I remember years ago that I was one of the last people I knew to make the switch from Internet Explorer to Firefox. I was finally drawn to features such as the tabbed browsing and the ability to add extensions, which allowed me to add several developer tools and a bookmark synchronizer among other things. At the time, I also liked the fact that I could take my Firefox with me on a U3 enabled smart drive. Anyway, after putting it off for a long time, I finally made the switch. It’s difficult making a change to something you use every day and are so used to. Which is why I’d been using Firefox as my regular browser ever since then with no intention of ever changing that.
Then along came Google Chrome. When I first tried it out, there were several things I liked about it right away: it’s fast, I liked the layout of the bowser, I really liked the ability to break tabs off into separate browser windows and put them back again. These features were nice, but the browser was still missing a lot of the functionality I was used to in Firefox, namely all of my extensions. This has since changed. Now there are thousands of extensions available for Chrome, including almost all of the ones I used in Firefox. So once again, I made the switch.
Just in case you happen to be on the fence about it, like I was, I’d like share some of the features that attracted me to Chrome:
Speed: It’s fast, one of the fastest browsers currently available.
Layout: I think the layout is cleaner than that of Firefox. I like how the options menu, bookmark menu, and all added extensions are tucked neatly into the top right corner of the browser (In Firefox your extensions are scattered all over the place).
Extensions: With a few exceptions, I have all of the functionality I enjoyed in Firefox available in Chrome. Here are some of the ones I use:
Allows you to sync your bookmarks between different computers, and different browsers (all the major browsers seem to be supported). You can also access all your bookmarks from the Xmarks website, so the computer you’re on doesn’t even need to have Xmarks installed!
Lets you easily open pages or tabs you just closed (similar to Tab Mix Plus in Firefox).
The Firebug extension for Firefox was my other favorite developer extension. This is a lite version that has most of the same functionality. Chrome also comes with a built in set of developer tools. Combine these two and you have all the debugging tools you need.
Google Reader Notifier
This is the closest thing I could find to Firefox’s RSS live bookmarks. This one only displays the items you have not read yet. However, you do need to sign up for Google Reader to use it.
Google Mail Checker Plus
If you have a Gmail account, this extension is a must have! It tells you how many new messages you have, and you can read the full messages, delete, or mark as unread right from the extension, without having to open your Gmail inbox.
Here is an article I read about “must have” Chrome extensions. This is where I found most of the extensions I’m using: net.tutsplus.com: Switching to Chrome? Download these Extensions
I’d also like to mention that later this year, Google will be launching the Chrome Web Store, where you will be able to download all sorts of web apps. Now they say that you will be able to use the store, and its products, on any modern browser. But I’m certain that its integration with Chrome will be a lot cleaner than with other browsers. You can see a demo of the web store here. I can’t wait to try out Lego Star Wars and the Tweetdeck web app!
Now, to be fair, I should point out that two of my favorite Firefox extensions are currently missing from Chrome: FoxyTunes and FireFTP. Although, I do miss having them sometimes, it doesn’t bother me enough to switch back to Firefox. I’m hoping that similar extensions will be released for Chrome. Then my new browsing experience will be perfect.