In August, Facebook started rolling out the final version of its in-app browser on Android devices. This month, the new feature reached me, and it’s been a nuisance.
I’ll show you how to make Facebook open links in your external browser again and how to improve your Facebook News Feed reading habits.
Pros & Cons Of The In-App Browser
Chrome again turned out to be the best performing browser. This time on a Samsung Galaxy Note II running Android 4.4.2, Javelin and the in-app Facebook browser performed equally poor.
Now, even though Chrome is theoretically faster, an external browser takes over your screen and requires time to load; that’s a major downside. Javelin solves this issue by loading links in the background — more on that below.
What Facebook’s in-app browser lacks is sharing options. While you can share to Facebook, copy and save links, or open them in an external browser, those are all the options you have. I routinely share to Twitter and Slack, email links, or save them to Trello. The lack of comprehensive sharing options, in addition to forced waiting periods while pages are loading, made the in-app browser a no-go.
Of course, the in-app browser keeps you within Facebook, which is a plus if you don’t want to be distracted by anything other than Facebook. Seriously, that should not be your objective.
How Can I Disable The In-App Browser?
Do you find the in-app browser annoying? Fortunately, it’s quickly disabled.
Tap the Facebook menu icon in the top right, scroll down to Help & Settings, tap App Settings and enable the Always open links with external browser option. That’s it.
Next time you try to open a link, Facebook will ask you which app to use and you can pick your preferred browser. Click Always if you don’t want to choose every time. You can revoke the default by going to your device settings, switch to More, Application manager, select the default app you picked, and under Launch by default, tap the Clear defaults button.
Tips To Improve Your Facebook Reading Habits
Why do you even waste your time on Facebook? Probably because you want to see what your friends are up to or maybe because you are following some really cool pages. Generally, Facebook is a terrible source of official information, so keep those subscriptions low and switch to an RSS reader instead. Meanwhile, improve your Facebook reading habits with the following tips.
View The Most Recent Posts
Per default, Facebook will show you Top Stories. Essentially, this means they can prioritize posts for you any way they want. Consequently, you might unknowingly participate in a Facebook experiment. You’re smarter than that! Either use an alternative Facebook app or manually change your News Feed view.
On your desktop browser, you can simply bookmark a direct link to your Facebook News Feed sorted by date. On your Android device, switching to the Most Recent view is a bit of a chore. Tap the menu icon, scroll down to Feeds and tap Most Recent. You can also tap See All and choose another feed. The respective feed will be shown when you tap the menu icon, until you double-tap the icon and possibly until you restart Facebook.
Load Links In The Background
When you open Facebook, your goal should be to get through your News Feed as fast as possible. Don’t be distracted by external links and save those readings for later. The best way to do that, next to saving the links (a Facebook News Feed and in-app browser feature), is to open them in the background. What is a simple middle-mouse-click on your computer requires a dedicated app on Android.
Enter Javelin [No Longer Available], a browser that loads links in the background, while you continue scrolling through your feed. The Javelin icon can be moved around the screen, much like Facebook’s chat heads.
You can stack pages to the back by pulling them up, close them by pulling them down, and of course you can bookmark and share pages.
Prune Your News Feed
The best way to shorten time wasted on Facebook is to eliminate everything you don’t want to see from your News Feed. Unfollow friends or pages, add pages to your RSS reader instead, or tell Facebook you don’t want to see posts like this.
Apparently, Facebook has just released new ways to control what you see in your News Feed, but they haven’t rolled them out to me, yet.
Do You Spend Too Much Time On Facebook?
How often do you browse your News Feed and how long does it take you? Do you have any other tips to get through it faster?
If there’s anything we missed, please share it with fellow readers in the comments!