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Why arc browser?

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Answer # 1 #

There’s a new browser called Arc on the block that promises to be “everything you care about, all in one place.” Hype and secrecy aside, Arc implements a few smart changes and features that might just tempt you to jump ship from Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge.

Arc is a web browser that, at the time of writing, is currently invite-only. Though a Windows version is on the horizon for some time in 2023, Arc is currently only available for macOS (using a universal binary that runs natively on both Apple Silicon and Intel models).

Once you’ve signed up, waited, and received your invite, you’ll be asked to download and install Arc. The setup process is a bit different from your average browser, complete with a 90s-style splash screen that invites you to “Meet the internet again,” an invitation to use an ad-blocker right away, and a mandatory account creation process.

Arc is the work of The Browser Company of New York, which promises that your account is only used to sync Arc data between instances. Arc makes use of theming, inviting you to pick a color during the setup process, which you’ll later find out is used as a means of organization.

With the setup process out of the way, you’ll find yourself staring at Arc’s slightly unorthodox UI for the first time. In Arc, everything lives in a sidebar to the left of the screen. This includes the URL bar, tab list, favorites, and navigation. You can choose to hide the sidebar with the click of a button, though it pops back up as soon as you hover over the left side of the window.

Underneath it all, Arc is a fork of Chromium. Its guts are largely the same as Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge, though it lacks some of the polish applied to the more established browsers like Chrome’s Memory Saver or Energy Saver. Unlike Edge, Arc uses Google as its default search engine.

So far, so browser. But Arc brings a lot to the table in terms of reinventing how a browser works, and what sort of features you should expect to have. Probably the biggest is a Spotlight-style interface for accessing pretty much every browser feature.

For the unaware, Spotlight is Apple’s very convenient macOS search feature that you can use to launch applications, find files using natural language, perform sums and calculations, and more. Arc includes a similar feature when opening a new tab (Command+T) or accessing the URL bar (Command+L).

In addition to being a universal search and URL bar, you can use the feature to do things like “Pin tab” simply by typing. Typed commands like “View History” and “Duplicate Current Tab” let you interact with the browser without taking your fingers off the keyboard. You can even move and switch tabs in this way.

Tab management in Arc is proactive, and by default, any tabs that you don’t pin will be closed after 12 hours. You can change this within the app settings (the maximum time is 30 days). The browser has a separate space for pinned tabs (above) and “Today’s tabs” (below), with a “Clear” button you can click at any time to get rid of your old tabs.

Arc lets you create “Spaces” to organize your tabs, which is a feature that Safari also uses. You can swipe between spaces as you would navigate backwards and forwards on a web page. Each space can have its own theme, and tabs can be shifted between spaces as you need. You can also apply profiles within themes, which allows you to associate different browser data with different spaces (useful for switching between personal and professional accounts simply by changing space).

The browser also acts as a scrapbook using an Easel feature. By starting a new easel, you can create a canvas that can be collaborated upon with other Arc users or shared for anyone to view on the web. Add screenshots to easels from any webpage using the “Camera” icon in the URL bar that automatically link back to the source URL. You can also add text, shapes, drawings, and more.

Arc also functions as a notebook; just start a “New Note” using the new tab interface. You can share these notes over the web, or simply keep them organized within your browser using folders and spaces. You can add pictures, links, create lists, and format your text as you would expect, and everything syncs using your Arc account.

The Browser Company of New York has also included a few tweaks on existing ideas, like Split View. This works similarly to Split View found in macOS, allowing you to arrange four tabs across a single window. You can do something similar in other browsers using multiple windows, but Arc does a better job of keeping split tabs together by tying them to your spaces.

A feature called Boosts lets to make changes to the websites you visit. Tweak a web page by changing its style, replacing content, injecting code, or customizing the underlying code to change how a website behaves. Other browsers can use extensions to achieve this (like Stylebot for Chrome), but Arc includes the functionality out of the box. It also walks you through some of the simpler operations.

