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Browsers You've Never Heard Of: QupZilla

QupZilla iconThe chances are that you are reading this article in one of the five most popular web browsers: Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera or Internet Explorer. Whichever browser you're using, you've surely heard of the other four, if not tried them at least once in your surfing career.

Of course, “the big five” aren't the only browsers available – there are plenty more for different platforms, and it's great that there are, because it means that the users are given a wider choice.

Joining the ranks of lightweight web browsers like Midori, K-Meleon and Pale Moon is QupZilla – a simple, zippy browser with features that some major browsers don't even have by default.



Perhaps you're wondering why would anyone want to switch to another browser in the first place. There are many possible reasons: maybe your favorite browser suffered a redesign which killed your must-have addons, or you need a lightweight solution for an older computer. Maybe you want to test your new website in a different browser, or maybe you just want to try something new, since it's free anyway.

The reason why I tested QupZilla was, first of all, its name - and no, it's not a misspelling of Mozilla, though the names are very similar. I was intrigued by this similarity and wanted to see what it had to offer, as well as check if it was just another clone or fork of Firefox. QupZilla pleasantly surprised me because it's packed with features yet manages to stay light and fast. It's a multiplatform app, meaning that Windows and OS X users can enjoy it just as well as Linux users.

QupZilla multiplatform support


However, if you install QupZilla on any Linux distribution, you'll get the advantage of having it fit perfectly with your desktop environment, since it uses native widgets style and offers several themes to choose from.

QupZilla Start Page


Your first encounter with QupZilla won't shock you, because it looks just like any other browser. The powerful stuff is beneath the surface and accessible through menus.  Under the hood, QupZilla uses Qt Framework and QtWebKit rendering engine for a quick delivery of web content. Simply put, browser engine (or layout engine) is the part of the web browser responsible for reading and interpreting the HTML in which web pages are written. In other words, it turns the code into the web page that you see in your browser window.

QupZilla bookmarks manager


QupZilla takes pride in its one-window feature that integrates history, RSS feeds and bookmarks. The RSS reader is minimal, which is to be expected of a lightweight browser. You can import bookmarks from other browsers or from an HTML file, but unfortunately QupZilla doesn't support subfolders. If your bookmarks structure in Firefox has folders, they will be preserved in QupZilla, but subfolders will be listed at the same level as the folders that (used to) contain them.

QupZilla AdBlock settings


Another exceptional thing about QupZilla is the fact that it offers several features which other browsers can provide only through addons and extensions. The list starts with AdBlock, which comes with predefined subscriptions for you to choose from. You can also set custom filters, and if you look through the Preferences, you'll find that you can modify settings for Javascript and HTML5.

QupZilla has Flashblock by default, and download manager, cookies manager and password manager are all parts of the standard equipment. There are settings for private browsing and DoNotTrack, a user agent manager and the option to turn on desktop notifications for various events in QupZilla. Finally, there's Speed Dial – admittedly, most modern browsers have it by default as well - but it's still nice to know that you don't have to sacrifice your workflow and browsing habits once you switch to QupZilla.

If all this isn't enough for you, may I just add that QupZilla also supports extensions?

QupZilla extensions module


True, there aren't many, but it's not necessarily a bad thing since QupZilla already offers so much. For example, you can take a screenshot of a website directly from QupZilla (the option is in the File menu). If you type qupzilla:config into the address bar, you'll get a neat, informative overview of all your settings and activated extensions.

QupZilla Web Inspector tool


It would be unfair to skip the Web Inspector, which is very similar to FireBug or developer tools in Firefox and has some interesting features. Apart from the basic funcionality, such as inspecting the elements on a web page, this tools lets you measure loading times of every website you visit and can perform audits on website performance. QupZilla also provides an insight into what kind of content websites have stored on your computer and shows you where it's located.

I really like QupZilla; it strikes me as a compact and reliable bundle of great tools that should satisfy the average user. On my computer it uses only 17 MB of RAM when idle, and it proved to be more stable than Midori which is prone to random crashes. (Note that this may vary depending on your setup.) Of course, QupZilla is open-source, and if you ever need help with it, feel free to consult the wiki on GitHub.




Ivana Isadora Devcic is a freelance writer, copyeditor and translator fluent in English, Swedish, Croatian and Norwegian. She's a Linux user and KDE fan interested in web design, productivity and personal branding. Ivana tweets about the world around her as @skadinna.

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