Essentially Internet Explorer bashed with an ugly stick. Extra features like mouse gestures and a quick startup time can’t save it from the recycle bin
Review Date: 12 Mar 2010
Reviewed By: Tim Danton
Price when reviewed: Free
Features & Design
Ease of Use
We were initially intrigued to see this web browser describe itself as “green”, but that intrigue soon dribbled away into bewilderment. In reality, the only green thing about GreenBrowser is its icon.
Perhaps that’s a little unfair. Make Safe, the Chinese software developer behind GreenBrowser, could point to the product’s modest memory requirements and the tiny download size – just 1.1MB – as being consistent with the green message. And this might be a cultural issue: green is a lucky colour in China, so it could be good fortune rather than environmentalism that the name refers to. Maybe.
One reason why GreenBrowser is such a small download is it doesn’t include its own rendering engine. As with Maxthon, the Chinese-made browser with which it shares many similarities, GreenBrowser is built around whichever version of Internet Explorer you have installed.
The small download doesn’t mean it lacks features. In fact, it’s packed with extras you may find useful compared to Internet Explorer 8. Primary among these is mouse gestures, as popularised by Firefox. For example, draw an L shape with your mouse (while holding down the right mouse button) and the tab you’re currently using will close. Hold the right mouse button down, drag it down and you’ll jump to the bottom of the page.
A number of plug-ins come pre-installed too, but frankly we had difficulty working out exactly what most of them did. Even after we installed the FindMusic plugin we were left none the wiser – its description of “Find Which Page Play Music” indicates it might highlight music-playing tabs, but we saw no sign of this in practice.
This lack of information and documentation is a problem that plagues GreenBrowser as a whole. The single-page Help file hasn’t been updated since 2006, during which time the program has been updated from version 4 to version 5, so it’s no surprise that some of the instructions don’t match what you see.
That might be defensible if GreenBrowser was easier to use, but to a typical user of Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox it will be confusing. For a start, the program doesn’t sit handily in the Windows taskbar when it’s minimised; instead, the small green “G” logo sits by default in the middle of your screen – you can drag it out of the way, but it’s counter-intuitive to go searching for the semi-transparent logo whenever you want to browse the web.
This program has other quirks too. Plugins are controlled via the “External Toolbar” drop-down list, found via the Tools menu. We eventually managed to make plugins active after playing around with the Set External Toolbar command, but it was a struggle. It’s a shame, as some of the plug-ins are quite powerful: Edit Page allows you to directly edit a page you’re viewing, which is a great aid for web developers.
We like a couple of other features too. The integrated ad blocker, while something we’re philosophically opposed to (PC Pro has to make money, you know), works extremely well. There’s also a Group feature, which lets you pre-select a host of websites and open them simultaneously: a Drinking My Morning Coffee group, for instance, could launch all the news sites you want to check as you settle into work.
Our final judgement, though, is based on one question: would we continue to use GreenBrowser over one of the big five browsers? The answer, despite those nice touches, is a simple no.
Author: Tim Danton
- Apple bans developers from selling your health data
- Intel unveils eight-core Haswell-E CPU
- Forget robot butlers: meet Fuji Xerox's robot printer
- Wing it: Google's drone delivery revealed
- Facebook testing keyword searching in old posts
- It's on: Apple announces 9 September event for the iPad, iWatch and iPhone 6... maybe
- Was JPMorgan Chase hack for politics or cash?
- Samsung unveils curvy Gear S smartwatch and Circle smart necklace
- Still on Windows XP? There's now an unofficial service pack
- Round-faced LG G Watch R teased ahead of IFA
- 20 years of PC Pro: our best covers
- Why we've closed the PC Pro forums
- How to turn off Google Location Tracking
- 20 years of PC Pro: our greatest review mistakes
- 20 years of PC Pro: our first A-List
- Wikipedia's "right to be forgotten" protest hits the wrong note
- 3D printing hits the high street for plastic selfies
- 20 years of PC Pro: What amazed us in our first issue
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?
- Best of IFA 2014: what smartphones, tablets, smartwatches are expected to launch at IFA this year?
- How to uninstall a program on Windows: remove unwanted apps from your PC
- How to format a USB drive on a Mac or Windows
- What’s the best 4G network in the UK?
- How to set up a wireless hotspot for your business: give customers free or paid for internet access
- How to download YouTube videos: save YouTube videos to your iPhone, iPad, laptop or Android device
- How to access iCloud on a PC
- Nexus 5 vs Moto G 4G (2014 model)
- Chromecast vs Roku Streaming Stick vs Apple TV: what's the best TV streaming device?
- The 8 best small tablets of 2014: what's the best compact tablet?
- How to sell more ebooks on Amazon
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office