Category: Browser (Page 1 of 2)

The DuckDuckGo Browser

DuckDuckGo is a great software company that provides a stellar search engine. I often recommend using DuckDuckGo search, because it helps people sidestep manipulated search results. But some of you may be interested in the DuckDuckGo browser. Joining the ranks of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Apple’s Safari, the DuckDuckGo Browser is available and… almost ready for mainstream use. Read on for more info.

The Browser

The DuckDuckGo Browser

DuckDuckGo’s browser is available as a free download on your Windows or Apple computer, as well as on Android and iOS devices. At the time of this writing, the version of the browser shows 0.81.1, which suggests to me that this is still in beta. I can’t find any news as to when it will exit beta stage and be released as Version 1.0, but it does seem to be functional. I haven’t found any glaring problems with it in my testing.


The DuckDuckGo Browser does a lot of things right. I’m really happy to test this app out and I notice that:

  • It is very easy to import (copy) all of my bookmarks and saved passwords from another browser
  • Ads are blocked and suppressed automatically as I surf the web
  • Bookmarks and passwords can be synced between multiple computers and devices


Remember, this browser is still in beta, so its features may be limited. I can’t do everything I want within its Settings, and it’s still a bit clunky. And I have no idea if missing features will ever be added or not.

  • Syncing info between computers is complicated. You don’t create a login for this; you have to copy a complicated code from one computer to the next.
  • The ad-blocker function cannot be tweaked or turned off.
  • DuckDuckGo Browser does not support extensions and add-ons.
  • DuckDuckGo offers to sell you a Privacy Pro subscription, for which I don’t see the value.


While I do present this to my readership as a safe and interesting software offering, I do want to pull up short of a full-on endorsement. The DuckDuckGo browser may or may not do what you need it to. Personally, I’m sticking with Google Chrome, but will watch DuckDuckGo’s development closely. But please know: if you install DuckDuckGo’s browser, it should not harm your computer, and your previous browser will still be there for you to go back to. No bridges will be burned!

Alternatively, you can give this browser a pass and still enjoy what DuckDuckGo offers. DuckDuckGo is very accommodating, and you may stick with your normal browser and instead:

Rogue Chromium Browsers

Everyone is free to choose what web browser to use on their computer. Many people use Edge or Safari, because it came as part of the operating system on the computer. Others opt for Chrome or Firefox. But what is worrisome and worth warning about is the use of rogue Chromium browsers. I hope I can teach you what these are, so you can recognize and avoid these.

Let me clearly state: Google Chrome is a good browser to use. If you use Google Chrome, please continue to do so! Chromium browsers are different. A Chromium browser is essentially a modified version of Chrome that has different abilities or behaviors. Many of these tweaks can lead to harm.

Examples of Rogue Chromium Browsers

The first Chromium browser that spread to average computer users was labeled Chromium, and had a blue-tinted icon, very similar to the classic Google Chrome icon.

rogue chromium browsers

This open-source version of Chrome was meant to be used by developers, programmers and other technical experts. To my eye, it really stands out when I find it on a layperson’s computer, and is often my first clue that I’m going to find other unwanted software…

Wave Browser is an example of a modern-day rogue Chromium browser. It is polished, has a classy logo/icon, and appears to be professional and fast to open. Those who use this may feel right at home, because its menus and behavior closely resemble Google Chrome. I’ll get to the devil in the details, though, in the next section.

OneLaunch is another rogue to watch out for. But this one is easier to spot, as it comes with a special bar that permanently eats up the top half-inch of your screen. OneLaunch will function as well as any other browser, but let me describe more of what’s under the hood here:

Detriments of Using a Rogue Browser

Sketchy Search Engine: These browsers often steer their users into using a modified version of the Yahoo search engine. This engine is not anything I would ever use. It’s been altered to include more ads and paid placement than the usual Yahoo engine. Many of the top results you get from this are promotions, malicious links and phishing sites.

I searched for “Xfinity phone number” in a variety of search engines, just now. Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo all returned solid results and the safe trustworthy phone number for Comcast. also gave me good info. But when I use Onelaunch and WaveBrowser to do the same search, the results were riddled with ads and websites I would never want to visit. I can see this behavior leading some users to scams and false information and phishing websites.

Modified Start Page: When I test these rogues out, I notice the Start Page has been customized, to show a lot of strange things. Some are salacious news articles. Others are gross advertorials about health conditions. And even others are lures to bogus antivirus messages.

Eating Up Screen Real-Estate: Some of these browsers take a lot of liberty with your computer. OneLaunch installs a bar of icons across the top of the computer, and it remains up there, even after you close the browser!

Empty Promises: In some of these browsers, I see them boast that they offer Camera Privacy and better ad-blocking. I just can’t even with this nonsense. People desiring camera privacy simply turn off their camera. Close the shutter on their camera. Disconnect their camera. Slap a Band-Aid over their camera! Whatever your concerns might be about webcam surveillance, you should not be turning to a mystery app to solve them.

