Historically I have always been a loyal Safari user. Sure, I’ve flirted with Firefox occasionally, but I always came back to Safari eventually. I’m afraid, however, that I’ve finally found a browser that has led me to leave Safari for good: Google Chrome. I started using […]


Historically I have always been a loyal Safari user. Sure, I’ve flirted with Firefox occasionally, but I always came back to Safari eventually. I’m afraid, however, that I’ve finally found a browser that has led me to leave Safari for good: Google Chrome.

I started using Chromium, the open-sourced branch of the browser, a few months ago and switched to the developer branch of Chrome when it got support for extensions. Even though the Beta version of Chrome for the Mac now has extensions support I’m sticking with the developer branch just because I like getting new goodies before other people.

Whatever version of Chrome you’re using on the Mac, you now have access to most of the features that people will want from a browser, so if you’re ready to take the plunge and make Chrome your default browser here, are a few hints and tips from you from someone who’s been using it for a while now.

Set up custom search engines

A feature that’s been available on other browsers for a long time but was always missing from Safari is the ability to set up custom search engines. This allows you to directly search websites, Google Images, Yahoo etc., by using keywords in your search. In Google Chrome you can set this up by right clicking on the address bar and select Edit Search Engines… from the list. If you’ve been using Chrome for a while you’ll notice that several websites have already been populated, this is because Chrome automatically adds any search engines you use to the list.

To make any search engine easily accessible double-click on it and change its keyword to something easy to remember, such as fb for Facebook. From now on you can use that specific search engine by entering the keyword first in the address bar and then entering your search query.

Sync your bookmarks with Safari and the iPhone

If you’re an iPhone user, one of the problems with switching away from Safari is that your new browser doesn’t synchronize bookmarks with your phone. Thankfully the Xmarks extension offers a handy workaround since it will synchronize both your Chrome and Safari bookmarks with the cloud. Thus when you make a change to your bookmarks in Chrome it will automatically synchronize with Safari and by extension the iPhone.

Get 1Password into Chrome

1Password is my go to password manager and not having it in Chrome was a pain. Thankfully the helpful folks over at Agile are working on an alpha as we speak, and even though it’s not perfect yet, it’s good enough for me to use it on a daily basis. To use the extension you’ll need to download the latest beta build of 1Password, which you can do from your update settings in the program. You can get the 1Password alpha extension here. If you’d prefer to avoid alpha software, which is certainly something to consider, there’s also this workaround available until we get a final shipping version.

Keep track of your tabs

If you’re anything like my wife, your browser windows quickly become crowded with tabs. Finding the exact page you’re looking for is difficult when those tabs shrink down to the size of a thimble. Thankfully there are a variety of tab management extensions available for Chrome. I’ve gone through almost all of them, and have found some unstable and some just plain ugly, but I can heartily endorse VerticaTabs, which is both simple and stable.

Get rid of unresponsive tabs

One of Google Chrome’s most interesting features is that each tab is an independent process. With Safari when a tab became completely unresponsive I was often forced to relaunch the entire browser. With Chrome, however, you can use the built-in Task Manager to get rid of a tab, even if clicking on it does nothing.

Simply go to View > Developer > Task Manager to see a list of all processes, including your extensions. Pick the offending tab from the list and press the End Process button. Please note that you may need to be on the developer branch of Google Chrome to use this feature, as I’m not sure it’s been added to the Beta version.

Get on the developer channel of Chrome

Speaking of the developer channel, if you’re willing to put up with some risk and want Google Chrome goodies before the more stable Beta channel gets them, then you can switch to the developer channel. The developer channel is a bit more stable than the Chromium nightly builds, which include all the latest updates to the open-source version of Chrome, but I can’t promise it won’t crash on you.

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  1. nice posting, do more like this

  2. I love Chrome.
    But I hate bookmark management in it….or the great lack thereof……
    i do use it most often though.

    1. Had the same problem till version 5.0.307.9 beta came along.

  3. For some reason, I find Chrome to be ugly. I really haven’t pinpointed down why yet. It may be with the top tabs. Not that I hate top tabs, I don’t like that there is still some of a title bar with their top tabs. I loved top tabs in the Safari 4 Beta, and was really sad to see them go (for those who didn’t like it, I understand their valid points for not liking them; and the option for either top or tabs under the address bar would have been a great option).
    So for now, I’m still using Safari.

  4. I am using Flock and (very) happy with it. How is Chrome performance compared to Flock, anyone tried both?

    1. Blows Flock out of the water…

  5. Thank you for this very informative post. Could you please advise how I can have, as a start page, a very minimalist page such as simple Google search page, and three tabs that would be opened all the time. Like for example: Reader, Gmail and Calendar. I’m having difficulty in setting this kind of a home page. I refer you to a post written by Gina Trapani in Fast Magazine where she explained how this can be done in Firefox but only gave one sentence on how this could be done in Chrome. Lastly, I’m always getting the same home page which is the history one. That seems to be “baked” in Chrome.

    Thanks again

    1. Claude,

      Not sure if this helps, but if you look in the Chrome preferences under the first tab you can tell Chrome to automatically open as many tabs as you want when you launch the browser.

      As far as always having them open, previous versions of Chrome had a “pin” feature that I used for this reason, but the latest version (of the dev channel anyways) has lost this. I believe they’re looking to add this sort of functionality back in by turning pages into applications, but I’m not sure.

      Hope that helps!

  6. For some reasons, I can’t bear Chrome. I can’t explain why, for me it just looks ugly, unfinished. And I’m fine with Safari, so why would I change ?

    Oh, by the way. I do have your “search keyword” feature in Safari. Haven’t you ever heard of “KEYWURL” ? It allows you to set a search keyword for any website, from Wikipedia to Amazon to eBay. ;-)

    With this, you get in Safari all you have in Chrome. So, let’s switch back to Safari ! ;-)

    1. Guillaume,

      I actually did use keywurl in Safari to get this functionality, but I tend to feel better about such things when it’s supported natively, especially for Safari which doesn’t have native support for extensions, so things like keywurl inevitably become hacks that get broken with every new update to the browser.

  7. Chrome is a good browser, but other than the tabs being isolated processes I don’t see what it offers over any other browser. I think the question is more *why* is the author looking for a way to ditch Safari? Chrome does very little differently from Safari, it’s a good browser but I don’t see any reason to switch.

    The reason I won’t be switching is because Chrome still has a bad case of the uglies, and the bookmark management is awful. It’s useful to have around, but no way is Chrome ready to take the place of “first browser” IMO, unless you have a bug up your bum about Safari and are just *looking* for a new browser already (which seems to be the authors point of view.)

    1. Gazoobee,

      I like Safari a ton, which is why it’s been my go to browser for so long. In fact I like Safari a lot more than Firefox, Opera or any other option out there aside from Chrome. What Chrome brings that I prefer is native support for useful extensions in a much more stable package than Firefox.

  8. I liked Chrome’s bookmark sync as well… but one day I started using another computer as my primary machine, and the authentication for password syncing on the other machine was stopped. Upon signing in again, it decided to *scrap* all my bookmarks. If I sync with another copy of Chrome on another computer, it kills the bookmarks there too. I’m done with the sync, at least until Google fixes it for good.

  9. When or if NoScript is developed for Chrome I may switch, but without it won’t draw me away from Firefox.

  10. I’m looking for a gmail manager to help me with my multiple gmail accounts in chrome.

    Anyone know of anything?

    1. Stainless (stainlessapp.com) says it has some kind of mechanism for logging into the same website with multiple identities- but I’ve never tried it. You could always give it a shot though!

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