Why I switched to Arc as my default browser
For as long as I can remember, I've had a polyamorous relationship with web browsers. In the past, I've alternated between Chrome and Firefox depending on my
RAM needs. Chrome was sleek and fast, but Firefox was the workhorse that let me manage hundreds of nested vertical tabs (via Sidebery) and juggle multiple accounts using containers.
My main gripe with Firefox was its insatiable appetite for memory as it would regularly consume 10GB in the course of a day.
Enter Arc - a modern take on the web browser that's meant to be the "operating system for the web." Built on top of Chromium and advertised as a reimaging of what the browser could be, I recently got an invite to try it out. After two weeks of using it as my default browser, I'm not going back.
The first thing you'll notice about Arc is the sidebar. It's a jack-of-all-trades that functions as the address bar, menu, bookmarks, and an entire drawer full of additional functionality.
The sidebar itself exists as part of a "space" - a preconfigured set of tabs that is attached to a profile. Profile are like Firefox containers - they let you isolate online identities by compartmentalizing cookies and browser storage between different profiles.
With profiles, spaces, and tabs, Arc gives me the power features I needed from Firefox with the affordances of Chrome. It's compatible with all Chrome extensions (at least the ones I use), and its developer tools function as you'd expect from a Chromium browser. Additionally, Arc has many awesome quality-of-life features not found in other browsers, like the ability to do video in video when switching tabs and the ability to peek at links before committing to replacing the current page with it.
Going beyond the features, Arc is simply delightful to use. It is packed with little flourishes like musical icons that radiate from the tab when sound is playing and vibrant color palettes to make each space feel distinct.
Arc works so well that I've switched to using it for most of my Electron-based apps like Slack, Discord, and Notion. This ends up saving memory, but it does mean retraining my fingers to do
Alt-Tab instead of
Shift-Tab to switch between apps.
Arc is a delightful browser developed by an amazing team (including one of the creators of google chrome). It's become my default browser over the last two weeks and I don't see myself going back.
The browser space has been in need of fresh air for some time, and Arc delivers just that and more.
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