Browsers: Which one and why?

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Call me Mak or K, Mod Emeritus
Alright with the choice of browsers out there it seems that people need some advice on which one to choose and why. So let me give some details.

Internet Explorer (A.K.A. IE)

Of course everyone knows about IE. But what might not be known is that he Browser Ballot screen is going world wide at some point. It is also going to cover from XP to Win7. So yes that means that Vista will get it as well. It looks like this:

Now remember that this is not the order that they will appear in every time. Each of the 5 spots is randomly generated each time you refresh so that you can get any of the 5 browsers anywhere at any time.

Now onto why to choose IE. IE is not that bad of a browser. Despite most people's rejections to it, they are more from past experience than current. Most people have a tendency to hate IE due to what happened to them with IE6 and the bad things it had with ActiveX controls. IE8 itself is not that bad. There are more things that can be done with it.

First and foremost, IE8 does have addons. Not like Extensions for Firefox or Chrome. But there are some. These are installed as stand alone items that activate once you start up IE8. Not the best thing in the world, but they do work. I have used the XMarks and the IE Ad Block one with great success. I have also installed and tried the Facebook Webslice.

Now Webslices are different than most items in your bookmark bar. They are active and will refresh when changes are made to the site. Consider it like a YouTube Video in your bookmark bar of the site. As you get a small window that pops up when you click it and a view of the site in that window.

IE8 also has InPrivate Browsing. Which is what it sounds like. You open IE8 in a Private browse mode where no cookies are saved, and you can do much more. Such as block Ads with a built in ad blocker. Such a task is accomplished with a xml file for the InPrivate Mode.

All in all IE8 is not that bad.

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox is next on the list. Now everyone knows of Firefox. It was the new kid on the block that knocked IE from its perch of being the best out there. It is open source so you can read just about everything and anything you want about it. So i will keep this brief.

Firefox has its own Addon Gallery. It is simple to install these addons, also known as Extensions. Just see one you like, click the install button. Restart the browser to use new item. You can customize Firefox in just about every aspect you can think of. From the layout, to what extensions are used to what theme is used. Aside from themes there is also Personas which help you make Firefox more personal.

Firefox is a bit faster than IE. With the addition of such items as FasterFox, NoScript, FlashBlock, and CookieCuller you can make the browser one of the most secure on the web. Now i know many Firefox fans will be up in a roar that i have not spent that much time on Firefox compared to Ie. Dont worry, the rest of the browser will get as much as Firefox as well. IE got more cause i had to share some insite on some items that are not well known. Such as the Ballot screen.

Google Chrome

Chrome is the newest browser on the scene and it is coming on strong. Being open source it has already gotten knock off browser made (Dragon) and a project fully done by the community (Chromium). The thing to know about Chrome is that it is a lot like Firefox in the way things are done with it. It has Themes and Extensions. They operate much like they do for Firefox. Just click and install. But for Chrome you dont have to restart the browser. Most become active instantly.

There isnt much more you can do to customize Chrome though. You cant adjust the look of it beyond the themes available. But some of the extensions that are out there are fantastic. They have some extensions that act like the Webslices in IE. I have used these for Twitter and Facebook. Just click the icon, and do what i want. Even when on sites like this you can use them to do something on those sites.

Right now Chrome is doing good for itself. The people that have made the extensions have done a great job to bring a variety of things to the browser that are not available widely in other browsers. It is at least worth a look to try Chrome and the extensions.

Side Note

Now that i have gone throught Firefox and Chrome i must take a moment to talk about another aspect that both browser can do. Greasemonkey. Now in Firefox this is an extension. In Chrome you can just install the scripts.

Go to some sites such as and search for your favorite site, like YouTube, and you will see that people have written scripts that can be used in Greasemokney or in Chrome to change the look and feel of a site and possibly the operation as well.

For both browsers you just click the install button and viola. Script is installed and working. This is a very useful and handy aspect of the browser. Helps you eliminate ads and other things that you might not want or need to see.


Now Opera has been around for a long time. It first wa a pay per use browser where you paid money to remove ads. Then it went to a completely free and ad free browser. Opera has made some leaps and bounds in some areas and are lacking in others.

First and foremost it takes work to get things done to customize Opera. User Javascripts (UserJS) are the most common ways to do this. You create a folder in your Opera Profile folder on your system and place the UserJS files there. Then just point the browser to that folder and you now have access to the new features that those UserJS files add. Sounds easy right? Just wait till you try to find the folder without showing all your files.

Opera has a good ad blocker. It uses a urlfilter.ini file that is just placed in the Opera Profile Folder and that is it. It blocks the ads completely. There is also custom buttons that you can use as well. They can do a variety of things. From removing the menu bar to jump to the top of the page or bottom of the page.

If your willing to put in the work, you can customize Opera to work for you. It isnt as easy or simple as Firefox or Chrome. But if you do your research and put in the time, it can be a great browser.


Last but not least Safari. This is the Apple Browser which is bundled with OS X. There is a Windows port that can be used as well. There isnt much to say about Safari.

It is decently quick. You can block ads with a custom CSS file. But other than that there really isnt much you can do. Apple has the browser locked down tight and almost everything that can be done with it, can only be done in OS X. It has a Top Sites page that opens on default when you open a new tab. It is nice and looks great, but can affect performance as well.

That is really all that can be said of Safari. There isnt much you can do to customize it. You just install it and go.


Look the truth is this. A browser is a browser. It doesnt matter what any of them cant do. It doesnt matter what John Doe on this site said, or what Jane Doe said on that site. The simple fact is this. You have to find one that works for you. Be it Firefox with its customization ability, be it Safari with its straight forward use, be it Chrome cause it is like Firefox but from Google. Be it a old tried and tested browser like Opera. Be it the good old IE that everyone is so familiar with before they had all the choices.

In the end you have to find this answer out for yourself. Try each browser out and see what you can do to it to make it your own.
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