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Mastering Microsoft Edge: A Comprehensive Guide

11 Min. Read

In the digital age, the choice of web browsers has a considerable impact on our online experience, given that they are our gateway to the World Wide Web. The Microsoft Edge browser, a significant player in this field, has been ingeniously designed to offer a smooth, fast, and safe browsing experience.

This guide delves into the multi-faceted aspects of Microsoft Edge, exploring its foundational knowledge along with its vast set of features and capabilities. Furthermore, it provides insights into troubleshooting and security aspects, underlining its strengths in upholding user privacy and protection. Lastly, the endless possibilities created by the browser’s extensions and integrations with other Microsoft services will be explored, providing a comprehensive look at this state-of-the-art web browser.

Microsoft Edge: Exploring the Basics

Microsoft Edge, initially developed under the codename “Project Spartan,” was first announced by Microsoft in January 2015. It was designed as a part of Windows 10 and Windows 11, a complete overhauling of Microsoft’s ecosystem. It replaced Internet Explorer as the default web browser on Windows devices. In 2019, Microsoft rebuilt Edge on the Chromium open-source project platform, aligning it with web standards and improving its compatibility.

Microsoft Edge provides various features that enhance the user experience. Complementing the basic browser functionalities, Edge includes user-friendly elements like Reading View, Web Note, and Cortana integration. The Reading View features an uncluttered layout that simplifies web pages for an optimal reading experience. The Web Note tool allows users to annotate web pages and save them for later reference. Cortana integration follows voice commands, performs searches, and provides proactive suggestions while browsing.

The Edge interface design embraces simplicity and intuitiveness. The address bar, also known as “Microsoft Edge Omnibox,” alters between a search box and a URL bar. The Hub is the storage center for favorites, browsing history, downloaded files, and e-books. The browser also comprises features like the settings sidebar and reading menu, ensuring a seamless browsing experience.

Creating bookmarks in Edge is straightforward. By clicking the star icon within the address bar or pressing “CTRL+D“, users can save a webpage for future reference. To view or manage these bookmarks, one can go to the Favorites section in the Hub. Browser history is accessed through the History section in the Hub, and Settings can be accessed by clicking on the three-dot menu at the top-right corner of the browser, and selecting “Settings.” Users can customize privacy settings, autofill settings, appearance, and much more in this section.

Microsoft Edge Settings
Microsoft Edge Settings

Related: What is Microsoft Edge WebView2 Runtime?

Microsoft Edge vs Other Browsers

Now, let’s delve into just how Microsoft Edge stacks up against competitors like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari. Rather than rest on its laurels, Edge has decided to aggressively compete with these household names in the realm of internet browsing.

Microsoft Edge has made great strides in usability and speed, boasting quicker page load times compared to both Chrome and Firefox. JavaScript performance, a key marker for browsing speed, places Edge on par with or ahead of its rivals. Skyrocketing past the competition in this regard, Edge aims to ensure the end-user does not have to sacrifice speed when choosing a privacy-focused browser.

In terms of extension support, one common criticism of Edge at its inception was its lack of extensions compared to Chrome. Edge, however, has bridged that gap by adopting Chromium. This has opened the floodgates to a wide array of extensions, thus leveling the playing field with Chrome.

For Mozilla Firefox users who may feel disenchanted by the decreasing amount of innovative features, Edge’s advanced features might be a captivating allure. Edge’s compatibility approach also avoids Firefox’s compatibility issues with some websites, presenting Edge as a viable option for those seeking seamless browsing on all platforms.

Microsoft Edge vs Other Browsers
Microsoft Edge vs Other Browsers

Meanwhile, Safari, Apple’s brainchild, has always offered a fast but largely closed environment. Edge’s newfound Chromium compatibility brings a level of cross-platform synchronicity with macOS devices that makes it a compelling choice even for Apple users. Not to mention, Edge’s commitment to security and privacy offers an arguably more well-rounded package than Safari’s offering.

Beyond just individual user scenarios, Edge also speaks volumes to corporate users. Deep integration with Microsoft 365 makes it an obvious choice in business situations, easing IT burdens and ensuring consistency across hardware and software solutions. The likes of Google Chrome seem to trail behind in this aspect, lacking such expansive business-oriented functionalities.

On the whole, Edge’s swift adoption of user feedback, consistent updates, and continuous evolution put it in a promising position in the browser spectrum. While the future of any tech product is never entirely predictable, Microsoft Edge’s relentless pursuit of the top spot in the internet browser market holds exemplary potential.

