firefox-logo-onlyI usually upgrade to the newest version of Firefox, currently 3.5.2, as soon as it becomes available. In the last week or so I noticed that certain web forms with text boxes begun to display very odd characters regardless of what I was typing. I could copy this text and paste it into notepad and it looked just fine. Paste it back into the text box and still the odd characters. I knew it was related to character encoding on the page, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to fix it.

Firefox has a setting that allows you to override what fonts are used on websites, but in addition to fixing the issue it made all of the pages look like garbage. I started to dig into the about:config settings for this particular install of Firefox since it was the only one suffering from this issue. I compared all of the charset settings to a working install on another computer and found the setting that fixed the issue for me.

If you type “about:config” in your address bar and accept the warning you’ll see a massive list of settings. It’s usually not a good idea to mess with these unless you know what you are doing. We do so we are going to fix this.

In the filter box type “charsetmenu” and press enter. You are looking for the setting with Preference Name “intl.charsetmenu.browser.cache”. My non-working install it had a value of “UTF-16, windows-1252, windows-1250” for this preference while my working install had this value “ISO-8859-15, ISO-8859-1, UTF-8, us-ascii, windows-1252”. I just copied the value from my working system to the non-working one and I was back up and running.

I honestly can’t figure out what setting would have changed this in the Options menu of Firefox, but it was denoted as a “user set” under the status field so it obviously was set somehow and set to a value that was goofing up my character encoding. Hopefully if you are seeing this same problem, and chances are that you aren’t, that this helps fix the problem for you because it was getting seriously annoying.