I’m switching to Brave Browser from Chrome – but not for the privacy control

Are your browser tabs out of control? Want some vertical screen space back? Want to actually see the titles of your tabs? Brave might be the browser for you!

Note: not sponsored because I have no reach. I’m just really impressed by Brave.

I’ve been using Chrome since it’s beta waaaaay back in the 2000’s and I am, finally, really to move onto something new.

Remember when Google was brave and remade the browser?

Now, I’m buried deep in the Google ecosystem. Android, Gmail, Google Calendar, Drive, Docs, Chromecast, Photos… everything. And it’s great! But Chrome itself is getting old, tired, and, most importantly, dull. All the cool new features are being built elsewhere, because every other browser needs to compete for some of Chrome’s 66%+ market share!

I’ve experimented with Firefox many times over the last two decades, and it was my browser of choice in the dark days of Internet Explorer’s dominance. But since Chrome, Firefox has failed to keep me. Don’t get me wrong, the extensions make it a powerful and customizable browser, but I want something that fulfills my needs out of the box.

Screenshot of Firefox.
I want to love you Firefox, desperately. But much like Linux, you require too much configuration for what I just want to use right away.

It was using the new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge that shook me. At work, I’m managing multiple teams and multiple projects using web apps. This means constantly switching between many tabs and frequently opening new ones for each ticket and query. Tab groups are a foundational part of how I use my browser, with groups for each team, each project, and my daily dashboards.

“But!” I hear you say, “Chrome has tab groups!”

Yes, yes it does, but it’s missing two things from Edge that have transformed the way I work: vertical tabs and Collections.

Getting tabs under control

For those who haven’t tried them, vertical tabs moves your tab bar from the top of your screen to a collapsible pane on the left. This means your tab groups become nested and, since the tabs don’t shrink and get bunched up (unless you decide to shrink the pane), you can read the title of each tab! For me, this means I can see the names of tickets and dashboards! Colour code the tab groups, and Edge suddenly turns from just another browser to an actually useful tool.

Trying out Edge, using tab groups for each topic or project
Trying out Edge, using tab groups for each topic or project

So what about Collections? Collections allow me to save a group of tabs and reopen them together later. So, the Support tab group that I check every morning, then rarely open again during the day, can now be closed and reopened at will. Less clutter, less RAM in use, and yet still easy to open when needed. Now, I know Collections can hold text, images, snippets etc, but so far I haven’t made any use of them.

So near, yet so far, Microsoft

But Edge has one major, absolutely unbelievable drawback: the Android version doesn’t have tab groups! How, in the year of our lord Sir Tim Berners-Lee 2023, does a mainstream browser NOT have tab groups? It’s a foundation feature at this point. Now, for my job, this isn’t a problem because I exclusively use my laptop and not a phone; but it means that Edge doesn’t work for my personal life or projects.

Merge, goddamn it, merge!
Merge, goddamn it, merge!

This means I’ve been looking for a browser where the desktop version has vertical tabs and the mobile browser has tab groups. I can live without Collections, but I would prefer to have them. This does mean that both Chrome and Edge are out. This leads me too…

Brave enough to try something new?

Brave Browser! Widely advertised as the privacy focussed alternative to the Big Tech Browsers, with a crypto wallet, built in VPN, TOR-based privacy mode, rewards for watching ads… all of which I ignore!

I hate the so-called “Web3”, I already use PIA VPN and I’d rather not see targeted ads at all. So I simply use what I like and I’ve turned off what I don’t, since all of these Brave features can be simply toggled off and hidden away. It’s perfect! (Except for Collections, but I can just open a folder of Bookmarks together). I only have one problem with Brave, and it’s on Android:

A screenshot of Brave browser on Android.

It’s red. Annoyingly attention-grabbing red. But I can live with that.

Gif of Captain Sisko of Deep Space Nine trying to convince himself he can live with it. In this case, "it" means a red coloured browser. Also, Sisko was brave, so I wanted to include him.
Can’t I?

And since Brave is a Chromium based browser it performs as good as or better than Chrome, you can still install every Chrome theme and extension and you can still sync as much or as little of your browser activities as you like across devices.

It also comes with built-in ad blocking and, a particular favourite of mine, a bottom toolbar (optional) so I can navigate the web from my thumb position!

So, if you’re trying to get control over your tabs, I highly recommend checking Brave out. It has all the benefits and features of Chrome, plus a few extras to make your life and work a little more manageable.