Other UI tweaks are accessible with a drag on the sidebar, offering a dedicated tab for Downloads, your Easels and Notes, Spaces you have created, Archived Tabs, and a Media tab that pulls in recent images from the Desktop, Documents, and Downloads folders in macOS.

Arc also features a Mini Player that places video in a pop-out window when you navigate away from a tab and provides playback controls within the sidebar for audio.

Arc introduces a lot of good ideas, but they’re not going to appeal to everyone in equal measure. The browser is gunning for a less cluttered browsing experience, where you spend less time sifting through open tabs and more time making conscious decisions about the websites on which you spend your time.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the way the browser “aggressively” manages your tabs. If you don’t decide to keep a website around by pinning it, Arc will close that website for you. There’s no option to turn this off, you can only extend a tab’s potential lifespan.

Through this, you should achieve better organization. Using spaces (and tying login credentials to profiles within those spaces) lets you keep things separate. Arc isn’t the only browser to do this, but its use of color and quick switching is probably the most playful implementation I’ve seen yet. You can also add icons to your tabs, folders, easels, and more, with a full suite of emojis at your disposal.

By forcing you to clean up, you might be more inclined to use features like Arc’s easels. So-called “magic screenshots” that link back to websites are bound to appeal to visual organizers who love mind-mapping and brainstorming. Collaborating on these canvasses is another compelling idea, but one that will need Arc to become more widespread in order to succeed.

Arc feels like a browser that wants to save you time and remove barriers. Tab previews allow you to hover over websites like Gmail, Outlook, and GitHub to see unread messages, events, and pull requests without having to focus on a tab. In addition to the Spotlight-like navigation, there’s a huge range of customizable keyboard shortcuts to get acquainted with.

Tying your Split View preferences to pinned tab sets within spaces means not having to arrange windows manually all of the time. Take notes using Arc’s built-in notebook with a tab that’s pinned to another. Keep sets of tabs within the same window, which is handy if you use dashboards, chat apps, and other at-a-glance websites.

But for the “don’t touch my tabs” hoarders that keep everything open, just in case, Arc may not impress. Even though a push might be what you need to kick your ugly tab habit, the idea that your browser is coming for your tabs might just put you off. It may bring you some comfort to know that you can always find tabs that Arc has removed under the “Archived Tabs” area and get them back with a click.

As noted, Arc is a Chromium-based browser. It uses the same rendering engine as Google and Microsoft’s flagship browsers, which means it scored favorably in many of the benchmarks I ran on my M1 Max 2021 MacBook Pro with 32GB of RAM.

In use, Arc is mostly fine. While pages load quickly, scrolling web pages and expanding hidden content simply isn’t as smooth on my test machine as it is in Safari or Firefox. It’s far from unusable (and probably worth persevering with if you find Arc’s overall feature set agreeable), but pages stuttered and flickered in a way that detracts from the overall browsing experience.

The browser seemed to sip a fair bit of CPU even while lying dormant in the background. While Safari eventually settles and uses very little power, Arc seems to be constantly at work. According to Activity Monitor, Arc had around a third of the “12 hr Power” energy footprint of Safari, though Safari had considerably more tabs open and was being used more intensely. Arc consistently had a higher energy impact during my monitoring. This suggests that Arc would drain your battery faster than using Safari alone.

Arc is also far from perfect when it comes to privacy. Though Do Not Track is enabled by default and the browser offers to block ads out of the gate (by installing uBlock Origin), the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Cover Your Tracks test reports that the browser isn’t blocking tracking ads or invisible trackers. This makes it about as good as Chrome and Edge, much worse than Firefox, and marginally worse than Safari, even with ad-blocking enabled.

Since Arc is a fork of Chromium, it can use Chrome extensions just like Edge and other browsers within the family. Head to the Chrome Web Store and click “Add to Chrome” to add extensions to Arc, then access them via the Extensions menu (or use the Command+T or Command+L interface).

