[Source: This article was Published in pcmag.com By Max Eddy - Uploaded by the Association Member: Logan Hochstetler]

Once Incognito Mode is engaged in Maps, 'you can search and navigate without linking this activity with your Google account,' says CEO Sundar Pichai

Google first introduced Incognito Mode years ago with the release of the Chrome browser. Now, as part of a larger push to enhance consumer privacy, the search giant is adding Incognito Mode to both Google Search and Google Maps.

When Incognito Mode is engaged in Chrome, your activities aren't stored in your browser history. It also disables cookies, which are used to identify and sometimes track individuals around the web, and turns off browser extensions. It doesn't hide your online activity, as a VPN would.

Google Maps

Google first introduced Incognito Mode years ago with the release of the Chrome browser. Now, as part of a larger push to enhance consumer privacy, the search giant is adding Incognito Mode to both Google Search and Google Maps.

When Incognito Mode is engaged in Chrome, your activities aren't stored in your browser history. It also disables cookies, which are used to identify and sometimes track individuals around the web, and turns off browser extensions. It doesn't hide your online activity, as a VPN would.

Incognito mode for Google Maps will be similar, Google CEO Sundar Pichai explained in a blog post. Once Incognito Mode is engaged in Maps, "you can search and navigate without linking this activity with your Google account," he wrote.

Google Maps Incognito Mode

You may have noticed that when you search in Google, meanwhile, your old searches sometimes pop up again. Google uses your activity to tailor the results for you, but not so with Incognito Mode for Search.

Incognito for Google Maps and Search are coming later this year. Google has already rolled out an Incognito Mode for YouTube. "We strongly believe that privacy and security is for everyone, not just a few," said Pichai.

While this is an important move for Google, it's not yet clear what information will be saved when these new Incognito modes are engaged, and what the limitations will be. We have to assume that, like Incognito for Chrome, you won't be totally invisible.

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was Published in venturebeat.com By EMIL PROTALINSKI - Uploaded by the Association Member: James Gill]

Google today released the Suspicious Site Reporter Extension. As its name implies, the extension lets users report suspicious sites to Google’s Safe Browsing service. Google also highlighted that Chrome recently started warning users about sites with deceptive URLs.

Google’s Safe Browsing service provides lists of URLs that contain malware or phishing content to Chrome, Firefox, and Safari browsers, as well as to internet service providers (ISPs). Google said in September 2017 that Safe Browsing protects over 3 billion devices and that the number last month increased to over 4 billion devices. The service shows warnings before users visit dangerous sites or download dangerous files.

Now Google is opening Safe Browsing for submissions. In fact, the Suspicious Site Reporter extension is a two-way street. The extension’s icon shows when you’re on a potentially suspicious site. Clicking the icon will show more information about why it might be suspicious. You can also report it for further evaluation. If the site is added to Safe Browsing’s suspicious lists, those aforementioned 4 billion devices will be protected from it.

In addition, Google released Chrome 75 earlier this month. The latest version comes with a new warning to direct users away from sites that have confusing URLs. The feature compares the URL of the page you’re currently on to URLs of pages you’ve recently visited. If the URL looks similar but isn’t identical (say, go0gle.com vs. google.com), Chrome will show a warning that helps you get back to the right domain.

“We believe that you shouldn’t have to be a security expert to feel safe on the web and that many Chrome power-users share our mission to make the web more secure for everyone,” said Chrome product manager Emily Schechter. Given today’s news, that’s fair. But if you look at the competition, Chrome could be doing more.

Categorized in Internet Privacy

[This article is originally published in fastcompany.com written by JR RAPHAEL - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Grace Irwin]

Give your internet experience a jolt of fresh energy with these easily overlooked features, options, and shortcuts for Google’s browser.

These days, a browser is more than just a basic navigator for the web. It’s effectively a second desktop—a gateway to countless apps, sites, and services. And optimizing that environment can go a long way in increasing your efficiency.

Google’s Chrome, in particular, is full of hidden shortcuts, features, and power-user possibilities. Take the time to learn these tips, and watch your productivity soar.

(Note that most of the tips here are specific to the desktop versions of Chrome for Windows PCs and Macs and may not apply to the browser’s mobile variants.)

LEARN SOME HANDY HIDDEN SHORTCUTS

1. Want to open a link into a new tab in the background, so it won’t interrupt what you’re doing? Hold down Ctrl- or Cmd- and click it. To open a link in a whole new window, meanwhile, use Shift instead. (This’ll work within most areas of Chrome, by the way—including the History page and the dropdown history list within the Back button, which we’ll get to in a bit.)

2. You probably know you can press the space bar to scroll down a full page-length, but there’s another side to that shortcut: If you press Shift and the space bar together, Chrome will do the opposite and scroll up by a full page-length at a time.

3. If you ever close a tab by mistake, hit Ctrl- or Cmd-Shift-T. Chrome will reopen your most recently closed tab as if nothing had ever happened. (And you can do it multiple times, too, if there’s more than one tab you’d like to recover.)

4. When you have a bunch of tabs open and want to hang onto the entire session for later, hit Ctrl-Shift-D. That’ll let you save all your open tabs into a folder for easy future access. To restore them, right-click the folder within your bookmarks and select “Open all” or “Open all in a new window.”

save all your open tabs into a folder for easy future access

5. Skip a step and get info about any word or phrase in a page by highlighting it and then right-clicking and selecting the “Search Google” option. You can also highlight a word or phrase and drag it into Chrome’s address bar to achieve the same result—or drag it into the area directly to the right of your final tab to launch the search in a new tab instead of your current one. (Bonus tip: Those same dragging behaviors can also be used to open links.)

6. Save a link with a single click: Just click, hold down your mouse button, and drag the link up into Chrome’s bookmarks bar. Drop it wherever you want, and it’ll be there the next time you need it.

7. If you download a file and then want to move it somewhere specific, click on its tile in the download bar that appears at the bottom of the browser. You can then drag and drop whatever you downloaded directly onto your desktop or into any folder.

8. You can also drag and drop files from Chrome’s download bar directly into an online service—like Google Drive, for instant uploading, or Gmail, for inserting the file as an attachment in a new message.

9. Should you ever find Chrome mysteriously misbehaving, remember this command: chrome://restart. Type it into Chrome’s address bar, and your browser will restart itself and restore all your tabs and windowsin a jiffy. You never know when it might come in handy.

TEACH YOUR BROWSER SOME NEW TRICKS

10. With 60 seconds of setup, you can give Chrome its own quick-access scratchpad that’ll let you jot down thoughts right within the browser—no extensions required. All you have to do is paste a snippet of code into Chrome’s address bar. Click here or on the image below to view and copy the necessary code.

jot down thoughts right within the browser

…and then save the page to your bookmarks bar for easy access. The scratchpad supports text formatting (Ctrl- or Cmd-B for bold, Ctrl- or Cmd-I for italics, and Ctrl- or Cmd-U for underlining) and even has a built-in spell check feature. Just open it and start typing—and if you want to save your thoughts for later retrieval, hit Ctrl- or Cmd-S.

The scratchpad supports text formatting

11. Chrome’s custom search engine feature has tons of untapped productivity potential. First, you can use it to create simple shortcuts to pages you visit often—anything from favorite websites to internal Chrome pages or even the scratchpad described in the previous tip. Just open up Chrome’s settings, click the line labeled “Manage search engines,” then click the “Add” command next to the “Other search engines” heading. Type the name of the page in the “Search engine” field, the shortcut you want for it in the “Keyword” field, and the page’s full URL in the “URL” field.

For instance, if you want to be able to pull up Chrome’s settings simply by typing “cs” into your address bar, you could use “Chrome Settings” as the search engine name, “cs” as the keyword, and chrome://settings as the URL. To get to your new scratchpad quickly, you could use “Scratchpad” as the search engine name, “s” as the keyword, and the full string of code from above as the URL.

12. You can also use Chrome’s custom search engines feature to create shortcuts for searching any sites you want. The trick is to first find the full URL of the site’s own search system—so if you wanted to do it for Fast Company, you’d go to fastcompany.com, click the search icon in the upper-right corner of the screen, then search for a word like “test.” The site will take you 

With that knowledge in tow, head back to Chrome’s “Manage search engines” section and click the “Add” command. This time, type “Fast Company” in as the search engine name, “fastcompany.com” as the keyword, and ”—with “%s” taking the place of the actual query—as the URL.

create shortcuts for searching any sites you want

The next time you start typing “fastcompany.com” into Chrome’s address bar, you’ll see instructions telling you to press Tab to search the site. Set up similar systems for shopping sites, Wikipedia, dictionaries and thesauruses, travel sites, or anything else you search semi-regularly, and you’ll save valuable time by skipping steps and jumping straight to the info you need.

13. Want to be able to search your email directly from Chrome’s address bar? Create a new custom search engine with the name Gmail, whatever keyword you want (either “gmail.com” or some shortened command), and “https://mail.google.com/mail/ca/u/0/#search/%s” as the URL.

14. Search Google Drive from the address bar by creating a custom search engine with “https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/search?q=%s” as the URL.

15. Speaking of Google Drive, if you move between multiple devices during the day (and at this point, who doesn’t?), make your life a little easier by telling Chrome to save anything you download to a cloud-based folder. That way, you’ll be able to find important files from your desktop, laptop, smartphone, or any other device—regardless of where the download was actually performed.

First, you’ll have to install the desktop syncing program for your cloud storage service of choice. Most services, including Google DriveDropbox, and OneDrive, offer such utilities for all the common operating systems. Once you set up the program, you’ll have a folder on your local hard drive that’s always synced to a folder in your cloud storage.

Now, head into Chrome’s settings, click “Advanced,” and scroll down to the section labeled “Downloads.” Click the “Change” command and find or create an appropriate subfolder within your cloud-synced folder. Once you’ve followed those steps on any desktop computers you want connected, anything you download will be available everywhere you work—and always accessible via the cloud service’s mobile apps as well.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HIDDEN POWER TOOLS

16. Quiet annoying sites once and for all by right-clicking their tabs (where the title is displayed) and selecting “Mute site.” This recently added option will prevent the site from playing any audio on your computer anytime you visit it.

17. Prefer to avoid leaving a trail as you navigate the web? Open Chrome’s settings, click “Advanced,” and then turn on the toggle next to “Send a ‘Do Not Track’ request with your browsing traffic,” located within the “Privacy and security” section.

18. For additional privacy, take advantage of Chrome’s out-of-the-way option to create multiple user profiles and allow guest access to your browser. That’ll let someone else use Chrome on your computer without gaining access to all of your personal data (and without gunking up your history with whatever sites they visit). Look for the line labeled “Manage other people” in Chrome’s settings to get started.

19. Chrome’s History page—accessible by hitting Ctrl- or Cmd-H or by typing chrome://history into your address bar—has a powerful yet easily overlooked feature: an always-synced list of tabs you have open in Chrome on other devices. Surf over there anytime you want to find what you were last viewing on your phone, your tablet, or another computer.

20. The Back button in Chrome’s upper-left corner does more than you might think. Click it and hold your mouse’s button down, and you’ll get a pop-up history of recent pages viewed within your current tab

a pop up history of recent pages viewed within your current tab

21. Chrome can strip all formatting from copied text as you paste it—eliminating links, fonts, colors, and anything else you might not want to carry over. Once you’ve copied some text, hit Ctrl- or Cmd-Shift-V to give it a whirl.

22. Trying to look at a website that’s down—or need to step back in time and see how a particular page looked a while ago? Type cache:website.com into Chrome’s address bar, replacing website.com with whatever URL you want.

