I Almost Switched to Chrome Today

My default browser is Firefox and has been for years. I’m not a Luddite. I have enough technical skill to customize my browser so it’s just the way I like it, but I prefer to keep my browsing options simple. For instance, I don’t use RSS readers. If I can’t go to a site on my own, then I probably don’t need the information anyway. So that’s where I am as a web user. I’m probably more internet savvy than the average Internet Explorer user, but I don’t want to do anything that resembles coding or become inundated with too much information.

I installed Google’s Chrome browser a few times over the past year or so, but the Adblock function was clunky and the zoom feature for magnifying pages didn’t remember the amount of zoom for each page, requiring a manual zoom every time. (I don’t like micro fonts.) I decided I wouldn’t try Chrome again until those issued were addressed.

FAVOURITE SITESThose issues have been addressed with the latest version of Chrome. So I imported my bookmarks and my tool bar from Firefox (can’t live without my buttons) and things were looking great. The transition was easy and painless.

But it wasn’t long before I noticed the absence of two features, and it’s a deal breaker for me.

Firefox saves my most visited sites in the address bar and allows me to access them instantly. Chrome doesn’t. In Firefox, I don’t even have to bookmark my most popular sites. I just click a little triangle at the end of the address bar and ten or so of my most frequented sites are listed. Then I easily click on the site I want to go to. This is a huge time saver for me.

SEARCHESThe other missing feature in Chrome is the easy installation and use of multiple search engines. I have about twenty search engines that I can access in Firefox with two clicks. Is that the case with Chrome? I don’t know, because I gave up when I was required to modify some URL code while trying to add a search engine to Chrome. Adding a search plugin to Firefox requires practically no technical skill, and that’s the way it should be. Chrome needs to simpify the installation and use of multiple search engines.

My latest trial of Chrome lasted for maybe fifteen minutes. It’s possible I didn’t give it enough time. If I’d poked around a little more, I may have discovered quick and easy methods for accessing my most visited sites and using multiple search engines. Any Chrome users who would like to enlighten me, please do so in the comments. I like the look and the speed of Chrome (it’s fast) and I’m willing to make the switch from Firefox. Just not yet. Google came this close. So close.

UPDATE (Feb. 23/11): Firefox has been extra slow lately, so I’m giving Chrome another try. The plugins Pender posted are useful. The recent history plugin (so far) does an okay job at mimicking Firefox, which speeds things up. The multiple search engine plugin is an improvement over Chrome’s default multiple search feature, but neither one of them outshines the under-rated Mycroft Project which makes setting up and selecting multiple search engines in Firefox a breeze.

In Firefox, I can look for a new search engine through Mycroft, then install it and use it in about 30 seconds. In Chrome, again, I would have to go to the website I want to search, do a search, copy the resulting URL into Chrome’s search engine manager, and then change the URL by replacing the search object inside the URL with this code: %s. All of that is asking too much for a general user (especially any kind of coding), and it would likely take me my lunch hour to do that with all the search engines I use on a regular basis. (Setting up the multiple search engine plugin requires the same amount of messing around, though it’s easier to use once it’s finally set up.)

And then actually using the multiple search engine feature in Chrome — I don’t see what all the fuss is about. It’s clever how the Omnibox anticipates the search and can recognize the specific search engine by a nickname, but is that any faster or easier than choosing a search engine from a drop-down box in Firefox and typing in the search? It also requires the user to remember all the installed search engines and their nicknames.

Chrome’s multiple search engine features are not an improvement over similar features available in Firefox, but I’m impressed with the enhancements Google has made to the browser so far. They’re getting there.

I’ll continue to test the browser, but further updates will show up in the comments.

About Phillip

Phillip Cairns is a beekeeper in St. John's, Newfoundland, who writes about beekeeping at mudsongs.org.

7 Replies to “I Almost Switched to Chrome Today”

  1. I’m a Ubuntu Linux user, and, like you, I’ve tried Chrome a number of times in the past, and just didn’t feel it had the maturity I was used to with Firefox.
    However, this last time I tried it, everything that bugged me was fixed, and, after sticking with it for a while, I’ve discovered add-ons that bring it easily up to what I was used to before.
    It’s the only browser I use now, and I love it. Way faster. I’m still learning what all it can do, and it keeps changing and improving.

  2. “I don’t use RSS readers. If I can’t go to a site on my own”

    That’s like taking the ringer out of your phone, then picking up the receiver every so often to see if someone is calling. You going to a website is no special effort over me going to reader.google. But it’s wasted effort if they haven’t posted anything new.

  3. That’s like taking the ringer out of your phone, then picking up the receiver every so often to see if someone is calling.

    The analogy isn’t accurate, but I like the idea, except I’d check my answering machine instead of picking up. A more accurate telephone analogy is: Don’t call me, I’ll call you.

    You going to a website is no special effort over me going to reader.google.

    It depends on how much information you need to keep tabs on. It takes much less effort for me to visit a few select websites than it does to scan through every new item in reader.google where I would inevitably take track of more websites, and then I’d probably check the reader every hour or so.

  4. I almost switched to Chrome again today. I haven’t uninstalled it yet. I’ll give it a few days, though I’m not sold on it yet. You can check my latest update to the post for my reasons. They’re getting even closer now, though.

  5. I haven’t uninstalled Chrome yet. I used it for most of the day yesterday and I had no major problems with it. But I noticed a short coming when I started writing up a longer blog post:

    The spell checker doesn’t recognize misspelled words as well as Firefox. For instance, Chrome doesn’t offer the correct spelling of this word that I spell wrong just about every time I try to spell it: Beurocrat. Firefox gets it right away: Bureaucrat. Bad spellers are better off with Firefox. (That’s me.)

    The other major drawback for me is still the absence of an easy to use multiple search engine. Setting up each individual search engine in Chrome is a pain. That process needs to be completely overhauled. Even if a user has the patience to go through the cumbersome process of setting up each search engine, actually using them is still not that fast or simple. The “Search Box” plugin comes close to matching Firefox, but not quite, especially for a large number of search engines, and setting up each individual search engine is still a pain. Firefox is the superior choice for multiple search engines.

    I would probably switch to Chrome if it wasn’t for these shortcomings. It’s no more complicated to use than Firefox, it’s got some impressive plugins that are actually useful, and it does seem to load pages faster than Firefox (most of the time).

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