What's So Special About Google Chrome

A browser is a browser is a browser, right? Google Chrome is just another entry in an already crowded field. In the broadest possible terms, that's true. All browsers, at their core, simply display Web pages. As long as your favorite sites look good, it doesn't matter which browser you choose.

But things do have a way of getting complicated on the Internet. With so many sites out there, so much interactivity and so many things to do, organizing and customizing your browsing experience has become a necessity. While Google Chrome isn't near the Firefox level of customization, it does offer some excellent built-in tools to improve your Web experince.

Feel the Need for Speed?
One of the key improvements in Google Chrome is the way the browser manages your computer's memory. Tabbed browsing, where you open a new Web page in a tab in the same browser window rather than a new window, is a common feature in all the major Web browsers. It makes it easy to surf several sites at once, but it can also be a drain on your computer's memory.

Most browsers treat those different tabs as a single operation within a single browser window. In other words, if you have five tabs open, it's like sending five requests to your computer's memory. If one of the tabs slows down, the entire browser slows down.

Google Chrome solves this problem by treating each tab as a separate operation. When you open a new tab, you're opening a new area of computer memory dedicated to that tab. If something slows it down, your other tabs will still run normally. If something in that tab crashes Google Chrome, you can close that tab without closing the browser.

Chrome also handles Java a little differently than other browsers. Most browsers need to read JavaScript over and over to get it to work. They also store bits of Java code in memory, which slows down your browser. Chrome converts Java to machine code so that it only needs to be read once. It also clears out unused bits of memory more efficiently, resulting in faster execution of Java-enabled sites.

Smarter Search
Ever typed a search into the address bar by mistake? That's not a problem with Google Chrome's Omnibox, a combinaton address bar and search engine.

When you type in a full URL, such as www. life123.com, the Omnibox takes you straight to the page. Type in a few words, and Google suggests top-ranked sites that may have the information you need. If you don't like the results, just hit Enter and you'll get a Google search.

This feature isn't without some controversy. When you execute a search from the Omnibox, you're sharing information with Google that it uses to calculate site rankings. Some privacy advocates find this to be an unwanted intrusion; however, the same information is sent and stored by Google each time you use their search engine. If you're comfortable using Google search, you shouldn't have an issue with the Omnibox.

Bookmarks at a Glance
Open a new tab in Chrome, and you'll see thumbnail images of the sites you visit most frequently. This list is constantly updated based on your browsing habits. Clicking a thumbnail takes you directly to the site. You'll also be able to see bookmarks you recently added.

Chrome also gives you the option to search your browsing history, as long as the entries haven't been deleted. This is useful if you found a worthwhile Web page but forgot to bookmark it, or if you're trying to track down a specific link.

The downside to these features is that it makes it easy for others to see what you're doing on the Web. You can remove the thumbnails of your favorite sites, but they can be restored with the click of a link. You're also free to delete your browsing history for a day, but you can't delete individual sites from your history, as you can in Internet Explorer.

If you don't want that data to be stored, you can use Incognito Mode, which lets you browse the Web without Chrome saving information to your History and Favorites. This mode also deletes any cookies that are set while you're browsing. Chrome also offers a Clear Browsing History function that will erase all locally stored data for a day, a week or your entire time using Chrome. Unlike Firefox, this function can't be triggered automatically when you exit, but it does remove the same information, including cookies, Web cache and passwords, if desired.

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