Google Chrome 17.0.963.79 for Mac - Free download and software reviews - CNET Download.com

Google Chrome for Mac

CNET Editors' review

The bottom line: Competitiveness, thy name is Chrome. Google's browser is one of the fastest and most standards-compliant browsers available. It lacks some of the fine-tuning you'll find in Firefox, but from the minimalist interface to support for future-Web tech like Native Client and HTML5, the browser is a must.

Review:
Google Chrome has matured from a lightweight and fast browsing alternative into an innovative, standard-bearing browser that people love. It's powerful enough to drive its own operating system, Chrome OS. The browser that people can use today, Chrome 17, offers highly competitive features, including synchronization, autofill, and standards compliance, and maintains Google's reputation for building one of the fastest browsers available.

Chrome 17 represents a major milestone for the browser, but those expecting to see dramatic changes in major-point updates will be disappointed. For a while now, Google has been pushing features over what it calls milestone numbers in a rapid-release cycle, which means that as soon as new features are usable in the beta version of Chrome, Google will likely push them to all users in the stable edition.

First Look: Chrome still shines, 10 versions later

Chrome 17 debuts two new features. It extends the browser's malware scanning on Web pages to include downloads, and the pre-caching tool for loading sites in your search results early now works with the Omnibox location bar.

Please note that there are at least four versions of Chrome available at the moment, and this review only addresses the "stable" branch, intended for general use. Chrome beta (Windows (download) | Mac (download)), Chrome dev (Windows (download) | Mac (download)), and Chrome Canary (Windows (download) | Mac (download)) are progressively less stable versions of the browser, and aimed at developers.

Installation
Chrome's installation process is simple and straightforward. If you download the browser from Google's Web site, it will ask you if you'd like to anonymously submit usage statistics to the company. This can be toggled even after the browser is installed by going to the wrench-icon Preferences menu and choosing Options, then Under the Hood, and checking or unchecking Help Make Chrome Better. Depending on your processor, the installation process should take less than 2 minutes.

Interface
Google's Chrome interface has changed remarkably little since its surprise debut in September 2008. Tabs are still on top, the location bar (aka Omnibox) dominates the minimalist design, and the browser has few visible control buttons besides Back, Forward, and a combined Stop/Reload button. Although some users may not like having the tabs on top, we find it to be aesthetically preferable because it leaves more room below for the Web site we're looking at.

One change has been to remove the secondary Page Options button and combine it with the Preferences wrench icon to create space for extension icons to the right of the location bar. As it currently stands, it could be better organized. Some controls, such as page zoom, are readily available. Others, such as the extension manager, are hidden away under a Tools submenu.

Chrome's extensions are fairly limited in how they can alter the browser's interface. Unlike Firefox, which gives add-on makers a lot of leeway in changing the browser's look, Chrome mandates that extensions appear only as icons to the right of the location bar. The benefit is that this maintains a uniform look to the browser, but it definitely limits how much the browser can be customized. Chrome doesn't support sidebars, either, although other Chromium-based browsers (such as Comodo Dragon) do offer the feature. There is an option in Chrome's about:flags, a series of experimental features, that lets you move the tabs to a sidebar.

Settings pages get their own tab, rather than a dialog box. If you sign in more than one Google account, you'll see the profile icons in the upper left corner on the tab row.

Even with its limitations, the interface design has remained a contemporary exemplar of how to minimize a browser's screen footprint while keeping the browser easy to use and versatile.

Features and support
Chrome 16 launches the beginning of changes to how sync works in the browser, with the introduction of multiple user account support. This means that you can now have multiple people, or at least multiple Gmail accounts, running in Chrome simultaneously. However, it's not "people-secure," meaning that although your data might be secured on Google servers, once an account is logged in to Chrome, you don't have to re-enter your account data. Anybody with access to Chrome on your computer can see your stuff.

Chrome 17's features are accessible from the Preferences menu via the wrench icon on the right side of the navigation bar. It offers a complete range of modern browsing conveniences. The basics are well-represented, including tabbed browsing, new window creation, and a private browsing mode that Google calls Incognito, which disables cookie tracking, history recording, extension support, and other browsing breadcrumbs.

Chrome is based on WebKit, the same open-source engine that powers Apple Safari, Google's Android mobile platform, and several other desktop and mobile Web-browsing tools. However, Chrome runs on a different JavaScript engine than its WebKit cousins, and there are other changes as well.

Along with hardware-accelerated 3D CSS, there have been interesting security improvements. You can now delete Flash cookies from inside Chrome, which makes sense given that Chrome comes with Flash built in, and there's a new Safe Browsing protection against downloading malicious files. Chrome's Web app support now includes the ability to launch Web apps from the location bar. This gives keyboard jockeys a bit more power to avoid mousing around, more readily apparent in Chrome OS but nevertheless good to have in the regular old Chrome browser.

