Our Favorite Updates to Chrome 87 and Firefox 83

New versions of the Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers were released yesterday, and if you haven’t updated yet, now is the perfect time: visit the About Chrome or About Firefox sections in your browser, both in the Help section of each browser. menu and it will start updating automatically. While this continues, here are the main changes you’ll experience in Chrome 87 and Firefox 83 .

What’s new in Chrome 87

First, and most importantly, Google has made a number of tweaks to improve Chrome’s speed in several key areas. You don’t need to activate anything to take advantage of these settings, just update Chrome to version 87 and let it work. As Google describes:

  • Chrome now prioritizes your active tabs over anything open, reducing CPU usage by up to 5x and extending battery life to 1.25 hours (based on our internal tests).
  • Chrome now starts 25 percent faster, loads pages 7 percent faster, and does it all with less power and RAM than before.
  • Chrome on Android now loads pages almost instantly as you navigate back and forth, making these common tasks very fast.

I won’t copy the Google blog post verbatim, but the next feature it highlights is also a game changer for anyone like me who tends to open too many tabs at once. If you’re using a Chromebook, you can now search your open tabs by clicking the down arrow to the right of the Chromebook’s minimize button.

For Windows users, you will need to open the properties of whatever Chrome shortcut you use to launch the browser and add -enable-features=TabSearch to the end of the Target field, for example:

You will now see a small drop-down logo that you can use to search through your open tabs to find your missing (or hidden) website.

Chrome also has a new PDF viewer that takes advantage of this tedious interface:

And updates it to look like this:

Basically, you get a better view for navigating between pages, as well as additional view controls (zoom, page size, and rotation). If you don’t see the new view when you open the PDF in a browser, enable this Chrome flag to force the change manually: chrome://flags/#pdf-viewer-update

And while you’re there, enable this Chrome flag so you can save the content of PDF forms you fill out in your browser: chrome://flags/#pdf-form-save

What’s new in Firefox 83

Mozilla is also joining the “We Made Our Browser Faster” game. Here are the words, straight from them , about the performance improvements in Firefox 83:

Firefox continues to run faster as a result of major updates to SpiderMonkey, our JavaScript engine, with up to 15% improved page load performance, up to 12% page responsiveness and up to 8% less memory usage. We’ve replaced part of the JavaScript engine that helps compile and render websites for you, while improving the engine’s security and maintainability.

Next, and just as important, this is the new HTTPS-only mode that Mozilla will debut in Firefox. Turn this on in Firefox Options and you no longer need extensions like HTTPS Everywhere; your browser will by default use encrypted HTTPS connections when available to keep you more secure when browsing the web and using your credit card information.

Firefox also customizes its search bar . Just like in Chrome, you’ll be able to browse your open tabs to get back to things you forgot. You can also click the icons at the bottom of the search bar to redirect your search to a specific service – Google, Amazon, Wikipedia, eBay, and more – or for a specific search in bookmarks, tabs, or history for a specific keyword.

Firefox 83 also has new pinch zoom features for those using MacBooks or Windows laptops with touchscreens, as well as new keyboard shortcuts for watching picture-in-picture videos:

  • Ctrl + : mute sound
  • Ctrl + : enable sound
  • : volume down
  • : Increase volume
  • : go back 15 seconds
  • : Skip forward 15 seconds
  • Ctrl + : Return 10%
  • Ctrl + : Forward 10%
  • Home : Go to the beginning of the video
  • End : go to the end of the video
  • Space : Pause / Continue

Mozilla has also changed the look of the Firefox PDF viewer – no configuration is required to enable it. More importantly, you can fill out PDF forms right in your browser and save their content (including the data you entered) to your computer or laptop.

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