23. Let Chrome act as your file explorer: Drag and drop any image, video, or audio file into the browser to open it right then and there—and on Windows, try typing C:\ into Chrome’s address bar to browse your hard drive’s contents.

ENHANCE YOUR ENVIRONMENT AND ELIMINATE ANNOYANCES

24. Sick of getting those pop-ups asking if some site can send notifications through your browser? Turn off site notifications entirely by opening Chrome’s settings, clicking “Advanced,” then clicking the line labeled “Content settings.” Next, find and click the line for “Notifications” and turn the toggle at the top of the page off.

25. The next time you come across a text form on a website, give yourself a little space to think: Look for the two diagonal lines in the box’s lower-right corner. Click that area and drag downward, and ta-da: You can resize the text box to make it as large as you’d like.

resize the text box to make it as large as youd likeJPG

26. Chrome extensions can be incredibly useful, but they can also create a lot of clutter in your browser’s upper-right corner. Hide the extension icons you don’t need to see by right-clicking them and selecting “Hide in Chrome menu” from the options that appear. You can also just hover your mouse over the far right side of the address bar until you see a double-sided arrow appear and then drag the address bar toward the right to extend it and hide multiple extension icons at once.

And if you ever need to get to an out-of-sight extension icon, just open the main Chrome menu (the three-dot icon to the right of the extensions). You’ll see all of the icons there.

27. While we’re talking about extensions, did you know you can create custom keyboard shortcuts for opening extensions on demand?Some extensions even allow you to create shortcuts for specific commands. Type chrome://extensions/shortcuts into your browser’s address bar to set up your own.

Categorized in Search Engine

Google Inc. is making web browsing slightly less annoying for users with a host of new features.

Google Thursday released the latest version of Chrome to all Windows, Mac, and Linux machines. Chrome 64 comes with a stronger pop-up blocker, 53 security fixes and specifically fixes for the potential Spectre processor-based attacks.

The company starting rolling out Chrome’s anti-autoplay features in version 63 with the introduction of a feature that provides users with the option to disable autoplay videos on individual sites. Now with Chrome 64, Google expands these features with the ability to mute an entire site.

Google has also announced two new ad-blocking features to give users more control to mute the ads they see on Google, websites and in apps.

Here’s a look at the new features Google is rolling out:

Chrome 64

Mute an entire site

When you visit a site with annoying autoplay videos, Chrome 64 will now let you mute the entire site. Instead of users trying to find and mute the offending video, users can just right click on the relevant website’s tab and select to mute the entire site. If you later change your mind and want to hear the autoplay videos, you can follow the same process to unmute the site.

This feature replaces the previous “mute tab” option that was only temporary.

Stronger pop-up blocker

Chrome 64 also includes a stronger pop-up blocker that will protect users against sneaky redirects, such as third-party websites disguised as play buttons or transparent overlays on websites that capture all clicks and open new tabs or windows.

Although these redirects can be used maliciously to trick users, many redirects are unintentional, explains Ryan Schoen, a product manager at Google, when the upcoming feature was announced in November. “We’ve found that this redirect often comes from third-party content embedded in the page, and the page author didn’t intend the redirect to happen at all.”

Chrome 64 will now prevent these redirect tactics, whether intentionally abusive or not. While site owners can use the Abusive Experiences Report in Google Search Console to see if any of these tactics have been found on their own site. It will also offer advice on how their site can be improved.

Better ads

From Feb. 15, site owners will also need to ensure they comply with standards overseen by the Coalition for Better Ads.

“Starting on February 15, in line with the Coalition’s guidelines, Chrome will remove all ads from sites that have a ‘failing’ status in the Ad Experience Report for more than 30 days,” Google said. Site owners can “submit their site for re-review once the violations have been fixed.”

High-dynamic-range support for Windows users

Google is adding HDR support for Windows users in Chrome 64. Users will need a computer with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, an HDR-compatible monitor, and a graphics card.

Security fixes

Finally, Chrome 64 also contains 53 security fixes, which include 24 bugs reported by third-party researchers.

It also includes some of Google’s fixes for the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. Like other browsers, Google is disabling the SharedArrayBuffer feature to mitigate against the attacks.

In Ad Settings, users have more control over what reminder ads they see. Image via Google

In Ad Settings, users have more control over what reminder ads they see. Image via Google

New additions to ‘Ads Settings’ and ‘Mute This Ad’

Mute reminder ads

While reminder ads, those ads that follow users around the web once they have visited a site, can be useful, they can also be very annoying, especially if you never intend to return to the relevant site. Google is rolling out a feature to assist with this.

Advertisers tend to start showing reminder ads within a month of visiting their site. Muting reminder ads with Google’s new feature will last for 90 days.

Muting, however, will only apply to non-Google websites that use Google ad services. For websites and apps that don’t use Google ad services, users will be unable to mute reminder ads.

To mute reminder ads, sign into your Google Account Ad Settings > under “Your reminder ads,” click the X next to the relevant advertiser that you want to mute.

More control with ‘Mute This Ad’

Google introduced the “Mute This Ad” feature back in 2012 and it is now used by millions of users. After receiving 5 billion pieces of feedback from users who mute ads because they aren’t relevant, Google has removed 1 million ads from their ad network.

The tool has been updated with two new features. The “Mute This Ad” tool will work across devices where you are signed into your Google Account. Mute an ad on your smartphone and it will automatically be muted on your laptop.

Google is also expanding “Mute This Ad” to be available in more places and will work across more apps and websites that partner with Google to show ads.

Source: This article was published siliconangle.com By COLLEN KRIEL

Categorized in Search Engine

Over the past half-decade I’ve written extensively about web archiving, including why we need to understand what’s in our massive archives of the web, whether our archives are failing to capture the modern and social web, the need for archives to modernize their technology infrastructures and, perhaps most intriguingly for the world of “big data,” how archives can make their petabytes of holdings available for research. What might it look like if the world’s web archives opened up their collections for academic research, making hundreds of billions of web objects totaling tens of petabytes and stretching back to the founding of the modern web available as a massive shared corpus to power the modern data mining revolution, from studies of the evolution of the web to powering the vast training corpuses required to build today’s cutting edge neural networks?

When it comes to crawling the open web to build large corpuses for data mining, universities in the US and Canada have largely adopted a hands-offapproach, exempting most work from ethical review, granting permission to ignore terms of use or copyright restrictions and waiving traditional policies on data management and replication on the grounds that material harvested from the open web is publicly accessible information and that its copyright owners, by virtue of being making it available on the web without password protection, encourage its access and use.

On the other hand, the world’s non-profit and governmental web archives, whom collectively hold tens of petabytes of archived content crawled from the open web stretching back 20+ years, have as a whole largely resisted opening their collections to bulk academic research. Many provide no access at all to their collections, some provide access only on a case-by-case basis and others provide access to a single page at a time, with no facilities for bulk exporting large portions of their holdings or even analyzing them in situ.

While some archives have cited technical limitations in making their content more accessible, the most common argument against offering bulk data mining access revolves around copyright law and concern that by boxing up gigabytes, terabytes or even petabytes of web content and redistributing it to researchers, web archives could potentially be viewed as “redistributing” copyrighted content. Given the growing interest among large content holders in licensing their material for precisely such bulk data mining efforts, some archives have expressed concern that traditional application of “fair use” doctrine in potentially permitting such data mining access may be gradually eroding.

Thus, paradoxically, research universities have largely adopted the stance that researchers are free to crawl the web and bulk download vast quantities of content to use in their data mining research, while web archives as a whole have adopted the stance that they cannot make their holdings available for data mining because they would, in their view, be “redistributing” the content they downloaded to third parties to use for data mining.

One large web archive has bucked this trend and stood alone among its peers: Common Crawl. Similar to other large web archiving initiatives like the Internet Archive, Common Crawl conducts regular web wide crawls of the open web and preserves all of the content it downloads in the standard WARC file format. Unlike many other archives, it focuses primarily on preserving HTML web pages and does not archive images, videos, JavaScript files, CSS stylesheets, etc. Its goal is not to preserve the exact look and feel of a website on a given snapshot in time, but rather to collect a vast cross section of HTML web pages from across the web in a single place to enable large-scale data mining at web scale.

Yet, what makes Common Crawl so unique is that it makes everything it crawls freely available for download for research. Each month it conducts an open web crawl, boxes up all of the HTML pages it downloads and makes a set of WARC files and a few derivative file formats available for download.

Its most recent crawl, covering August 2017, contains more than 3.28 billion pages totaling 280TiB, while the previous month’s crawl contains 3.16 billion pages and 260TiB of content. The total collection thus totals tens of billions of pages dating back years and totaling more than a petabyte, with all of it instantly available for download to support an incredible diversity of web research.

Of course, without the images, CSS stylesheets, JavaScript files and other non-HTML content saved by preservation-focused web archives like the Internet Archive, this vast compilation of web pages cannot be used to reproduce a page’s appearance as it stood on a given point in time. Instead, it is primarily useful for large-scale data mining research, exploring questions like the linking structure of the web or analyzing the textual content of pages, rather than acting as a historical replay service.

The project excludes sites which have robots.txt exclusion policies, following the historical policy of many other web archives, though it is worth noting that the Internet Archive earlier this year began slowly phasing out its reliance on such files due to their detrimental effect on preservation completeness. Common Crawl also allows sites to request removal from their index. Other than these cases, Common Crawl attempts to crawl as much of the remaining web as possible, aiming for a representative sample of the open web.

Moreover, Common Crawl has made its data publicly available for more than half a decade and has become a staple of large academic studies of the web with high visibility in the research community, suggesting that its approach to copyright compliance and research access appears to be working for it.

Yet, beyond its summary and full terms of use documents, the project has published little in terms of how it views its work fitting into US and international standards on copyright and fair use, so I reached out Sara Crouse, Director of Common Crawl, to speak to how the project approaches copyright and fair use and any advice they might have for other web archives considering broadening access to their holdings for academic big data research.

Ms. Crouse noted the risk adverse nature of the web archiving community as a whole (historically many adhered and still adhere to a strict “opt in” policy requiring prior approval before crawling a site) and the unwillingness of many archives to modernize their thinking on copyright and to engage more closely with the legal community in ways that could help them expand fair use horizons. In particular, she noted “since we [in the US] are beholden to the Copyright Act, while living in a digital age, many well-intentioned organizations devoted to web science, archiving, and information provision may benefit from a stronger understanding of how copyright is interpreted in present day, and its hard boundaries” and that “many talented legal advisers and groups are interested in the precedent-setting nature of this topic; some are willing to work Pro Bono.”

Given that US universities as a whole have moved aggressively towards this idea of expanding the boundaries of fair use and permitting opt-out bulk crawling of the web to compile research datasets, Common Crawl seems to be in good company when it comes to interpreting fair use for the digital age and modern views on utilizing the web for research.

Returning to the difference between Common Crawl’s datasets and traditional preservation-focused web archiving, Ms. Crouse emphasized that they capture only HTML pages and exclude multimedia content like images, video and other dynamic content.

She noted that a key aspect of their approach to fair use is that web pages are intended for consumption by human beings one at a time using a web browser, while Common Crawl concatenates billions of pages together in the specialized WARC file format designed for machine data mining. Specifically, “Common Crawl does not offer separate/individual web pages for easy consumption. The three data formats that are provided include text, metadata, and raw data, and the data is concatenated” and “the format of the output is not a downloaded web page. The output is in WARC file format which contains the components of a page that are beneficial to machine-level analysis and make for space- efficient archiving (essentially: header, text, and some metadata).”

