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.
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.
2. Choose “Chrome” from the list. Make sure you’ve quit Chrome before proceeding.
3. Select the user you want to import. If you’re not sure, “First user” is typically the best option.
4. Check “Cookies” and “Bookmarks” to important both, then click “Continue” to import the 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.