In the end, Microsoft Edge offers convincing arguments for users of Chrome, Firefox, or Safari to make the switch. Though differentiation in this space is tricky, Edge has succeeded in carving itself a unique identity, focusing on security, privacy, and speed. Microsoft Edge not only stands tall against its competitors but, in many respects, forges ahead, proving that change often brings about innovation and progress.

Features and Capabilities of Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge provides an extensive range of privacy controls, tailored to each user’s individual preferences. The browser’s Tracking Prevention feature allows users to select from Strict, Balanced, or Basic privacy levels. Selecting Strict blocks most trackers, Balanced obstructs harmful trackers while permitting relevant advertisements, and Basic only restricts harmful tracking. The Privacy Preserving Advertisements feature enhances user privacy by only granting advertisers access to aggregated, non-personal data. Furthermore, when browsing in InPrivate mode, user information, such as history, temporary internet files, and cookies, are prevented from being stored on your device hence adding another layer of privacy.

The Reading View and Immersive Reader tools are designed to make web reading easier and more accessible. Reading view declutters web pages, removing ads and unnecessary images to present a clear, easy-to-read layout. The Immersive Reader goes further, offering features like text size and spacing adjustments, part of speech highlighting, and reading aloud. These tools benefit anyone who prefers a clutter-free reading environment or has special reading needs, such as people with dyslexia. You can enter Reader Mode in Immersive Reader using the keyboard shortcut “F9“.

Collections in Microsoft Edge allow users to gather, organize, and share content more efficiently. It enables professionals to collate information from different web pages into a focused, neat set. Users can add notes to each item in the collection, making this tool ideal for research, planning, and collaborative projects. Web content collected is also available across synced devices.

Collections in Microsoft Edge
Collections in Microsoft Edge

The vertical tabs feature in Microsoft Edge is designed to improve the user’s browsing journey by managing tabs effectively. By moving tabs to the side of the browser, users can see more tabs at once. It enables better navigation and management of web pages, reducing scrolling and searching. It is highly efficient for users who open multiple tabs simultaneously.

The Password Monitor in Microsoft Edge provides enhanced security by alerting users if their saved passwords have been found in online breaches. This feature encourages users to change compromised passwords promptly, reducing the risk of account hacking. Password Monitor thus adds another layer to Microsoft Edge’s security features.

Smart Copy allows users to copy content from the web while maintaining the formatting, including images, tables, and links. With this feature, professionals can save time on manual formatting when transferring online information to other applications like Microsoft Word or Excel.

Startup Boost is a feature designed to expedite the Microsoft Edge startup process. It works by running a set of core Edge processes in the background even when the browser is not open, ensuring Edge launches more rapidly. For professionals who use the Edge browser frequently, this can contribute to productivity by reducing waiting time.

For professionals, optimizing the use of the Microsoft Edge browser can significantly improve productivity, bolster privacy, and augment their overall browsing experience. Be it for research, digital content management, or for an enhanced reading accessibility necessity, the comprehensive set of tools infused within Microsoft Edge efficiently caters to these diverse needs.

The Drop feature helps you to share files and messages between your phone and desktop devices. Simply drag and drop files to share instantly or send notes to yourself while you browse in Microsoft Edge and stay in the flow.

Microsoft Edge Drop
Microsoft Edge Drop

Privacy and Security Measures in Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge comes with a sturdy security framework aimed at safeguarding user information while ensuring a safe browsing environment. This framework encompasses features such as Microsoft Defender SmartScreen, InPrivate Browsing, and Tracking Prevention, all designed to prevent encounters with fraudulent sites, phishing attempts, and malware.

Privacy and Security Measures in Microsoft Edge
Privacy and Security Measures in Microsoft Edge

To shield against phishing sites, Microsoft Defender SmartScreen meticulously matches URLs against an endlessly updated list of harmful pages, thus denying access to potentially hazardous websites. Furthermore, this feature verifies downloaded files against a database of known malicious files, thereby protecting harmful downloads.

As for the InPrivate Browsing feature in Microsoft Edge, it ensures users’ privacy by refraining from storing the browsing history, temporary internet files, form data, cookies, and credentials among other data. This is particularly useful when the browser is being used on a public computer, eliminating the chance of sensitive user data being exposed to others.