In the eyes of Common Crawl, the use of specialized archival-oriented file formats like WARC (which is the format of choice of most web archives) limit the content’s use to transformative purposes like data mining and, combined with the lack of capture of styling, image and other visual content, renders the captured pages unsuitable to human browsing, transforming them from their originally intended purpose of human consumption.

As Ms. Crouse put it, “this is big data intended for machine learning/readability. Further, our intention for its use is for public benefit i.e. to encourage research and innovation, not direct consumption.” She noted that “from the layperson’s perspective, it is not at all trivial at present to extract a specific website’s content (that is, text) from a Common Crawl dataset. This task generally requires one to know how to install and run a Hadoop cluster, among other things. This is not structured data. Further it is likely that not all pages of that website will be included (depending on the parameters for depth set for the specific crawl).” This means that “the bulk of [Common Crawl’s] users are from the noncommercial, educational, and research sectors. At a higher level, it’s important to note that we provide a broad and representative sample of the web, in the form of web crawl data, each month. No one really knows how big the web is, and at present, we limit our monthly data publication to approximately 3 billion pages.”

Of course, given that content owners are increasingly looking to bulk data mining access licensing as a revenue stream, this raises the concern that even if web archives are transforming content designed for human consumption into machine friendly streams designed for data mining, such transformation may conflict with copyright holders’ own bulk licensing ambitions. For example, many of the large content licensors like LexisNexis, Factiva and Bloomberg all offer licensed commercial bulk feeds designed to support data mining access that pay royalty fees to content owners for their material that is used.

Common Crawl believes it addresses this through the fact that its archive represents only a sample of each website crawled, rather than striving for 100% coverage. Specifically, Ms. Crouse noted that “at present, [crawls are] in monthly increments that are discontinuous month-to-month. We do only what is reasonable, necessary, and economical to achieve a representative sample. For instance, we limit the number of pages crawled from any given domain so, for large content owners, it is highly probable that their content, if included in a certain month’s crawl data, is not wholly represented and thus not ideal for mining for comprehensive results … if the content owner is not a large site, or in a niche market, their URL is less likely to be included in the seeds in the frontier, and, since we limit depth (# of links followed) for the sake of both economy and broader representative web coverage, 'niche' content may not even appear in a given month’s dataset.”

To put it another way, Common Crawl’s mission is to create a “representative sample” of the web at large by crawling a sampling of pages and limiting the number of pages from each site they capture. Thus, their capture of any given site will represent a discontinuous sampling of pages that can change from month to month. A researcher wishing to analyze a single web site in its entirety would therefore not be able to turn to Common Crawl and would instead have to conduct their own crawl of the site or turn to a commercial aggregator that partners with the content holder to license the complete contents of the site.

In Common Crawl’s view this is a critical distinction that sets it apart from both traditional web archiving and the commercial content aggregators that generate data mining revenue for content owners. By focusing on creating a “representative sample” of the web at large, rather than attempting to capture a single site in its entirety (and in fact ensuring that it does not include more than a certain number of pages per site), the crawl self-limits itself to being applicable only to macro-level research examining web scale questions. Such “web scale” questions cannot be answered through any existing open dataset and by incorporating specific design features Common Crawl ensures that more traditional research questions, like data mining the entirety of a single site, which might be viewed as redistribution of that site or competing with its owner’s ability to license its content for data mining, is simply not possible.

Thus, to summarize, Common Crawl is both similar to other web archives in its workflow of crawling the web and archiving what it finds, but sets itself apart by focusing on creating a representative sample of HTML pages from across the entire web, rather than trying to preserve the entirety of a specific set of websites with an eye towards visual and functional preservation. Even when a given page is contained in Common Crawl’s archives, the technical sophistication and effort required to extract it and the lack of supporting CSS, JavaScript and image/video files renders the capture useless for the kind of non-technical browser-based access and interaction such pages are designed for.

Of course, copyright and what counts as "fair use" is a notoriously complex, contradictory, contested and ever-changing field and only time will tell whether Common Crawl’s interpretation of fair use holds up and becomes a standard that other web archives follow. At the very least, however, Common Crawl presents a powerful and intriguing model for how web-scale data can power open data research and offers traditional web archives a set of workflows, rationales and precedent to examine that are fully aligned with those of the academic community. Given its popularity and continued growth over the past decade it is clear that Common Crawl’s model is working and that many of its underlying approaches are highly applicable to the broader web archiving community.

Putting this all together, today’s web archives preserve for future generations the dawn of our digital society, but lock those tens of petabytes of documentary holdings away in dark archives or permit only a page at a time to be accessed. Common Crawl’s success and the projects that have been built upon its data stands testament to the incredible possibilities when such archives are unlocked and made available to the research community. Perhaps as the web archiving community modernizes and “open big data” continues to reshape how academic research is conducted, more web archives will follow Common Crawl’s example and explore ways of shaping the future of fair use and gradually opening their doors to research, all while ensuring that copyright and the rights of content holders are respected.

Source: This article was published forbes.com By Kalev Leetaru,

Categorized in Online Research

Google Chrome is one of the most popular browsers in the world, and yet, because we use it so often, we often forget what it can do.

Chrome will let you browse pages, obviously, but it's also loaded with hidden hacks that can essentially streamline your internet-browsing experience and digital life. From simple tricks that allow you to send emails from the omnibar (aka address bar) to extensions that you let save images to Pinterest without ever having to go to Pinterest.com, Chrome has everything you could possibly need or want.

For instance, here's over 30 tips and tricks we use on a regular basis to get the most out of Chrome. We will update this piece over time with more handy tools and functions as we discover them. Let us know in the comments if you know of one worth including.

Note: The following tips are for the desktop version of Google Chrome.

This might sound super obvious, but you really should sign in to the Chrome browser before you even think about using it. Doing so will allow you to save and sync things like your bookmarks, history, passwords, and other settings to your Google Account. Then, you can access them on any device. You can learn more about how to sign in to Chrome on this FAQ page.

If you have different Google accounts, like work and personal, you can use profiles to keep your bookmarks and settings separate. You can learn more about how to add a Chrome profile on this FAQ page.

If you don’t want Chrome to save what you visit or download, you can always browse the web privately using Chrome's Incognito mode. You can also delete your history, cookies, and other information - all at once or just some from a specific period of time. Go here to learn more about Incognito mode, or go here to learn about how to delete your history in Chrome.

From Chrome, find the hamburger menu or icon with three vertical dots on the upper left, and then select Settings to access Chrome's full list of settings. Or just type chrome://settings/ in your omnibar.

There are tonnes of keyboard commands, but here are some worth remembering:

  • Ctrl/Command + T opens a new tab
  • Ctrl/Command + W closes your current tab
  • Ctrl/Command + Shift + T opens your last tab
  • Ctrl/Command + L highlights whatever’s in the omnibar
  • Ctrl/Command + Tab moves you a tab to the right
  • Ctrl/Command + Shift + Tab moves you a tab to the left

If you want to let your friend use your laptop but still keep all your browsing info private from them, go to Chrome's settings, and then under People select Add a person. This will let them have their own browsing experience separate from yours.

You can Chrome’s Task Manager to end memory-hungry pages or see what’s slowing your session down. Go to Chrome's hamburger menu on the left and then select More Tools. From there, click Task Manager.

Use your autofill settings to avoid manually entering your address or password or credit card information on a daily basis. Just go to Chrome settings, then “Show advanced settings…” >, and find “Manage Autofill settings” under “Passwords and forms.”

Ever want to search YouTube without going to to YouTube.com? If you go settings, you’ll see a “Manage search engines…” button under the “Search” section. Click it to see a list of sites you can search directly from the omnibar. Chrome will add these automatically, but you can also enter the URL for a site, such as Wikipedia. So, when you type a phrase in the omnibar and then hit tab, you'll go to whatever related Wiki article or YouTube video you wanted to find. This saves you an extra step, as you no longer have to go to a site’s homepage to find what you want.

Go back to the “Manage search engines…” area, then scroll to the bottom to add a new search engine, and enter the following: “https://mail.google.com/mail/ca/u/0/#apps/%s”. This is Gmail’s search function. You can then make the keyword “gmail.com,” or “mail.google.com”, and from that point on, you can search your email.

The omnibar is amazing. For instance, you can use it as a calculator. Enter 10 x 10 and it will tell you the value is 100. Try it out. It works with any equation too.

You can Google=search a phrase directly from your current page by highlighting it. From there, right click or drag it to the omnibar. If you highlight a word (like 'dongles') on a page, then right-click, and select 'Look Up', you will effectively Google search the word 'dongles'.

Google Chrome has a "Pin Tab" feature. If you're not familiar with it, just keep in mind that browser tabs spawn from left to right. The first tabs you open are located on the left - unless you start moving tabs around. As a result, you probably keep your most important tabs on the left. With that in mind, the Chrome browser offers the ability to lock some of your most-used tabs to the left of your browser and reduces the tabs to icon size so that you can squeeze many of your favourites in a small space. All you have to do is to right-click on a tab and select the "Pin Tab" option.

Ever want to see how many cookies a page is deploying or what permissions you’ve given it? Just click the "i" icon or page button next to the URL in the omnibar to view site info including cookies and permissions. It’s also a handy way to allow the page to show popups.

If you want to save your current browsing session for future reference, press the Up arrow + Command + D keys all at once (or right click, then select Bookmarks, and click Bookmark Open Pages). You can then save all your open pages in a new folder. This is handy if you’re researching a subject and want to save all the helpful information you’ve already found.

You can also download an extension like OneTab to do the same thing.

If you ex out of your window, you can pick up where you left off by going to History from the menu bar (or going to History under the settings). Look for the tabs under Recently Closed, and click it once you find it. You can also go into settings and select “Continue where you left off” under the “On startup” section to relaunch your browser as you left it.

A quick way to manage your bookmarks is to type Command + D to add a bookmark. You can also always right-click on a page in the bookmarks bar to edit their titles. You even go to Bookmarks > Bookmarks Manager from the Menu bar to manage all your saved sites and folders.

Hit Control or Command + 1-9 while you're on the omnibar to quickly switch between tabs. Each number corresponds to a page's place in the tab tab above. So, on Mac, Command + 3 will open your third tab.

Simply right-click on a tab and then select “Close Other Tabs” or “Close Tabs to the Right" to get rid of them fast.

If you want Facebook or some other page to appear as soon as you open Chrome, you can set it to automatically launch those pages. Just go to settings, then click the “Set pages” option next to “Open a specific page or set of pages,” and enter the sites you wish to visit right away.

Instead of using some random note editor on your machine to take notes, use Chrome. Just enter "data:text/html, <html contenteditable>" into the omnibar, and then you can jot something down real quick.

If you try loading a page when you’re offline, and you’ll see a static little T-rex. Once you see it, hit the spacebar, and then it will turn into an endless side-scroller runner game.

Hold down the Control or Command key and click on all the tabs you want to move in order to move them as one.

Click on any multimedia file on your computer and then drag it directly into your Chrome browser window to look at it.

To quickly access a file you downloaded, automatically download it to your desktop. To change where files automatically download, go to settings, then click the Advanced Settings link, and select Downloads. There you can alter where files automatically download to (like desktop).

On a PC, you can zoom in or out on a page by pressing Control while rolling your scroll wheel up or down. You can then click Control-0 to return to the default. On a Mac, you can zoom in and out by pressing Command-plus or Command-minus. Command-0 will go back to default.

You can use the spacebar to scroll down on page, and you can scroll back up by pressing shift and the spacebar.

Chrome has built-in Google Translate, but if you just want to translate a select phrase or passage, install the official Google Translate extension. You can highlight any text and click the little Google Translate icon that sits in the top-right side of your browser screen.

