We’re doing more than half of our browsing on mobile devices now, and that trend is only going in one direction. With that in mind, don’t settle for a second-class browsing experience on your mobile device — these tips and tricks can load pages faster, make them easier to read, and get you around the web more quickly.
These tips are organised by browser, with the three big names covered, but as an additional tip we’d encourage you to check out some of the alternative mobile browsers on the market too: Opera now comes with a built-in VPN, Brave comes with a host of privacy-focused features, and Kiwi Browser lets you run Chrome extensions on your phone, for example.
1) Search with your voice
Don’t waste time tapping around a tiny on-screen keyboard—use your voice to search the web instead. Tap the big Search button (a magnifying glass icon), then the microphone icon, and speak out your search. You can also ask questions, as you can with Google Assistant.
2) Enable reader mode
Enter “chrome://flags” in the address bar and set Reader Mode triggering to Always to bring up a Show simplified view option when browsing the web—this cuts out the cruft from webpages, though it doesn’t work perfectly, and is only available on Android for now.
3) Browse with gestures
Now, an iOS exclusive: Drag down from the top of the screen then (optionally) go left or right with your finger to reload tabs, add new tabs, or close tabs. You can swipe from the left or right edge of the screen to go forward or backward as well.
4) Save some data
Bandwidth might be at a premium on the go, and you have a couple of ways to save on Chrome’s data usage on mobile devices: via the Data Saver option in the in-app settings for Chrome on Android, and via the Bandwidth option in the in-app settings for Chrome on iOS.
5) Switch tabs faster
Tabs aren’t quite as easy to get around on mobile as they are on the desktop, but this trick can help: Swipe left or right on the address bar to switch tabs. That works on Android and iOS. And on Android, you can also swipe the address bar down to see your tabs as well.
6) Quickly view your history
A lot of web browsing involves getting back to where you were a few minutes ago, and while you can just keep tapping the back button (lower left), there’s another option: long press the same button to bring up all of your recent browsing history on one screen.
7) Manage tabs more easily
Speaking of extended presses, you can use the same trick on the tabs button (lower right). A long press here lets you close the current tab or all open tabs, or start a new tab (in private mode, if you want). Tap the button quickly to show previews of all your open tabs.
8) Search for text on a page
Finding text on a page in Safari for iOS is very simple, once you know how it’s done: Tap in the address bar, type out your search terms, and if you scroll down (below the web search results) you’ll find an On This Page section. Tap this to see the results in the current page.
9) Search through your tabs
Speaking of tabs, you might not have seen the tab search option that only shows up on the iPhone in landscape mode (it’s always visible on the iPad): Tap the tabs button (lower right), then turn your phone on its side (with orientation lock off) to find the search box.
10) Speed up searches... or save data
Find the Safari option in the iOS Settings app and you’ll see there’s a Preload Top Hit toggle switch there, which does exactly what it sounds like: It loads up the first page in a list of search results ready for when you tap it (or doesn’t, if you want to save on data usage).
11) Protect your passwords
Like other browsers, Firefox can remember your login details. To stop other people getting your phone and seeing them, protect them with a master password or passcode — in the main app settings it’s under Face ID & Passcode (on iOS) and Privacy (on Android).
12) Search any site
Firefox can add any site-specific search to its list of available search engines. Just tap and hold on the site’s search box and choose Add Search Engine (on Android), or tap inside the site’s search box and then on the magnifying glass (on iOS) to add it to the list.
13) Fire up some add-ons
One of the benefits of using Firefox is, of course, the extensive catalogue of add-ons you have access to, and many are available on mobile... although only on Android, unfortunately. From the app menu, choose Add-ons then Browse all Firefox Add-ons to take a look.
14) Turn on the dark mode
Add-ons only work on Android, but Firefox’s dark mode is only on iOS... at least for now. To activate it and give your eyes a bit of respite from all that bright white, just tap Enable Night Mode on the app menu (some page elements will change as well as the interface).
15) Customise the home page
Firefox gives you a lot more control over what appears on your home page than most mobile browsers. If you open the app settings then pick General and Home (Android) or Home (iOS), you can combine bookmarks, browsing history, your top sites, and more.