The Tracking Prevention feature in Microsoft Edge empowers users to control the quantum of information collected by third-party trackers. This setting can be adjusted according to the user’s preference, either going the way of stricter privacy protection, which blocks most trackers but may affect site compatibility, or a less constrictive route blocking fewer trackers.

Tracking prevention in Microsoft Edge
Tracking Prevention in Microsoft Edge

Cookies are small files that sites create on your device to remember information about your visit. They can make a user’s online experience better by saving browsing information but they can also be used to track online activity. Microsoft Edge offers settings that allow users to control which cookies are allowed and blocked. Blocking all cookies might make some web pages unavailable hence the choice to allow or block cookies should be made judiciously.

Microsoft Edge also incorporates an ad-blocking feature. Some ads might be seen as intrusive or annoying and cause distraction when browsing. With the ad block feature, users can choose to block ads while browsing.

Performance and Compatibility of Microsoft Edge

Switching gears to a comparative analysis, how does Microsoft Edge fare against other popular internet browsers? For starters, the adoption of the Chromium engine has clearly leveled the playing field. Speed tests often demonstrate Edge outperforming top guns like Chrome and Firefox due to tactical resource management. Benchmarks like Speedometer 2.0 show a marginal difference, with Edge leading by a nose.

When it comes to compatibility, Edge scores high marks too. Although the initial version had issues adjusting to certain websites due to its EdgeHTML engine, the switch to Chromium has resolved most of these issues. Now, Edge runs all websites that are compatible with Google Chrome without any problems. This transition not only covers desktop environments but also different operating systems with Edge now being available on Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, macOS, iOS, and Android.

Performance and Compatibility of Microsoft Edge
Performance and Compatibility of Microsoft Edge

The Compatibility View, a feature of Edge, sets it apart from competitors as it ensures that legacy websites, which were designed for earlier versions of Internet Explorer, run seamlessly. Besides, it has straightforward backward compatibility offering support for IE 11 through the Enterprise mode site list in Edge.

One must take into consideration the feedback loops of these browsers. With a built-in feedback tool, Edge provides a channel for users to report problems and request features directly. This has undoubtedly contributed to its ability to quickly iterate and roll out new features, a trait that often takes a back seat with browsers like Safari that are primarily updated in sync with the overall operating system.

Another way Edge is asserting its relevance is its synchronization capabilities. With a Microsoft account, users can sync all their data, settings, and preferences across all their devices. It’s even possible to continue from where one left off when they switch devices. This symbiotic ecosystem, synonymous with Apple’s cloud syncing, is increasingly becoming a deciding factor for many users.

Looking at how far it has come since the lukewarm reception at its introduction, Edge has managed to pave a path for itself in the crowded browser market. Its feature-rich character combined with attention to security, privacy, and performance sets it apart. Being part of Microsoft’s portfolio, its integration with other Microsoft products provides seamless internet browsing that is aimed to cater to every user’s needs.

Microsoft Edge can surely be commended for its tenacious pursuit of the internet world’s top spot, whether it is through its staunch commitment to privacy, continual feature updates, or exploring different areas of technology in search of browser supremacy. New users and long-standing tech enthusiasts alike will find comfort, efficiency, and a convincing case for a switch in this revitalized browser.

Troubleshooting Microsoft Edge

Despite its many features and functionalities designed to enhance user browsing experience, users might occasionally experience problems with Microsoft Edge. These might make Edge slow, and unresponsive, or cause it to stop working completely.

Troubleshooting Microsoft Edge
Troubleshooting Microsoft Edge

Quick solutions might include updating your version of Edge, clearing browsing data such as cookies and cache, or resetting the browser settings to their default. For a more in-depth guide on how to troubleshoot Microsoft Edge according to the problem you’re experiencing, Microsoft provides resources and tools that guide users on how to diagnose and solve various problems.

Edge support for extensions allows users to customize their browsers with features and functionality that make browsing smoother and more personalized. However, extensions can sometimes cause problems with how Edge works. If you notice a problem after installing an extension, try to disable or remove the extension to see if it fixes the problem.

Microsoft Edge updates automatically to ensure that users are protected with the latest security updates and feature improvements. However, there might be instances when the automatic updates don’t work as expected. If you encounter any issues, manual updating is also possible by checking for updates in the Edge settings.

It’s worth noting that staying updated with the most recent version of Microsoft Edge guards against potential security issues and ensures an optimal browsing experience.

Ensuring your browsing remains secure in Microsoft Edge requires observing several key measures like keeping your antivirus and anti-malware software up to date, steering clear of dubious emails or sites, opting for InPrivate browsing on occasion, activating Microsoft Defender SmartScreen, and making use of the tracking prevention feature.