There's Native Client, too. Also known as NaCl, it's open-source technology that allows C and C++ code to be securely run in the browser. It basically lets software run within two protected sandboxes, which will theoretically cut down on browser-based threats dramatically. When completed, NaCl will enable Web apps to run as smoothly as programs that are hosted on your hard drive.

Besides allowing you to disable JavaScript, Chrome will automatically block Web sites that are known to promulgate phishing attacks and malware threats or be otherwise unsafe. The usefulness of this depends on Google's ability to flag Web sites as risky, though, and so it's recommended to use an add-on like the Web of Trust extension or a separate security program to block threats.

Chrome also offers a lot of privacy-tweaking settings. In the Options menu, go to the Under the Hood tab. From here, you can toggle and customize most of the browser's privacy and security settings. Cookies, image management, JavaScript, plug-ins, pop-ups, location information, and notifications can be adjusted from the Content Settings button. This includes toggling specific plug-ins, such as the built-in Adobe Flash plug-in or the Chrome PDF reader (which is deactivated by default).

Mac users now get a warning window when using Command-Q to close the browser.

Print preview, formerly a small but glaring hole in Chrome's feature list, is now present in the Windows and Linux versions. Chrome stable for Mac still doesn't have the feature, which is powered by the PDF reader that comes built into Chrome.

Chrome's tabs remain one of the best things about the browser. The tabs are detachable: "tabs" and "windows" become interchangeable here. Detached tabs can be dragged and dropped into the browser, and tabs can be rearranged at any time by clicking, holding, dragging, and releasing. Not only can tabs be isolated, but each tab exists in its own task process. This means that when one tab crashes, the other tabs do not. Though memory leaks are a major concern in Chrome when you have dozens of tabs open, we found sluggish behavior and other impediments weren't noticeable until after there were more than 30 tabs open. That's not an immutable number, though, and different computers' hardware will alter browser performance.

Some of the basics in Chrome are handled extremely intuitively. In-page searching works smoothly. Using the Ctrl-F hot key or the menu option, searching for a word or phrase will open a text entry box on the top right of the browser. Chrome searches as you type, indicating the number of positive results and highlighting them on the page.

Account syncing is another area where Chrome does well. Using your Gmail account, Chrome will sync your themes, preferences, autofill entries, passwords, extensions, and bookmarks. You can toggle each of those categories, too. Extension syncing has been the roughest of the lot.

The intuitive New Tab page allows you to create custom categories by dragging and dropping apps and bookmarks, and includes navigation arrows on the left and right edges of the page that become more visible on mouse-over.

Like Firefox, Chrome gives broad control over search engines and search customizations. Though this doesn't sound like much, not all browsers allow you to set keyword shortcuts for searching, and some even restrict which search engine you can set as your default. Chrome comes with three defaults to choose from: Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

The Chrome extension manager, bookmark manager, and download manager all open in new tabs. They allow you to search their contents and throw in some basic management options like deletion, but in general they don't feel as robust as their counterparts in competing browsers. For example, URLs in the bookmark manager are only revealed when you mouse over a bookmark, and you must click on one to get the URL to permanently appear. That's an extra click that other browsers don't require.

Two other low-profile but well-executed features in Chrome are autoupdating and translation. Chrome automatically updates when a new version comes out. This makes it harder to revert back to an older version, but it's highly unlikely that you'll want to downgrade this build of Chrome since this is the stable build and not the beta or developer's version. The second feature, automatic translation of Web pages, is available to other browsers as a Google add-on, but because it comes from Google, it's baked directly into Chrome.

Chrome is also a leader in HTML5 implementation, which is uneven because of the continuing development of HTML5 standards. This will become more important in the coming months and years, but right now it doesn't greatly affect interactions with Web sites.

Performance
Based on the open-source WebKit engine and Google's V8 JavaScript engine, Google Chrome debuted to much fanfare because of its rocketing rendering speeds. More than three years down the line, that hasn't changed, and the stable version of Chrome remains one of the fastest stable browsers available. The less stable versions, with their more recent improvements and bug fixes, are often faster.

You can see CNET's most recent benchmark tests that included Google Chrome; while that particular version of Chrome didn't do too well, the browser has seen a lot of changes since that test and you definitely should not discount it.

Note that to effectively use hardware acceleration you must make sure that your graphics card drivers are up-to-date. Nevertheless, Chrome remains one of the fastest browsers available, and its rapid version update rate ensures that it is consistently competitive.

Conclusion
It's hard to tell which is faster, user adoption of Chrome or its development. Certainly the two are linked, and due in no small part to Google's ability to lay claim to the "fastest browser" title, even when it may not be strictly justified. The rest of Chrome's appeal lies in its clean, minimalist look, and competitive features that justify its still-increasing market share. Chrome is a serious option for anybody who wants a browser that gets out of the way of browsing the Web.

More than just speed in Chrome:

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All User Reviews

Results 1-10 of 127

  • 5.0 stars

    "Chrome is always more stable than Safari"

    February 26, 2014  |   By Rage SW

    Version: Google Chrome 33.0.1750.117

    Pros

    I find Chrome to be a lot more stable than Safari especially, not surprisingly, for Google services which I use a lot of (gmail, youtube, etc...)

