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Given that 30% of Make Use Of readers are non-Firefox users What's your Browser of Choice ? [Poll] What's your Browser of Choice ? [Poll] Read More we decided a short time back to branch out a little and give some more exposure to alternative browsers. In fact you may have noticed recently Jason’s couple of articles on Safari The two week Safari challenge The two week Safari challenge Read More , Mark’s on Opera Taking a closer look at the Opera Browser Taking a closer look at the Opera Browser Read More and Tina’s on Flock What the Flock - the Social Browser Revolution What the Flock - the Social Browser Revolution Read More .

Now its time for a look at the browser you may never have heard of : Maxthon .

What is Maxthon?

Maxthon is an award winning browser.

I’d never actually used Maxthon before giving it a test drive a few days before this review. In fact of the reported downloads – 55 million – the majority has been in China meaning Maxthon is still relatively unknown amongst the English speaking internet users.

Maxthon is Internet Explorer. It began as an extension of Internet Explorer, and although a browser in its own right it still uses the same rendering engine. I say this now because I know many of you, being Firefox users, will become fairly unreceptive to adopting this as an alternative Web browser.

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That out of the way, I think you will still find that Maxthon has some pretty handy features.

First Impressions:

Maxthon is ugly.

Yeah I know, aesthetics probably shouldn’t be that important, but frankly Maxthon has possibly the ugliest interface of the other four browsers. (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera and Safari)

The theme looks like it has tried to be ‘smooth’ or ‘streamlined’, but fails miserably. Whatever the case it doesn’t work and there’s currently not much selection in the way of downloadable themes which provide much of an improvement to the interface.


Maxthon has solid performance and is noticeably faster then IE7 and Firefox for basic tasks such as loading, opening new tabs and navigating between them. I would imagine actual page loading speed to be just the same as Internet Explorer.


Maxthon has a lot of features. However this doesn’t seem to be much of a selling point these days due to the ability Firefox users have of downloading just about anything and adding it to their browser.

That said, most internet users will never download an extension even once and simply use a browser as it comes. Maxthon is aimed at that audience and does a good job of incorporating a wide range of features which make the user experience an easier one.

Here are a couple which I particularly liked.

Screen Capture :

Maxthon comes with a decent screen capturing tool available through the tools menu. Thinking ahead, the Maxthon team has created a keypad shortcut for the ‘Capture Region’ option which is the one people are likely to use the most.

Magic Fill

I really liked this one.

With Magic Fill you can save any number of online identities and all the associated details. You could have one identity with fake details for signing up to forums or other websites where spam may be a risk. You can save another identity containing real details for when you wish to use those. And of course, like all the browsers, Maxthon also saves username and password details for websites automatically.

Multisearch :

I think this is one of the best features of Maxthon. You can customize and import the search engines you wish to use, then after a search you can rapidly flick between them to compare results – this is especially useful for image searches.

Digg Integration

A simplified Digg service is incorporated into the sidebar. If you are a heavy Digg user then you may like keeping an eye on this and watching the latest popular stories as they appear.

Maxthon also provides built in support for your bookmarks in the sidebar. Through a toolbar button in the top right hand corner you can tag pages, access your bookmarks, change settings and access all the other features.

Maxthon provides a lot more features and options for customization. In fact any toolbar or button can be moved, dragged or modified. Unfortunately however it’s also one of the negative points as many useful tools are fairly inaccessible or hidden away. It’s a pity because there are a lot of really good ideas here, but not enough to make me change browsers.

If as a Maxthon user you think this review to be overly negative then feel free to fire off in the comments below. Tell us why you chose this browser over the alternatives.

  1. firs73
    February 1, 2009 at 8:52 am

    I love Maxthon!No ff,no Op*ra.

  2. ©LarryEº
    January 31, 2009 at 7:54 am

    Zachary Francis, a workaround for that problem of the new page is to Copy the URL to your home page to your clipboard and then Right click on the New Page icon to open your Home Page instead of a blank page.

  3. Zachary Francis
    January 22, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    But Maxthon2 has a serious issue that many have complained about in threads at the Maxthon forum over the past two years, but Maxthon seems to not be getting the message. When you click New to open a new tab, a blank tab is opened instead of your Google home page, which necessitates another click on the Home button - the extra clicks become a nuisance over time. If you configure, your Maxthon home toolbar button to open up new home page tabs, your home button loses the function of taking an opened tab back to your home page. Frustrating. None of the other browsers have this blindspot. All offer the DEFAULT option of having a new tab open either your home page or a blank page. That makes perfect sense. Maxthon Classic has the option, but Maxthon2 does not.

  4. KodrutZ
    January 11, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Humm... Laurence, do you like to make a fool of yourself? How can you say "I didn’t use Maxthon for long… a couple days to be honest, and so there are obviously a lot more features then I realised… and a lot more people use it then a realised too!," when it takes 20 minutes the most to go through the program's menus?

