It might be time to break your Google Chrome habit.
Though Google’s browser is the most popular browser by an overwhelming margin, there are some good reasons to switch, especially if you care about privacy.
The Washington Post recently described Chrome as “a lot like surveillance software,” citing the browser’s habit of automatically signing you in if you use Gmail in order to serve better targeted advertising. Privacy advocates at the Electronic Frontier Foundation have criticizedGoogle for putting its business interests (advertising) ahead of user privacy. And, as long as Google continues to dominate the digital advertising market, it has few incentives to invest in meaningful privacy protections.
But there are other options. And if you are considering changing browsers, you might want to consider making Firefox your new default. Unlike Google, parent company Mozilla is a nonprofit that does not rely on user data. Not only that, but Firefox actively prevents websites from tracking your habits. And, if you’re especially creeped out by Facebook’s ad-tracking, the browser has an extension that aims to disrupt Facebook’s practice of creating so-called “shadow profiles.”
Import your settings
Next, you’ll want to make sure your previous browser settings, like your history and bookmarks, carry over so you don’t have to start from scratch and manually import everything. Luckily, Firefox makes this relatively easy.
First, close the Chrome app if you still have it open. Then, in Firefox select “Bookmarks,” and then “show all bookmarks.” From there, choose “import data from another browser” in the menu that has two arrows (shown in the photo above). You’ll then see a popup asking what data you’d like to import and hit “ok.” Once it’s done importing you should see all your old bookmarks show up in Firefox’s bookmark menu. You can repeat the process if you’ve used Chrome with more than one account, too.
Install some add-ons
If you rely on a lot of Chrome extensions, like a password manager or an ad-blocker, this can seem like an obstacle that will make it more difficult to switch. But many Chrome extensions are also available as Firefox add-ons. You can browse and install add-ons here.
Most major companies make their browser extensions available for both platforms. And, even if you can’t find the exact one you use on Chrome, there’s very likely a Firefox equivalent.
Sync across your devices
Now that you’ve done all that, why not make sure the settings also carry over to your phone and tablet. Firefox, like Chrome, allows you to sync browsing data and preferences across multiple devices. This requires setting up a Firefox account, and logging in to the browser everywhere you have it installed. Mozilla has detailed instructions on syncing available here.
Change your default
Finally, if you’re really serious about switching for good, you’re going to want to make Firefox your new default browser. This will help prevent you from accidentally launching Chrome when you click on a link.
On a desktop. simply go to Firefox —> Preferences and choose “make default” in the general tab. On Android, you can change your default browser by following the instructions laid out here (the process can vary slightly depending on which version of Android you have). Note that if you use iOS, you won’t be able to switch default browsers away from Safari.
And there you have it. If you’ve done everything correctly, then you should be in good shape to start browsing more privately without losing important settings or information.