Many extensions work just fine, but others do not. I couldn’t log in to Google Keep, with the extension instead returning an error. Plus, there’s no way to pin an extension to Arc’s sidebar as you can with the Chrome or Edge toolbar. This makes accessing features a little more cumbersome.

If you’re going to embrace Arc as your primary browser, a mobile version is pretty important. Though there’s no “full fat” mobile version of Arc, there is the Arc Mobile Companion for iPhone. You can search and visit websites using the Search bar, access spaces and recent tabs, and even pin new tabs. Unfortunately, though, you can’t set Arc as a default browser as you can Firefox or Chrome.

Arc has some excellent ideas and the confidence to lean into them. Proactive tab management is designed to prevent the sort of tab build-up that many of us fall victim to. The UI is different, but the more you use it, the more it makes sense. Being able to pin tabs, reload pages, and organize things using text commands will put a smile on your face if you’re as fond of macOS Spotlight and apps like Alfred as we are.

The Arc browser feels like it needs a bit more polish to deliver a silky smooth browsing experience. It would also be nice for it to be as proactive with privacy as it is with tab management, though if you’re coming from Chrome, there are no real downsides in this department.

At the time of writing, Arc is invite-only and free to use. If you like the sound of its management and organizational features, can see a use for easels and a note-taking app that’s linked to your browser, and can live with a “companion” mobile browser, then you shouldn’t hesitate to give it a shot.

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Benaf Quereshi
ION EXCHANGE OPERATOR
Answer # 2 #
  • Mozilla Firefox.
  • Brave.
  • Chrome.
  • Microsoft Edge.
  • Internet Explorer.
  • Apple Safari.
  • Opera.
  • Chromium.
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Bunny Mehar
LEAF SORTER
Answer # 3 #

You can do something similar in other browsers using multiple windows, but Arc does a better job of keeping split tabs together by tying them to your spaces. A feature called Boosts lets to make changes to the websites you visit.

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Karthik Nabendusundar
OVEN TENDER
Answer # 4 #

Developed by The Browser Company, Arc is a browser based on the Chromium engine that’s powering the most popular browsers, including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Brave Browser, and more. It means you get all the basic features, including access to the Chrome extensions library.

While Arc is based on the Chromium engine, The Browser Company has explicitly stated that they do not track users across websites, collect any user data, and don’t plan to do so in the future.

An app doesn’t have to be beautiful to be useful, but if we have to spend a big chunk of our day in an app, we would prefer it if it is aesthetically pleasing and Arc is beautiful. From moving everything to the sidebar to an easily theme-able interface to beautiful UI elements, The Browser Company has designed everything to perfection.

But design is not only about aesthetics, it’s also about usability. We are happy to report that Arc browser has knocked it out of the park. The sidebar does take some time to get used to, and quite frankly, browsers in the past that supported sidebars never worked for us. However, Arc browser’s decision to use favorites, pinned tabs, and regular tabs in a neatly organized fashion made it click for us. We also love that you can hide the sidebar with a keyboard shortcut and get a distraction-free reading interface.

One of the best things about Arc browser’s design is that it gives you access to all its features at your fingertips. You can access Command Bar, Profiles, Spaces, and more with simple swipes, clicks, and keyboard shortcuts. We are never searching for anything in Arc, as we know exactly where things are, and we can get to them with a few strokes.

Networked-based note-taking apps like Obsidian and Logseq have popularized a command bar that lets you access all the features with a hotkey. It is similar to Spotlight or Alfred (check out our favorite Alfred Plugins), only it works inside the app. Arc browser also has a command bar that you can access using the CMD+T (or CMD+L) keyboard shortcut.

Like other browsers, you can use this shortcut to open a new tab, but it does a lot more. You can use it to search open tabs and switch to them, open your extensions library, install extensions, create a new Easel or note, search your browsing history, and much more. The command bar makes everything in Arc accessible and I love it.

Arc browser also has keyboard shortcuts for everything. You can also create custom keyboard shortcuts. One of my most used keyboard shortcuts is CMD+Shift+C which copies the link of the open webpage. I can also copy a markdown keyboard shortcut to use in Ulysses. I can also use keyboard shortcuts for switching between Spaces, moving between tabs, creating folders, and lots of other things.

