Why I Eventually Cracked The Shits With Microsoft Edge

Chrome might be the default browser for the internet at large, but it’s not the only one. And it’s also not without its frustrations. Chrome – at least until the most recent update – had a habit for using a metric ton of RAM. It wasn’t the de facto king of speed. And the odd tab crashing was enough to cause many a pegged stress ball.

In my fury, I did the unthinkable: I switched to the devil himself, Microsoft Edge. And I persisted for a whole week, migrating my whole workflow to the world of Microsoft. It only lasted a week, and came to a swift end when I’d finally had my fill of the things Edge couldn’t do.

Edge is spectacularly unhelpful when it comes to bookmarks

As any working writer, journalist, or internet addict will tell you, bookmarks are an essential part of your daily routine. Therefore, one of the first priorities when switching from Chrome to Edge – or anything to Edge – is to get your bookmarks back in order.

Ordinarily, you’d just export your bookmarks from Chrome to a HTML file, import and be done with it. Alternatively, the automated import function usually works well enough.

In Edge, not so much.

While Edge is more than happy to pull your favourites from any browser you choose, it doesn’t – for obvious reasons – retain the formatting. I keep most of my bookmarks in Chrome on the bookmarks tab. Some are displayed as icons, some have an icon and a description, and others are folders, with folders underneath those.

The equivalent bar is called the Favourites Tab in Edge, and it’s not enabled by default. Once you’ve rectified that, you then get to go through the absurdly time intensive process of getting everything to display in the same way.

Part of the problem is that Edge doesn’t have a separate bookmarks manager, like Chrome or Firefox, where multiple bookmarks can be selected or moved. That’s a royal pain in the arse if you’ve got 50 or more items to deal with. I ended up having to download a third-party tool called EdgeManage to retain my sanity, partly because it made more sense than dragging individual items one at a time in 2016.

For a start, Edge will only display bookmarks with names and icons, or not at all. If you want icons to appear without the name, you have to remove all of the bookmarks’ names and then tell Edge to display names and icons. Chrome, on the other hand, simply displays icons as they are, and only displays icons if the name is removed.

Edge’s method is actually probably more efficient – at least if you’re building your favourites from scratch, and you keep that fact in mind. But given that most people will be transferring from Chrome to Edge, and not the other way around, it makes the process a little harder.

But the real chief annoyance with bookmarks? Edge won’t let you open a whole folder of bookmarks in one hit. It’s something EdgeManage can’t fix, and not having it is awfully disruptive to your workflow.

Copy-pasting from Edge is surprisingly annoying

Copy-pasta is the lifeblood of any working journalist, or so the joke goes. But any heavy PC user will agree – CTRL+C and CTRL+V get used a lot, and for good reason. That’s especially true if you’re dealing with a lot of embed codes, emails, a CMS, transferring words from one program to another, and so on.

I’ll give you a good example. From time to time, we embed YouTube videos on the site. But we only need the last part of the YouTube URL, not the full thing. And as a result, I’ve become accustomed to selecting only the part I need in the Chrome tab, copying, pasting, and going away.

Of course, you can’t just do that in Edge.

When Edge displays a URL, it does so without the HTTP/HTTPS prefix. Clicking on the address bar then displays the full URL, which changes the point the cursor pastes from.

It seems like such a petty, minor complaint. But over the course of a day, particularly in my line of work, it’s disruptive and something that could be easily solved with an option somewhere.

Naturally, Edge doesn’t have that.

Edge makes you wait

Another thing that gives me the shits: you have to wait for a fraction longer when clicking or selecting items, otherwise the input doesn’t always register. It’s most noticeable if you’re trying to copy paste something, but occasionally it crops up when clicking hyperlinks.

If you’re not someone who leans on shortcuts frequently, it will probably go unnoticed. But it’s a quirk I’d not been forced to encounter when Chrome, or Firefox, was my daily browser. But that’s what it’s like to live life on the Edge, as it were.

You can’t search your history

While it’s probably bad practice, being logged into your Google account on Chrome does at least give you a rolling record of everything you’ve viewed in a handy, searchable format. Microsoft Edge? Three categories: everything you’ve viewed in the last hour, everything in the last week, and items older than that.

You can’t search your history in Edge, which can be really handy if you’ve forgotten something but you at least remember the topic, or something notable, about the page. Also Microsoft: why have separate designations for the last hour and the last week, but not the last 24 hours? That’s just weird.

Edge’s clipping tool isn’t as handy as it should be

I get that Microsoft wants to funnel everything through their ecosystem; that’s cool. But the reason most people screencap things is so they can quickly dump it into a Tweet, a Facebook message, or some other form of shareable medium. So while saving your Web Notes in the Favourites tab, the Reading tab (which saves it as a HTML file in your Users folder, instead of your Downloads folder) or OneNote is great, please just give us the option users want – which is to save it as a JPG/BMP/PNG in a folder of our choice.

Edge wouldn’t play videos in full-screen, at least when I wanted it to

This was the point where I finally cracked. The Game Awards were about to kick off and I was in the middle of my working day, taking screenshots, GIFs and so forth for the site.

I’ve got two screens, so whenever this situation crops up I’ll work on one and full screen a video on the other. Anyone who’s fired up Netflix on a second screen gets how this works.

So I fired up separate Twitch and YouTube streams and prepared to get to work. Except there was one problem: Edge, right when I needed it, wouldn’t play the videos in full screen.

This isn’t a missing feature, or an oversight on Microsoft’s part. Edge plays videos in full screen just fine; I’m watching one while I type this. But in the heat of the moment, at a point where time was of the essence and I relied on Edge to work without fault, it failed.

That was the breaking point for me, the point where I finally cracked the shits. As a heavy internet browser, a journalist who lives online and someone who has no intention of abandoning geek culture, I rely on my browser to work 100% of the time. And when Edge failed me, in the moment I needed it most, that was the last straw.

Maybe Edge will become truly sensational one day. I certainly appreciated how snappy it was, although Chrome’s latest update is no slouch either (and it also rectifies some of the memory hog issues). But that’s not enough to tolerate the missing features, the minuscule parts of my workflow that I take for granted on a daily basis.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have changed to Edge at all, though. Maybe I should have gone back to Firefox instead. But that’s a problem for 2017.


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