Google Chrome

Google Chrome

Download Editors' Rating:
4.5
Outstanding
Average User Rating:
3.7
out of 3091 votes

Quick Specs

  • Version:
    26.0.1410.43
  • Total Downloads:
    25,508,521
  • Date Added:
    Mar. 26, 2013
  • Price:
    Free
  • File Size:
    Not available
  • Downloads Last Week:
    23,876
  • Platform:
    Windows
  • Product ranking:
    #2 in Web Browsers

Editors' Review

+

Google Chrome has matured from a lightweight and fast browsing alternative into an innovative, standard-bearer of a browser that people love. It's powerful enough to drive its own operating system, Chrome OS. The browser that people can use today, Chrome 26, offers highly competitive features, including synchronization, autofill, and standards compliance, and maintains Google's reputation for building one of the fastest browsers available.

Chrome 26 represents a major milestone for the browser, but those expecting to see dramatic changes in major version-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.

Please note that there are at least four versions of Chrome for PCs 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 are aimed at developers.

There's also Chrome for Android and Chrome for iOS.

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. Although you used to be able to toggle this easily, Chrome now splits up the anonymous data-tracking options into multiple categories. You can toggle these from the Preferences menu (the three-line icon to the right of the location bar) under Settings, Advanced Settings, then Privacy Options. 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, a combined Stop/Reload button, and Home. 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.

The former Wrench icon for accessing settings has been replaced with the Android-styled "three-line" design. Settings open in a new tab, with many additional options available under various "advanced settings" links. It's not the best layout, and it's easy to get lost in the configuration woods as Google moves options around. 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.

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 26 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.

Incognito, known in other browsers as "private mode" and to the cognoscenti as "porn mode," does not prevent your Internet service provider from peeking in on your Web traffic.

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 delete Flash cookies from Chrome, which makes sense given that Chrome comes with Flash built in, and there's a Safe Browsing protection against downloading malicious files. Chrome's Web app support now includes the capability 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. You can also change plug-ins like Flash from loading automatically to click-to-run, both as a security feature and a page-load time saver.

There's Native Client, too. Also known as NaCl, it's open-source technology developed by Google 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 capability 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.

Although Chrome has a poor reputation for privacy because of its Google origins, it actually does offer a lot of privacy-tweaking settings. 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). Still, that's not going to be enough for many people. If you're not comfortable using Chrome because of privacy concerns, we recommend the independent browsers Firefox or Opera.

Chrome offers malware scanning on Web pages to include downloads, and the precaching tool for loading sites in your search results early works with the Omnibox location bar.

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 20 tabs open. That's not an immutable number, though, and different computers' hardware will alter browser performance.

You can sync tabs and their browsing histories to other computers and devices such as Android and iOS, use the browser to control your mic, and Chrome also prevents third-party programs from installing extensions without your permission. Chrome 26 introduces better spell-checking and homonym-checking, with custom dictionary syncing and more robust suggestions. It's a small but useful improvement.

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 in which 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.

Chrome has 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," which means 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.

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 auto-updating 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 supersonic 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. It finally has extended hardware accelerated graphics to older Windows and Macs courtesy improvements to WebGL support and changes to Canvas2D.

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 capability 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.

 
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Publisher's Description

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User Reviews
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  • Current Version

    2.7

    out of 11 votes

    • 5 star 2
    • 4 star 2
    • 3 star 2
    • 2 star 1
    • 1 star 4
  • All Versions

    3.7

    out of 3091 votes

    • 5 star 1197
    • 4 star 791
    • 3 star 443
    • 2 star 249
    • 1 star 411
  • My rating

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1–10 of 11

5 stars

"It's the No.1 browser"

April 07, 2013  |  By HateU2

 |  Version: Google Chrome 26.0.1410.43

Pros

It's fast,convenient, and stable.
Faster than IE and much more faster than firefox, I think.

Cons

Still waiting for its non-arrival cons.

Summary

Good!

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3 stars

"i don't like it"

April 05, 2013  |  By M.K. GOLDEN

 |  Version: Google Chrome 26.0.1410.43

Pros

it is fast.

Cons

at least 1/2 the time i cannot delete email

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5 stars

"No Problems Yet (26.0.1410.43)"

April 05, 2013  |  By PhoenixCanDo

 |  Version: Google Chrome 26.0.1410.43

Pros

I have had a nice clean simple experience with Chrome Version 26.0.1410.43 so far. I wish I could say the same for IE 10.

Cons

None whatsoever.

Summary

Thanks heaven for the simplicity yet feature filled and great performance of Chrome Version 26.0.1410.43.

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1 stars

"Will NOT run"

April 03, 2013  |  By clive wood

 |  Version: Google Chrome 26.0.1410.43

Pros

Until 2 years ago when it stopped running I thought that it was the BEST.

