Life would be very different without web browsers, but while these essential tools are incredibly useful, they can be problematic as well. Aside from ease-of-use factors, browsers can fail in terms of reliability, speed, functionality, and the platforms they run on. But most of all, they can present security risks.

Secure browsers need to solve those problems. They have to include options for securing your local browsing (by deleting things like cookies and history), and they should also protect users against online threats. That’s why most browsers integrate encryption, site certificates, anti-malware tools, and ways to separate fake from legitimate websites.

So, how does Google Chrome measure up on those terms – and is it the right browser for you? Let’s find out.

What is Google Chrome?

Chrome is Google’s answer to Microsoft Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari, and Firefox. And it’s the youngest of those well-known WWW browsers. The first version of Google’s web navigation app appeared in 2008, and it has been constantly updated since that point. In fact, as of March 2019, the software had reached version 74 and counting.

In the decade it has been available, the browser has risen to global dominance. Nowadays, it’s the tool of choice for around two thirds of global browsers. So it must be doing something right. And that’s by and large what you find when you get to grips with its interface.

Based on the Chromium open source project, the browser is elegantly simple, quick, and adaptable – with numerous add-ons. But as we’ll see, it’s not perfect by any means.

Google Chrome features

The best way to put Google’s browser into context is probably by listing some of the app’s key features, and there are plenty:

  • Tabs are sleek and functional, and memory optimization means that you should be able to keep 10-20 open at one time.
  • All of Google’s other tools are integrated into the browser, giving you instant access to Translate, Search, Shopping, and Maps.
  • Ad-blocking is a core part of the app.
  • Sync allows you to share information between desktops and smartphones.
  • Built-in Chromecast tools make it relatively easy to broadcast YouTube or other streaming content on TVs.
  • Customization options are all over the place, ranging from graphical themes to unique shortcuts to your favorite sites.
  • Availability for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android and Linux. You can also download legacy versions for Windows XP, Vista, or older macOS iterations. That’s unusual for major browsers.

How to use the Google Chrome Browser

So, what is the browser actually like to use? Well, it’s a good option for entry-level users, thanks to its very simple interface. And if you’ve ever used Safari or Firefox, there’s nothing to mystify you here. It’s clean, intuitive, and powerful.

And if you want to go deeper, you can. The browser lets you add various search engines to its “Omnibox” (so you can add searches from retailers, for example). You can easily recover accidentally closed tabs, and drag and drop tabs when using complex arrangements. It’s all there.

It’s also easy to download and install. Just head here and choose the correct platform. Everything is free – in case you were wondering.

Google Chrome for Android

Google Chrome Review for androidUnsurprisingly, given Google’s patronage of the Android platform, its browser has become a dominant force on Android phones. All of the Google integration is here, such as ready access to Profiles and email accounts.

Mobile users can also benefit from special features. For instance, you can search instantly by highlighting a word and applying a long tap. And the “Data Saver” option can reduce browsing times in many cases – a handy tool on slower wifi networks.

Google Chrome for Mac

Google Chrome Review for MacSafari does a pretty good job as a default Mac browser, but is it worth experimenting with Google’s option instead?

In the past, Google has irked Mac users by making its browser automatically log into Google accounts, and providing unwanted notifications on other parts of macOS. That’s changed now, and the Mac version is much less invasive.

It’s more flexible than Safari (in terms of the sheer number of apps available), fast, and intuitive. But Google’s data policies won’t be to everyone’s taste (see below).

How to update Google Chrome

We noted earlier that Google’s browser has reached its 74th iteration, not to mention various sub-updates every time a new version is released. In theory, that could lead to a lot of manual updating when new versions become available.

Thankfully, that’s not an issue. You should be asked to agree to updates when you fire up the browser. If not, you can head to Customize then Help, followed by About. This triggers an automatic update scan.

If you’re worried about falling behind, simply refer to the Google Updates blog, where each new patch and version is announced.

Is Google Chrome safe?

Now we move onto the core issue – at least for our purposes: security. And this is an area where the browser scores highly, but also suffers from being part of the Google family.

