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First Look: Chrome for Mac

Rob Griffiths | Dec. 9, 2009
First, before you consider switching, realize that Chrome is very much a beta release on the Mac.

While Chrome lacks a bookmarks manager, you can bookmark a site by either dragging it to the bookmarks bar, or clicking the star next to the URL.Once saved, you can remove a bookmarked site by first loading it, then clicking the star again.

One thing I really like about Chrome is that when you add a bookmark to the Bookmarks Bar, it uses the site's favicon in the bar, with no accompanying text. I can fit a ton of sites on the bookmarks bar, and they're all easily distinguished.

If you prefer to see text, too, you can add it by Control-clicking on a site in the bookmarks bar and choosing Edit from the contextual menu.

Speed

Chrome is a very fast browser, both in subjective feel and objective performance tests. It feels fast because the interface reacts quickly to your actions, and page loading starts seemingly immediately after entering a URL. Even little things, like dragging a tab, feel much more responsive in Chrome than they do in Firefox. Ask for a new window or tab, and it appears instantly. User perception can be more important than actual measured speed in a browser, and the perception in my time with Chrome is that it's fast.

In this case, though, the numbers back up the perception. I ran eight browsers (Firefox 3.5 and 3.6b4, Safari and WebKit, OmniWeb, Camino, Opera, and Chrome) through two different performance tests. The SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark attempts to measure real-world JavaScript performance, using features that sites are using today. I also ran each browser through the Peackeeper browser benchmark, another JavaScript-based test.

Based on these tests, the fastest browser of the bunch is WebKit, the open source core of Safari. Safari and Chrome, both built on WebKit, basically tied for second on both tests. The remainder of the browsers, were much further off the pace, with scores ranging from 2x to 10x worse than Safari and Chrome. JavaScript tests aren't the only measure of performance, of course, but these results back up the perception that Chrome is a speedy browser.

Tabs as processes

One of the key features of Chrome is that separate sites are treated as separate processes by the browser--that is, you can think of each tab or window you open as a unique application, even though they're all running in Chrome. The benefit, as a user, is that if a site crashes, it will only kill the particular window or tab that it's open in; everything else will keep right on running--you can switch to other open tabs, open windows, and do anything else you might normally do.

Treating each site as a separate task a great improvement, and is probably the single strongest reason to use Chrome over the other OS X browsers--no longer will you lose all your open tabs just because of one troublesome site.

 

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