A Chrome User’s Guide for Switching to Firefox

Switching Chrome To Firefox Browser Hero

With Google making major moves against ad blockers, users concerned about privacy and corporate overreach should give Firefox a serious look. The open-source browser, built by a non-profit dedicated to freedom on the Web, is a major upgrade from Google Chrome, in terms of security, privacy, and usability. If you want to move from Google Chrome to Firefox, here’s our guide to switching browsers.

What the Difference?

Firefox is an open-source browser designed for everyone, from power users to your grandma. The Mozilla Foundation, which runs Firefox’s development, is dedicated to providing an alternative to the telemetrics and analytics of the modern-day Internet. Their goal with Firefox has always been to provide a private, secure, and usable browser with wide post-install configuration options for a huge variety of deployments and uses.

Switching Chrome To Firefox Browser Main

For the standard user, most upgrades to security and privacy come free. By switching your browser to Firefox (and your search engine to DuckDuckGo), you can evade Google’s most invasive surveillance operations. If you want to start breaking away from the Google Mothership, switching to Firefox is a great start. Your browsing experience should be similar to Chrome’s but with fewer eyeballs perched over your shoulder.

Extensions and Add-ons

One of the largest adjustments coming to Firefox is the more limited add-on ecosystem. Google Chrome enjoys its position as the presently undisputed top dog in the world of Internet browsers, so the Chrome Store is packed to the gills with extensions of all shapes and sizes. With a smaller (but more enthusiastic) userbase, Firefox can offer a respectable, but not overwhelmingly huge, addon library. Of course, the major hits, like Ad Block Plus and UBlock Origin, are available on all platforms. Before you make the switch to Firefox, we recommend confirming that you can find all of your mission-critical extensions in the Firefox Addon library. If not, you might be able to find a functional replacement.

Importing Browser Data from Chrome

The easiest way to switch browsers is to import. This grabs browsing data from your other browsers and ingests it into Firefox. Right now, Firefox can import cookies and bookmarks from Google Chrome. The other data types are either stored in a format that Firefox can’t interpret or their code is incompatible, as in the case of addons. But this will provide a leg up in your transitioning experience.

1. Select “File -> Import from Another Browser …” from the Firefox menu bar.

Switching Chrome To Firefox Import Data Menu

2. Choose “Chrome” from the list. Make sure you’ve quit Chrome before proceeding.

Switching Chrome To Firefox Import Data Browser Selection

3. Select the user you want to import. If you’re not sure, “First user” is typically the best option.

Switching Chrome To Firefox Import Data User Selection

4. Check “Cookies” and “Bookmarks” to important both, then click “Continue” to import the data.

Switching Chrome To Firefox Import Data

Syncing Across Devices

Google Chrome’s fluid sync process is one of its best features. It syncs your browser data behind the scenes through your Google account, which is hyper-convenient but hyper-invasive. Firefox uses Firefox Sync to share data between devices, using unique a account and passphrase. Sync items are encrypted with this password and cannot be viewed by anyone without the password, including the folks that run Mozilla’s servers. You won’t find that kind of assurance from Google.

Conclusion: Customize the Look and Feel

Like Chrome, Firefox has a number of makeover options for users. While truly dedicated users can modify the browser’s total appearance through userChrome.css, great results can also be found in the Themes store. Connected with the Addon store, the themes provide a total transformation for your browser. Just like Chrome’s themes, a small number are good and a large number are horrible. To make Firefox more comfortable, try out some Google-Chrome-styled themes.

7 comments

  1. imo, Chrome’s no better than Firefox from a privacy standpoint. I use Dolphin for mobile browsing and Safari on my MacBook Pro.

    1. I use Firefox, chromium, chrome and epiphany (gnome web) on my Linux box and Firefox or chrome on my phone.
      Never hurts to have multiple options but I’ve never liked dolphin on my phone.

  2. “By switching your browser to Firefox (and your search engine to DuckDuckGo), you can evade Google’s most invasive surveillance operations.”
    As long as Safe Browsing is enable in Firefox, you will still be under Google’s surveillance. Safe Browsing ostensibly notifies the user when (s)he is about to access a sketchy site. This is done by checking a list of bad sites that resides on Google’s servers. Each Safe Browsing check is duly recorded by Google. So Google “knows” your browsing history. If you go into about:config and search on “Google” and “Safe Browsing” you will find that there are over 50 entries. To be truly free of Google’s invasive surveillance, those redirections must be disabled. There are native Firefox extensions and add-ons that perform the same functions as Google’s Safe Browsing, maybe even better.

    1. The Safe Browsing list exists locally and is updated for all FF users periodically. If you attempt to connect to a site not on the list a query is made to google anonymously. They don’t track all your browsing through safe browsing, rather through all the trackers, webRTC, browser ID info etc. All of this can be avoided by using, say your ad blocker or AV for safe browsing, disabling FF’s connect to google and setting a number of about:config settings to increase privacy. In over a decade of using FF, it’s very rare that a site gets blocked by Safe Browsing. Even so, I don’t trust google even a tiny little bit. How many safe browsing filters does one need? They all use the same jumble of lists, disable all but one.

      FF can also be set to clear cookies and cache on shutdown, Chromia cannot, only on startup. What will MS’s new Chromedgium do with your browsing data when it’s shut down? Use it to serve ads, the thing google and MS exist for. The only fairly private chromia browser is Brave, they use a proxy to anonymize your sessions by stripping data after it’s sent. It’s impossible to disable webRTC in chromia, easy in FF.

      NO browser is private as installed but FF still has many, many settings that can increase privacy far beyond any chromium variant. A real VPN is needed to have any decent privacy, along with a good ad/tracking blocker and private search engine (DDG, Startpage, etc.)

      1. “NO browser is private as installed”
        PaleMoon is much more private by default than FF although, through extensions and about:config, FF can be locked down pretty tightly.

  3. you have given me a lot of promo for firefox but ZERO information on how go download and use it on a chromebook. I have downloaded what I think is the compressed program file but the only UN-BUNDLING application is one that comes from google/chrome/alphabet. and none of the files that it ‘produces’ can be run on this acer chrome box.

    I have no faith in the google/chrome/alphabet/Motorola behemoth so I am trying to go with a trusted third party. How about some help????

    TIA,

    Tim

    1. You know it’s a Chromebook, right? You can’t escape Google there.

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