Gaining an understanding of these safety functions, as well as mastering Microsoft Edge’s troubleshooting procedures, updates, and extension capabilities, will furnish you with the tools required to create a secure and seamless browsing experience.

Microsoft Edge Extensions and Integrations

Extensions for Microsoft Edge are minuscule software modules that allow you to personalize and enhance your browsing journey. These extensions come in a spectrum of variants, including ad-blockers, password organizers, and efficiency tools. They are ingeniously designed to boost the power, productivity, and individuality of your Edge browser.

Microsoft Edge Extensions and Integrations
Microsoft Edge Extensions and Integrations

Extensions for Microsoft Edge are readily available for installation from the Microsoft Store. Installation is effortless: Simply hit “Get” on the page of the extension you want, and it will be downloaded and incorporated into Microsoft Edge automatically. Edge also supports extensions from alternative stores like the Chrome Web Store, broadening the scope of available options for professional users.

Managing your Microsoft Edge extensions is straightforward. Click on the three horizontal dots found in the upper right corner of your browser, choose “Extensions,” and you will see a list of all installed extensions. Here, you can enable or disable extensions as per your requirements, modify settings, or even remove the extensions completely.

One of the significant advantages of using Microsoft Edge as a professional is its seamless integration with Office 365. If you are logged into your Office 365 account, Edge can access your Microsoft documents directly from the browser. This includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote files stored either on your device’s hard drive or in the cloud via OneDrive.

Furthermore, Edge has an Office extension that allows access to your most recently-used Office files, right from the new tab page. This boosts productivity by cutting down the time spent searching for files.

Microsoft Edge also integrates smoothly with Outlook, Microsoft’s email, and calendar platform. You’re able to log into your Outlook account directly through the Edge browser and receive desktop notifications for new emails or upcoming events in your calendar.

There’s also an Outlook.com extension for Edge, which gives quick access to your inbox, calendar, tasks, and contacts without opening a new tab or application.

Microsoft OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service, also integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Edge. Once you log into your Microsoft account via Edge, you’ll be able to access your OneDrive files directly through the browser. This includes viewing, editing, and managing your documents, photos, and files stored in the cloud.

Edge’s integration with OneDrive is particularly useful for professionals who often work with files across multiple devices, as it ensures you always have access to your most current files, no matter where you are.

The Microsoft Edge browser has integrated Bing Chat (AI-powered copilot) into its sidebar, allowing users to ask intricate questions, obtain comprehensive answers, and find inspiration without having to switch between tabs. Additionally, users can access summarized information side-by-side, streamlining the browsing experience.

Bing Chat AI integration into Microsoft Edge
Bing Chat AI integration into Microsoft Edge

Overall, Microsoft Edge’s numerous extensions and integrations with other Microsoft services make it a compelling browser choice for professionals. They enhance productivity, streamline processes, and enable a more personalized web experience.

In Conclusion

A potent blend of high performance, compelling features, robust security measures, and seamless integrations makes Microsoft Edge a remarkable web browser indeed. It equips users with an array of tools and functionalities to help optimize their online interactions, whether it’s for personal use or to boost productivity at work.

Through its transformative journey and the continuous improvements in performance, security, and user-friendliness, Microsoft Edge has reiterated its commitment to providing an optimal browsing experience. Its feature-rich design, underpinned by a high premium on privacy and security, sets a benchmark for other browsers to emulate. Additionally, its compatibility across diverse platforms further accentuates its flexibility.

While the comparison with other browsers manifests the distinctive benefits of using Edge, it’s noteworthy that individual preferences can weigh on these comparisons. Regardless of the browser preference, what remains paramount is a browser’s capability to facilitate an enjoyable, secure, and productive user experience – a calling card Microsoft Edge can confidently boast of.

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Thank you for reading my blog.

If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment.

-Charbel Nemnom-

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About the Author:
Charbel Nemnom
Charbel Nemnom is a Senior Cloud Architect with 21+ years of IT experience. As a Swiss Certified Information Security Manager (ISM), CCSP, CISM, Microsoft MVP, and MCT, he excels in optimizing mission-critical enterprise systems. His extensive practical knowledge spans complex system design, network architecture, business continuity, and cloud security, establishing him as an authoritative and trustworthy expert in the field. Charbel frequently writes about Cloud, Cybersecurity, and IT Certifications.
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