Google’s Chrome browser keeps improving; Beta 2’s release in February certainly advanced the case for Chrome as a worthy competitor to Safari, Firefox, and the rest of the pack.
I wanted to give Chrome a fair shake, so I set it as my default Web browser and removed Safari from my Dock completely for a week. And while I found a lot to like, Chrome in its current state exhibits enough frustrations that I’ve had to hand the crown (and Dock space) back to Safari. Make no mistake, Chrome includes some excellent features—features whose absence in Safari now causes me intense mental anguish. But for today, I’ve come to bury Chrome, not to praise it.
Here are seven reasons that Chrome lost its short-lived reign as my default browser:
I’ve held down every modifier-key I can come up with, and Chrome merely smirks. It’s impossible to switch away from its default tab behavior, and on pages rife with links where I want to get straight to form fields, this default behavior just doesn’t work. And here’s the real knife-twist: There appears to be a bug on some pages, so that when you tab to different links on the page, the links themselves don’t get highlighted, making it a chore to figure out just what’s selected at any given time.
2. Location, location, location bar.
I love the single bar that Chrome dual-purposes both for entering URLs and initiating Web searches, and for years I’ve installed Safari hacks that aim to recreate the same experience.
My complaint, though, is that Chrome too often fails to autocomplete the URLs I’m typing the way I expect it to. If I type in “goog,” as expected and desired, Chrome autocompletes “google.com” in the location bar. But when I start typing “music.me,” while Chrome dutifully starts listing suggestions based on sites I’ve been to, it requires that I tap the down arrow twice (or use the mouse) to get to the first suggestion and hit return, instead of doing the standard autocompletion that it does for “goog.” In Safari, the “top hit” for an autocompleted URL suggestion always appears right in the URL bar. Google’s autocompletion behavior seems unnecessarily inconsistent, and is hampered by the fact that suggestions frequently don’t appear right in the location bar itself.
4. Dragging can be a drag.
Chrome’s tabs live very high up in the application’s window. You’ll find about 11 pixels of available space if you’d like to click on the window itself, say, to drag it elsewhere on your screen. Misjudge by even a single pixel, and you’ll start dragging the tabs themselves instead. With just half a dozen tabs open, you’re forced to either try your luck in that narrow sliver above the tabs, or get dangerously close to the left-side window controls or the right-aligned “new tab” button. Boo.
6. Image is everything.
Drag an image out of Safari, and you’ll see a ghosted version of that image as you drag it, so you know exactly what you’re getting. Perform the same act in Chrome, and you’ll note that you’re dragging a tiny globe icon. That makes it harder to tell whether you’re getting what you think you’re getting as you drag the image, and forces me to double-check each image I download.
As I said at the outset, Chrome’s a great browser, and I could just as easily write up a list of seven things I love about it. But until some of these flaws are addressed, Chrome’s greatness is overshadowed by its weaknesses and so it’s back to Safari I go.