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In praise of Google Chrome

I've been a Firefox user for years. But over the weekend, I finally tried out Google's Chrome browser. And I'm not going back.

It's not just that Chrome is, as advertised, a lot faster than Firefox. It's that in certain, crucial ways, it's more intelligent than Firefox. For one thing, it can sync across computers. For someone, like me, who switches between home and work computers multiple times in a single day, that's a huge help.

But the bigger difference is the tabs. I use a lot of tabs. That's in part because I have a lot of windows open. I've got articles I'm reading, articles I want to read, and articles I have read but still want to blog. And beyond them, I always have at least six windows open: Gmail, Google Reader, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Twitter and Movable Type.

I'm probably not alone in keeping a fixed group of "home-base" tabs open at all times. And Chrome is the first browser I've used that's designed with my home row in mind. Chrome allows you to "pin" your home-base tabs, collapsing them so they take less room and fixing their position:

chrometabs.jpg

New tabs open to the immediate right of all the pinned tabs (as you can see with "Chasing Fox"), which keeps my row from getting mucked up every time I open a new page. None of this is a huge deal, but for a heavy user of tabs like me, it's a real improvement, and enough to get me to switch.

By Ezra Klein  | October 4, 2010; 1:21 PM ET
Categories:  Tech  
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Comments

Do you know of a Chrome equivalent of NoScript?

http://noscript.net/

Posted by: jnc4p | October 4, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Chrome is hands down, the best, BUT, how do you get the layout shown in your post? I've looked everywhere in Chrome Help and can't find it.
Thanks, and thanks for your fine blog.

Posted by: PeterA1 | October 4, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Why make such a rash decision? You may want to read what I am about to write, and Google Chrome's privacy policy before you actually commit to that decision.

Firefox 4 is about to come out, which gives users the ability to pin tabs, and includes something called Tab Candy. Tab Candy is *THE* answer to all of our tab-related issues. It allows users to group tabs for viewing later, bring up grouped tabs all at the same time (like the Morning Coffee plugin). There is also a plugin available for the current version of Firefox that allows you to pin tabs.

Firefox 4 will natively enable users to sync all information across platforms, including cell phones, and your home/work computers. In the current version of Firefox, there are two plugins which achieve this goal Firefox Sync (same as what is in Firefox 4) and X-Marks. The only difference is that Firefox Sync is included out-of-the-box in Firefox 4.

You decision was a bit hasty! A little research would have revealed that you can already pin tabs and sync information within the current version of Firefox.

Posted by: rescuetruth | October 4, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

You can do all the described things in Firefox.

Firefox's Sync handles bookmarks, just like Chrome's Sync. [Although I've long been using xmarks (http://xmarks.com) for cross-browser syncronization. Hopefully it'll survive.]

The FaviconizeTab extension is similar to Chrome's Pin.

For those of you with a wide screen (pretty much all of us), check out the "TabKit" extension and use its default "Tree" view.

Chrome is nice, I regularly use it as an auxiliary/back-up browser. But I'm keeping Firefox as my default because it's the most-used "standard" among web enthusiasts; there are more 'off-the-shelf' extensions, tips, and tricks available.

Posted by: gherald | October 4, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

The privacy stuff about Chrome bugs me, and there's no "Live Bookmarks" in Chrome (that I know of) ... even though those destroy my productivity @ work.

"For someone, like me, who switches between home and work computers multiple times in a single day, that's a huge help."

If you sync stuff between work/home/cell phone, check out friendpaste.com. It's made for programmers, but I keep a text file of things to do synced between computers/cell phones by bookmarking a list. It's a whole lot quicker than apps ("Remember the Milk," etc) or whatnot.

Posted by: Chris_ | October 4, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, what they said, Firefox can do all the stuff Chrome does, and it isn't as big a security hazard...although it isn't perfect. I have had to uninstall Chrome among my users, and it so messes up URL connections in Outlook that I have to fix registry entries.

Down with Google Chrome.

Posted by: carolcarre | October 4, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

The best thing about chrome is the process model, where renderers, plugins, extensions and the like run in separate processes on the machine (instead of just threads), so that one can die or be killed manually without killing the rest.

Keep an eye on the chrome blog, ctrl-shift-v in gmail is a good tip. Good tips- here are some recommended extensions for Mac/Win.

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/07/use-chrome-like-pro.html
http://chrome.blogspot.com/2010/09/use-chrome-like-pro-now-for-mac.html

Posted by: staticvars | October 4, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

@ PeterA1: right click on the tab and choose "pin tab" for any of your key tabs.

