Google’s Chrome browser is remarkably convenient, especially if you use an Android smartphone, since it syncs to the cloud to not only keep your URLs straight, but feed much of your data into an algorithm that suggests news, maps destinations, and all sorts of other gee whiz stuff. So it’s no surprise that many of us are hooked on Chrome, even if we don’t want any company, let alone one of the largest ad companies in the world, tracking our every move into every embarrassing corner of the internet.
Is there any solution beyond just switching to Firefox once and for all? Maybe.
Bumpr, a $4 Mac app that lets you choose what type of browser will open any link you click on from inside various apps, has been around since 2017. But now, its creators are rereleasing the app with an accompanying Chrome (and Safari) plugin that does the same thing—but with all links, even those you encounter inside a browser window. Now, you can click on a link inside Chrome and opt to automatically load it in Firefox instead. That way, you can browse in Chrome when you want to, but open links or email outside Chrome when you don’t.
Developed by Scott Ostler and designed by Fast Company Most Creative Person Khoi Vinh, Bumpr runs locally on your machine. And whenever you right click or shift-click a link, a drop-down menu appears on the screen to suggest a customized shortlist of alternate browsers or mail clients like the DuckDuckGo browser or Thunderbird to load the link. (Your shortlist can include a whopping 10 options!) Tap on any of those icons, and you’re whisked to the new app. You can open any link, in any browser, without ever having to go down to your dock or copy and paste anything.
“As for the big appeal of Bumpr, yes, today it’s definitely the ability to use Chrome when you need to, but to avoid it when you don’t want to,” says Vinh. “Because Chrome is such a standard now, it’s hard for people to give it up cold turkey, even if there’s increasingly serious concern about how it tracks you.” Indeed, and with 66% of the global market share, it’s easy to forget that there are already other private alternatives to Chrome.
Of course, Bumpr isn’t just useful for the privacy-minded. It can be helpful to hop out of Chrome or Safari simply to open a site without your cookies augmenting how it looks without having to delete your cookies or use an incognito window. That means it’s just the sort of tool that might be useful for families who occasionally split a laptop, or developers who want to test sites without multiple accounts in multiple browsers. Basically, Bumpr makes it easy to escape the self-imposed monopoly that stems from accessing the web with any single web browser—some of the time, at least.