Casting is baked into Chrome. Just right-click anywhere in Chrome to prompt a pop-up cast window. Or, click the hamburger in the top-right to prompt a pull-down menu and then choose Cast. Go here to learn more about casting from Chrome to your TV.

Sick of how Chrome looks? Download a theme from the Chrome store. Just click over to the Theme section and click to install.

You can write your email up in the omnibar on Chrome and send it from there. Just type “mailto:” followed by the recipients address into your omnibar. It’ll open up the Gmail compose window automatically. From there, you can write your email and hit send.

You can turn any site into a desktop app to speedily access it. Just navigate to the website, then click the wrench icon, and select “Tools”. From there, click on “Create application shortcuts.”

To get the most out of Chrome, go to the Chrome Web Store and explore its vast amounts of extensions and apps. The right extensions will improve your web experience. For instance, you can install the Pinterest one so you can directly pin any image you see to your account.

Type "Do A Barrel Roll" into the omnibar and hit enter. :)

 Source: This article was published pocket-lint.com By ELYSE BETTERS

Categorized in Search Engine

We take a look at the performance and features of the big four internet browsers to see which one will serve you best in 2017.

The web browser is by far the most important piece of software on your PC—at least for most users. Unless you’re at a workstation crunching numbers or editing the next Star Wars you probably spend the majority of your computer time staring at a web app or a website.

That’s why it’s important to make sure you’ve always got the best tool for the job, and in 2017 that does not include Internet Explorer. If you still want the built-in option for Windows that would be Edge, but it’s hard to stick strictly with Edge when you’ve got other choices including Google’s Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera.

Let’s take a look at the four major (and modern) browsers to see how they stack up in 2017.

(If none of these internet browsers strike your fancy, head over to PCWorld's roundup of 10 intriguing alternative browsers.)

Browsers in brief

Chrome

chromelogo

The current people’s champion, Google Chrome tops the metrics charts of both StatCounter and NetMarketShare by a huge margin. Google’s browser has built a dedicated fan base thanks to its massive extensions library, and the fact that it just gets out of your way to put the focus on web content, not the browser’s trimmings.

Chrome isn’t quite as simplistic as it once was, but it’s still very easy to use. There isn’t much to Chrome except a huge URL bar—known as the OmniBar—plus a space for extensions, a bookmarking icon, tabs, and that’s it.

Yet Google still finds a way to hide all kinds of features inside the browser, including deep integration with Google’s services. This allows you to sync your bookmarks, passwords, open tabs, and more across devices. Chrome also has multi-account support if you need it on a family machine, a built-in PDF viewer, built-in Google Translate functionality, a task manager, and the always handy Paste and go context menu item.

If there’s one complaint people have about Chrome it’s that the browser eats up available memory. Our browser testing in 2015 showed that Chrome was definitely a memory beast, but two years later it fared pretty well in our tests.

Firefox

 

mozilla firefox logo

 

For users who love extensibility but want greater privacy than a Google-made browser can provide, the open source Mozilla Firefox is your best bet. Firefox paved the way for other browsers to become extensible, and while Firefox’s add-on catalog is pretty good, it now pales in comparison to the Chrome Web Store. Like Google, Firefox has a sync feature.

Where Firefox has really shined in recent years is with the browser’s incognito mode. All browsers have a private mode that lets you browse without any of your activity being logged in your saved history. But most of the time these private modes still allow websites to track your activity for that specific session. Firefox does away with this by including an ad and tracker blocker when using incognito mode.

Opera

 

operabrowser

 

Before Chrome, Opera was a popular choice among power users—a position former Opera CEO Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner is trying to take back with Vivaldi. Opera today is really one of the more under-rated browsers around. It’s based on the same core technologies as Chrome (the Blink rendering engine and the JavaScript V8 engine), which means it can run many Chrome extensions—there’s even an extension for installing extensions from the Chrome Web Store.

Opera’s also got a few unusual features like Turbo, which saves on load times and bandwidth by compressing webpages on Opera’s servers. It’s also got a nice security feature called domain highlighting that hides most of the URL so that users can see easily and clearly if they’re on Google.com or google.com.scam.com—with scam.com being the actual website.

More recently, Opera introduced its own take on the social sidebar with one-click access to services such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram. Like Chrome and Firefox, Opera also has its own cross-device syncing feature.

Microsoft Edge

 

microsotedge

 

Microsoft Edge is still a work in progress. You'll see below that its performance is getting better, but that’s not all there is to the browser in 2017. The Edge extensions library is tiny, its sync functionality is near nonexistent, and it doesn’t get updates nearly fast enough—though that is expected to change with the Fall Creators Update.

Despite its shortcomings, Edge has several helpful features that will appeal to some. Edge is deeply integrated with Windows 10’s inking capabilities, as well as with OneNote, making it easy to clip a webpage, annotate it, and save it to a notebook. Cortana is also a big part of Edge. You can use Microsoft’s digital assistant to quickly search for information, compare prices, or get a quick calculation.

Like Chrome, Edge has a casting feature. There’s also a nifty set-aside tabs feature to stash a collection of websites, the ability to read ebooks (great for tablets), and an MSN.com-ish new-tab page.

Benchmarks

That’s enough of an overview for our four contestants, let’s get down to business. To see which browser is worthy of your bandwidth in 2017 we used a variety of testing tools. For judging JavaScript we used JetStream, and the now unsupported Octane 2.0 and SunSpider 1.0.2 benchmarking tools. Then we turned to WebXPRT 2015 and Speedometer to challenge our browsers under simulated web app workloads.

Finally, we took a look at CPU and RAM usage. Similar to what we did in 2015, we loaded a set of 20 websites in a single window in quick succession using either a batch file or the command line depending on the quirks of the browser in question. Once all tabs began loading, we waited 45 seconds, and then checked the CPU and RAM usage. The idea was to see the amount of system resources the browser would use during a heavy workload.

One difference from 2015 is that Flash was turned off for each browser—benchmarks were done with and without the plugin in 2015. In recent years, most browser makers have de-emphasized Flash, enabling it as “click-to-play” and blocking nonessential website elements that use Flash. Since the web is moving to a Flash-free existence we decided to live the dream right now.

For these tests our rig was an Acer Aspire E15-575-33BM laptop loaded with Windows 10 Home (Creators Update), a 1TB hard drive, 4GB RAM, and an Intel Core i3-7100U. Each browser was tested over a hard line internet connection.

Edge makes big gains

Looking at both Jetstream and SunSpider, Edge won top marks by a wide margin. SunSpider has been deprecated for some time and is no longer supported, but the result was still surprising. For Octane 2.0, which is also no longer supported, Firefox and Opera vied for top spot, with Chrome the laggard by a wide margin. For this set of benchmark scores higher is better with the exception of SunSpider.

browser performance jetstream2

The JavaScript test Jetstream shows Microsoft Edge hanging tough.

browser performance sunspider

SunSpider also shows Microsoft Edge with a performance edge, loading JavaScript quite a bit more quickly than others.

browser performance octane

 

Chrome makes the poorest showing in the Octane test.

Moving on to the more modern Speedometer test, which quickly iterates through a bunch of HTML 5-based to-do lists, Chrome came out on top. Google’s Blink-based cousin Opera came in second, with Edge and Firefox way behind. The numbers were much closer for WebXPRT 2015, which uses a wide number of web apps, from photo collections to online note-taking to data sets. Edge came out on top there, while the others were closer together with only a few points separating the back three. Again, higher is better for these tests.

browser performance speedometer

Chrome narrowly edges out Opera in HTML-5-based tasks.

browser performance webxprt 2015

Edge makes another good showing in the web apps realm.

Finally, we come to the memory and CPU test. Slamming an average PC with 20 tabs of mostly media rich sites all at once is certainly going to chew up a good chunk of CPU and memory. These browsers did not disappoint in that respect.

Despite its reputation, however, Chrome was tops here, using less than 40 percent CPU power, followed by Edge. The results were similar for memory with Chrome using the least. Take those impressive Edge numbers with a healthy dose of skepticism, however, as during testing the PC froze, and we couldn’t access task manager as swiftly as with the others. The fact that the whole PC slowed to a crawl suggests Edge’s numbers don’t tell the whole story. Based on that experience, power users with multiple tabs open in Edge would feel some serious pain trying to get work done.

browser performance cpu usage2

It's true that running media rich content in multiple tabs will tax your system's CPU.

browser performance memory usage

As with the CPU test, Chrome's reputation as the biggest resource hog is undeserved these days.

As for Firefox, you may notice that the browser chewed up CPU usage, but was relatively low in memory usage. The reason for that, as Mozilla reminded us, is that Firefox alone is transitioning from one browser process to four. Whereas Chrome and Edge use multiple processes for each tab. The idea behind the latter is that individual tabs running on separate processes won't take down the whole browser if they crash. That approach does use more memory, however. Mozilla is trying to find a middle ground. On the one hand, Firefox helps maintain overall PC performance under heavier workloads, but it's not great if you want dozens of sites to load as quickly as possible. 

And the winner is...

So who wins? Here’s the way we see it.

Once again, Edge gets honorable mention for making some serious gains in performance and earning some truly impressive scores. But when you factor in customizability and how Edge fared in the live site stress test, it still has some work to do—like offering a wider extension library and the ability to sync across devices. 

As in our previous showdown, Chrome continues to capitalize on these strengths, and even improves in the performance department by addressing its past resource issues, making it, once again, our first choice.

Opera again earns second place since it performed relatively well in the live stress test, and can be set up to take advantage of nearly all the same conveniences Chrome can.

As for Firefox, it’s also a fine choice. Mozilla’s browser definitely gets the job done, it’s very customizable, and its open source roots puts the browser in a league of its own.

Source: This article was published pcworld.com By Ian

Categorized in Search Engine

Whether it's Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge, here’s how to enable private browsing on every major browser.

Private browsing is a way of masking your online search habits and history, allowing you to surf the internet without your browser saving data to onto your computer. Although it hides superficial search data, it lacks the secure encryption of a VPN and should be considered only as a means of preventing other users from seeing what pages you have visited.

These capabilities are built into everyday web browsers, including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Apple's Safari, and Mozilla Firefox, which normally involves opening a new window in a mode that prevents data capture.

Depending on the browser you use, the private browsing tool will have a different moniker - Google Chrome has its 'Incognito' mode while Internet Explorer uses 'InPrivate'. Here's our guide to private browsing and how to enable the tools on every major browser.

Google Chrome

As we mentioned above, Google Chrome calls its private browsing mode Incognito Mode. This can be accessed by simply selecting “New Incognito Window” from the menu when in Chrome. You’ll be able to tell you're using it by the "secret agent" icon in the top left corner of the window.

In Incognito Mode, Chrome won't keep track of the pages you visit, the data you enter into forms, or any searches you submit. However, it’s worth noting that Incognito mode only prevents Chrome from saving your site visit activity. It won't stop other sources from seeing what sites you’ve visited, including: your ISP; your employer (if you're using a work computer); and the websites you visit themselves.

If you use Chrome’s Incognito Mode to download files, the browser won't remember what files you download, but those files will stay on your computer after you close the Incognito tab. You'll have to manually delete them from your hard drive if you don’t want anyone to see them.

Microsoft Internet Explorer and Edge

Internet Explorer and Edge’s private browsing mode comes in the form of InPrivate browsing. To access this, select the More icon, which is displayed as three small dots in the top right of the window, and then select New InPrivate window.

As with Chrome, the same search history isn’t saved, such as temporary internet files like cookies, browsing history, form data, and downloaded files and bookmarks stick around even after you close the InPrivate window.

Microsoft's browsers also disable any third-party toolbars you might have installed when you start an InPrivate session.

