Increase Your Efficiency by Using Multiple Web Browsers

One of my favorite approaches to save time online is to use multiple web browsers for different purposes. It allows you to combine speed + reliability with also having quick access to tons of valuable tools & data.


I set up Firefox fully loaded with bookmarks and extensions (all our free & premium ones, User Agent Switcher, Web Developer, Greasemonkey, Roboform, Colorzilla), but realize that as a result it will often be a bit slower & crash more frequently. That is ok because I don't use it as my primary web browser, but as my primary SEO research browser with all our SEO tools installed. Other extensions like Web Developer and Greasemonkey make it an obvious choice to use it as your fully loaded research browser.

Google Chrome

I run Google Chrome bare to the bone, with 0 extensions installed. One time I tried to install Roboform on it, but that slowed it down as well, so I got rid of that and keep it bare. The benefit of having a minimalistic browser is that it is quite stable & fast. In this way I can open up 20 tabs from our forums at any given time without worrying about it causing a crash. What is better is how good Google is at allowing you to restore tabs if things do crash. Chrome is my forums + email browser & my general purpose browser for anything I don't have to login to access & a few of the sites I am typically logged into (like this 1).

And while Firefox is my normal research & testing browser, Chrome also has a nice feature where you can highlight & right click to inspect an element. It tells you exactly what css file the property is in, and you can double click on it, adjust the size/color/etc within Chrome to see what it changes.

Internet Explorer

I also run IE9. It's purpose is to help give me a clean & pure localized view of search. It is set up to delete all cookies when it closes. I use it in conjunction with a VPN to compare how search results look in various parts of the world. It is another type of research, but it is not always-on the way that Firefox and Chrome are. Such a browser can also be handy for putting your computer in London for exclusive BBC content, or getting around other such geographic content-access limitations. I also have Roboform enabled on IE to allow me to log into client accounts easily if I want to ensure I keep those separate from my personal accounts.


I also have Opera installed & I use it for testing user permissions based issues. Some pages on our site here operate in a way that is far more sophisticated than they might look at a glance. Some pages may look different based on if you are not registered, logged in with a basic account, logged in with a premium account, or logged in as an administrator. When testing & tweaking that sort of stuff I can end up with 4 different browsers open. Over time after we get everything up and running I hope to improve further on this front, as we haven't done as much of the conditional permissions-based changes as I would like to do. But, first thing first, we need to get re-launched soon. ;)

And the final reason to have most modern browsers installed is to check out how your site looks in all of them. I would NEVER describe myself as a website design, but I am foolish enough to hack away at the CSS & HTML. Sometimes it works. Usually it doesn't. :)


Having all browsers available (well all of them except Safari) makes it easy to see if something works or not. That said, tools like Adobe Browser Lab and Browser Shots are a nice compliment to this approach. And we have Safari on my laptop, so if the design looks good elsewhere then generally it is typically good to go in Safari, so I check it last. If you use Safari as your primary browser LastPass is good.

Published: January 29, 2011 by Aaron Wall in seo tools


Seattle SEO
February 1, 2011 - 12:46am

....but you've reminded me to not install anything on one or two of the browsers. I like Chrome too to be bare bones, but I did install a couple extensions which you got me to rethink now if I should just take them off. I use Safari to rock out to though. Remember, it's not always good to just work with no play. ;)

Seriously, having a little music while trying to figure out all the stuff we do regularly helps drop the stress levels a tad.

However, you've always been awesome at giving ideas Aaron. I've been reading your stuff for years. I need to come back here more often frankly.

February 1, 2011 - 7:14pm

...those times when you need multiple google accounts open at the same time.

February 3, 2011 - 3:27am

I thought I was crazy. I use multiple browser because Google doesn't handle multiple logins well. I put my personal Google Login in Firefox and my corporate login for Analysis and webmaster tools in Chrome. I'm glad to see there are reasons to have more than two browser open. thanks for the tip


February 3, 2011 - 11:38am

"I use it in conjunction with a VPN"
Can you tell me which VPN? :-)
I dislike IE because it crashes so often. Usually but not always in conjunction with my old copy of Microsoft Word. But I use it. Ditto Chrome, when I want fast access to something - but I don't trust Google and what Chrome reveals.
FF is my mainstay for research etc. And hopefully it destroys all cookies on shut down.

February 3, 2011 - 2:16pm

name the VPN publicly, for fear of branding any vendor as an "SEO-friendly" sorta service which ultimately could attract some folks who scrape the heck out of Google and ruin it for me. ;)

February 4, 2011 - 12:33pm

Oh well :-)

February 10, 2011 - 7:03am

I use Chrome and FF exactly the same - I really only use Opera if I need to be logged in to a million G accounts for client stuff (must be some sort of G login manager that I'm unaware of but I've never seen one).

One thing I find sort of funny/ironic is that I find two things work best in IE: MS Webmail for Webmail interfaces (which I use occasionally) and I find that the new AdWords interface tends to be buggier in FF and even Chrome than IE :).

Neat post idea.


October 17, 2011 - 1:51pm

its also useful for running multiple sessions of the same site

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