Cons

For the past 2 years every time it updates, it loads but refuses to run, I think I have tried just about everything to make it work, all to no avail.

Summary

As soon as someone comes up with a solution I willl use Chrome again.

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4 stars

"Firefox is better"

April 01, 2013  |  By luanncasta

 |  Version: Google Chrome 26.0.1410.43

Pros

ir runs very fast

Cons

a lot of memory needed

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1 stars

"Rewrites registry values"

March 30, 2013  |  By agreetham

 |  Version: Google Chrome 26.0.1410.43

Pros

Didn't get as far as using it

Cons

I downloaded some software and Chrome was hidden in there with it. I didnt see anything to say Chrome was being downloaded and Im always careful with things like that so would be surprised if I missed it.

It changed all of my default settings when it was downloaded and meant I couldn't open links from Outlook and it really slowed my system down, even if I wasnt using and had not opened it, so I uninstalled it. Still had the email and other problems so searched online to resolve it. The problem is that Chrome rewrites about half a dozen registry entries and you have to run a fix from Microsoft for windows to fix it. My IE is now running a lot faster.

Its probably the spyware that Google add to it.

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2 stars

"Bad Design"

March 29, 2013  |  By afif_brika

 |  Version: Google Chrome 26.0.1410.43

Pros

Fast than other browser

Cons

-Bad minimalist design
-Difficult access to history
-Setting take long time to open
-Difficult and not complete setting interface

Summary

The design is very bad but it fast than other

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1 stars

"the facebook of browsers (yes, it spies on you)"

March 28, 2013  |  By whoda_thunkit

 |  Version: Google Chrome 26.0.1410.43

Pros

NONE! there are NONE.

Cons

-google spyware
-memory hog
-silly minimalist design
-doesn't render all websites well unlike IE and FF.

Summary

Do you use google chrome, android, gmail, google search, youtube.
congratulations! google now has your info. stored INDEFINITELY!
Google knows the content of your emails, who you correspond with, what websites you visit. Google probably knows you better than your parents, siblings and your significant other.
not only that, google shares your information with intelligence agencies.
did you believe google when they told you they "don't read your emails"? they don't but they'll be there for a loooooooong time probably even after you're dead on some server somewhere.
use google sheeple, use it.
google loves you and probably knows when you'll get h0rny as well because that's when you visit those naughty sites.

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1 stars

"New version of Google Chrome "crashes" every 5 minutes"

March 27, 2013  |  By yankeefloridian

 |  Version: Google Chrome 26.0.1410.43

Pros

I have no "pros" to enter here as I'm unable to stay online for more than 5 minutes, using the newest version of Google Chrome.

Cons

I downloaded this new version 26.0.1410.43 of Google Chrome, last night, and seriously, I only last 5 minutes at the most, before Google Chrome either closes my usage, without any notice, or I get the message that Google Chrome has stopped working. I'm placing this review on IE, which normally I avoid, like the plague, but I wanted to make sure I got this message through without having to keep re-loading the new Google Chrome!

Summary

I have tried various potential remedies, from research off internet, on how to stop these frequent "crashes" but nothing has worked so far. I've done a registry check, cleaned out my cache, defragged my computer, and restarted my computer, numerous times, and again, to no avail. I don't use Google Chrome for gaming purposes so I'd really like to know what is causing all these "crashes". I purposely uninstalled my previous version of Google Chrome, as it was crashing a lot but I never anticipated all these crashes, when I decided to install this latest version. I even tried to uninstall this version and go back to my prior version but I was told that I had to create a new profile as my usual profile was applied to the newest one! Not worth the trouble!! I "lost" all my "Favorites" that I had "saved" so you can bet that I am not a "happy camper"!

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4 stars

"Good stuff but has some small irritations."

March 27, 2013  |  By tembuktoo

 |  Version: Google Chrome 26.0.1410.43

Pros

Fast, sleek and efficient.

Cons

Newer versions have not updated my "Installed On" date since November in the Windows Programs and Features screen.

Puts a lot of files on the system compared to IE and Firefox.

Summary

Would like to send Google a few comments but they force you to have an account before you can "Contact Us" and it's not worth all the trouble.

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Results 1–10 of 11

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Full Specifications

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What's new in version 26.0.1410.43
Version 26 brings improved spell checking to the browser.
General
Publisher Google
Publisher web site http://www.google.com/
Release Date March 26, 2013
Date Added March 26, 2013
Version 26.0.1410.43
Category
Category Browsers
Subcategory Web Browsers
Operating Systems
Operating Systems Windows Vista, Windows 8, Windows XP, Windows, Windows 7
Additional Requirements None
Download Information
File Size Not Available
File Name UNKNOWN
Popularity
Total Downloads 25,508,521
Downloads Last Week 23,876
Pricing
License Model Free
Limitations Not available
Price Free

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