    I like how Private browser is per browser window rather than for the entire app (like in Safari) as this resets cookie data for websites that are currently opened in browser windows.

    Cons

    Still like the UI of Safari better. Of all the web browsers, Safari just feels more like a Mac app.

    Reply to this review

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  • 1.0 stars

    "STILL NO 64-BIT VERSION (MAC)"

    November 7, 2013  |   By JCPayne

    Version: Google Chrome 30.0.1599.69

    Pros

    Liked it. Has nice feel to it.

    Cons

    Plugins constantly scream that Chrome for mac isn't 64-bit yet. Surprising that with the billions Google has and the amount of time which has passed that they can't create a 64-bit version for MAC.

    Reply to this review

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Chrome not supporting Java 7.0 on Macs"

    October 12, 2013  |   By hjhaveri

    Version: Google Chrome 30.0.1599.69

    Pros

    Great browser. It is fast.

    Cons

    Unstable on Macs. Does not support Java 7.0

    Reply to this review

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  • 3.0 stars

    "I like it so much!"

    August 29, 2013  |   By land11230

    Version: Google Chrome 29.0.1547.62

    Pros

    It's very helpful for me.

    Cons

    No cons in my opinion.

    Summary

    it's such a good browser.

    Reply to this review

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Very fast and very simple"

    July 16, 2013  |   By Lucygaffney

    Version: Google Chrome 28.0.1500.71

    Pros

    The speed is faster than other browser, also it is very simple and you can read more contents in a friendly way.Also, you can easily install a add-on at its application store.

    Cons

    When I have some bookmarks on it, it keep cracking.

    Summary

    Chrome is the best browser that I have ever used.But for some experience, it is still need to be improved.

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  • 3.0 stars

    "Good browser, unwanted additions."

    June 16, 2013  |  

    Version: Google Chrome 27.0.1453.110

    Pros

    Very fast web page access.
    Good use of book marks when it registers them (see below).

    Cons

    There are many programs and applications installed that I don't trust and don't want to use. I spent a good amount of time cleaning out 'added' programs.
    I re-installed Chrome, and there were still some add-ons that I don't want, and haven't figured out how to remove.
    If this continues, I'm going over to Opera. I've had similar experiences with Mozilla Firefox.
    Another point: Chrome did not add a bookmark to my Bookmark Tool Bar after three attempts.
    I am very frustrated.

    Summary

    Too many unwanted additions.

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  • 3.0 stars

    "A little bit disappointed"

    June 7, 2013  |   By piusag

    Version: Google Chrome 27.0.1453.110

    Pros

    It's relatively fast, solid, and easy to use. It's great to open HTML5 websites (better than Safari).

    Cons

    Chrome is kinda slow on my macbook pro when I use Google search from the address bar. On many occasions, it's just freeze for couple seconds before it displays the search results.

    Summary

    Well I'm not sure if I'm the only one who experiences this laggy performance with Chrome, otherwise it's a solid browser. Many people say it takes a lot of RAM; it's true. But shouldn't really affects your mac if you have 4GB+ memory.

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  • 2.0 stars

    "No good for Mac users - unless you've got lots of RAM"

    June 6, 2013  |   By ntpipgras

    Version: Google Chrome 24.0.1312.57

    Pros

    Tabs, bookmarks, easy linkage with other stuff.

    Cons

    Chrome renderer sucks up RAM. Tired of my Macbook Pro running hot and having to check my monitor all the time. I'm back to Firefox.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Crashes all the time...Mac users AVOID"

    May 25, 2013  |   By Smoorf

    Version: Google Chrome 27.0.1453.94

    Pros

    Fast...but it crashes all the time so what's the point?

    Cons

    See title. I'm on 10.7.5 and it crashes all the time for no reason. Thought it was Flash but Flash is the latest version.

    Summary

    Apparently Google is doing nothing about this. See thread below: http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/chrome/8VisL1VI3lg%5B1-25-false%5D

    Going back to Firefox.

    Reply to this review

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  • 2.0 stars

    "It's okay browser"

    April 11, 2013  |   By iMercy

    Version: Google Chrome 26.0.1410.65

    Pros

    It is fast. But that's not a plus point of this browser as there are other browsers available which are equally fast, Safari, iCab and Sleipnir and others. People overtly brag about its speed. Chrome does not even stand close to iCab and Sleipnir when it comes to features.

    Cons

    As everybody knows it logs users matrices. It also intrudes in Safari''s settings. When I installed it and ran for the first time i noticed it collected all Safari's history even though I had turned off import Browser history. It shows its bookmarks in Safari's Bookmarks Collection. Chrome should mind its own business.

    All versions 25 and 26 of Chrome show beach balls for sometime. Its a big memory hog when multiple tabs are open.

    Summary

    Have not found anything interesting about this browser.

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

    Was this review helpful? (1) (0)

Results 1-10 of 127

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