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla’s private browsing feature in FireFox is simply called ‘Private Browsing mode’ and offers the same privacy tools as Chrome and Edge. However, FireFox offers an additional tool that others browsers don’t to make browsing even more safe, and that’s called Tracking Protection. This is said to prevent companies from tracking your browsing history across multiple sites so they can’t record your browsing habits.

There are two ways to open a new Private Window in FireFox.

You can either click the menu button, which is presented as three horizontal bars in the top right corner of the window, and then click New Private Window. Or you can open a link in a new Private Window by right-clicking on any link and choose Open Link in New Private Window from the context menu.

Once in Private Browsing mode, the browser window will have a purple mask at the top.

Safari

To enable Private Browsing in Apple’s Safari browser, simply go to File > New Private Window. A window that’s using Private Browsing has a dark Smart Search field with white text.

Safari's private browsing mode also removes temporary files when you close the window. Browsing history, form data, and cookies are all wiped by default.

Opera

Opera is a noteworthy browser when it comes to surfing privately on the web because, unlike its rivals, its Private Mode offers a VPN connection to add another layer of secrecy to your browsing activities. It's not a silver bullet in keeping your activities totally private, but it does provide additional protection.

To enable this feature, you can either go through the menu: File > New Private Window. Or, you can use keyboard shortcuts: Ctrl+Shift+N for Windows and ⌘+Shift+N for Mac.

Author : Lee Bell

Source : http://www.pcauthority.com.au/Feature/454469,how-to-enable-private-browsing-on-any-browser-to-keep-your-search-history-secret.aspx

Categorized in Search Engine

What's the best web browser for Windows? Find out with our in-depth testing.

The web browser is one of, if not the, most-used applications on your computer. Where once Internet Explorer was synonymous with the web, now many people just fire up Chrome without a second thought.

But why should Google enjoy a monopoly on such an important program? There are plenty of alternatives, all of which bring their own innovations to help you make the most of your time online. We test the top six browsers to help you decide which is best for the way you surf the web.

We've tested them for performance using both real-world and benchmarking tests, battery consumption using Netflix. We've also evaluated their privacy features and extra goodies so you can easily choose for yourself which is the best for you. Let's get started.

Best web browser 1

6 / 6

OUR SCORE:

MICROSOFT EDGE

Key features:
  • Low power consumption
  • Cortana integration
  • Web notes
  • Good performance
  • Sync is half-baked
The days when Microsoft’s browsers ruled the roost are long gone. Despite Windows 10 now being installed on nearly a quarter of computers worldwide, only 5% of users prefer Edge – the default Windows 10 browser. 

We have to admit that, faced with a fresh Windows 10 installation, the first thing we normally do is load up Edge and use it to install Chrome. This is a little hasty, since Edge actually has plenty to offer. 

INTERFACE

Edge’s interface is clean to the point of being bland. The only hint of colour comes from the favicons on the left of each tab: everything else is just two shades of grey. The rest of the design is browser business as usual, with tabs on the top, then toolbar and optional bookmarks bar. The Home button is off by default, but can be enabled in Settings. 

One thing that may immediately annoy is the lack of a title bar for the Edge window. This means that if you want to drag an Edge window around your desktop, you need to use the blank bit on the right of the tabs bar, which isn’t always convenient. 

STARTUP PAGE

You have four options for what loads when you start the browser: your previous session, a web page you specify, the Start page, or the New Tab page. The Start page is in danger of being a huge time-sink. 

Along with a search box at the top and a weather, sports and stock market sidebar, the page contains a newsfeed of stories from various publications, from the Mirror to Cosmopolitan to Autocar. It’s definitely a cut above your usual clickbait, and it’s easy to get sucked into: we went from a story about Debra Messing to reading about Alfonso Arau to watching Three Amigos clips on YouTube. There's also some horrible sponsored content links that feel a little out of place.

By default, the search box uses Bing. It isn’t immediately obvious how to change this. First, you go into Settings and Advanced, and scroll most of the way to the bottom to find the Change Search Engine box. If you’ve only just started using Edge, you won’t see any search engines to change to, or any way to add your own. You first need to visit the homepage of the search engine you want to add, which will make it mysteriously appear in Edge’s Settings marked as “discovered”.

Adding a search engine in other web browsers can be a confusing process, so we actually welcomed how simple it was to do in Edge – once we’d worked out how. It’s a shame there’s no way to temporarily change search engine using a drop-down menu, however.

NEW TAB PAGE

The only difference between the Startup and New Tab pages is that New Tab has a Top Sites section. This has thumbnails for some sponsored content, such as the Windows Store and Amazon, but will chiefly fill up with your most-visited sites. If a website (Facebook or Netflix, for example) has its own Windows 10 app, an Install app link will appear under that site, which you may find useful.

There’s no way to change what the New Tab page does, and no extensions available to change its behaviour, either – if you like your new tabs to go straight to a homepage, you’re out of luck. You can at least customise the page, selecting from six areas of interest to customise your newsfeed, or turn off the feed and the weather, sports or stock market sidebars entirely.

TAB HANDLING

Edge’s tabs worked as we expected. They’re dead square for space efficiency, and we particularly liked the dropdown thumbnails that appear as you hover over each tab. There’s no option to bookmark all open tabs and save them to a Bookmarks folder, which is something we’re used to seeing. The New Tab page opens instantly and is ready for your searches straight away, and there’s no hesitation when flicking between open tabs. 

BOOKMARKS AND HISTORY

Apart from the lack of a “bookmark all open tabs” option (see above), we like the way Edge deals with your bookmarks. Clicking the star button provides a dropdown menu with the option to add the bookmark to one of your Favourites folders or your Reading List. The Reading List is like a Bookmarks folder, but provides a thumbnail and a short description of the page, so you can see which entry is which at a glance.

You access your bookmarks using a tabbed sidebar that also contains your history and downloads. Bookmarks are arranged in collapsible trees, which is neat, but there’s no option to open an entire folder at once in separate tabs. Likewise, the History sidebar’s collapsible tree view is easy to use, but there’s no way to add a page from your history to your bookmarks directly – another missed opportunity. We do like the option to delete all pages from a particular subdomain, though.

CORTANA AND WEB NOTES

As you’d expect, Microsoft is keen to use Edge to point you towards its other services, as is Google – if you visit its web pages using Edge, they nag you to install Chrome, which doesn’t happen with Opera, Firefox or Vivaldi. If you select a word on a web page and right-click, there’s no option to search for that word with your current search engine – you can only “Ask Cortana” (or Bing if you’ve disabled Cortana). 

Cortana does come up with some interesting info, but you may prefer to use Google or DuckDuckGo for your searches – you should be given the choice. Another feature we feel is too Microsoft-orientated is Web Notes. These could be fantastic: scribble all over a web page, highlight things, make notes, then send to others to look at. However, the recipient won’t receive your annotations on a live web page. Instead, when you click the “share” button you receive only a screenshot of the annotated web page, which you can send using Windows’ official Mail or Twitter clients, or store with Cortana Reminders or OneNote. 

There’s no way to send the Web Note with a program of your choosing (such as your own email client), save it to Dropbox, or use another Notes application such as Evernote – even if you install the official Microsoft Evernote app. It’s a limited feature that you may find useful only occasionally. 

READING VIEW

Next to the Favourites button is one for Reading View. After a page has loaded, you can click this to strip out all adverts and page furniture, leaving you with an easy-to-read body of text and pictures. It’s a great way to make web news stories more pleasant to read, while still making sure the page gets some revenue from adverts. However, it only works on a limited number of pages (such as those in your newsfeed). On sites such as BBC News and The Guardian, the icon is simple greyed out and listed as “unavailable”. 

SYNC

Most major browsers have a built-in synchronisation service; you sign up for a Google/Firefox/Opera account and your history, open tabs, favourites, passwords and so on will remain synchronised between browsers on different machines. Edge has a sync service, but will only sync your Favourites and Reading List; and, crucially, only if you’re signed into Windows 10 with a Microsoft account. 

You may prefer to have a local account for Windows, so no sync for you. We’d rather you could sign into a Microsoft account just for Edge.

Best web browser 4

PERFORMANCE

Edge feels like a seriously quick browser. Although its time of 5 seconds to load www.trustedreviews.com is one of the longest we measured – and identical to Firefox – it has the smoothest scrolling of any browser we’ve used, which makes browsing around web pages a pleasure. Its MotionMark graphics and Speedometer web application benchmark scores of 193.42 and 47.99 are below average, but 225.56 in the JetStream JavaScript benchmark is a huge score. 

Edge feels fast, but its benchmark performance is a mixed bag. It’s also a memory hog, requiring nearly 1.4GB of RAM with our six test tabs open – 500MB to 900MB more than the competition. It’s easy on your laptop’s battery, though: one hour of Netflix used 23% of battery, compared to between 26% and 32% for the competition. 

EXTENSIONS

Extensions are only a recent addition to Edge, and there are very few: only 20 in the Microsoft Store at the time of writing, including several ad blockers, LastPass and the Pocket save-it-for-later tool. One extension, called Turn off the Lights (below), darkens the entire screen while you’re playing a video, with the exception of the video itself. It’s a cracking alternative to full-screen mode. 
Best web browser 3

VERDICT

There are many things to like about Edge. It feels fast, we love its super-smooth scrolling, and it’s generally easy to use. Microsoft needs to add some extra features to keep up with the competition, though, such as the ability to save all open tabs as a Bookmarks folder and then open that folder’s bookmarks all at once. The Sync function is also limited, and being restricted to Bing when right-clicking to search is annoying. If Microsoft would just loosen its grip a little, Edge could be great. For now, those after a no-nonsense browser should stick with Chrome.
Best web browser 2

5 / 6

OUR SCORE:

MOZILLA FIREFOX

Key features:
  • Detailed privacy settings
  • Customisable
  • A little slow
  • Relatively high battery usage
Ten years ago, Firefox was the browser to beat, dwarfing Google’s upstart Chrome. Now the picture is rather different: Chrome is dominant, and Firefox is slipping towards a mere 10% market share. 

Firefox is far from dead, though, and still has some tricks up its sleeve. It’s serious about privacy, with technology to stop companies tracking the pages you visit even if they ignore a “Do not track” request. It has a library of extensions to rival that of Chrome, and while it’s no Vivaldi, it’s still possible to customise the interface to a certain degree. 

INTERFACE

Nowadays, Firefox looks very much like Chrome: tabs at the top, a combined address and search bar, and an optional bookmarks bar. The interface is busier than Chrome’s, but as we discuss below, Chrome’s clean look can come at the cost of functionality. 

By default, there’s a home button and a dedicated search box – although we’re not quite sure why this separate search box is necessary. In Vivaldi, it’s a privacy feature; you can turn off search suggestions for the search box, so text you enter isn’t sent direct to the search provider’s servers before you even press enter. In Firefox, you can’t configure the address bar and search box separately – both either have search suggestions enabled or disabled. 

Fortunately, Firefox makes it easy to customise the interface and remove such clutter. By right-clicking on the toolbar and clicking Customize, you can drag and drop various interface elements around and add or remove shortcut icons to suit your way of working.  

Best web browser 5

The customisation is limited to which shortcut buttons you require, and whether you want them on the left or right of the address bar, but we still appreciate being able to add one-click buttons for History and Private Browsing, as well as the ability to remove the redundant search box mentioned above. Having History or Bookmarks on the toolbar also provides you with a much wider, easier-to-use menu than when you access them through Firefox’s main menu button. 

The customisation section is a good way to add the Firefox “Forget” button. This is another signature privacy feature: with a click Firefox will close all windows and tabs and delete your cookies and history from the past five minutes, two hours or 24 hours. Other browsers let you delete you history selectively, but not with a single click.

