29 (from 29.0.1), but it still kept crashing or freezing and Session Manager wouldn't work properly again even after that, so I downgraded to 28. So far, that's still working, fingers crossed…

3. Download and use Firefox ESR (extended support release)

The ESR is intended for enterprises (there's even a portable version), but be warned that Mozilla try to discourage it for personal use!

The big advantage of ESR is that it gets all of Mozilla's security updates for Firefox: download ESR here. But it's effectively an older version of Firefox.

Now, I didn't test this to see if ESR keeps the existing Firefox settings, so you should take backup copy again just in case, but the trick above about copying over the contents of the "core" folder should work, if you don't want to do the full install procedure.

4. Give up on Firefox and switch to the Pale Moon browser!

I'm now exploring this option as I've had enough of Mozilla messing up the interface and functionality for people like me who have been loyal users of Firefox for years.

Pale Moon is an open source browser based on the same code as Firefox, which provides a tool for moving your settings etc over from Firefox, and so far all all my Firefox add-ons / extensions work! Please see my separate Pale Moon review and tips for more details. You can use both Pale Moon and Firefox at the same time, generally, so you don't lose anything if you try it.


With version 29, Mozilla changed the user interface of Firefox so as to make it near unusable. Also, I found that version 29.0.1 kept crashing and freezing (and not just because of Flash or Realplayer plugins!). Crash recovery (and indeed automatic periodic session saves) stopped working with Session Manager - which is extra bad when it's always crashing! That's why I had to spend hours getting my main browser to work again. And am now testing Pale Moon, which so far has been excellent.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Duck What?! Go

Spot the unfortunate typographical error or perhaps spellchecking mishap  in Netimperative's report on Apple's deal to let Safari users set privacy-preserving search engine Duck Duck Go as their default search engine…