Which Browser is Best for Online Teaching? Chrome vs Edge (Windows)

By Keith Michael Howard | Last Updated: May 22, 2021

Riddle me that, riddle me this:

What’s the #1 digital tool that we use day in, day out, everyday — even Sunday — but never really think about? It something most of us couldn’t live without yet we never notice unless our Wi-Fi gets cut off.

Drumroll, please.

The answer is an internet browser. We use them constantly and think they’ll never change.

And if you’re wondering, yes, I did just watch the new Batman movie, which is why I started with a riddle. I thought it was good in a The Crow (1994) meets Se7en (1995) kind of way. You can yell at me on twitter @kmhoward1 if you disagree. That’s what it’s there for, right?

What were we on about? Ah, yes. Chrome vs Edge. Thanks for reminding me. Cue the visuals!

statistics showing edge browser is second most popular

Source: Statcounter

Microsoft Edge is now the second most popular internet browser in the world.

According to Statista, there are about 4.95 billion internet users worldwide. Multiply that by 9.65% and we get a whopping 477,675,000 people who have switched to Edge as their main (or work) browser.

Have they all gone barking mad? Or are they in on a secret that the rest of us are not?

Well, if they have all lost their marbles then I’m one of them, so I’m going to let you in on the big secret.

Here are my top 4,000 reasons why Edge is a better browser than Chrome for those of us studying or working online.

Table of Contents:

  1. Edge uses less RAM (short-term memory) than Chrome
  2. Edge has better image search display
  3. Edge has built-in PDF annotating tools
  4. Edge has built in sleeping tabs

Reason #1: Less RAM (Short-Term Memory) Usage

Tom’s Guide (a tech review site) did a comparison in 2021 between RAM usage for Chrome, Firefox and Edge.

With 20 tabs open, Edge used 8.2% and 12.2% less RAM than Chrome and Firefox, respectively.

Is this a big deal?

Maybe.

It won’t be life or death for every teacher (depending on their device), but if you are using a machine that has more battle scars than the Millennium Falcon, then it may make a big difference.

Note: Please do not run your class with 20 tabs open! The more tabs you open, the more RAM you will use. Every tab you open on your browser with eat up a little bit more of your computer’s limited short-term memory resources. It doesn’t seem like it, but if the tabs in your browser look like a spread out deck of cards – you may be asking for trouble. And not the fun kind!

You can learn more about RAM here and about why you should limit the number of tabs you have open here.

Reason #2: Bigger, Better Image Search Display

A picture can say 1,000 words and sometimes in class it’s practical to do an image search instead of trying to explain what something is verbally.

It’s convenient, but not all image search displays are the same.

I did a search for “royalty-free images” in both Chrome and Edge. After the initial search results came up, I clicked on the same photo in both browsers.

Here’s what the image I clicked on looks like in Chrome:

image search results in chrome browser. the images are not large.

 

And here’s the same picture in Edge:

image result in edge browser. the image is very large.

 

With Edge, I do not have to zoom, the picture is already big enough for students to see clearly.

This is not a huge deal and doesn’t automatically make Edge the best browser for teaching online.

However, it cuts down on the amount of clicking around I have to do.

Speaking from my own experience: less clicking = happier online teacher.

Reason #3: Edge’s PDF Viewer has built-in annotating tools

A PDF viewer is just a PDF viewer, right?

Wrong, my friend!

Edge now has a built in drawing and highlighting tool. You don’t have to download anything.

Right click the PDF file > Open with > choose Edge browser and you’re set.

The zoom buttons are conveniently located, easy to use and the PDF itself looks crisp.

Here’s an example of what you can do by opening a PDF with Edge:

highlighted text in pdf using edge browser pdf viewer tools

With Chrome, there’s nothing built into the browser.

The only thing I can do with a PDF in Chrome is rotate it, which most students are not impressed with.

Yes, you can use an extension in Chrome to do the same thing, but I would rather not.

I use Edge’s PDF tools most often with course textbooks to:

Again, I know this is possible in Chrome but only with extensions and I do not want to start cluttering up my browser menu (or giving away my data) if I don’t have to.

You can find more info about Edge’s PDF Inking feature here.

Reason #4: Edge has built-in sleeping tabs

The sleep tab feature allows you to have open tabs, but not use them.

The Windows blog reports Edge’s sleeping tabs use 32% less memory and 37% less CPU time resulting in longer battery life.

Edge’s sleeping tabs are built-in and easy to adjust in the System setting. This means that you can leave your unused open tabs running without any adverse effects on your computer.

To activate sleeping tabs in Chrome, you’ll need another extension, and this is inconvenient for people (like me) that don’t want their browser menu cluttered.

Summary: Chrome vs Edge

  1. Edge uses less RAM (short-term memory) than Chrome
  2. Edge has better image search display
  3. Edge has built-in PDF annotating tools
  4. Edge has built in sleeping tabs

Conclusion: Edge is the best browser for online teachers (for now).

The people who built Edge had education in mind and it shows. Without having to modify the browser, a teacher can use less RAM, display larger image searches and annotate textbook PDFs.  We all know that online teaching isn’t easy, and anything that can make it 1% easier is worth a try.

Thank you for reading! Leave a comment if you have found this article to be useful. Or leave a comment about how I am wrong and shouldn’t start sentences with conjunctions! Either way, I’d love to hear your feedback (happy face).

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