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replying to myself: one more way apple simply makes better software: safari offers a simple reset option that seems to reset all browser settings. Now, this doesn't help in the case of a user not understanding what went wrong, but I can tell someone over the phone "click on safari -> reset safari" far more easily than walking someone through deleting a firefox profile while saving bookmarks or reinstalling firefox and creating a new profile. I don't like safari as a browser, but it's to apple's credit that they offer this simple option so I tell my mother / mother-in-law to just click reset if the internet is weird.

A novice was trying to fix a broken Lisp machine by turning the power off and on. Knight, seeing what the student was doing spoke sternly – “You can not fix a machine by just power-cycling it with no understanding of what is going wrong.”

Knight turned the machine off and on.

The machine worked. [http://planetvermont.com/v9n2/machine.html]

In firefox, go to "about:support", "reset firefox." Probably not exactly the same (and it's not exposed as easily) but it's there.

'about:support' is also accessible via Help->Troubleshooting Information.

thank you

Internet Explorer also has these reset buttons

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