Can you use a Chromebook without Google Chrome? Best Chrome browser alternatives

When Chrome OS first arrived, it was nothing more than a browser in a box. More specifically, Google Chrome in a box. The OS was designed for people who lived in Google’s browser. In many ways, that’s still true, but over the last few years, with features such as Linux and Android support, Google has expanded that box’s dimensions to offer users more flexibility and choices into how they operate their Chromebooks. 

But does this shift in direction apply to Google Chrome itself?  Can you work on a Chromebook without relying on its namesake browser? 

Opera taking on Google on its own turf

Browser maker Opera surely thinks Chromebook users are ready to move beyond Google Chrome. A few weeks ago, it released what it calls “the world’s first alternative browser optimized for Chromebooks.” 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Opera has reengineered its Android app to add a suite of desktop functions. On Chromebooks, it now automatically loads desktop versions of sites, launches directly in a full-screen mode instead of a narrow mobile layout, and supports a bunch of keyboard gestures like “Ctrl + T” for opening a new tab. 

In addition, Opera’s so-called Chromebook client offers all the trappings its browser is known for. It comes bundled with a free VPN service and can cleverly deny all those GDPR-related cookie dialogues for you. Plus, you can pin shortcuts to web apps of messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger right on the sidebar.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

On the surface, Opera stands out with its set of unique tools and, since it is based on its Android counterpart, it also responds better to touch inputs than Google Chrome. But its Android architecture is also a double-edged sword, and it begins to show its cracks against proper desktop software once you fire up your usual web workflow on it. 

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