@ the Firefox fans... I have nothing against Firefox, but the problem with the whole "you can do everything in Firefox" deal is that most of that you have to use extensions to do and all of those extensions eventually serve to slow the whole experience down. In my experience Chrome just feels cleaner and faster so I've hardly even bothered to explore the extensions. To each his/her own though.

Posted by: tcjutras | October 4, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I like both Chrome and Firefox. But having switched to Chrome from Firefox for a long while, I am now back to Firefox. Firefox 4 beta is a thing of beauty. It has tab grouping, tab pinning (you could of course do all this with the current version of Firefox with a few extension), it gets rid of the menu bar and the status bar, and adds a progress bar to the awesome bar (address bar). And so far, for the sites I visit, I have found it as fast or faster than Chrome.

I don't think Chrome sucks - I actually still use it time to time. I just think the upcoming version of Firefox is better.

Posted by: thepeoplesview | October 4, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

The Chrome vs. FF competition is good for browser users. Chrome is terrific but still bleeding edge. It won't be long until Chrome matches FF in stability and security given the speed Google is updating their browser. For those looking to add extensions, see
https://chrome.google.com/extensions

Posted by: tuber | October 4, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I rather like Chrome as well, and changed many moons ago after years of Firefox use.

Posted by: MosBen | October 4, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

There is a chrome version of NoScript called NotScripts. However, I found that it was somewhat unstable and frequently broke.

https://chrome.google.com/extensions/detail/odjhifogjcknibkahlpidmdajjpkkcfn

I'd love to move to Chromium, but I have a high resolution screen that sits pretty far away from me. That means I need big fonts. Having to ctrl-+ a couple times on every new tab sucks, and there still wasn't a functional minimum font size. I did find a mod called Zoomy that does a decent job with a default zoom, but it breaks hover-over and other in-page popup elements, which I need for webapps.

Firefox also have the absolutely brilliant TabKit mod. This is the best mod ever made for dealing with many tabs. It includes rows, grouping, coloring, and even search.

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/5447/

Posted by: wpost15 | October 4, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Been using every FF 4 beta, and find Chrome to be noticeably faster still, and updated / advancing more quickly.

I'd prefer to love FF.

Posted by: AZProgressive | October 4, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Ummm, if you use gmail? Have you noticed how all the ads are targeted according to the content of your email? As in, every word you type is scanned, digested, regurgitated and then follows you around? Maybe forever?

I mean, how can you on the one hand get all worked up over the Roberts Court deciding that a pedophile's request for a lawyer doesn't mean he can hide behind Miranda forever and then calmly turn your entire life over to Google? Cognitive Dissonance or what?

Not that I don't love Google. I do love Google. I don't know how I lived before Google. But Google and Gmail and Chrome....why don't you just stick a webcam on your forehead 24 hours a day and stream the video live?

Posted by: bgmma50 | October 4, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

@bgmma50: Look up Chromium. It's the open source software that Chrome is based on, but without the google branding and tracking.

Posted by: wpost15 | October 4, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Actually, using a lot of tabs is the reason I DON'T use Chrome. Once you get past 15 (non pinned) tabs, the tabs get so tiny you have no idea what they are.

With FF, you can use TabMix Plus which allows you to have multiple rows of tabs. The TMP beta even works with the "tabs on top" feature of the FF 4 beta.

Unfortunately, FF4 is running very slow for me these days. Can't have everything I suppose.

Posted by: nomadwolf | October 5, 2010 12:28 AM | Report abuse

I went with Chrome for awhile but switched back to Firefox because of the plugin ecosystem -e.g. NoScript. I use 13 addons. It is not just gadget love. It keeps my system safer from malware.

Posted by: mminka | October 5, 2010 1:45 AM | Report abuse

Chrome has a lot of advantages. It has a lot of disadvantages too.

I liked the fact that it loaded about 10 times faster than Firefox, which seems to want to check for updates on itself and every add on before it lets me do any work.

However, Chrome only uses Google Docs for viewing Office and PDF files. I don't like that because Google Docs does not support all the features of Word. In particular, I have yet to see it display an equation at all. This is the kiss of death for a scientist. I would prefer to use my own external programs as viewers but Chrome does not support choice. You must stay within the Google ecosystem.

By the way, everything you mention can be done with Firefox.

Posted by: pj_camp | October 5, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

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