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5 lesser-known browsers: Free, lightweight and low-maintenance

Himanshu Arora | Nov. 7, 2013
Are Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome slowing your machine -- or are they simply more than you need? We look at some alternatives.

Midori provides many useful browsing features such as HTML5 support, bookmarks, RSS support and a spell checker. By default, Midori will remember tabs opened in the last session, which can be quite useful in case of a power failure or a crash.

It also offers many configurable options like tabbed browsing, privacy settings, font/display settings and startup settings under the preferences option in the main menu.

Midori is fast. In fact, it tested as the fastest of the browsers reviewed here (Firefox actually came out as the speed leader). It loaded most popular websites like Facebook, Twitter, Google and Gmail in less than a second, and had no problems with any of the graphics.

Midori supports all the standard keyboard shortcuts — I could open a new tab with Ctrl+T, go to the address bar using Ctrl+L, go to the search bar using Ctrl+K, save a bookmark using Ctrl+D or navigate between tabs using Alt+1, Alt+2, etc.

Midori — being user-privacy conscious — uses DuckDuckGo (a browser that doesn't collect or share user information) as its default search engine. (You can set it to use other engines such as Google and Yahoo, if you prefer.) Another thing that I liked about Midori is the private browsing feature using a separate launch icon. When you open Midori in private browsing mode, it clearly lets you know the details regarding how the browser helps to keep the browsing private in this mode.

I was especially impressed by the trash icon that sits left of the main menu icon; it can be used to bring back any tab that was closed recently. Though I was used to Shift+Ctrl+T or (History --> Recently Closed Tabs) to do the same thing with Firefox, this makes it easier than ever to open any of the recently closed tabs.

Other considerations
Compared to browsers such as Firefox, a stripped-down browser like Midori offers few features and configuration options — which is the price you pay for efficiency. For example, no bookmarks are available while browsing in privacy mode, which can be frustrating sometimes. In addition, Midori still has a long way to go in terms of extension support.

I missed the ability to use a single mouse-click on, say, a plus icon to open a new browser tab (though the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+T worked perfectly fine). The location bar can be used to enter user search queries (with an option to use any of the supported search engines), but still there is still a separate search bar in the top right corner, which seemed an unnecessary waste of space to me.

And there are a few kinks to be worked out. For example, the use of http:// is mandatory when you're entering the startup home page in preferences. I tried entering google.com as my home page preference, but the browser showed a blank page every time until I replaced google.com with http://google.com.

 

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