On the plus side, security features include:

  • Incognito mode to prevent your computer storing information about the sites you visit, or the cookies you accept.
  • Access to security extensions like the password management tool Blur or SiteJabber – which seeks to identify illegitimate websites.
  • Instant notifications about malware risks or possible attack sites.
  • Updates every 6 weeks (at least), which address contemporary security issues.
  • Sandboxing of suspect sites, separating potentially malicious code from everyday browsing.

All of that is welcome, but may be overshadowed by the company behind the browser. As you probably know, Google is one of the most data-hungry companies in the world, and their web browser is part of that data collection system.

If you use the browser with a Google account (which is likely), the default setting is to accept all cookies from Google. This allows the search company to monitor the sites you visit following searches, and of course the keywords you search for.

When you turn on the Sync function, a whole host of private information will also be sent to Google – including what websites you have granted permissions to, browsing history, and even thumbnails of your most visited sites.

Moreover, mobile users constantly send their physical location details to Google whenever their browser is active – as long as permission hasn’t been denied. So the scope of data collection is vast.

While Google has become more conscientious about handling data in recent times (following numerous scandals), users are still required to take action to protect their privacy – and privacy isn’t assumed as a core value of the company. So it may not be ideal for security-conscious users.

Most common Google Chrome issues and questions asked by users

Let’s assume you do want to install Google’s browser and give it a try. In that case, a short run-through of key issues raised by users would be really helpful, so here they are:

1. How to change language in Google Chrome

Firstly, users can encounter issues with changing the language used by the browser. This shouldn’t be hard to resolve. Just head to Settings, then Advanced, choose Language. Pick your preferred language, click More, then Display Google Chrome in this language. Now restart your browser.

2. How to enable Google Chrome dark mode

Engaging the supposedly eye-friendly Dark Mode isn’t hard, either. However, you’ll need to install an add-on called the Chrome Canary, which trials new innovations from the Google team. Now, right click the Canary icon on your desktop and bring up the Properties box. In the target box, add a space after chrome.exe, then paste in “–force-dark-mode.” Press Apply and you’re all set.

3. Enable my Adobe Flash player on Google Chrome

Flash is problematic on security grounds, but you can enable it in Google’s browser. To do so, paste “chrome://settings/content” into the address bar. Scroll down to press the Flash button. Then choose Ask First. Now, head to a site with a Flash video you’d like to watch. Click the “lock” icon in the address box, choose Site Settings and then toggle Flash to allow.

4. How to get javascript working in Chrome

A similar issue arises with javascript, and the solution is simple. Head to the Settings menu, choose Advanced, then Privacy and Security. Now, press Content Settings and choose javascript, then turn it on. Everything should work fine from there on.

Google Chrome vs Mozilla Firefox

Google Chrome Review vs MozillaChrome

  • Owning company: Alphabet
  • Launched in: September 2008
  • Security features: Incognito browsing, VPN compatible, sandboxing, security badges, phishing protection via Google API, ad-blocker
  • Private browsing available: Y
  • Custom extensions available: Y
  • Supported Platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, Android
  • OpenSource: N
  • CloudSync: Y

Firefox

  • Owning company: Mozilla Foundation (Non-profit)
  • Launched in: Sept 2002
  • Security features: TLS encryption and HTTPS Everywhere, “bug bounty” to detect flaws, private browsing, Do Not Track feature, malware and phishing protection, can install VPN add-ons
  • Private browsing available: Y
  • Custom extensions available: Y
  • Supported Platforms: Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, Android
  • OpenSource: Y
  • CloudSync: N

Google Chrome vs Safari:

Chrome

  • Owning company: Alphabet
  • Launched in: September 2008
  • Security features: Incognito browsing, VPN compatible, sandboxing, security badges, phishing protection via Google API, ad-blocker
  • Private browsing available: Y
  • Custom extensions available: Y
  • Supported Platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, Android
  • OpenSource: N
  • CloudSync: Y

Safari

  • Owning company: Apple
  • Launched in: January 2003
  • Security features: Apple plugin blacklist, unsafe site notifications, tracking prevention, sandboxing for suspect sites, integrated password manager, private browsing
  • Private browsing available: Y
  • Custom extensions available: Y
  • Supported Platforms: Mac, iOS
  • OpenSource: N
  • CloudSync: Y

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