We all want a faster web browser, but how do your speed it up? How do you increase performance? Each browser is different and here I look at Microsoft Edge. Some tips apply to other browsers.
No matter how fast web browsers become, the web just soaks up that speed and demands more. Websites and web pages are becoming increasingly complex and demand more processing power and memory, so it can feel like you are fighting a losing battle. However, there are some tweaks you can make to a browser’s settings that can make it a bit more responsive.
Here I go through the settings for Microsoft Edge and optimize them for speed. There is not one setting that you can simply change top boost the browser performance. Each setting highlighted below makes a tiny improvement on its own, but they all add up to make Edge slightly more responsive.
Some of these settings are exclusive to Microsoft Edge, but some are more general and you can find similar settings in other browsers like Chrome and Firefox. Let’s take a deep dive into Edge.
Start Edge browser faster
Open Edge faster by opening the menu with the three dots in the top right corner and selecting Settings. Select System in the sidebar and on the right is a Start-up boost switch. Turn it on. This starts Edge in the background when you log in to Windows and because it is already running, when you need Edge, it does not have to be loaded, it just has to be made visible and brought onto the screen.
Turn on the switch, Continue running background apps when Microsoft Edge is closed. This means that when you quit Edge, it does not fully unload it, it keeps it in the background until it is needed again, then it can load quickly.
Enable Use hardware acceleration when available because this will use special features of the hardware, such as the GPU (graphics processing unit), to speed up the display of web content.
If you want to reduce CPU and memory usage, perhaps because your Windows PC does not have a lot of RAM, turn off Start-up boost and Continue running background apps…
Don’t save resources
Speeding up the browser often increases resource usage like CPU and RAM, but is useful if you have plenty of both. Go to Settings > System and just a bit further down the page from the Start-up boost tip is a Save resources section.
There is an option to put inactive tabs to sleep to save resources like CPU, RAM and laptop battery. However, switching to a tab that has been put to sleep is slower than switching to an active tab. For speed, set a long timeout and avoid short timeouts like 5, 15 or 30 minutes.
Stop web trackers
Go to Settings > Privacy, search and services and there is a section on tracking prevention. Web pages often contain trackers, usually by advertising networks, that track where you go on the web. They may be pixels (tiny images) or code, but either way, it must take time, CPU, RAM and network activity to process all the trackers on a page.
By setting Tracking prevention to Strict, or at least Balanced, the majority of trackers are blocked and Edge will not waste time processing them.
Don’t customize Edge with a theme
You might be tempted to install a nice theme in Edge, and this gives the browser a colorful makeover using photographic images for new tab pages and the interface. However, plain and simple is faster.
Go to Settings > Appearance and set the Default theme to Light, Dark or System default (whatever Windows is set to). Avoid the option to get a theme.
Set the browser home page
Go to Settings > On start-up and you can choose what page the browser shows when it is started. Some people set it to their favorite website, Google, Bing or whatever, but that is slow because the web page must be downloaded. It is even slower when multiple pages are opened on start-up. The fastest option here is to open a new tab.
Preload new tab page
Why is a new tab the fastest way to start a browser? Because it can be set to blank. With nothing to fetch from the web and nothing to display, it is as fast as can be.
Go to Settings > New tab page and turn on the switch to Preload the new tab page for a faster experience. Whether you set the new tab page to blank or the URL of your favorite website, if Edge has preloaded it, it will display faster.
Click the Customize button for more options.
Customize the new tab page
A new tab opens and the gear icon is clicked for you and a menu appears. There are Focused, Inspirational and Informational options. These are great, but they all involve fetching and displaying information, which takes time. For speed, click the Custom option.
Turn everything off. The aim is to reduce the amount of processing power and memory used to display the new tab page, which we have also selected for the start-up page. With very little to display, Edge starts faster and shows new tabs faster.
Even so, a new tab page is not completely empty and it shows a search box in the middle of the page. Even with everything off, you can still search the web.
Copy links faster
Edge browser tries to be clever when copying and pasting links. Go to Settings > Share, copy and paste. and there are two options, Link and Plain text. Link is the default. When you copy a link in Edge (right click and select Copy link), Edge goes to the website, loads the page, gets the the title and creates a link. If you paste this into certain apps, Word for example, the URL is not pasted. Instead, the title of the page hyperlinked to the URL you copied is inserted.
I find this useful about half the time I need to copy and paste a link and an annoyance the other half. Copy a link and Edge spends time downloading the target page invisibly in the background. This takes time and processing power. Select the Plain text option and the target web page is not downloaded, so is a bit quicker.
A faster, more responsive browser
All these tweaks are small and you will not notice any of them on their own. After applying all of them, you should now have a browser that is slight faster and more responsive than before. Try them and see.