    Even more, most outstanding features appear right inside the Maxthon Setup Center, which is a unique and great feature by itself, so...

  5. Devicepedia
    October 30, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    Still its firefox for me because of its useful plug-ins.

  6. ALF
    September 2, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Maxthon has way more advances than Firefox but we're sorta comparing apples and oranges. Why should we have to decide? Is there a reason why to not have both handy?

  7. pillainp
    July 26, 2008 at 1:50 am

    Don't forget the File Sniffer, which lists all files on a page, and you can select and download those you want.

    Flawless integration with Flashget and other third party download managers.

    Switch between IE Trident and Mozilla Gecko engines.

    Ability to lock and rename (Sticky Name) tabs.

    Built in popup and ad blocker.

    A lot of other stuff, too, which I can't remember offhand

    Oh, and probably my favorite single feature --- The ability to group your favorite sites together (in Groups), so that you can open all of them together in one click. For example, if you regularly visit certain news sites, place them in a Group. Then you just click on the Group name, and they all open at the same time, each in a separate tab.

    Each of these built in features in Maxthon 2 is a separate extension in Firefox, that requires you to find and install it. In most instances, no extension even exists that gives Firefox similar features.

  8. Kiril
    June 5, 2008 at 6:11 am

    ugly - first see the disproportionate buttons of the pretty and slow FF 3

  9. L.L. Moorloch
    May 26, 2008 at 1:42 am

    Laurence, your review of Maxthon is very good -- as far as it goes. But as some others have already notice, you left out some features that would, for me, be deal breakers in trying to decide between Maxthon and any other browser. Here are just a few:

    * Split screen. I can have two different sites on my screen at the same time, perfect for comparing one set of facts to another.

    * Detachable tabs. Split screen not enough for you? Then detach a third screen and move it off to the side. (This is really great if you're using two monitors.) The detached screen remains unchanged as you manipulate things on the other two. If three aren't enough open screens for you, there's a plug-in that lets you have an array of active screens--as many as you like, or can still read. (But that's a plug-in and I'm trying to stick to stuff that's built into Maxthon, and is working straight out of the box.)

    * Automatic refresh. You can choose to have any tab, or tabs, refresh automatically as frequently as you like.

    * Select tabs from last session. Set up Maxthon so that the next time you launch it, you're presented a menu of the sties you had open when you quit previously. A few qulick clicks tell Maxthon which ones to open again.

    * Language translation., Don't speak Portuguese? Is your Russian a little Rusty? Do you stare at Chinese characters wondering how they could possibly work? No problemo, as they say in highly cultured Spanish. Two or three clicks brings up a menu for translating a word or an entire page to English from more than a dozen languages. Sorry, no Klingon.

    * Snippet collector. I have to ageree with you, Laurence, that some of the best things in Maxthon are stealth features, hidden in obscure places. Snippet collector is one of them. With it you can surf through many pages, selecting text here and there and saving it to one long collection for use later.

    And as for ugly, all I can say to you, Laurence, that's it's not nice to write about software's ugliness -- particulary when it has hundres of skins, some of which are quite beautiful, and the most customizable interface you'll find in a browser, allowing you to create your ownimage of a beautiful program.

    But do feel free to come back and check out Maxthon some more. Ths time, though, do tarry a bit.

    Nom de conduite d'acclamation (Look it up. ... Oh, that's right. You don't have a browser that translates.)

    • Laurence John
      May 26, 2008 at 8:56 am

      Thanks for your comment!

      It's true... I didn't use Maxthon for long... a couple days to be honest, and so there are obviously a lot more features then I realised... and a lot more people use it then a realised too!

      I guess I was enamored with Flock at time of writing, haha, next time ill test drive for longer...

  10. girsh
    May 25, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    dere's no better then OPERA.

    i have used Safari for Windows, Maxthon, Firefox, IE 5 - 6 - 7 - 8, Opera, but surely OPERA Rocks.

    Hey Bloody Firefox Userz, try the unlimited usability of opera goto its website and check the thing thay provide it with...

    i am sure once insatllyed u'll lik it.

  11. Nxqd3051990
    May 23, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    Ugly one ? I don't think so :)
    I still prefer Firefox and Opera ;)

  12. xcorat
    May 23, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    I am using maxthon and firefox. The good thing is that maxthon is faster, waaaay faster if you compare somthing like google search. also, good background link loading has made it even faster than Firefox3.
    And it has a plethora of features built in. and as another comment mentioned, firefox gets slower with addons. and maxthon, with most of the stuff built in, is still faster. Gestures feature is awsom, you dont need to go to the navigation toolbar anymore. Screen capture,(FF has as n addon)- great, File sniffer - very useful, quick split windows - wish firefox had it, and the best of all, user profile support. now you can let your browser remember your passwords without worrying your sister will peek at your mail.(lol) and its built in after all.

