Web browsers love to hide their best settings within ayers upon layers of menus, and Microsoft Edge is no different. That’s not the worst thing in the world, because it’s actually a pretty great browser out of the box — but there is definitely room for improvement. (For one, the default settings force you to use Bing search, which is a crime.)
To save you time navigating through menus and sub-menus, here are eight quick tweaks that will significantly improve your Microsoft Edge experience.
Change the default search engine
Bing isn’t the best search engine for everyone (anyone?), but unfortunately, it’s the default option on Edge. If you want to switch to Google or DuckDuckGo, follow these steps.
Open Edge and click the three-dots icon in the top-right corner. Go to Settings > Privacy, search, and services > Address bar and search. Click the drop-down menu next to Search engine used in the address bar and change the search engine.
Next, click the drop-down menu next to Search on new tabs uses search box or address bar and select Address bar. This will ensure that the search engine on the new tab page also changes to the one you prefer.
Customise the toolbar
Toolbar customisation allows you to keep only the options you frequently use at your fingertips. For example, Edge has a useful Share button for quickly sending links to other apps. You can add that to the toolbar and remove options you use infrequently.
Go to Edge settings > Appearance and scroll down to the Select which buttons to show on the toolbar: section. Here, you can add or remove buttons and options to match your preferences.
Enable vertical tabs
Most browsers default to a horizontal tab view. That’s fine if you have a large widescreen display, but those tabs really add up on a cramped laptop screen. Vertical tabs allow you to maximise Edge’s usable screen space, and they are easy to enable.
Go to Edge settings > Appearance and scroll to the Customise toolbar section. Click the Turn on button next to Show vertical tabs for all current browser windows.
Enable quick screenshots
Microsoft Edge has a fairly robust built-in screenshot tool. It lets you capture custom areas on a webpage or take a scrolling screenshot of the full site. To use this feature, press Ctrl + Shift + S on your keyboard. The screenshot menu will then appear, and you can follow the on-screen instructions to take and edit your screenshots.
Fix the new tab page
Edge’s new tab page is full of clutter that will annoy those who prefer a clean look. You can fix it by opening a new tab and clicking the gear icon in the top-right corner of the page. I suggest turning off the following options, but you do you:
- Quick links
- Promoted links
- Show greeting
- Office sidebar
- New tab tips
Once you do this, the page will look a lot cleaner and more usable.
If you feel that Edge is slowing down your computer, you can quickly enable its built-in Efficiency mode to speed it up. Go to Edge settings > System and performance and enable Turn on efficiency mode. (While you’re at it, check out our longer list of tips to speed up Edge’s performance.)
Reduce Microsoft’s tracking
Microsoft uses a fair bit of analytics data, ostensibly to improve your experience with Edge. If you value your privacy, you can disable some of this data collection.
Head over to Edge settings > Privacy, search, and services and scroll down to the Optional diagnostic data section. You’ll see three options here: one for browser data collection, one for search data, and one for browsing history data. Disable all three.
You can then scroll to the Services section at the bottom and disable the following options:
- Suggest similar sites when a website can’t be found.
- Save time and money with Shopping in Microsoft Edge.
- Show suggestions to follow creators in Microsoft Edge.
- Get notified when creators you follow post new content.
- Get notifications of related things you can explore with Discover.
A few more useful privacy settings to explore
Once you’ve checked off all these items, take a look at the permissions you’ve granted to various websites. Go to Edge settings > Cookies and site permissions. Rescind any permissions that no longer seem relevant.
Next, go through the options under All permissions and set them carefully. Ideally, you should completely block access to your location, motion or light sensors, notifications, Background sync, and USB devices.