Recent comments from a regular DCT reader prompted me to install and take a closer look at the Brave browser. Brave is known to be the most private of the mainstream browsers incorporating a native ad-blocker, anti-tracking protections, and even fingerprinting prevention. In this article, I’m going to explain various features/options when setting up and working with the Brave browser and deliver a final verdict.
- Please read: Which Browser is the Most Private
Brave Browser Out-Of-The-Box
On the first run after installation, Brave prompts the user to import various aspects – including bookmarks, passwords, and extensions – from a variety of popular browsers. This pretty much automates the importation functions and simplifies transitioning to Brave no end. A big tick.
However, when the browser’s home page opened, I was surprised to see how busy it is. With a fancy background image that changes frequently and lots of graphics, it is a bit of a shock if you’re used to the simplicity of (say) Chrome or Edge. The good news is that, if you’re of the same mind as me and have no use for all those extraneous items, they can easily be removed via the Customize link toward the bottom right of the page:
As you can see, there is no bookmark sidebar and the way in which bookmarks are handled is clumsy, as is the case with all Chromium-based browsers. To compensate somewhat there is a provision to pin links to favorite (most often visited) websites on the home page, which is definitely a plus.
There is no separate search dialogue box, which typically displays in the center of most browsers’ home pages, all searches being directed from within the address bar. A bit different but certainly no big deal. A choice of search engines is available via the settings, including Brave’s own private search, Google, DuckDuckGo, Qwant, Bing, Startpage, and Ecosia. Setting a default search engine is a simple matter of selecting your preferred option from a dropdown menu available via the browser’s settings:
Brave handles icons for installed extensions in a slightly different manner than what I’m used to. Other browsers I’ve worked with automatically place an installed extension’s icon at the far right of the address bar but Brave does not. You need to manually “pin” extension icons to the address bar via a settings menu. This is a good thing. For extensions that just sit in the background quietly doing their job, you can choose to leave the icon unpinned, and conversely, for those extensions that issue notifications and occasionally require user interaction, you can easily pin those icons to the address bar.
As for speed, Brave is typical of most Chromium-based browsers in that it renders webpages very quickly and accurately. I couldn’t swear that it’s faster than Chrome or Edge but it’s certainly as fast as.
Brave Browser Customized To Suit
There is no way I could live with Brave out-of-the-box. As I mentioned, the home page is way too busy for my liking and I much prefer a bookmark sidebar over the typically clumsy Chromium-based browsers’ method of handling bookmarks. I guess I got spoiled by the years of using Firefox. So, the first thing I did was to install the terrific Bookmark Sidebar extension which places a bookmark sidebar down the left-hand side of the page.
Next, I chose a different home page, opting for a plain and simple home page rather than Brave’s overly busy default page. I had to change a setting to also apply that home page to new tabs but, after a short search through settings, it was a simple enough exercise.
Needing to change a few default characteristics of a browser via extensions and/or settings to meet my preferences is the norm for me and certainly no deal breaker. With a new simple and plain home page plus my preference for a bookmark sidebar in place, I am very happy with Brave and have already decided it’s a keeper. I needed to overcome my trust issues with Brave but, in the end, the additional privacy features won out.
If you haven’t tried Brave as yet, I suggest you do so. In terms of speed, options, and ease of use, it’s at the very least equal to any browser I’ve tried and far superior to any browser in terms of privacy. Brave gets a firm recommendation from me.
I have now learned that there is a bookmark sidebar available in Brave. Thanks to “JD” for pointing this out (please refer to comments under).
To enable the bookmark sidebar in Brave, click the sidebar icon at the far right of the address bar, and then from the menu in the sidebar, click the bookmark icon: