After two decades of building Internet Explorer, the web browser everyone loves to hate, Microsoft finally threw in the towel four years ago and released an all-new browser, built on the same open-source Chromium engine that Google’s Chrome browser uses.

To its credit, Microsoft Edge is not a mere Chrome clone. Using the same rendering engine means that Edge isn’t plagued by compatibility issues; in my experience, virtually all websites and web-based services work as expected with Edge. Microsoft’s developers have also added some useful features to their browser that you won’t find in Chrome.

To be clear, the point of this post is not to convince you to switch browsers. If you’re happy with Chrome or Safari or Opera or Brave, carry on. If you’ve already set Edge as your default browser, or if you’re contemplating whether you could switch, these three features are worth looking at.

1. Tracking Protection

Google’s business model is built on personalized advertising, so you can safely bet that the company will never add a Chrome feature that restricts its ability to monitor your activity inside the browser.

Microsoft has an online ad business of its own, but it also has a longstanding track record of building privacy features into its browsers. Way back in 2012, the company was an avid supporter of the Do Not Track feature, before that effort was neutered by the online data-collection industry.

From Day 1, Edge has incorporated a feature called Tracking Protection, which is turned on by default. I wrote about Tracking Protection back in 2019, just before Edge was released to the public. It still works the same way today, with a few minor refinements.

One of the first things I do when I set up a new PC or Mac is to change the Tracking Protection setting from the default Balanced setting to Strict. (In Edge, go to edge://settings/privacy.)

Bonus: Edge is also a very effective ad blocker in Strict mode, with no third-party extensions required.

One side effect is that Tracking Protection can prevent some advanced web features from working. If you find a webpage that doesn’t load properly, you can turn off Tracking Protection and reload the page to see if that resolves the problem. Test this out yourself by clicking the lock icon in the address bar and then sliding the “Tracking protection for this site” switch to the Off position.

2. Vertical tabs

When this feature debuted, I confess my first reaction was skepticism. The traditional tabs layout has been around for more than a decade, I said to myself; why change it? Then I tried it, and now it’s among the first settings I adjust when I set up an Edge profile on a new PC or Mac.

Vertical tabs are the cure for tab overload. I often have dozens of tabs open at once, and with the traditional tab layout, my browser window looks like this:

Unless you’ve memorized each website by its favicon, this layout is pretty much useless, especially if you have multiple pages from a single website open. With vertical tabs, you get a resizable pane on the left that contains the webpage title, making it easy (well, easier) to find a specific tab.

To turn this feature on, click the Tab Actions menu (just to the left of the first open tab) and then click “Turn on vertical tabs.”

3. Immersive Reader

We’ve all experienced the frustration of visiting a webpage that’s so poorly designed that it’s unreadable. Maybe the type is too small, or the text is white on an orange background, or there are so many ads and cross-site promotions that you spend more time scrolling than reading.

That’s where Edge’s Immersive Reader (aka Reader Mode) comes in handy. When you click the Enter Immersive Reader button in the address bar (or press F9 on a Windows PC), Edge retrieves the page securely and reformats it, stripping away most of the clutter and displaying the text in a readable size on a calm background. Those settings are customizable, using the “Text preferences” menu shown here.

I’ve found third-party extensions that can do the same for Google Chrome, but they’re not nearly as elegant. 

As a bonus, switching into Reader Mode in Edge can sometimes help you work around paywalls. If you find a page that’s blocked by a “subscribers only” message, try switching to Reader Mode and see if the entire article loads. It works often enough, in my experience, that it’s worth a try.

We hope these tips have been helpful in your business. Please let us know if you have any questions about your IT environment or how to secure it from outside cyber threats. We are here for you! Contact us at (732) 780-8615 or email at [email protected].

Ed Bott, “I made Microsoft Edge my default browser because of these three killer features“,, May 13th, 2024