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STARTUP AND TABS

By default Firefox opens with the Mozilla Firefox Start page, which has a Google search box and a selection of shortcut buttons to various program features. It isn’t particularly useful, but it’s easy to change. The New Tab page is simple but effective: it features a search box for whatever provider you have chosen in Settings, and thumbnails for your most-visited sites. 

We hunted high and low in Settings for a way to change what happens when you open a new tab, but to no avail. We eventually noticed the cog icon at the top-right of the New Tab page itself. This provides you with a choice of a blank page or a page with suggested sites, but an extension such as New Tab Homepage will sort that out. 

Right-clicking on a tab displays the usual close/mute/pin tab options, and you can save all open tabs to a specific Bookmarks folder. Firefox doesn’t have a menu to let you see at-a-glance which tabs you have open, but pressing Ctrl-tab flicks between the two most recently used tabs, and keeping the control key held down after you press the tab key brings up an Alt-tab-style thumbnail view of all open tabs.

BOOKMARKS AND HISTORY

On the whole, we like the way Firefox’s bookmarks and history work. Clicking the History button offers a dropdown menu with recently closed tabs, your most recent history and the useful option to restore the entire previous browser session. Clicking Show All History brings up a pop-up resizable window with all your visited web pages, and you can open them in new windows or tabs, or add history entries to your Bookmarks folders. 

You can also bring up a sidebar with your history arranged in a list, and it will stay open as you click through the entries trying to find the right page. It all works fine, but we wish Firefox used a less compressed font to make things easier to read. 

The Bookmarks button provides quick access to your bookmarks toolbar, and clicking Show All Bookmarks brings up a window that’s similar in look to the All History window – it isn’t pretty, but it works. There’s also a Bookmarks sidebar, with all your saved pages arranged in a tree format. 

PERFORMANCE

Unlike Chrome, Opera and Vivaldi, Firefox doesn’t use the Chromium project’s Blink engine. Instead, it uses Mozilla’s Gecko engine, and it just doesn’t feel quite as fast. It takes the browser 5 seconds to render www.trustedreviews.com, compared to 2.8 for Chrome and Opera, and Firefox lags behind Chrome, Edge, Opera and Vivaldi in the MotionMark graphics benchmark and JetStream JavaScript benchmark. It’s also the second-slowest browser we tested in the Speedometer web application test, behind Edge. 

These slow benchmark scores are reflected in general use. There’s a very slight delay when flicking between tabs, and things become rather jerky when you drag tabs to rearrange them. Scrolling through pages can sometimes feel like there’s something clogging up your mousewheel, too. It isn’t terrible, by any means, but if you’re used to the smoothness of Chrome and Opera then you may feel your browsing experience is compromised. 

We did notice that Firefox gradually became slower over time as we filled its history and loaded it up with bookmarks. This was fixed with the “Refresh Firefox” option in the about:support section, but we haven’t experienced such a slowdown with other browsers. 

Firefox consumed the most battery in an hour of Netflix streaming, eating up 32%. That's more than all the other browsers on test here.

EXTENSIONS

Firefox was the first browser to support extensions, and as you’d expect, there are plenty available. DownThemAll, to save multiple files from an HTTP server, is particularly useful, as is Textarea Cache, which automatically saves any text you enter in a textbox, in case your browser crashes. 

SYNC

Firefox isn’t behind with Sync, either. Once you’re signed in with a Firefox account, you can sync your tabs, bookmarks, passwords, history, extensions and settings between devices. You can also synchronise bookmarks and history with mobile devices. However, when tested this with an Android phone, we found that sync kept pausing, and we had to go into Settings | Accounts & Sync to kick-start it manually.

VERDICT

Firefox is a competent browser, with some great features such as the bookmarks and history sidebars, customisable toolbar and the Forget button. However, it’s one of the slowest browsers we’ve tested, and some aspects of the interface, while useful, could do with an overhaul to make them more attractive and easier to use. Apparently, there’s an improved rendering engine on the way, which should help matters. In the meantime, though, you should stick to Chrome for outright speed and Vivaldi for interface innovation.
Best web browser 4

4 / 6

OUR SCORE:

TOR

Key features:
  • Privacy focussed
  • Loaded with security features
  • Lots of add-ons
  • Relatively slow
  • Slows down connection speeds

When it comes to online anonymity, Tor is the real deal. The combination of a specially modified version of Firefox and a network of anonymous relays makes it extremely hard for anyone to identify you and the websites you visit. 

Instead of connecting you straight to a server on the internet, Tor wraps the data you send with multiple encryption layers, then bounces this data through a network of relays. Each relay decrypts an encryption layer to reveal the next relay in the chain, or Tor Circuit. The final relay decrypts your data and sends it to its destination – but since this relay doesn’t know where the original data came from, it's extremely hard for the destination server to learn anything about you, such as your IP address.

Tor isn’t perfect, and has been compromised in the past, but it's the best method we have to keep the websites we visit safe from prying eyes. 

INTERFACE

Tor is remarkably easy to use. It's a portable application, and the installer just unpacks the browser's files to a folder of your choosing. From there, just run the Start Tor Browser shortcut. When you first run Tor, you can choose whether you have a direct connection to the internet – such as at home – or whether you're behind some kind of firewall or proxy and will need to fiddle with some settings to connect. 
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On our home broadband connection, the direct connection worked perfectly: Tor connected, and up popped the familiar shape of Firefox. The Tor Start page offers up a DuckDuckGo search box – DuckDuckGo being the search engine that prides itself on not tracking you. 

There are also some tips on staying anonymous. Using the Tor browser isn’t enough to stay safe from prying eyes; you should also avoid using applications that bypass the Tor network, such as torrent software, or plugins such as Flash that can be "manipulated into revealing your IP address". In addition, never open files downloaded through Tor – such as DOC and PDF – in external applications, since these can connect to external services outside the Tor network and reveal your IP address. 

After maximising the browser window, we were intrigued to see a warning message that this could identify us on the internet: the reason being that a maximised browser window can give away your monitor's resolution and so help build a fingerprint of your machine to help outside parties track you. Tor recommends you keep the application at its default windowed size to avoid this. Scary stuff.

Tor's Bookmarks work in the same manner as standard Firefox, but History is interesting, in that Tor doesn’t save it. As you'd expect for a privacy-focused browser, Tor is set to always be in Private Browsing mode, so it won’t save your history or accept any cookies. You can disable this in Settings easily enough, though. 

SECURITY ADD-ONS

There are a couple of Tor-specific additions to Firefox. The most obvious is the small onion icon on the left of the address bar. This gives you the relays your web connection has jumped through to reach the current site, their IP addresses and the countries in which they reside. An option to create a new Tor Circuit for your current site will connect you to a new selection of relays: we found this useful when we were being routed through Taiwan, for example, and the connection was very slow. There's also the nuclear option to choose a New Identity, which restarts the browser and provides a new Circuit at the same time. 

It's worth exploring Tor’s Security Settings option. This takes the form of a slider with Low, Medium and High security levels, with progressively more content blocked as you go up the scale. For example, Medium and High levels would even block some of the images on www.trustedreviews.com. The onion menu shows you what content has been blocked, and you can re-enable it as you wish: granting permission for a couple of video codecs let us play YouTube videos, for example. 

Aside from the Tor network itself, the Tor browser has a couple of add-ons to keep you safe. These are the NoScript and HTTPS Everywhere plugins. NoScript blocks JavaScript – and plenty of other technologies, such as Java – on any websites you don’t add to a whitelist. Many malicious websites use scripts to attack a visiting machine, so simply having scripts blocked by default is a good way to remain safe online. 

HTTPS Everywhere is an attempt to force all connections to websites to use the encrypted HTTPS protocol, to help prevent data passing between your computer and the site from being intercepted. Some sites default to unencrypted HTTP when you type their URL into your browser's address bar, or have pages full of links back to the unencrypted HTTP version of the site. HTTPS Everywhere finds those links and redirects to the secure version of the page automatically. 

Both are useful tools, but they’re also available for standard browsers: Chrome, Firefox and Opera for HTTPS Everywhere, and Firefox for NoScript. 

PERFORMANCE

As you'd expect from the way it works, Tor isn’t a fast browser. All that bouncing around the world takes its toll on download speeds. Using standard Firefox, speedtest.net reported our internet connection as 47Mbits/sec download and 7.2Mbits/sec upload, with a 9ms ping. With the Tor browser, we saw just 8.7Mbits/sec download and 1.9Mbits/sec upload speeds, with a 100ms ping. 

This would be fine for normal web surfing, but the connection speeds are erratic – some sites would just grind to a halt before loading CSS, leaving a bare skeleton of a page. In addition, some sites found the traffic profile created by Tor suspicious, asking you to fill in a CAPTCHA to check you're not a robot, or flat-out block you. For example, Google wouldn't let us search due to “unusual traffic” (although if you're using Tor for Google, you should rethink your privacy priorities). Netflix is also deeply suspicious, but this could be because it didn't know what content to offer us from one session to the next as we hopped around the globe.

This is the price you pay for unrivalled privacy, however – and you're unlikely to use Tor to do your Tesco shop. It's more likely to come into its own when you want to look up something that the authorities don’t want you to see, or if you want to visit a site that, for whatever reason may be banned in your country. Tor is invaluable in countries without the kind of internet freedoms we enjoy in the UK, where it's often the only way to get hold of news sources outside the grip of the government. 

VERDICT

In the way that it manages to do something complicated in a manner that’s both straightforward and transparent to the user, Tor is a triumph. There’s no better way to safeguard your privacy online, there are no VPNs or subscriptions to worry about, and no complicated configuration. A single 50MB download and you're safe from all but the most determined. 

Performance issues mean you'll still want to use a normal browser for most of your surfing, but keep that Tor shortcut handy; you never know who's watching.

Best web browser 3

3 / 6

OUR SCORE:

OPERA

Key features
  • Built-in free VPN
  • Modest extension library
  • Good performance
  • Sync service

Opera has always been a niche player in the browser market, but loyal users have appreciated its commitment to innovation. It was the first major web browser with tabs, for example – fancy going back to a pre-tabs browser now? Thought not. 

Its focus has changed recently, however. The latest versions no longer use Opera’s own rendering engine, instead relying on the Chromium project’s Blink engine, and it’s no longer possible to customise the browser’s interface. 

SPECIAL FEATURES

Opera may have lost some of its distinctiveness, but it’s still a modern-looking browser with an impressive interface and one killer feature: built-in VPN. This is incredibly easy to set up: just tick a box and you’ll connect to websites via a proxy server, which will help mask your location and IP address. 
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You can choose whether you want to connect via a VPN in Canada, the US, Germany, Holland or Singapore, or choose an optimum server (Holland, in our case). The VPN let us look at the US versions of sites such as Netflix, as well as sites that are banned in the UK, and impressively didn’t slow down our connection speed at all. Opera doesn’t even set a bandwidth cap. It’s quite an extra. 

Opera also comes with a built-in ad blocker. You may not agree with ad blockers, but some people value their ability to speed up web page loading and protect from tracking. You enable the ad blocker by ticking a box in Settings, and can add sites that the ad blocker will ignore (in case they don’t load properly, or you’d rather not deprive them of revenue). 

INTERFACE

Opera has a clean and modern interface. All is where you’d expect to find it. Tabs are at the top, with a combined search and address bar, as well as an optional bookmarks bar. The address bar will return Google’s suggestions for web addresses and search terms as you enter text, but you can also turn on a dedicated search box. The dedicated box doesn’t offer suggestions – useful if you don’t want what you’re typing to be sent straight to Google’s servers as you type it. We’d have liked to be able to select a search engine directly from this box, rather than having to go into Settings to change all our search defaults. 

