5 reasons I love Google Chrome

April 6, 2013

I used Internet Explorer as my primary browser for over ten years, and am always loath to switch programs, especially with things I use every day.  When I finally got fed up with IE’s instability and girth, I tried Firefox for several months before eventually settling on Chrome.  While I consider Firefox a respectable browser, I found that it was too like IE in its memory requirements and speed to entice me to be a full-time user.  I didn’t love Chrome at first, with its atypical “omnibar” instead of a separate address and search bar, and its minimalist design with tabs at the the top instead of menus and toolbars.  However, over the past few years I’ve grown to love it, and I’ll extol its virtues to anyone who will listen (a remarkable small audience).  In the spirit of loving lists of things, here’s a list of 5 things that I love about Chrome.

1.  It looks nice.  Obviously this is very subjective, but I think the minimalist design of Chrome gives it a great look.  The aesthetic appeal of a web browser (or any computer software) is a very superficial feature, but as much as we use web browsers these days it’s nice to have something you like the look of.  As much as I love black metal, there are a lot of self-recorded demos that I just can’t listen to, regardless of how good the music is.  Likewise, I could never make myself love the look of FF or IE.  It took me a while to adjust to the address bar (or omnibar for Chrome) being below rather than above each tab, but now that I’ve adjusted I don’t think I could ever go back.  To me Chrome is the opposite of your grandparents web browser that has most of the screen taken up with search bars and toolbars from every company they’ve ever installed software from: almost the whole screen is browser rather than clunky overhead.

2.  It’s fast — really fast.  Even when I was mostly using IE or FF, I was always impressed with Chrome’s speed.  On my current system (Ubuntu, Intel Core 2 Duo @ 3Ghz) Chrome takes about 3 seconds to load compared to FF’s 9-10.  I’ll note that it’s technically illegal for me to attempt to run IE on my system, and if that doesn’t scare you off maybe IE’s 10+ second start time will.  I rarely use my forward and back buttons, opting to open and close new tabs when I click on a link to something before I’m done with the source page, and so the speed of opening and closing tabs is a big deal to me.  In IE and even FF I might wait several seconds for tabs to open (and close in the case of IE), whereas Chrome usually does so almost instantly, modulo internet connection speed.

3.  The omnibar!  The omnibar seems to be one of those features that people love to hate — even people that use Chrome regularly.  On the other hand, this was a huge bonus for me even before I really accepted Chrome as my primary browser.  I am a philosopher in the original sense of the word (and in the undergraduate major sense of the word), so it’s rare that I can get through a web page without wanting to look up a topic (or five) on Wikipedia.  Even though other browsers have search bars, I never really used them, maybe because they’re so small, maybe because they’re over there in the corner, maybe because my poor monkey brain can’t process an informational difference between wanting to look up a URL and wanting to look up a topic.  At any rate, Chrome makes it a lot easier to search because you don’t have to use multiple boxes.  I’ve heard a lot of complaints about trying to go to a web site and instead getting search results for that web site, but I’ve literally never had this problem (perhaps it’s because I have bookmarks for pretty much any site I visit regularly).  The site information utility (on the left side of the omnibar) is great too, allowing you to, for instance, view the SHA-256 fingerprint for your SSL connection in a couple of clicks.  (I should note that the last version of IE I used regularly was IE7, so I can’t comment on the ease of doing this in recent versions of IE, which I hear are much improved in a number of ways.)

4.  No daily browser crashes.  The single thing that pushed me away from IE was browser stability.  Despite my intense hatred for change of any kind, I got the point where I simply couldn’t stand having my browser crash every day.  With Chrome, on the other hand, I’ve never had a single crash in two years.  Sometimes pages crash, but Chrome has good exception handling and simply gives you an error message (complete with a cutesy frowny face graphic) when something goes wrong, instead of bringing your whole system to a grinding halt.

5.  It’s based on Chromium.  You might guess from the fact that I use Linux that I’m a passionate supporter of open source software.  So the fact that Chrome is based on the open source browser Chromium is a big plus for me.  Why don’t I use Chromium?  I did for a while, but like much open source software (including my beloved Ubuntu) it has little quirks and bugs that can hamper productivity.  In the case of Ubuntu, these bugs have not been so severe that I’ll go back to paying hundreds of dollars for proprietary operating systems and software, but since Chrome is free, I decided it was worth the shame of using a proprietary product to have greater stability and compatibility.

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