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8 great Microsoft Edge features that make switching worth it

Edge packs so many thoughtful quality-of-life goodies into one web browser. Here are some of my favorites.

8 great Microsoft Edge features that make switching worth it
[Images: Microsoft]
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Microsoft’s Edge web browser is great. There, I said it. It’s my default browser now.

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It’s fast. All my Chrome extensions work. Those were really my two requirements, but those two things alone weren’t enough to switch.

No, it was the following great features that really pushed me over the . . . ooh, I feel a pun coming on.

Cash in with the built-in coupon finder

Looking for deals online is a whole lot easier thanks to Edge’s built-in coupon finder.

If you’re on an e-commerce site that offers virtually clippable coupons, you’ll notice a blue price-tag icon show up in the address bar with a “This site has coupons!” message.

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Browse the available coupon codes, find one you’d like to use, then hover over it to copy it. Come checkout time, simply paste it in the store’s coupon-code box and you’re good to go. Slick.

Experience the thrill of vertical tabs

My colleague and friend Jared Newman is a fan of Edge’s vertical tabs feature. He’s right that it takes a bit to get used to the layout, but there’s a big payoff in getting to see longer tab titles, which in turn means an easier time switching between tabs—especially if you’ve got a ton of them open.

To use the feature, click the little icon in the upper-left corner of the browser window next to all your current tabs. Boom: vertical tabs.

Click it again atop the now-vertical tabs list to switch back to the old-fashioned way.

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You can also click the left-pointing carat at the top of the vertical tabs list to shrink all the tabs down to the site logos if you’re feeling claustrophobic.

Obviously, this feature isn’t for everyone. Fun fact: I feel my face getting hot if I’ve got too many tabs open—so I try to keep a clean browser. That being said, vertical tabs are absolutely indispensable for doing many-tabbed research, updating a bunch of blog posts at once, and other tasks where having a multitude of tabs open is essential.

Put tabs to sleep to free up memory

Speaking of too many tabs, if you notice your computer slowing to a crawl as you open tab after tab after tab—digital anxiety be damned—then take a look at the Sleeping Tabs feature. You can find it in the Settings menu (three dots in the upper-right corner > Settings) under the System section.

You can put inactive tabs on ice after a predetermined amount of time (the default is two hours). If there are certain sites that you absolutely don’t want to go to sleep, you can add them manually here to ensure that they stay active.

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Microsoft claims that this feature “typically reduces memory usage by 32% on average” and promises a boost to battery life, to boot.

Have Edge read web pages aloud

Ah, we now arrive at my favorite Edge feature: the built-in Read Aloud functionality. I love it.

Look, I can appreciate a good long read as much as the next guy, but actually . . . you know… reading it can be kind of a chore.

For those times, Read Aloud is an absolute godsend. Simply right-click wherever you’d like the reading to begin—say, before the first word of an article’s title—select “Read aloud” in the context menu, then sit back, close your eyes, and try not to fall asleep.

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You’ll notice playback buttons above the article, along with a Voice Options menu that lets you choose your playback speed and your virtual reading buddy. I’ve found the default reader, Aria, to sound almost shockingly natural. Good stuff all around.

Make long articles more readable

Okay, so sometimes maybe you want to actually read the aforementioned long read. That’s fair.

You can strip away the many distractions found in modern-day news sites—ads, videos, related links—by right-clicking and choosing “Open in Immersive Reader” from the menu.

The result is an e-book-like version of the article with clean text and photos, but little else. Change colors and text size from the Text Preferences menu, or, if you find you still can’t muster the fortitude to actually read the article, the handy-dandy Read Aloud option can be accessed from here as well. Have I mentioned I love that feature?

Capture and mark up screenshots

When it comes to grabbing screenshots of web pages, Edge’s Web Capture feature is about as simple as it gets. Right-click on a page you want to memorialize and click “Web capture” or hit Ctrl + Shift + S on your keyboard.

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You’ll be presented with two options: Free Select, which lets you draw a box around what you want to grab, or Full Page, which behaves exactly like it sounds. The latter is great for grabbing no-fuss images of entire pages, top to bottom.

Once you’ve captured your image, the next screen allows you to draw notes, share the image with your contacts, send it to other apps, copy it, or save it. Nothing too fancy, but oh-so-easy.

Explore feature-filled PDF tools

Open a PDF in Edge and you’re treated to more than mere zooming and saving. Edge’s built-in PDF handling is especially handy for documents that need your signature. It supports drawing, highlighting, the excellent Read Aloud feature (I love that feature, in case I hadn’t mentioned it), and a few other goodies.

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It’s not going to kill off for-pay PDF editing software, but it’s a slam dunk for those “Could you fill this out, sign it, and email it back to me?” moments.

Get more privacy the simple way

Here’s a recent, verbatim text from a buddy of mine: “How is my laptop connected to my phone? I went on a site on my laptop and it showed up in my Instagram feed on my phone? How can I stop that?”

The Privacy, Search, and Services section of Edge’s settings menu makes it easy to clamp down on such tracking. Choose between Basic, Balanced, and Strict settings to limit the data that’s shared while you’re browsing.

There’s a fun “Blocked Trackers” item that shows all the stuff that Edge has already blocked, and you can exclude certain sites from tracking rules here if you trust them or they don’t work correctly if your tracking prevention level is set too high.

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By default, Edge’s “Balanced” privacy settings are already pretty good, but it’s dead simple to ratchet them up a notch here if you’d like to lock your data down a bit more aggressively.