Constant Nags: These browsers may have various popups, trying to convince you to set them as your Default Browser, try out their extra products and more.

Who Really Makes These Browsers?: It can be hard to tell who’s behind these programs. I went looking into Wave Browser’s pedigree. It’s created by a company called Wavesor. That turns out to be the trade name for Polarity Technologies. Which is a subsidiary for Genimous Technology, a Chinese firm that has been investigated and criticized by our government officials.

What Else Came With This Program?: These rogue browser are downloaded and installed, often without the computer user understanding how or even when it happened! They can be sneaky like that. And if this app showed up unexpectedly, chances are good that they came with other potentially unwanted programs. I often find other adware to remove when I service computers with rogue browsers on them.

Moving Back to a Mainstream Browser

The good news is that if you want to reverse course and go back to your previous browser, that should be easy. Uninstall the rogue app, and your other browser(s) should still be there. These rogues don’t harm or delete anything from your system.

After that, you may want to run a few scans on the system. There could be some junkware, separate from the browser, that needs to go. Your antivirus is just the first tool to consider. I like to run specific tools, like ADWCleaner or Norton Power Eraser, to look for hidden nasties.

If you are struggling with this cleanup and feel in-over-your-head, please know that I deal with this everyday, and can help you in restoring things. Reach out to me if you feel like your computer is still acting “off”, or if any computer task is “above your paygrade.”

Change Your Browser’s Download Behavior

When you download a file using your web browser, it typically saves that file to your Downloads folder. That’s just the default behavior, for any browser. But what if I told you that we can change your browser’s download behavior, so that you get to choose where a downloaded file goes?

By now, every browser has an option for this. You can tell your browser to ask you where you want to store a file, when you begin to download it. If this sounds useful, find and toggle this feature now!


  • Click the 3-dots button in the upper-right corner.
  • Click Settings.
  • On the left, click Downloads.
  • On the right, toggle the switch next to “Ask where to save each file before downloading.”


  • Click the 3-dots button in the upper-right corner.
  • Click Settings.
  • On the left, click Downloads.
  • On the right, toggle the switch next to “Ask me what to do with each download”


  • Click the hamburger button in the upper-right corner.
  • Click Settings.
  • Scroll down through the General settings until you find Downloads.
  • Check the box for “Always ask you where to save files.”


  • Click the Safari menu in the upper-left corner.
  • Click Preferences.
  • On the General panel, find the row labelled File Download Location.
  • Click the drop-down menu to its right, and select “Ask for each download.”

If you’re like me and want to save every important file, in specific folders, then this feature can save you a lot of clicks and time.

Change Your Browser's Download Behavior

The Print Friendly Browser Extension

print friendly browser extension

I love the Print Friendly browser extension. This freebie allows me to manipulate websites before I print them, helping me save on ink and paper. Check this out:

The Print Friendly browser extension is available to download and use in almost any browser. Once installed, all you have to do is click its icon to activate it for the website you are about to print. Print Friendly will open a new copy of the website for you to manipulate:

An example that I might print from

At the top of this overlay, you can adjust the size of the text and graphics, to prepare your print job to fit fewer pages. But even better, you can scroll down through the page and click on any element to delete it. Nix those ads, remove any unwanted graphics, you should have complete control over what is going to print. Use the Print button to the upper-left and appreciate the barebones page you just created!

If you don’t want to install the extension, that’s OK, you can still use this tool. Simply copy the URL of what you wish to print, and paste it in at the Print Friendly website. The Preview button will give you the same thing as the extension would.

Disable Hardware Acceleration – A Common Browser Fix

Sometimes a web browser will start acting poorly, lagging as you scroll or refusing to play videos on social media sites. When this happens, you may tempted to blame your ISP. But if other websites and speed tests behave normally, then the ISP is off the hook and we need to look elsewhere.

Often what causes this browser-lagginess is an odd conflict between the computer’s graphics drivers and the web browser. Maybe we could call it a software allergy. In any case, what you can try is to turn off the “Hardware Acceleration” option inside your browser. Once it’s off, restart your browser (or the whole computer) and retry the problematic websites. They may work much better then!

Here’s how to turn this option off for:

Google Chrome

Click the 3-dots button in the upper-right corner and then click Settings.

On the left, click System.

In the middle, toggle Off the option labeled Use hardware acceleration when available.

Mozilla Firefox

Click the hamburger menu in the upper-right corner and then click Settings.

Scroll to the bottom, looking for the section labelled Performance.

Uncheck the box for Use recommended performance settings.

Uncheck the box for Use hardware acceleration when available.

Microsoft Edge

Click the 3-dots button in the upper-right corner and then click Settings.

