After years of Microsoft-built web browsers being a punchline, Edge has turned things around thanks to Google. I never thought I’d see the day, but the new Edge has a number of enthusiasts switching away from Google Chrome.
Since they share the same Chromium base, the two browsers are now extremely similar, so switching is pretty easy—most of the basic functionality is the same, and you can even install the same extensions. However, Edge tends to perform a bit better than Chrome—not only in web browsing benchmarks, but in hardware usage.
While Chrome has become notorious for gobbling up RAM and other resources, Edge seems to be slimmer and more efficient. (Well, as much as it can be—after all, you probably still live in your browser, and the more tabs and extensions you need, the more power it’ll require).
Edge also has some unique features, like an immersive reading mode, a built-in coupon finder, “collections” that let you save stuff as you’re researching online, and more privacy settings. It has its own quirks—pinning sites to the taskbar doesn’t seem to work as reliably, in my experience—but its advantages may outweigh its downsides, especially if you have an older machine.
You can read more about the new Edge in our list of the best tricks. If you’re ready to make the switch, here’s how to migrate your data and try out a speedy Chrome alternative.
Open Edge and Import Your Data
Unless you want to start with a completely fresh slate, I recommend moving all your Chrome data over to Edge, so you can pick up your browsing where you left off. Open Edge, click the three dots in the upper-right corner, and click Settings. The menu looks slightly different from Chrome’s settings, but I found it easier to browse.
From the Profiles tab in the sidebar, click the Import Browser Data button that appears. Select Google Chrome from the drop-down, make sure your profile is selected, and check all the data you want to migrate. You can bring over your bookmarks, browsing history, relevant settings, open tabs, extensions, as well as saved passwords and credit cards. That should make getting up and running much, much easier.
Set Edge as the Default Browser
Next, you’ll need to make Edge your default browser in Windows—otherwise links from other apps may re-open Chrome instead of your current browser of choice. Don’t worry, you can always switch it back to Chrome if you change your mind later.
Head to Windows’ Settings > Apps > Default Apps and scroll down to Web Browser. From there, choose Microsoft Edge. Make sure you’re choosing the icon with the blue and green wave—not the old “E” logo, which corresponds to the previous, non-Chromium iteration of Edge.
Switch Back to Google Search (and Add Your Custom Keywords)
As you might expect, Edge uses Bing by default when you search from the address bar. While the data-migration tool doesn’t bring over your custom search engines and keywords from Chrome, you can easily switch your default search engine back to Google.
In Edge, head to Settings > Privacy, Search and Services > Address Bar and Search. Change the Search Engine Used in the Address Bar to Google.
If you use custom keywords for searching specific sites, click on Manage Search Engines. You’ll have to re-add your custom engines again manually, but the URL syntax is the same as Chrome, so you can just copy and paste the most important ones from your Chrome settings.
Turn On Extra Features
That should bring most of your data to Edge, and you can pick up browsing as if you never even switched browsers. I do, however, recommend taking some time to explore the other settings and features Edge brings to the table.
For example, if you head to Settings > System, you can turn on a feature called Startup Boost, which will keep the browser running in the background when you close it, so it launches faster when you return to the web. You can also head to Privacy, Search and Services and adjust the Tracking Prevention features to your liking, turn on Do Not Track, and adjust other privacy-centric features.
Edge offers vertical tabs, a customizable home page, and a “sleeping tabs” feature that suspends pages you aren’t using to save resources. Be sure to check out the aforementioned immersive reader, collections page, and other exclusive features as well.
Sync Your Settings Across Devices
If you like what you see, you may want to start using Edge on your other machines, and sync your settings back and forth just like you did with Chrome. To set this up, go to Settings > Profiles > Sync and turn on everything you want to transfer to your other devices. Signing into Edge with your Microsoft account on other Windows machines should automatically sync your data, and you can even download Edge for macOS, iOS, and Android, so you can pick up where you left off on any device.
For most people, this should be enough. But if you’re stuck using Chrome (or other browsers) on some machines—like if you have a Chromebook lying around—you might be able to sync some of your data with Chrome using xBrowserSync, an open-source extension and mobile app designed to sync your data cross-browser. Right now, it only syncs bookmarks, but syncing history and open tabs is on its roadmap. Hopefully this project will become more feature-filled in the near future.
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