I did it. About a week ago, I took the plunge. I made Google Chrome my default browser, and now do almost everything within Chrome. I do miss Firefox every once in a while (after all, we were in a relationship for quite a while, and over a number of version changes), but I’m glad I’ve moved on.
Chrome is only getting better – rolling out more features, making existing features work even better, and generally getting faster and awesome-er.
Here are the six reasons that ultimately lead me to checking that “make Chrome my default browser” button:
(1) One Tab, One Process
My biggest issue with Firefox was always that it’s a memory hog. Leave it open overnight, and suddenly it’s taking up 400MB of RAM. That’s a lot of RAM. The only solution would be to close Firefox, and restart it – either losing all my tabs, or waiting approximately 19.5 hours for them all to open again.
Chrome’s better – each individual tab runs as its own process in Windows Explorer. There’s a task manager within Chrome that lets you see which, if any, tabs are using tons of memory, and close just that one. Similarly, if a tab crashes, you’ll be able to just close that one tab, rather than having to close Firefox entirely. With Chrome, browsers don’t crash: pages do. That’s a huge plus.
(2) One Box, Many Searches
With the address bar in Chrome, you can do a ridiculous number of things: search your history, do site-specific search (by typing a domain and then Tab), search Google, or get suggestions based on your browsing history. To search just about anything within Chrome, type Control+L and then whatever you’re looking for. Chrome’ll find it.
(3) Better Downloader
Firefox’s native download manager is awful – it’s a new window, doesn’t make finding documents easy, and does a bad job of showing you what’s downloading without lots of hunting. In Chrome, when you start a download, it just starts. There’s a status bar at the bottom of the page, and you can easily click to open the file, or right-click to do a number of other things with it. Though there are Firefox extensions to mirror the functionality Chrome has, I’d rather have it native – plus, Chrome’s is better anyway.
(4) The New Tab Page
Every time you open a new Tab in Chrome, you’re presented with a page full of possibilities. There’s a list of recently-closed tabs, in case you closed one by accident. There’s a box to search your history, in case you forgot the site you want to get back to. There’s a list of recent bookmarks, for some reason that I never really figured out. And, best of all, there’s a list of sites you visit most – easy access to your top 9 sites is pretty great – not to mention sad that addictinggames.com makes my list.
But that’s beside the point. There’s a ton you can do quickly and easily, right from the second you open a new tab in Chrome. Again, there are Firefox extensions that do some of these things, and the new build of Firefox promises a similar new tab page, but I’ll stick with Chrome.
(5) Application Shortcuts
Ultimately, this was the feature that sold me on Chrome: the ability to turn single sites into standalone applications. Now Gmail, Google Calendar, and Remember the Milk each have their own application that can be launched from the desktop, lives in its own window without a nav-bar, and looks and feels just like a desktop app. Click on a link, and you’re taken to a new tab in Chrome, so your page always stays open. That, plus Chrome’s great use of Google Gears, means your calendar, email, tasks and more can be available online and off as desktop apps.
(6) Tab Around
This one’s not as big a deal as the others, but I think it’s pretty fantastic: Tabs are incredibly easy to manipulate in Chrome. You can pull a tab out to make it its own window, or pull one back in to consolidate your browsing. You can even – I just discovered this – drag a Firefox tab into Chrome and it’ll load right there! If you’re reading this in Firefox, try it. I’ll wait.
Awesome, right? All over Chrome, tabs are easy to move around, open and close, and they live at the top of the page which makes them even easier to find and use.
To put it simply, Chrome is faster and smarter than Firefox. I liked Firefox a lot, but Chrome seems to get how I intuitively want to use a browser. I can’t switch permanently until Chrome has extensions, or at least functional Greasemonkey support; for my regular browsing, though, Chrome’s the clear winner.
What’s your browser of choice? Why?