Review: Arc Browser

Arc is a new player in the browser field, crafted by the New York-based Browser Company. The company positions Arc as a tool that makes browsing the Internet more calm, collected, and capable, aiming to replace existing browsers like Chrome and minimize distractions and tab overload]. However, currently, it’s not widely available. You have to register your interest on the Arc website and wait for an invite to install and use Arc. It’s currently only available on macOS, with the development team working on versions for Windows and mobile platforms.

Arc has some smart features that set it apart. Here are some that I have found particularly helpful:

Distinct Profiles and Spaces

One of the standout features is the ability to create distinct profiles and spaces. This is perfect for someone who, like me, juggles multiple Gmail accounts for different scenarios. In Arc, I login with a separate Gmail account for each profile, effectively separating my personal and professional online lives. You could do the same in Chrome, but the way you have to juggle windows and such just makes it so much harder.

I also enjoy the ability to create different spaces – I have a personal space and one for work, and even some of my work projects have their own dedicated spaces. This feature brings a level of organization and clarity to my browsing that I haven’t experienced with other browsers.

A Revolutionary Sidebar

Arc’s sidebar is a game-changer for me. The sidebar houses your tabs and the address bar, relocating them from their traditional top-of-the-browser position to a panel on the left. I’m one of the few who already used a sidebar when possible (like in Safari) and it quickly became one of my favorite features. The sidebar has distinct sections for favorites, pinned tabs, and current tabs, allowing for easy management and navigation.

I’ve never really used bookmarks much in the past, but with Arc’s sidebar, bookmarks just make sense. They nest near the top of the sidebar as icons, making them easily accessible. It’s a feature that seems simple, but it has significantly improved my browsing experience.

Tab Management

Arc’s approach to tab management is a breath of fresh air, especially for someone like me who is notorious for leaving tabs open. There’s a small button that allows you to close all tabs at once, but your pinned tabs and favorites remain open. This feature allows me to clear out my tabs with ease, without the fear of losing something important. But you don’t have to click the button, it can do it automatically – closing tabs that have been left untouched for a certain amount of hours.

Air Traffic Control

Air Traffic Control is a unique feature of Arc that helps keep tabs in the right spaces. For example, it allows for YouTube links to always open in my personal space, and meet links in my work space. This automatic organization feature is another reason Arc has become my browser of choice.

Developer Mode

Arc’s Developer Mode is another handy feature. It doesn’t do much, but it adds a toolbar to the top of the window as well as a yellow dashed border around the tab. It’s been a useful tool for distinguishing between local and production environments, and keeps tools I need easily accessible, which is a significant advantage for my work.

Additional Features

Arc also offers some other impressive features. For example, when you switch from a tab playing Spotify or YouTube music, Arc generates a small pop-up window with basic controls and a timeline. Also, the “New Tab” functionality in Arc is versatile, allowing you to open a new tab in Split View to display two or more websites side-by-side.

Arc also has a built-in note-taking tool, which lets you jot down notes and save or archive them like a tab. You can also create a new Easel, Arc’s spaces for captured and created content like screenshots and diagrams. I don’t use them much as I try to keep all my notes in one place, but I can see how they have their place.

While I have found these features helpful, it’s worth noting that the availability of Arc is currently limited, and it’s not clear when it will be available for Windows. However, the innovative features and intuitive design of Arc make it a promising addition to the current set of popular browsers. It’s certainly not perfect, but its approach to managing and organizing browsing activity could be a major draw for many users, particularly those who juggle multiple accounts or who frequently work with a large number of tabs.

Despite some initial growing pains and the need for some habit changes (like the sidebar navigation), I believe the benefits offered by Arc outweigh these minor inconveniences. The browser’s focus on creating a calmer and more organized browsing experience, along with its innovative features like the sidebar and Air Traffic Control, have greatly improved my online workflow.

I'm a webdeveloper based in Oslo, Norway. I currently work with web development at Nettmaker.

I would like to change the world, but they won't give me the source…

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