10 Microsoft Edge features to help you forget the Internet Explorer nightmare | Popular Science
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10 Microsoft Edge features to help you forget the Internet Explorer nightmare

They give the browser a real...edge.

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge might tempt you to switch over from your current default web browser.


You may have given up on Microsoft web browsers in the days of Internet Explorer, the clunker that drove many people to alternatives like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. But those days are over. Microsoft Edge is a browser fit for the modern age, and it has the features to prove it.

Edge launched in 2015, alongside Windows 10, as a basic and lightweight browser. Since then, it's grown into an accomplished internet tool that you should consider adopting. Of course, it's up to you to choose a favorite web browser—we also like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera—but to help you forget Internet Explorer and make an unprejudiced choice, here are 10 Edge abilities you should know about.

1. Competitive speed

Rather than upgrading Internet Explorer, Microsoft decided to build Edge from scratch. This allowed the company to incorporate the features internet users rely on: apps, interactions, and different types of content. It also let them remove support for older, outdated technologies and code, making Edge a lot leaner than Internet Explorer.

For Microsoft, trimming that fat paid off: Performance tests show that Edge is now roughly as fast as competitors like Chrome and Firefox, leaving IE in the dust. In other words, don't let the fact that Internet Explorer took an hour to load deter you from trying Microsoft's newer browser.

2. Scribbling over webpages

In one of Microsoft Edge's more unusual features, it lets you annotate the pages you visit. You can save these scribblings for your own future reference, or share them with other people.

To access what Microsoft calls "web notes," click the web note icon, which looks like a pen, in the top right corner of the window. From there, you can highlight text, or draw lines over the page to focus attention on something, or apply virtual stickers and text on top of the screen.Of course, you're not actually changing the website itself; you're creating a copy of it that has all your edits on top. Once you've made your annotations, save the page to your hard drive or share it with others.

3. A feed of personalized content

When you load up the browser, its default first page shows you a selection of news stories, information snippets, and videos tailored to your interests. This page, called "My feed," offers an instantly accessible motherlode of relevant content when you're looking for something to watch or read.

Edge chooses the feed topics based on your browsing history, interactions you've had with Cortana, and personal data like where you're currently located (for the weather reports). You can also customize what you see by clicking on the cog icon to the top right of this page. Or, if you'd prefer to land on a different page, you can change your defaults so you won't see My feed every time you open a new tab.

4. Perfect integration with Windows 10

If spend a lot of time in Windows 10, then Microsoft Edge is the perfect companion. For example, if you run a web search from the taskbar using Cortana, then the results will show up in the Edge browser, even if you have a different default browser. Edge also integrates neatly with other Microsoft products, like the Windows Defender antivirus tool for spotting dangerous sites. While Chrome and Firefox still work perfectly well on Windows 10, the experience is a bit more seamless when you're using all-Microsoft programs.

You can easily pin frequently-visited websites to the taskbar or the Start menu: Click on the menu button (the three horizontal dots) and then choose your favorite sites from the list. Edge also works perfectly on any Windows 10 device, whether you're working on your desktop or tablet, the two different modes that the operating system supports.

5. Built-in Cortana assistance

As you might expect, Microsoft's digital assistant works very closely with Edge on Windows 10. Google and Apple have their own digital assistant apps, but neither of them are as well integrated into a browser as Cortana is. The assistant only shows up when you need it: For example, when you visit a restaurant's website it might show you opening times, when you view a shopping site it can show you if any discount coupons might be available, and when you watch a music video it can pull up lyrics and other information.

To enable Cortana, click the menu button (the three dots on the top right), Settings, and View advanced settings. Then set the Get Cortana to assist me in Microsoft Edge toggle switch to On. When you want to ask the assistant about specific page features, simply highlight and right-click on blocks of text. Or launch a Cortana request from the Windows 10 desktop: If it's a web-related query, it will open up in Edge as well.

6. Touchscreen gestures

Microsoft designed Windows 10 as an operating system for tablets as well as laptops and desktops. So the company gave its OS, and its Edge browser, more intuitive touchscreen support than any of its main rivals. So if you regularly use a Windows 10 computer in tablet mode, then you have another reason to adopt Edge—it will carry you around the web just a little more quickly.

In tablet mode, Edge has clear, chunky buttons and menus. And you can use special touchscreen shortcuts to find your way around: Swipe left to go back a page, and right to page forward. To try another shortcut, press and hold on the back button, and edge will show you the sites you've recently visited.

7. Reading support

Edge has two features designed to help you keep up with your reading list: Reading View, which removes distractions from a page, and Reading List, which stores articles you plan to revisit (without cluttering up your bookmarks). While other browsers share one or both of these features, Edge implements them slightly better: It integrates them seamlessly into the browser interface, where they're more accessible and don't clutter up the page.

To access Reading View, click its icon (it looks like a small book) in the address bar. Edge will transform the page into a more digestible form by removing extraneous ads and other distractions. To take advantage of Reading List, click the star icon in the address bar. This will save the current site to your favorites or to the Reading List. To access it again, hit the Hub button (a star with three lines by it) on the toolbar.

8. Snoozing tabs for later

We can all get overwhelmed by the sheer number of open browser tabs on screen. So Microsoft Edge bundles in a handy snoozing ability to help you deal with them. Edge does this better than any other browser at the moment, without requiring any new extensions or add-ons.

On the very top left of the interface, you'll find the "Set these tabs aside" button. When you hit it, all the tabs that you had on screen will disappear, giving you a fresh start. When you want to bring back those old tabs, click on the "Tabs that you've set aside" button right next to the first one.

9. Accessible on Windows S

Microsoft designed Windows S, the cut-down, streamlined version of Windows 10, as a more lightweight option for home users. So it has no room for big desktop packages like Photoshop; it only runs apps from the Windows Store. And the only web browser in the Windows Store is Microsoft Edge.

This means that, if you're running a laptop with Windows S on board, such as a Surface, you'll need to become familiar with Edge. Or to put it another way, if Edge is your go-to browser, then you've got a wider selection of Windows 10 laptops you can choose from.

10. Available on phones

It's very convenient to have a browser that syncs your desktop bookmarks, passwords, and other web browsing info to your phone. Luckily, Microsoft just announced versions of Edge for Android and iOS, though the software is still in the early stages of development. You can already sync your reading list and new tab page layout over to your phone. You can also beam interesting pages from your phone to a Windows 10 computer in order to read on a larger screen. As the apps mature, they should offer even more features.

You can find the Android preview here. On iOS, you need to install TestFlight to try out the browser. For more information, check out Microsoft's full instructions for running the apps.

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