It’s good to be the king, and Google Chrome is undoubtedly the king of the web browsers when it comes to popularity, with Google Chrome currently holding a staggering 61% of the market share, according to internet stats website W3counter. But being the most popular doesn’t necessarily mean that Google Chrome is among of the best web browsers.
So just how good is Google Chrome these days? Does it still deserve it’s throne? In short, yes.... Just about. Chrome became the default choice for so many people over the past ten years because it was so much better than the competition. Internet Explorer was a joke, and Mozilla Firefox had become a RAM eating machine. But these days, the alternatives are a lot more interesting. Microsoft Edge (which is now built using the same framework as Chrome) is a huge improvement on Internet Explorer, and upstarts like Brave are also giving Chrome a run for its money.
Despite that, Chrome is still a fantastic web browser with a great feature set, a minimalist design and a ton of extensions to let you customize your experience.
Google Chrome review: Installation and setup
The first step in setting up Google Chrome is to download the installer, which can easily be found on Google’s website. Click on the link and you’ll be asked if you want to run or save the program. Choose the save option when prompted and save it to the folder of your choice (by default, it will go into your downloads folder.)
Once downloaded, launch the installation program. The installer will run automatically and you won’t need to do anything, so just leave it for a few minutes until it has finished. When it is done, Google Chrome will automatically open and you should also see an icon for it on your desktop. This is about as simple an installation process as we’ve ever seen, so no faults here.
The newly opened Google Chrome browser will now offer you the chance to customize your experience. You don’t have to do this now, but we’d highly recommend it.
Google Chrome review: User interface
One of the primary reasons for Google Chrome’s success over the past decade has been it’s simple, clean user interface. The default homepage for new tabs in Google Chrome is, unsurprisingly, Google. This means you have easy access to the world’s best search engine.
Most of the other options and features of Google Chrome are hidden away in the menus, as Chrome strives to keep clutter down to an absolute minimum.
If you need to find the settings and options menus, they’re in a drop down menu in the top right hand corner (the three dots icon). Beyond that, you can see any bookmarked web pages that you have saved along the bottom of the overlay, just below the web address bar. Apart from that, all you’ll see is a few logos for any add-ons or extensions you have installed (such as an ad-blocker) and your Google account icon if you’ve logged in.
Overall we like Google Chrome’s simplistic appearance. The lack of obvious icons for some things does mean that new users will struggle to find certain options at first, but at the same time they won’t be overwhelmed with hundreds of buttons with no idea what any of them do.
Google Chrome review: Features
Google Chrome does everything you could ever want a web browser to do, and it does it quickly and efficiently. You can input web page addresses into the address bar directly, but you can also use it as a search bar which means you don’t have to navigate your way to the Google homepage every time you need to search for something.
You can have multiple web pages open at once thanks to the tab system. Tabs are displayed along the top of the screen and you can move between them by simply clicking on the tab you want to switch to. Tabs are deleted by clicking on the little x button in each tab. You can also open a new tab by clicking the + symbol at the end of the row of existing tabs. You can also pin tabs, which removes the close button to prevent you accidentally closing down an important tab.
If you find a web page you want to save for later, you can add it to your bookmarks by clicking the star icon at the end of the address bar. This saves the web page as a bookmark. You can see your bookmarks below the address bar (though if you have too many, the rest can be found using the double arrow drop-down menu at the far right of the bookmarks line).
You can also open incognito tabs, which does not store information about the websites you visit in your search history. While your mind may instantly jump to improper thoughts here, this is actually useful for shared computers. For example, you might want to buy your wife or husband a gift online, but don’t want them to stumble across the web page when they’re using the computer later.
Extensions is probably the area where Google Chrome far outshines the competition though. Extensions are small optional extensions to Chrome which let you customize your experience. These range from utilitarian extensions like ad-blockers, which stop annoying ads from loading on websites, through to incredibly funny and childish extensions like nCage, which changes every image on every website to a random picture of Nicholas Cage. Truly, we’re living in a utopian future.
Chrome also blocks pop-ups and includes a password manager as part of your account, so you can share your passwords (and search history, preferences etc) across multiple devices so long as you login to your Google account. Your login also gives you access to Gmail, a free browser-based email client.
Google Chrome review: Performance
Google Chrome used to be top dog when it came to performance, but as it has become more popular it has also gained a little bloat. Don’t get us wrong, Chrome still runs like a dream under most circumstances, but if you have a lot of tabs open then be prepared for some serious strain on your computer’s memory resources.
In our own day to day usage of Google Chrome, we’ve found it to be a fast and responsive program. Web pages load up quickly (though your internet connection has as much of an impact here as your browser).
Should you use Google Chrome?
If you’re looking for the best web browser out there, Google Chrome is still the one to beat… just. Other browsers are catching up and Chrome no longer has the performance and feature set lead that it once did, but for now it;s still top dog. We love the minimalist layout and everything you need to access is never more than a few clicks away. It also has the best extension support of any web browser by far.