A couple of interface elements stand out. The first is that there’s no Home button, and no way to enable one. Browsers are moving away from Home buttons, but as heavy users of multiple Google services, we still find it useful to have a single, immutable button for the Google homepage. 

TAB HANDLING

Opera’s almost-square tabs are space-efficient, and inactivate tabs fade to a subtle grey, so it’s easy to see which is active. You have a few standard right-click options (clone tab, close all other tabs, and so on) but there are fewer ways to manipulate your tabs than in Vivaldi. The tabs menu on the right is neat, showing you all open as well as recently closed tabs, and hovering over an entry displays a large thumbnail of the web page. We wish Opera would also display a thumbnail when you hover over a tab on the tab bar, as is the case in Edge and Vivaldi. 

Where you’d expect to find a Home button, Opera has Speed Dial. This is a selection of most-used sites, with each presented as a designed card, rather than a thumbnail. This is prettier, if less useful. The Speed Dial is initially populated by a number of commercial sites such as Facebook, Amazon and eBay, but it takes little time to remove these. There are also a selection of Speed Dial suggestions, which are mainly based on your browsing history. You can even create folders to keep your Speed Dial organised.  

As in Vivaldi, your Speed Dial pages are treated as a Bookmarks folder, which makes it easier to move pages between folders and edit and delete them. You can also right-click on a tab and save all open tabs as a Speed Dial folder. 

If you’re going to use Opera, you’ll need to learn to love Speed Dial, since it’s the only choice you get when you open a new tab – unless you install an extension such as New Tab Start Page Pro. This isn’t a problem, since the sidebar makes Speed Dial a useful one-stop shop for everything you need to do within the browser. The sidebar provides access to your bookmarks manager, history, extensions, downloads and settings, so you’ll rarely need to use the application’s main menu. 

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We have few complaints about how the various sections are laid out: you can right-click and add items from your history to your bookmarks, but only one page at a time, and the Settings menu is clearer than that of Edge and Chrome, if still a little sprawling. The Bookmarks view is easy to navigate, with drag-and-drop animations helping you move bookmarks exactly where you want them. However, we’d like to see a list of all bookmarks in the tree view on the left, rather than just folders. 

One interesting aspect is the Personal news section. This aggregates stories from around the web, according to Opera’s “Top 50”, or news stories you pick from a catalogue. This is limited to a number of publications chosen by Opera, and includes many of the big names you’d expect: the Guardian, Economist and Telegraph, for example. It’s a fine way to keep tabs on what’s going on and allows you more control than the Edge browser’s newsfeed. 

EXTENSIONS

Opera has its own family of extensions, but the library is far smaller than that available for Chrome or Firefox. However, since Opera used Chromium project technology, it’s easy to add Chrome extensions, as long as you first install the handily-named 'Download Chrome Extension' extension. This even changes the install button on the official Chrome extension store from Add to Chrome to Add to Opera. Not all extensions will work, so you’ll need to deploy trial and error: animatedTabs wasn’t happy, for example, but Grammarly worked fine. 

PERFORMANCE

Opera feels quick. New tabs open instantly, and there’s no sign of the hesitation when flicking between tabs that we saw with Vivaldi. The browser acquitted itself well in our browser benchmarks, too. A score of 267.89 in the MotionMark graphics handling benchmark is second only to Chrome, and 68.65 in the Speedometer web application test is above average. 

The browser could render www.trustedreviews.com in just 2.8 seconds, making it just as fast as Chrome and far quicker than Firefox, Edge and Vivaldi. Scrolling around web pages is beautifully smooth, too. The only downside is that Opera uses a lot of RAM: 826MB with our selection of six tabs open, making this the biggest memory hog we’ve seen apart from Edge. 

Opera also has a special Battery Saver mode. With this enabled, an hour of Netflix watching used 26% of our test laptop’s battery, compared to 28% with the mode disabled – this is such a small difference that we’re tempted to put it down to statistical variation. 

SYNC

Opera has its own Sync service. You need to create an Opera account and password, and all or any of your bookmarks, settings, history, open tabs and passwords will be synced across all your devices, including smartphones. When you have multiple Opera-running devices synced, the Tabs menu gains an Other Devices sub-menu, with each device’s open tabs listed in its own section.

VERDICT

Opera may no longer be particularly customisable, and Vivaldi (founded by ex-Opera employees) has certainly stolen its crown for innovation, but it’s still a cleanly designed and fast browser. Opera does find itself caught between two stools: it has neither the outright speed of Chrome nor the power features of Vivaldi. However, if the VPN, ad blocker and newsfeed features appeal, it’s a fine alternative.
Best web browser 5

2 / 6

OUR SCORE:

VIVALDI

Key features:
  • Incredibly customisable
  • Tab stacking and tiling
  • Based on Chromium
  • Best for power users
  • A little slow

Vivaldi was created by former employees of Opera software and, similar to the Opera browser, is designed with customisation in mind. You can tweak this browser to work in a way that suits you, and it’s brimming with innovative features. 

INTERFACE

The Startup wizard rams the message home. It lets you choose your theme (Human is very Linux; Redmond very Microsoft), decide whether you want your tabs to go at the top, bottom, left or right, and choose a background picture for your Start page. It’s a useful introduction to just how many parts of Vivaldi’s interface you can tweak. You’re then pointed towards some introductory YouTube videos – the developers want to make sure you don’t miss out on unique features such as Tab Stacks. 

The Settings menu is colossal, but is logically organised with a search function. We like that the Settings window can remain open and any changes you make happen in real time to the main browser – it makes it easy to fiddle around with Vivaldi’s appearance. 

Vivaldi features are a couple of controls missing in most browsers: mouse gestures and Quick Commands. You can hold down the right mouse button and draw various patterns to perform functions such as opening and closing tabs, and going back and forth through your history. You can even draw your own patterns, although if you make one that’s already assigned to another feature, Vivaldi will tell you the pattern is in use, but not by what. 

We don't use mouse gestures, but there are doubtless many who would. We much preferred Quick Commands. You press F2 to bring up a search box that will look through your bookmarks and history, as well as program commands and settings, as you type. It’s a quick way to navigate all the information stored in your browser from a single place. 

TAB HANDLING

Vivaldi’s tab handling is one of its most impressive aspects. For a start, you don’t have to have tabs along the top. If you’d rather mimic the Windows start bar, then place it at the bottom. Want to take advantage of a widescreen monitor? Put it to the side. Having your tab bar at the left or right also gives you a useful thumbnail of each page. 

A movable tab bar is only the beginning. Move one tab onto another and Vivaldi will group them together to form a Tab Stack. Hovering the mouse over the Stack shows you thumbnails of all the pages it contains, so you can choose the one you want. You can also Ctrl-click to select multiple tabs, then right-click and add them to a Tab Stack. 

A particularly useful feature is Stack Tabs by Host, so if you have multiple pages from www.trustedreviews.com open, you can make a Tab Stack with a single click. Oddly, this wouldn’t work with Google sites, and we wish clicking on the Tab Stack would bring up the thumbnails – it would feel more natural than just hovering over the top. 

Right-clicking on a tab, multiple tabs or a Tab Stack provides brings up a number of useful options. You can move a tab or a Stack to a new window if your tab bar is getting overwhelming. You can bookmark a single tab, all open tabs or a Tab Stack, and multiple tabs will be given their own folder stamped with the time the bookmarks were created. 

Best of all, you can tile tabs within a single browser window. It’s great for multi-tasking – when you have a couple of websites open and are typing into a Google Doc, for example – and, once again, is a great way to take advantage of a widescreen or ultra-widescreen monitor. We wish there was a way to resize the tiles, however. 

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There’s one last feature we found particularly useful: the tab trash can. Click this icon and you’ll see all the tabs you’ve had open previously, so you can restore them with a click – and the browser will even remember your tabs after a restart.

NEW TAB PAGE

You have plenty of options when it comes to new tabs: the Start page, your homepage, a blank page or a page you specify. Most browsers only offer the option of a blank page or a special New Tab page. Since we access so many different services, from email to documents to maps, from the Google homepage, we liked having that open automatically with every new tab. 

The Start page itself stands out. It’s split into Bookmarks, History and Speed Dial – similar to Bookmarks, but with thumbnails. You can create as many Speed Dial sections as you need; you can have a section for social media, news, shopping, messaging and anything else you can think of. 

Speed Dial doesn’t automatically fill up with your most-visited sites in the way that Chrome’s New Tab page does, but it does provide suggestions for Speed Dial entries based on your browsing history. You can also turn a Bookmarks folder into a Speed Dial with a click. 

ADDRESS BAR

As with all modern browsers, you can search from the address bar, and as long as you enable the option, you will receive suggestions to complete web addresses and search strings as you type. Those concerned about privacy may wish to disable this option, as it means data is sent to a search provider such as Google before you even press return. You can get around this by enabling a dedicated search box with suggestions disabled, so you can use this box instead when you’re concerned about privacy. 

One problem we had was that Vivaldi would return search suggestions when we had Bing set as the default search engine, but not Google. This is apparently a known bug. 

BOOKMARKS AND PANELS

The browser comes with a number of shopping bookmarks, which is presumably one of the ways in which the Vivaldi developers make money. It takes little time to remove them if you’re not interested. Adding a bookmark is easy with the button next to the address bar, or a right-click on a tab. You can also drag items from your history straight to a Bookmarks folder. 

You can either manage your bookmarks with the Start page, where a tree view makes it simple to create folders and move bookmarks around, or use the tree view in the Bookmarks Panel. The Panels live on the left or right of your monitor, depending on your preference, and there are sections for Bookmarks, Downloads, Notes and Web Panels. 

Bookmarks and Downloads work as you’d expect, but Notes and Web Panels are particularly interesting. As well as adding text, Notes lets you screenshot the current page or a portion of it to attach to the Note, and will automatically add the page’s URL to the note’s metadata. It’s a powerful and well-integrated feature, and the only thing missing is any kind of sync capability – but that’s apparently coming soon. 

Web Panels are a way to keep various web pages open in your browser as sidebars. It’s particularly useful for frequently updated sites that you flick to occasionally, such as a news site or Twitter. Any site can be a web panel, but some get confused about the device you’re using and ask you to install an app.  

EXTENSIONS

Vivaldi currently doesn’t have any native extensions, but since it’s based on the Chromium browser project, most Chromium extensions should work. It’s such a feature-packed browser that you shouldn’t really need too many add-ons. One extension we did need was the User Agent Switcher for Chrome (below). Without it, Netflix refused to play anything. Once I fooled the service into thinking I was using Chrome, everything was fine. 
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PERFORMANCE

This is the one area where Vivaldi falls down, If only very slightly. Despite competitive scores in the MotionMark animation benchmark, Speedometer web app test and JetStream JavaScript benchmarks, it didn’t feel quite as smooth as Chrome or Edge when scrolling through web pages. There’s also a very slight pause when opening the Start page, especially if you have a background image turned on. However, memory usage with six web pages open was the lowest of any mainstream browser here, at just 524MB, so this is no resource hog overall. 

In the Netflix test, it consumed 28% battery in an hour, putting it firmly in the mid-table.

VERDICT

There’s no doubt Vivaldi is an excellent browser. There’s no need to hunt around for extensions: if you can think of a feature you need, it’s probably already there. The only thing currently missing is sync, but that’s on the way. Those with more modest requirements should stick with the super-fast Chrome, but if you’re a power user who deals with huge bookmark libraries and likes to keep plenty of tabs open, you’ll love it.
Best web browser

1 / 6

OUR SCORE:

GOOGLE CHROME

Key features:
  • Deeply integrated with Google services
  • Decent performance
  • Easy-to-manage site privacy controls
  • Loads of add-ons
  • Excellent sync
  • Slightly confusing interface
Since its launch in 2008, Chrome has grown to the point where nearly 60% of desktop users surf using Google’s browser. 

