Which web browser are you using to read this? If you’re using your computer’s default browser, like Internet Explorer for Windows or Safari for Macs, you might want to expand your horizons.
There are other browsers that have features you might like more, such as a better interface, more security, extensions and such. The good news is they’re free. So, take your time experimenting with browsers to find the one you like best.
This is a good time to experiment. Microsoft is gradually moving away from IE to Microsoft Edge. Edge loads pages faster than IE and it has pretty cool features that IE doesn’t, like the voice-activated personal assistant, Cortana, and Web Note (more on that in a minute).
Edge has its downsides, though. It’s had a tough time keeping your ID protected. And it doesn’t have browser extensions, like the ones you’re probably using on Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
So, which browser is right for you? Keep reading for brief overviews of some of the most popular options. You’ll find one you love.
Note: If you don’t know which browser you’re using, the site What Browser Am I Using? will tell you. It’ll also let you know if you’re using the newest version of that browser. That’s important because most web browsers regularly issue updates and security patches, so you’ll want to use the newest one.
Google Chrome, which forecasters predict will overtake Internet Explorer as the world’s most-used browser this year, has a few key features that may convince you to switch over, too, if you haven’t. Google Chrome consistently ranks as one of the fastest browsers around. It also has a clean, minimal interface that shows you more of the sites you visit.
Chrome also lets you use extensions, which are programs to help you customize your web surfing. You can also sync your desktop bookmarks to your smartphone with the Google Chrome app.
If you’re a long-time internet user, at some point you were using Internet Explorer. Maybe you still are using it. IE is the Microsoft Web browser that’s been around a couple of decades. And it shows.
These days, IE alternatives like Chrome are quickly becoming more popular. Why? Because Chrome, Firefox, and other web browsers tend to be faster and more secure than IE. Which is why Microsoft has been moving away from IE. It recently discontinued support for some versions of it, and last year it launched Microsoft Edge (more on that in a second).
Still, a substantial chunk (11 percent) of web users still use IE. The browser is functional, familiar, and Microsoft still supports it with updates and security patches. Microsoft hasn’t set a date for phasing out IE but the current version will be its last.
Microsoft Edge is meant to be a modern web browser that’s faster and safer than its Internet Explorer and has functionality more in line with Chrome and Firefox. Note: Edge was created for Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system.
Although Edge has a few shortcomings, notably privacy issues and the lack of extensions, there are several reasons to sign up. (It’s a free download, so there’s no harm in experimenting.)
Edge often loads websites faster than IE and other browsers. Plus, if you’d rather not type, you can search the web by speaking to Microsoft’s voice-activated virtual assistant, Cortana.
You can highlight words on Edge with a virtual highlighter pen and use Web Note to write notes on it (as long as you’re using a touchscreen). Reading List is Edge’s beefed-up bookmark. You can save sites that you’re reading, or want to read later, in a sidebar. It’s not just a list of websites, though. It’s a list with photos and descriptions that you can access from any device if you have a free Microsoft account.
Additionally, with the release of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update last year, Microsoft finally rolled out extension support for its Edge browser, making it more competitive with products like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
Mozilla Firefox is another web browser that’s fast and secure and is known for being highly customizable. There are more than 100,000 add-ons to tailor the program to fit your needs.
Firefox was one of the first browsers to incorporate tabbed browsing. Because it’s open-source, it’s constantly being updated and improved by both developers and users alike.
Firefox also has a mobile version for Android and iOS devices. You can sync bookmarks and open tabs from the desktop version.
Firefox is always being updated, so you don’t have to worry about it lagging behind. That means the security is also being upgraded, so your browsing will stay protected.
Opera has been around for a very long time, but it’s flown under the radar for the most part. That’s a shame. Opera has a good track record for security against malicious software. It also has excellent speed. In fact, Opera says it’s now 45 percent faster than Chrome.
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