Things I Wished Browsers Did

This post is a list of things I wish browsers did out of the box.

I know a lot of people like to use their phones to access the internet. As a man with large hands, I like using my laptop to go online. I do not get the appeal of phones: smaller screen, smaller controls, less memory and hard drive space, most apps are just there to get you to spend more money, they make people stupid (I have seen people pull halfway out of parking spaces and stop because they were looking at their phones) and you are telling people they can reach you anywhere anytime.

  • Have a button to clear the cache. That is ALWAYS the answer to any issue. It is like adjusting the tracking on VCRs: your computer could catch fire, and the first suggestion would be to clear the cache.This is especially important in corporate environments when you are logging into different instances of an app on different servers.But every browser puts the control to clear the cache in a different place, and sometimes they will change things between versions. Just give me one button to make it easier. All browsers have a home button and a refresh button. Why not a button to clear the cache?
  • Let me save my config to a file, and give me a way to upload it on another machine, or later on the same machine. I do not want to save a directory and have to copy it (like Firefox; note to Firefox developers: the only thing less elegant would be to tell people to write it out in longhand) or have to do it by hand every single time (like Chrome and Edge). Every browser has the ability to import and export bookmarks. Why not import and export all the settings? I don’t care if it is XML or JSON. Just make my life easier. It would enable people to roll back changes easily. Before my most recent hard drive crashed, I would save my bookmarks to a file that grew to about 300 MB. So a large file should not be a problem. If browser developers can use all that config information in-flight, they can export it to a file.Sometimes I have spent a lot of time finding out how to get things they way I want them. For a while Firefox was setting a cookie for every time I started Firefox. When I pay my bills I only want to have cookies from the domain I am sending money to. Before I figured out the exact setting to change, I would have to delete that cookie every single time. You have to uncheck “Allow Firefox to send technical and interaction data to Mozilla.”

    I just looked at Chrome (version 116.0.5845.179), and there is an option to reset settings to the original defaults. But nothing to save my settings. Given that Google is pushing out their “ad privacy” nonsense, being able to restore my own settings is a higher priority. Note to the not-as-smart-as-they-think-they-are people at Google: To most people “ad privacy” is disabling ads altogether.

    I would also love to save some settings for Thunderbird: account info, and especially all the filters.

  • I wish the order of the sections in the config screen was more intuitive.One way would be to arrange them alphabetically. It is great that Chrome has a search engine for the config, but usually the first thing I do is mentally search: I try to find what I am looking for. Having the sections in alphabetical order would help with that. A random order makes them look chaotic, although I can understand having “About Chrome” at the end.If you have a search function for configuration, maybe that is a sign your app is too complicated.Some of the Chome sections only have one option, while others go a few levels deep.

This post was created in Emacs with Org Mode and Love. You’re welcome.

There are a few line and paragraph breaks that looked fine in the Org export AND the WordPress preview that are off in the final post. I decided to just leave it as-is.

Image from Grec 550 by Gregorius Nazianzenus, a 4th century manuscript housed at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Source / BnF; image assumed allowed under public domain.

Leave a Comment