Q: Google Chrome crashes regularly on my laptop now. Is there another browser I should replace it with?
A: We’ve had that happen before too, after an upgrade, and the only fix was to completely uninstall Chrome (through the control panel) and then re-install. Since the browser syncs all your bookmarks, settings, and auto-complete fields to your Google account, we didn’t really lose anything in the process, except time.
If you’re in the mood for a change anyway, check out Opera’s fun “concept browser” called Neon (opera.com/neon). The look-and-feel is even more minimal than Chrome – the background window is transparent and shows your desktop wallpaper until you open a page. Bookmark icons appear as bubbles floating over the background, and a cropping tool lets you grab pictures or partial screenshots of a page to store in a built-in gallery.
The same sidebar also gives you quick access to media files from recent tabs, so if you normally keep a dedicated tab open to play music from Soundcloud or YouTube, now you can just use the built-in player to stop and start the music without leaving the page you’re currently browsing. And if all the new interface features are too much for you to handle, there are always the traditional menu options in the bottom left corner.
Looking for more features missing than the mainstream browsers have? Try out Vivaldi (vivaldi.com). It was started a few years back by the original CEO of Opera Software (which made the aforementioned Neon). Vivaldi lets you tweak almost any imaginable setting, from the location of the tabs and address bar to the keyboard shortcuts and mouse gestures (a cool feature in older versions of Opera).
Vivaldi also has a built-in screenshot-capturing tool as well as the ability to store notes and links along with each page, in case you want to remember a quote, recipe, or code snippet for later. And in recognition of the fact that most of us keep 1200 tabs open at any one time, Vivaldi lets you stack related tabs on top of one another to free up space in the tab bar and even tile related tabs side-by-side or in a grid so you can see multiple pages at once. Now you can waste time at work twice as fast!
Before we hop off the Opera train, their current version (at opera.com) includes a built-in VPN for better privacy protection (just about every site on the web tracks something about you nowadays) and safer browsing on public networks (like in a coffee shop or airport). It also sports a built-in ad blocker – no need to install an extension for that – and a battery-saving mode, which pauses media and plugins in background tabs to give you up to an extra hour of battery life.
Another popular alternative browser is Maxthon (maxthon.com), which has been around since 2003. Their aim is to “upgrade your browser to an information assistant” which they do by building in Evernote-like features. You can grab just the parts of a page that interest you and then make those available for later offline viewing or share them to your phone or tablet.
There’s also a built-in password manager, similar to LastPass (lastpass.com), that will auto-generate secure passwords for you in addition to remembering them so you don’t have to. And a “shadow mail” feature lets you provide a fake email address to any site that requires your email during sign-up but later sends you spam.
If you do most of your browsing on a phone or tablet, try Dolphin (dolphin.com) – most of the features it has are also available in mobile Chrome or mobile Firefox, but its focus on speed has made it a stand-out in recent years.
Going back to the desktop…as much as we hate to admit it, the latest incarnation of Microsoft’s browser (now Edge and no longer Internet Explorer) is pretty good. They tried to out-do Chrome in the minimalism department, but they also have good standards support now and better battery-saving features for laptops (microsoft.com/edge).
Lastly, if you want to live on the edge – I mean, as far as this sort of thing goes – you can always install the latest test versions of Chrome (search the web for “chrome canary”) or Firefox (search for “firefox nightly”) to get all the latest features weeks before your friends do.