The combination of the command bar and extension keyboard shortcuts support ensures that I can get to everything in Arc in seconds.

While the Google Chrome browser offers a profile feature, the Profiles and Spaces feature in the Arc browser is more refined and feature-rich. Spaces allow users to create separate spaces for doing different things. For example, you can create separate spaces for your work and personal profiles.

You can customize each space with a name, color profile, and icon, giving them a unique look. Each new space will have its own set of favorites, pinned tabs, and folders, that will not appear on any other space. Spaces are great for separating different projects so your tabs are always easy to find.

You can go one step further by combining Spaces with Profiles. Each profile has its separate account history, cookies, search history, browsing history, and extensions. You can create a Work profile and log in with all the work accounts, which won’t appear in your other profiles.

If you find the concept harder to grasp, consider Profiles as buildings and Spaces as rooms. Each building (profile) is a separate entity. The rooms (spaces) inside the building will use the same amenities (extensions, accounts, browsing history, cookies, etc.) but can be dedicated to different tasks.

Split-screen might seem like a simple feature but it has had the most positive impact on our productivity. After using note-taking apps like Logseq, we were already familiar with the power of the split-screen feature, and it shines in the Arc browser as you can have multiple tabs in split-screen mode.

The feature comes in handy when doing research. Suppose you are reading an article and you come across an interesting link. You can open it in the background to read later, but you will lose the context of that link. Instead, you can open the link in a split-screen mode to read it side-by-side with the original article to get more insight.

A split screen is also useful when navigating different Twitter threads. You can open your main Twitter timeline and then open interesting tweets in split-screen mode to read them without losing your place in the timeline. It’s an incredible feature and we miss it anytime we are using a different browser.

We dint’ think that Little Arc will become one of our favorite features of Arc Browser. Little Arc is a little Arc browser window that opens up when you hit an assigned keyboard shortcut. It’s perfect for making quick searches. The best part is that you can open it from anywhere in your system.

For example, we use Ulysses as our writing app. Whenever we want to verify something, we can open Little Arc do a quick search, and come back to our writing without switching context. Another useful thing about Little Arc is that it acts as a bridge between web links in other apps and your Arc browser.

When you click on a link in your email, it will first open in Little Arc, allowing you to take a quick look. You can then open it in the browser if you need. Before opening the link, Little Arc asks which profile you want to use to open the link. This is such a small but magical feature that saves tons of time.

Let’s illustrate this with an example. Suppose you received a link to a Google Doc work document in the Slack app. You can click the link and choose to open it in your work profile, so it opens without requiring you to log in or switch accounts. Little Arc has saved us hours since we switched to the Arc browser.

Arc Browser offers several other nifty features that will supercharge your browsing experience. Here are some of the best ones that we love.

Arc has a built-in screenshot tool that allows you to quickly capture websites and elements. The best part about the screenshot capture tool in Arc browser is that it snaps images, videos, and other important elements on a webpage, allowing you to quickly capture perfect screenshots.

Easels is a built-in white boarding feature in the Arc browser. You can add text, images, websites, shapes, arrows, and more to create a whiteboard and share it with anyone you want. One of the new features in Easle is live capture which captures and adds live websites to Easles. You can use this to add web widgets and create your dashboard for monitoring news, stocks, weather, calendar events, and more.

Arc Boosts are for people who want to customize the internet as it was back when it launched. Boosts let you remix and customize any website you want. You can change the design, add or remove buttons and other UI elements, clean up social media websites, etc. The possibilities are endless, and you are only constrained by knowledge and imagination.

Update: Arc has released Boosts 2.0 that allows you to make these changes without learning any code.

Arc browser also has built-in basic note-taking functionality, allowing you to jot down notes without leaving the browser. When you complete your task at hand, you can transfer your notes to a more permanent place. Like Easels, you can share your notes with anyone on the web.

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WinSolutions Dargan
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