Many of us use a web browser multiple times a day. Yet, we may not be taking advantage of the features and settings that can enhance our privacy and security. Today's browsers typically update themselves automatically, so you may not be aware of changes. Taking time to check their settings and options will allow you better control over your browsing.

Browsers provide many options that can make them work better for you.

One of the most overlooked features is the helpful information that the address bar provides about a website. For example, the padlock icon indicates that communication between the browser and web server is encrypted but it does not mean that the website is legitimate. Clicking on the padlock or similar icon provides more information about the site such as trackers, cookies, and permissions and allows you to configure settings for the site. This is a quick way to customize what information a site can collect from you.

How to Get to the Settings

For many browsers, the link to get to the settings is found on the right at the top or bottom depending on the device. What the settings are called varies; terms include options, settings, preferences, and tools. General settings allow you to configure the browser to work best for you and allow you to choose what actions the browser should take if you haven't defined them for a specific site. Scroll through all of the choices, including any advanced settings, and select your preferences.

Many of us are concerned about the information websites collect and how we are tracked over the internet. A browser's privacy and security settings can help. More browsers are becoming privacy conscious and turning privacy features on by default. Make sure that you review these settings.

While Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and Edge are some of the most well known browsers, many others are available. The following represent just a small selection of available browsers as well as some interesting features.

  • Epic browser (Windows and Mac) is based on the open-source Chromium platform but with significant changes. It is committed to your privacy. It blocks ads, tracking scripts, social media tracking buttons, and tracking cookies. With its emphasis on privacy, you may not find some of the features you are familiar with such as spell-check and auto-fill.

  • Brave (desktop and mobile) is also based on Chromium. It has a built-in ad blocker, tracking protection, script blocker, and other useful tools. The opt-in Brave Rewards is an interesting twist, allowing users to support sites or get compensated for viewing Brave Ads (which respect your privacy).

  • Vivaldi (Windows, Mac, Linux) is a highly customizable browser, allowing users to customize its interface and functionality including privacy settings.

  • Avast (desktop and mobile) is also based on Chromium but has more security and privacy features that are enabled by default. It has a built-in VPN, Bank Mode, password manager and other useful tools.

  • DuckDuckGo has an app for mobile devices. DuckDuckGo doesn't track you or save your searches. It can also be selected as the default search engine in desktop browsers.

  • Facebook Container is extension for Firefox that prevents Facebook from tracking you through third party cookies outside of the Facebook website.

Browsers provide many options that can make them work better for you. You aren't limited to just one browser. Do your research and try another browser or two. You may find one you like better.