Shifting away from Google Chrome is hard.
Regular readers will know that I’ve been engaged in a drawn-out process of dumping Google Chrome for several months. My last month of living and working off-grid while on my travels in Scotland made that more urgent because of how power-inefficient Google Chrome is when running on my laptops. When you’re relying on a battery power station and solar panels, getting an extra 90 minutes or so of runtime makes all the difference.
The problem is that Google Chrome is less a browser and more a mini operating system that does so much. It’s also a repository for a lot of data that are needed to function in the modern world.
Shifting to a new platform is super hard, and I find myself coming and going between different browsers, which itself is causing more problems because I’m spreading tabs and data in different places.
I spent some time looking at what the pinch points were in making the shift and came across three things that I needed to do to pave the way for a clean break.
Here’s what I needed to do.
#1: Get all passwords out of Google Chrome into a good password manager
Despite my best efforts to make sure that all my passwords are in my password manager, I still, annoyingly, had stuff that only existed in Chrome.
There’s little way around this than to export everything from Chrome, manually go through the passwords, and add the ones that were missing to my password manager. My current password manager of choice is Bitwarden, although LastPass and 1Password also come highly recommended (see right). But whatever you choose, I suggest you get something you’re comfortable using across all the platforms you use, and it’s worth checking to make sure there’s a browser extension available for the browser you’re switching to.
To export your data from Chrome, the process is different between the desktop and mobile versions.
- Type chrome://settings/passwords into the address bar and press ENTER
- Click on the three vertical dots ⋮ to the right of Saved Passwords and click Export passwords…
- You may need to confirm the action and authenticate
- Save the file as CSV (comma separated variable)
- Tap the three dots ⋯ and tap Settings
- Tap Passwords
- Tap Export Passwords
- You may need to confirm the action and authenticate, then save the file
Rather than have a bunch of duplicates in my password manager, I like to edit the file so it only contains passwords that I don’t already have in the password manager (a CSV file is a text file).
To find out how you import the data into your password manager, you will need to consult the documentation.
Also, remember to securely delete that CSV file when you’re done — it contains your passwords!
This is boring and time-consuming, but necessary.
#2: Install must-have extensions into the new browser
Take the time to do this. If you leave it until you need them, you’ll end up deciding that it’s quicker to use Chrome, and you’re digging the hole you’re in even deeper.
However, given the size of the Google Chrome ecosystem, you’re not going to get a replacement for every extension (which may not be a bad thing from a performance point of view).
This is also boring and time-consuming, but necessary.
#3: Make your new browser the default
This is a no-brainer.
On desktops and laptops, browsers will offer you the chance to do this. On mobile devices, the option can be a bit buried.
- Tap Settings and scroll down to find your new browser
- Tap on the app, then tap Default Browser App and select your new browser
- Tap Settings > Apps & notifications
- Scroll down and tap Advanced
- Tap Default apps
- Tap Browser and select your new browser of choice
Doing this prevents your muscle memory from taking you back to Chrome. Hiding the icon also helps!