Firefox vs. Chrome: Which Browser Will Make You The Most Productive?

Niklas Göke
Jan 11, 2018 · 4 min read

If you open 500 web pages a day and lose two seconds every time one loads, that’s almost 17 minutes down the drain.

That may not sound so bad, but let’s factor in mental switching cost. Because what do you do in those two seconds? You think of something else. Or open another tab. And that can easily derail your work in that original tab for 20 minutes.

Clearly, browsing speed matters. It’s what has dominated comparisons between Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox so far. That said, it’s not the only aspect that matters when choosing a browser that’ll help you — or keep you from — doing your best work.

Hence, here’s a short, subjective comparison of the two in four aspects: speed, simplicity, usefulness and synchronicity. I’m a long-time Chrome user, but have spent the past three weeks using Firefox to see how it feels.

Let’s find out which one works best for work!

1. Speed

If it’s named Firefox Quantum, it better be fast — and it is. Firefox wins the speed game, hands down. That shouldn’t be a big surprise, as performance was the team’s main concern.

Yes, speed depends on the task, but in general, for loading web pages, I immediately noticed Firefox being way faster. More often than in Chrome, they appear in one drop, rather than piece by piece.

It also seems to use slightly less RAM for normal browsing. Under high stress, like playing video for a long time, my Macbook seems to breathe less heavily in Chrome.

Score: Firefox ★★★★★ || Chrome ★★★✩✩


2. Simplicity

Firefox is also wonderfully simple. It reminds me of an Apple product, because it’s so intuitive. For example, you can just drop any page on the home icon to the left of the URL bar and it’ll instantly become your new home page.

There are just four categories of settings and lots of features like taking screenshots, saving pages to Pocket or sharing links via email are built-in.

When you open the settings in Chrome, the first thing you see is a search bar, just for the settings section, which is revealing in itself. Scroll down to ‘Advanced’ and the party really gets going.

Accessibility features, hardware acceleration, prediction features, most people don’t need these things and only end up breaking stuff by touching the wrong knobs.

Score: Firefox ★★★★★ || Chrome ★★★★✩


3. Usefulness

When it comes to utility, however, the tables quickly turn. Because it’s so customizable, Chrome feels almost limitless.

The selection of Firefox Add-Ons pales in comparison to Chrome’s 50,000+ extensions. Besides designing your toolbar, picking a theme and pinning a few functions to your Overflow menu, there’s not much you can do.

In Chrome you can adapt anything to your needs. Show LinkedIn profiles in Gmail? Check. Customize Bitcoin trading charts? Check. Figure out hex color codes on any page? Check.

Even among Swiss Army knives, there are simple ones, and, well…

Images from Amazon

Score: Firefox ★★★✩✩ || Chrome ★★★★★


4. Synchronicity

First, what do I mean by synchronicity? Today, we all have 257 different accounts on different sites. While all browsers enable you to save passwords and login data, some make that easier than others.

I found that Firefox kicks me out of accounts more frequently than Chrome. Plus, since Chrome is a Google product, everything linked to your Google account, which, for me, is most things, works seamlessly.

Both browsers enable you to sync your work to other devices and pick up where you left off, but when it comes to how ‘plugged in’ you are, Chrome has a slight edge — no pun intended.

Score: Firefox ★★★★✩ || Chrome ★★★★★


The Verdict

If you use your computer like me — excessively — switch tasks a lot and need more of a powerhouse, rather than a browser that’s just fast, Chrome is your obvious choice. You can customize it ad infinitem and switch between your marketing hat, artist hat and dad-really-needs-to-watch-some-Netflix-now hat in seconds.

Firefox, on the other hand, does one thing and it does it extremely well: allow you to zip around the web at lightning speed. If you’re a trader, researcher, or writer who doesn’t use a lot of media, this browser is perfect for you. You can configure a simple productivity setup in a few clicks, use the built-in tools for the rest, and off you go.

The most interesting idea I’ve had in the past three weeks however, is this:

Use different browsers for different work.

Why not do your trading in Firefox, while writing in Chrome? Use one for surfing, one for managing your website. Strip Firefox naked and just read, then customize Chrome to the brim and go on a coding spree.

In the end, all browsers are just tools and we should never let politics, opinions, or taste get in the way of using the right one.

Chrome is an RV, Firefox is a Model S. Both will get you across the whole country, but which one you get into should depend entirely on why you want to go in the first place.

Better Humans

Better Humans is a collection of the world's most trustworthy writing on human potential and self improvement by coaches, academics, and aggressive self-experimenters. Articles are based on deep personal experience, science, and research. No fluff, book reports, or listicles.

Thanks to Justin Cox 🍩

Niklas Göke

Written by

Writing for dreamers, doers, and unbroken optimists since 2014. For free reading and more personal updates, be my email friend: https://niklasgoeke.com/friends

Better Humans

Better Humans is a collection of the world's most trustworthy writing on human potential and self improvement by coaches, academics, and aggressive self-experimenters. Articles are based on deep personal experience, science, and research. No fluff, book reports, or listicles.

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