    But the next thing is, IE sucks..!!!!! hence Maxthon sucks too. the rendering engine is a tad bit slow, but the main problem is web standards compliance. Like IE it will not reproduce the web page accurately if its written according to web standards, but for IE specifically. Thats the main reason im still using FF3. a better rendering of a web page is very important as well.

    btw, check this out.

  13. Sherri
    May 23, 2008 at 6:54 am

    "Maxthon is ugly...Yeah I know, aesthetics probably shouldn’t be that important"

    Aesthetics aren't that important? Then why aren't we all using command line browsers? Why is skinning so widespread? Sure, a properly coded browser is more important than a pretty one that doesn't work, but if two browsers both worked equally, I'd pick the nicer looking one.

  14. Transcontinental
    May 23, 2008 at 6:14 am

    As an IE-engined alternative to IE, I'd rather suggest Avant Browser, its eternal competitor, which I found to be faster, smoother, smarter than Maxthon. It's like Pepsi verses Coca. I prefer Pepsi !
    Anyway, that was a long time ago. From here in Firefox, bubbled like Champ, I always have the feeling of being privileged, why is that ?!

  15. Beamsit
    May 23, 2008 at 4:40 am

    You never mentioned how you can go 'back' and 'forward' using the mouse, or how it will show the amount of memory being used, or how it will automatically place bookmarks of your most frequented sites on the start page. It will also automatically store all your bookmarks in cyberspace and sync them. I think maxthon is a great browser!

  16. Net Bruce Lee
    May 23, 2008 at 3:22 am

    Maxthon become Addware/Spyware, with lot's of permanent suspicious connections to chinese servers through standby or download mode. Also change every original download source to some crap source from china. Lot's of Popups, Adds are hidden in maxthon.exe. ETC......

    • L.L. Moorloch
      May 26, 2008 at 12:14 am

      What Net Bruce Lee says about purported ads, pop-ups, spyware, and swapped download sources in Maxthon are the result of Net Bruce confusing Maxthon with another browser, using hallucinogens, or downright lies. Maxthon has no adware or spyware, the only pop-up is the News pop-up used to announce things such as a new version of Maxthon being available (and you can turn it off completely). Net Bruce's complaint about Maxthon changing "download sources to some crap source from china" may be honest confusion because Maxthon sizzling download manager, which uses multiple threads to slice dramatically the time to download a file, also uses a Chinese file server that is one of the largest and fastest in the world. But it doesn't, as Net Bruce suggests, answer your request for a program in English with one using Mandarin.

      I don't know why Net Bruce is spewing forth such malicious fantasy, but judge for yourself what Maxthon's like by downloading it at


  17. liyo
    May 23, 2008 at 12:21 am

    That's all? What about Split view, the History section, File snifer, Groups, online favorites, CPU saving mode, Web Accelerator, Max Website Booster, Maxthon Guardian, etc etc etc etc etc

    • Laurence
      May 23, 2008 at 3:07 am

      The features i mentioned where the ones that you notice initially. If Maxthon manages to interest you enough to keep using then with time then I'm sure you would discover all those other features you mentioned. Thats also why I concluded with:

      "Unfortunately however it’s also one of the negative points as many useful tools are fairly inaccessible or hidden away. It’s a pity because there are a lot of really good ideas here, but not enough to make me change browsers."

  18. jagdesh
    May 23, 2008 at 12:14 am

    i have tried using maxthon browser before.It was ok but I stil prefer firefox

  19. Ellie
    May 22, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    I really like Maxthon. It's fast, easy to use and ugly! (I love ugly software!)

    Firefox extensions are great, but they can slow down the browser tremendously.

  20. Andie
    May 22, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Maxthon has lots of skins... really nice skins, better than any firefox skin.

    - but as a mac user i can't say i like it using the same IE engine.


  21. John Doe
    May 22, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    I think once you get used to Maxthon, the rest sux..

  22. abc
    May 22, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    You may try the "no window frame" mode.

    The default skin was made with the "no window frame" mode in mind, which was the default interface layout. If you prefer keeping the window frame, you may try other skins or different interface styles, such as "XP Native"

    The Digg and Delicious sidebar actually are not Maxthon integrated features, but plugins (or extensions in Firefox's Terminology). While not as much as Firefox extensions, Maxthon has over 1000 plugins for various feature extensions.

    BTW, 55 million downloads was the count some 2 years ago. The downloads count from official site and mirror is approx 150 million now.

  23. Robert M
    May 22, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    You may want to look at the Flock browser.

    Built from the same Mozilla engine of Firefox so most extensions work, but for the most part a lot of them are not needed. The Beta just added Digg and AOL Email. They have twitter, facebook, and many others all integrated in to the browser. A lot of your review covered those same Web 2.0 things. While it does not have the screen captures, it does have a lot to look at for now.

  24. alfred
    May 22, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    I think once you go to firefox the rest is just going to suck...

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