If you look at desktop computers, you will notice that there are three core Internet browsers left for those systems. There are also forks of two of those browsers available that increase the number of programs that you can download and use, but in the end, it all comes down to those three browsers.
There is Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chromium. If you compare Firefox and Google Chrome -- the most popular Chromium-based browser, with each other, you will notice many similarities, but also differences.
You may have heard that Chrome is a lot faster than Firefox or more secure, and while there is some truth to that, I'd like to list areas in which Firefox is superior to Google Chrome.
Firefox is not superior in all areas, and I may publish a second part eventually that highlights where Chrome beats Firefox, if that is desired by the community.
Also, feel free to add anything on your mind to the comments.
This one is the most obvious area. You can move most interface elements around in Firefox, and even though Mozilla has limited some customization options in recent versions, you can get back those if you install extensions.
If you are using Google Chrome, you cannot modify the browser interface at all. With modify, I mean move elements from one location to another, or add elements to the browser that are not there by default.
While you can display a bookmarks bar in Chrome, that is about it in terms of customizations.
In Firefox, you can not only move most buttons and menus around or add sidebar menus that you can customize further, you can also install extensions that add even more icons and options to Firefox.
Some examples? Extension that modify the font size of the interface, the width of tabs in the browser, or add favicons back to the address bar of the browser.
Themes too are better in Firefox. In Chrome, you get different color schemes and a different background image, that is it.
In Firefox, and I'm talking about complete themes here, you get total conversions. New icon designs, additional icons, new toolbars, a different layout, or even classic themes that restore how Firefox looked a couple of years ago.
3. Memory usage
For a long time, Firefox was the browser that seemed to have an insatiable hunger for RAM. This was not only caused by the browser itself, but also by extensions that you ran in it.
While things have changed dramatically in the past two years, many users still think that Firefox is less memory efficient as Google Chrome.
We have compared the memory usage of Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera in the past and came to the conclusion that Chrome used more memory than all other browsers.
This can be attributed -- at least partially -- to how Chrome handles websites, as the browser opens them in individual processes. While that may improve stability and security, it still means that more memory is used by the browser.
Extensions can do more in Firefox than they can in Chrome. While you will find many popular extensions for both browsers, Firefox extensions can for instance manipulate the browser chrome, while Chrome extensions cannot do so except for adding an icon to the address bar.
Chrome is still lacking when it comes to some extension types. There is no good download manager that comes close to DownThemAll for example, and unique extensions such as Automatic Save Folder that allows you to save to different folders based on file names or domains, or Tree Style Tab which changes how tabs are displayed in Firefox.
I'm no extension developer and could not really find a detailed comparison of what both extension APIs support and what they do not support.
Firefox is not superior in all regards though. All Chrome extensions do not require a restart of the browser upon installation for example, while only Jetpack Firefox extensions don't as well.
Plus, the Chrome Web Store is a nightmare to navigate.
Google is an advertising company, as it makes the bulk of its revenue from its ads business. It is not clear how Google uses telemetry data that it gathers from Chrome. What we do know is that Mozilla has a very high standard when it comes to privacy, as outlined on the company website.
Firefox is also purely open source, while Google Chrome is based on the open source Chromium project plus additions that Google makes to it (that are not necessarily open source).
6. Tabbed Browsing
Both browsers support tabbed browsing, but Google Chrome does not support tabbar scrolling. This means that tabs will be reduced in size the more websites you open in the browser at the same time.
This continues up to a point where you cannot identify the sites anymore that you have opened, as they all show up as blank tabs without visual identification.
While you can -- and should -- install extensions to go around the issue, Firefox beats Chrome in terms of tab management. Not only can you set minimum and maximum width for tabs in the browser, it also supports tab groups and scrolling.
7. An optional search bar
Not everyone needs a secondary search bar in their browser, but if you want better control over your searches, or switch between different search engines regularly, you may find Firefox's implementation more useful in this regard.
First, you can assign a different search engine to the address bar and search bar, so that you can always search two different sites at once.
While you can do so with keywords in Chrome as well (by assigning them in the manage search engines menu), the same can be done in Firefox.
This is more of a future thing than something that affects the present. Google has announced that it will get rid of all plug-ins in 2014. With that it means plug-ins like Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader or Java, or NPAPI-plugins, but not PPAPI plugins used by Chrome's native Flash Player and PDF reader plugins.
While it is usually seen as a good thing that plug-ins will become a thing of the past, it may mean that Chrome users will run into issues in 2014 as they cannot use plug-ins such as Java anymore in the browser.
You can read more about the NPAPI deprecation here.
It all comes down to your needs, and what you use the browser for. Not all or not one of the points listed above may be interesting to you. If you do not want to customize your browser, then it is obviously not a negative that you cannot do so.
And if you have all the plug-ins you want in Chrome, then you couldn't care less about plug-ins that Firefox offers but Chrome does not.Advertisement
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.