It’s easy to see why it’s so popular. At launch Chrome was a revelation, thanks to its clean interface and incredible performance. It’s had its ups and downs since, but Google has recently stripped out some of the bloat to make Chrome quick and intuitive once again. 

INTERFACE

The reason Chrome is the go-to browser for so many people is obvious: it’s just so easy to use. It loads quickly – start typing into the address/search box and results will appear instantly from your history, alongside Google’s own suggestions, to complete your web searches. These suggestions take the form of web addresses (type in www.gu and you’ll get suggestions for The Guardian, Gumtree and Guildford Council, for example) as well as search strings. In effect, you can be on a specific web page or have a page of Google results within moments of opening the browser. 

Of course, this is advantageous to Google as well as its users, since the company relies on collecting information. And it’s this very reason that causes many folk to worry about using. What you type into the address box is sent direct to Google before you’ve even pressed return, in order for the company to provide you with search suggestions. Unlike Opera and Vivaldi, there’s no option to have a dedicated search box with suggestions disabled; you have to disable suggestions entirely in the browser’s settings. 

There isn’t much else to Chrome – just tabs, address bar, navigation and bookmark buttons and a menu. There are plenty of hidden features, which bolsters the browser’s clean look but doesn’t always aid usability, as we’ll explain later. 

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The browser does an excellent job of helping you manage your interaction with websites. Click the icon on the left of your current web address, and you can view information about the current site –whether your connection is encrypted and how many cookies are in use, for example. You can also choose whether you want to allow or deny technologies such as JavaScript or Flash, or let the site access your computer’s camera or microphone. It’s the easiest site security control we’ve seen. 

NEW TAB PAGE

You don’t get a Home button by default, but it’s easy to enable in Settings. We like to have a home button set to google.co.uk due to our reliance on multiple Google web apps – it’s simple to access these from the Google homepage. 

This being a Google browser, there are other ways to access Google’s services too. The first is with the Apps bookmark, which is set up on the Bookmarks Bar by default. This sends you to chrome://apps, and has large icons for the Web Store (for more apps and browser extensions), Google Drive, Gmail and YouTube, among others. The difference between apps and extensions is that extensions change or extend the way the web browser itself works; apps, on the other hand, are services or web programs you access through that browser. 

You can also access Google’s apps/services using the New Tab page. As with Opera, there’s no way to change what appears when you open a new tab, unless you use an extension such as New tab URL. A bar at the top of the New Tab page includes a menu for Google’s services, and if you’re signed in it will let you access your profile information. 

The New Tab page also consists of a Google search box and eight thumbnails for your most-used sites. This looks a little like Opera or Vivaldi’s Speed Dial, but without either’s level of customisation. The only thing you can do is delete sites from the page, rather than organise them in any particular fashion. 

TAB HANDLING

Chrome opens tabs instantly and flicks between them without hesitation. Everything about the browser performs with great alacrity. There’s nothing fancy about Chrome’s tab handling, but it’s slick and intuitive, whether you’re rearranging tabs or pulling them out to create new windows. Right-clicking a tab brings up standard options – such as pinning a tab (so it will survive a browser restart), duplicating or closing that tab or all other tabs – as well as the option to bookmark all open tabs and save them to a folder. 

Our only real niggle with Chrome’s tab handling is that pressing Ctrl-tab clicks through the tabs in order, rather than between the last-used tabs. This can be fixed using an extension such as CLUT (Cycle Last Used Tabs), but is an example of where the competition is pulling ahead. There’s also no tabs menu, where you can see a list of open tabs at a glance, or thumbnails when you hover over a tab. There is a least a list of recently closed tabs, hidden away in the History section of the main menu. 

HISTORY AND BOOKMARKS

This brings us to another gripe with Chrome: useful features are hidden away, with no effort made to integrate them with the main interface. You access both your history and bookmarks from awkward fly-out sub-menus in the application’s main menu. We’d recommend learning the keyboard shortcuts instead (Ctrl-H and Ctrl-Shift-O). 

We did find we missed the fancy ways other browsers have of making your history and bookmarks accessible. Chrome just opens them in a new tab, which is fine, but it isn’t a patch on Firefox’s pop-up history sidebar or Vivaldi and Opera’s Speed Dial. For bookmarks, we find Chrome works best if you enable the Bookmarks Bar and are fastidious about arranging bookmarks in folders. The Bookmarks Manager does make it simple to organise your bookmarks, thanks to a folder hierarchy view and drag-and-drop. Unfortunately, you can’t create a bookmark direct from your history. 

EXTENSIONS

Chrome has a huge library of extensions, so if there’s something about the browser’s behaviour you want to tweak, there’s probably an extension out there to make it happen. Again, there’s no easy way to access installed extensions; you need to go Menu|More tools|Extensions, then click the Get More Extensions link at the bottom. It makes them feel like a bit of an afterthought. 

SYNC

Chrome’s Sync uses your Google account, and is as comprehensive as you want it to be. You can choose to sync your installed apps, extensions, settings, themes, history, bookmarks and open tabs across devices, and even your passwords and autofill information (for web page address fields and so on). It’s useful to have this data synced, but think carefully about the possible consequences of having so much information shared between all your PCs and mobile devices – even if you do trust Google itself. 

PERFORMANCE

Chrome feels fast, and is fast. It came top of the MotionMark graphics benchmark with a huge 380.84, and was comfortably the fastest browser we tested in the Speedometer web application benchmark with 117.3. Its score of 184.36 in the JetStream JavaScript benchmark was beaten only by Microsoft Edge. It could render TrustedReviews.com in 2.8 seconds, so shares top honours with Opera. Its memory usage is average, at 704.5MB with our six test pages open.  

It consumed 26% of our test machine's battery in an hour of Netflix streaming, which isn't the worst but comes in behind Microsoft Edge.

VERDICT

Chrome remains an excellent browser. In the past, some versions have been sluggish or buggy, but the current edition (56, as tested) is fast and stable. Once you’re used to how quickly Chrome responds, other browsers can feel slow, even if there’s very little difference in reality. 

However, what Chrome has in speed it lacks in extra features, and its interface, while clean, hides many of its useful features away. We’d happily take a little more clutter for easier access to our bookmark manager and history, for example, or to have a more customisable New Tab page. If you’ve always used Chrome, it’s worth installing an alternative such as Vivaldi, Opera or Firefox, just to see what you might be missing. 

Author : Chris Finnamore

Source : http://www.trustedreviews.com/best-web-browser_round-up

Categorized in Science & Tech

NETRALNEWS.COM - The number of internet users world-wide has roughly doubled in the past eight years to around 3.5 billion. The people who have come aboard in the past few years are spending their time in something that was overshadowed long ago in developed countries by apps: the mobile web browser.

Single-purpose apps like Facebook and Snapchat are the product of markets where monthly data plans and home Wi-Fi are abundant. App stores require email addresses and credit cards, two things many new phone owners just don’t have.

In places like India, Indonesia and Brazil, it’s easy to buy an Android phone for as little as $25—even less for older second-hand (or third-hand) refurbished phones. But there’s likely to be little onboard storage, and the pay-as-you-go data plan is too precious to waste on apps, especially those that send and receive data even when you aren’t using them.

Browsers are popular again, not just because typing a URL has become simpler, but also because they work harder to compensate for the nature of wireless access in emerging markets.

Southeast Asia, South Asia, South America, Mexico and Africa are all areas where the dominant browsers—Alibaba’s UC Browser, Opera Mini by Opera Software and Google Chrome from Alphabet Inc.—have the ability to compress browsing data, by up to 90% in some cases, so people burn up as little as possible. UC Browser and Opera Mini also have robust built-in ad blocking, further cutting down on data costs.

On Friday, Jana, a mobile-ad company, entered this browser market with another incentive: free daily data. By delivering 10 megabytes (or about 20 minutes) of free data a day through its mCent Browser, Jana hopes to build a following and pay for it by charging for conventional ads and sponsorship of the browser. It also intends to charge partners to be their browsers’ default search engine.

In terms of the scale of the users they have accumulated—UC Browser had more than 400 million users as of last April—these browser businesses are making a virtue out of the constraints of mobile-telecom systems in rural areas and emerging markets, where infrastructure is generations behind what it might be in richer countries.

As the global middle class continues to rise in emerging markets, browser makers are racking up users nearly as fast as Facebook did in its highest-growth period. And they are figuring out how to keep their users occupied while monetizing them through mobile advertising.

Google, Facebook and other internet giants are well aware of these trends. Two-thirds of Facebook’s users are in emerging markets, and while the company’s Free Basics program—part of Internet.org —was banned in India for favoring some websites over others, it is available in many countries in Africa and South America. And Facebook says it has upward of 200 million users on Facebook Lite, an app for low-bandwidth users.

As for Google, it benefits inherently from rapid global internet adoption, which would be impossible without Android. And while Google’s mobile Chrome browser remains dominant in many emerging markets, it also pays Opera, among others, to direct search traffic to ad-supported Google services.

It’s logical that as people in emerging markets become wealthier and their mobile infrastructure becomes better, they’ll follow the same trends as their richer peers, and their internet consumption will shift to apps. India, with its 1.3 billion people, is projected to increase its per-capita income by 125% by 2025, according to Morgan Stanley.

But for the foreseeable future, Opera, UC Browser and Jana are all betting that the ranks of these “next billion” people coming onto the internet will continue to refresh themselves—and experience constraints that mobile browsers are uniquely capable of alleviating.

“In India, the raw growth numbers are just huge—it’s both a lot more people coming online but also usage, because data is getting cheaper,” says Nuno Sitima, an executive vice president and head of mobile business at Opera Software, founded in 1995 and based in Oslo, Norway; it was sold last year to a consortium of Chinese investors for $575 million.

In terms of new downloads, Africa is growing fastest, Mr. Sitima says, while Southeast Asia, with more than 600 million people, is another huge market for these browsers. For Alibaba, which acquired UCWeb in 2014 for north of $1.9 billion, UC Browser isn’t just a browser, but a beachhead.

The company is rolling out ways to make its browser sticky, like a sprawling, aggregation-fueled news site in India, where it is the No. 1 browser. While mCent Browser is just launching in beta, Nathan Eagle, Jana’s chief executive, says the prospect of free internet is extremely appealing to users in the developing world.

To date, Jana’s core product has been an ad-powered payment system, also called mCent, on which its new browser depends. Basically, mCent pays for the airtime of users who watch ads or redeem promotions. Through relationships with 311 mobile operators in 90 countries, Jana is connected to the billing back-end of more than 4 billion mobile accounts and has leveraged that access for 30 million mCent payment users so far.

Mr. Eagle says he wants to bring a billion more people online. Google and Facebook have been working on the same problem, in part by launching balloons and drones to create airborne communication networks. “The way we’re trying to go about solving the free internet problem is a lot less sexy,” says Mr. Eagle. But by leveraging existing mobile infrastructure, along with the desire of brands like Unilever, a client of Jana’s, to reach customers in emerging markets, he argues his solution is more viable.

After all, which is more likely—getting another billion people online by flying cellular radios over their heads, or by making it more affordable to connect to cell towers that are already in range but whose cost is out of reach?

Source: http://www.en.netralnews.com/news/business/read/2500/web.browsers..not.apps..are.internet.gatekeepers.for.the....next.billion

Categorized in News & Politics
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