Google’s Chrome web browser is now more widely used than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Edge combined. If you haven’t switched to Chrome yet, here’s why you might want to–and how to quickly switch over.

Why Chrome Beats Internet Explorer and Edge

Microsoft’s browsers both have big problems. Internet Explorer is old and outdated–so much so that Microsoft is intent on phasing it out. It doesn’t support the latest browser features, it can be quite slow, and its browser add-on framework is clunky.

Microsoft Edge is the Microsoft’s successor to Internet Explorer, a big new browser included with Windows 10. Despite its new name, though, which is meant to distance itself from Internet Explorer’s reputation, Edge has its own serious issues. It launched without important features–Edge still doesn’t support browser extensions and won’t until Windows 10’s Anniversary Update is released. Edge can hopefully get a jump start on its extension library by being mostly compatible with Chrome extensions, but it’ll still take some time for it to catch up.

Edge is also based on Microsoft’s new “Universal Windows Platform” instead of the old Win32 desktop application platform. This has given Edge some serious teething and performance problems. This also means Edge won’t work on older versions of Windows, so Windows 7 users can’t even think about using it–they’ll need to switch to Chrome to get a modern browser.

Unlike Edge, Chrome is a mature piece of software complete with the years of interface refinement that Edge lacks. It’s a modern browser that runs on all widely used versions of Windows, including Windows 7. It offers speedy performance and compatibility with the latest browser and website features. If has a wide variety of browser extensions that developers have been refining for years. It offers browser sync, so you can easily synchronize your bookmarks and other information between the Chrome browser on Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS, iOS, and Android phones.

Chrome is also widely supported–in fact, Chrome is arguably better supported by websites and web developers than Microsoft Edge is. Chrome won’t work if you require Internet Explorer to access an old website that requires Internet Explorer 6 or ActiveX controls, but most modern websites are likely to work better with Chrome. You’ll still need IE for some older sites–this is why IE is still included on Windows 10, even though Microsoft is pushing Edge.

There are other browsers you can choose besides Chrome, of course–some people swear by Mozilla Firefox, although it still doesn’t offer multi-process and a secure sandbox to better take advantage of modern CPUs and protect against malicious websites. Mozilla is working on it, but those are some big reasons we prefer Chrome and use it ourselves.

How to Switch to Google Chrome (and Bring Your Stuff With You)

Switching is easy, and Chrome can easily migrate your favorite websites over. Just download and install Chrome. After the installation process finishes, click the “Import Bookmarks Now” link on the new tab page to import data from another browser on your system.

If you don’t see this option here, open the Settings screen by clicking the menu button (the three lines in the top right corner) and selecting “Settings.” Click the “Import Bookmarks and Settings” button under People on the Settings page.

Select Microsoft Internet Explorer or Edge to import data from. Chrome can only import your favorites from Edge, but it can import favorites, saved passwords, browsing history, and saved search engines from Internet Explorer.

You’ll also want to change your computer to use Chrome as your default web browser. On Windows 7 and 8.1, Chrome can automatically become your default browser with a single click. Open Chrome’s menu, select “Settings” and click “Make Google Chrome the Default Browser” under Default Browser at the bottom of the Settings page.

On Windows 10, this button will open the Settings > System > Default Apps screen instead. You’ll have to scroll down, click “Web Browser”, and select “Google Chrome” from your list of installed web browsers.

If you have a Google account (like a Gmail address), you can sign into it by clicking the profile button on the menu bar and clicking “Sign In”. You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. You can use Chrome without ever signing in with a Google account, and things should work fine.

However, if you do sign in with a Google account, you can sync Chrome’s browser data with your other devices. This means you’ll never lose your bookmarks or other data. Just sign into the same Chrome browser on another PC, smartphone, or tablet to access them.

RELATED: 47 Keyboard Shortcuts That Work in All Web Browsers

Overall, Chrome and other modern browsers work similarly. They all have simple, stripped down interfaces with a tab bar at the top of the screen. They all attempt to get out of your way so you can use websites. They all share many of the same keyboard shortcuts.

If you want additional features that aren’t bundled with the browser, click the menu button at the top-right corner of the Chrome browser window and select More Tools > Extensions. Click “Get More Extensions” at the bottom of this page to visit the Chrome Web Store, where you can download and install a variety of free extensions, as well as themes that change the way Chrome looks. If you had any browser add-ons for Internet Explorer, you’ll need to install a Chrome version of the extension from the Chrome Web Store

You don’t need to worry about updating Chrome. It automatically updates itself, grabbing the latest security updates and new features in the background. Any Chrome browser extensions you install from the Web Store will also be automatically updated. Chrome also includes its own copy of Adobe Flash, and Chrome automatically updates that plug-in, too.

To break a website out of your browser, go to the website, click the menu button, and select More Tools > Add to Desktop. Check the “Open as Window” option and you’ll get a desktop shortcut that opens a web page in its own window. Double-click the desktop shortcut and you can then pin the website’s window directly to your taskbar.

There’s a lot more you can do with Chrome, of course. But it mostly just gets out of your way and allows you to use the web. Little-used features like Chrome’s app launcher and notification center have been removed by Google recently, making Chrome even more streamlined.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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