On the left, click System and performance.

In the middle, toggle Off the option labeled Use hardware acceleration when available.

The Google Dictionary Browser Extension

The Google Dictionary browser extension makes it easier than ever to learn word definitions. Once you’ve installed this freebie, you can simply double-click any plain-text word on the internet, and immediately see its definition.

I’m sure that this tool is going to save you many clicks and help keep up your reading comprehension. No more opening a second tab, just to go to!

This extension is free to install into Google Chrome on any computer. And now that Microsoft Edge is built on Chromium, it should install in that browser, as well. Get it free here.

Setting a Default Browser in Windows 11

In Windows 10, it was very easy to change your default browser:

Start -> Settings -> Apps. Click Default Apps, then click under Web Browser.

But now, under Windows 11, things are rather different. If you want to declare something other than Edge as your default browser, you’ll want to do that through your browser now. In Firefox or Brave, go to the Options (Hamburger) button to the upper-right, then click Settings. In the General panel, look for a button labeled “Make Default”. If you use that, it should do the trick.

But not for all browsers. Microsoft seems to have it out for the Chrome and Vivaldi browsers. Here’s the Windows 11 process for setting either of those as default:

Start -> Settings -> Apps. Click Default Apps, then scroll down to click on your browser of choice. A long list of file types will appear; click each of the following, one at a time, and set them to use your preferred browser:

  • .htm
  • .html
  • HTTP

I’m not sure why this is now such a convoluted process, but I’m hoping it’ll simplify after future complaints/updates.

Reopen a Previously Closed Tab

keyboard shortcut

This is my favorite Windows keyboard shortcut. In most web browsers, if you press Control-Shift-T, the previously closed tab will reopen.

So, if you closed a browser tab by accident, this shortcut undoes the mistake.

Even better: if you press this key-combo multiple times, your browser may be able to reopen many of the tabs you’ve recently closed. If your browser has been open for a long time, this may be able to reopen something you used many hours and tabs ago!

Sure, you can go through your browser’s history to relocate things you’ve closed, but this shortcut can save so much time. If you work in multiple browser tabs all day long, practice and use this one, I bet you’ll appreciate it at some point.

This shortcut also works on Chromebooks, but it’s Command-Shift-T for Mac users!

Microsoft Editor: Spelling & Grammar Checker

This freebie does what it says on the tin: it checks your spelling and grammar for you, within your web browser. Install Microsoft Editor: Spelling & Grammar Checker and it will underline spelling errors or grammar mistakes as you type.

For the most part, this will help with typing email. But it should also red-line any writing errors on other websites, say, as you fill in a web form or write a comment on social media. Whatever errors it detects will have a zigzag underline that you can click for suggested corrections.

Grammarly does a similar job to ME: S&GC, but I find Microsoft’s extension bothers me with fewer ads. If you want to try this out, it’s available for either Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome. Just make sure to click its browser icon after you install, and sign in with your Microsoft account.

Simple Keyboard Shortcuts for your Browser, A-Z

There are too many handy shortcuts within Windows, but I’m going to try to list out the easier ones for you to review. This is not to say that you should memorize all of them! Rather, check them out and see if a few would be especially useful to the way you use your computer. Practice one or two and you may discover they change your computer-life!

  • Control + A: Highlights & Selects all text in a given area.
  • Control + B: Shows the Bookmarks (Firefox only).
  • Control + C: Copies selected text to clipboard.
  • Control + D: Creates a bookmark in your browser.
  • Control + E: Starts a web search in your browser.
  • Control + F: Opens a Find field (to search the current site for a word/phrase).
  • Control + G: Moves to the next result after using the Find field.
  • Control + H: Opens your web history in your browser.
  • Control + I: Opens the Page Info window (Firefox only).
  • Control + J: Opens your Downloads list in your browser.
  • Control + K: Starts a web search in your browser.
  • Control + L: Takes you to the address bar in your browser.
  • Control + M: Mutes the current Tab (Firefox and Edge only).
  • Control + N: Opens a new browser window.
  • Control + O: Opens the Open File window.
  • Control + P: Opens the Print options window.
  • Control + Q: Does nothing!
  • Control + R: Refreshes/reloads the current website.
  • Control + S: Opens the Save window (Firefox & Chrome only).
  • Control + T: Opens a new tab in your browser.
  • Control + U: Reveals the source code of the current website.
  • Control + V: Pastes text from clipboard into a text field.
  • Control + W: Closes the current tab.
  • Control + X: Cuts selected text from a text field, saving it to the clipboard.
  • Control + Y: Redo the action that was just Undone (see next shortcut).
  • Control + Z: Undo the last action taken in a text field.

Many of these shortcuts should carry over to Chromebooks and Linux computers. On Apple computers, most of these shortcuts will also work, if you use the Command key instead of Control.

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