Improve laptop battery life by switching from Chrome to Firefox

The results are in (again): Chrome consumes more power than other browsers. Here's how to make the switch to Firefox.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
3 min read

Google Chrome has earned legions of fans over the years, but it has a reputation. Every so often we hear that the browser consumes more than its fair share of RAM and power, and now there's a new piece of proof.

In a video posted yesterday, Microsoft set up four identical laptops running the same streaming video in four different browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Opera. The goal: to see which laptop would run the longest. Can you guess the winner?

No contest: the PC running Microsoft Edge lasted 70 percent longer than the one running Chrome. Sure, you may want to take those results with a grain of salt, but it's not the first time Chrome has been called out for its voracious power appetite. Bottom line: if you live inside your browser, as many of us do, it may be time to consider a different one -- at least if you want the battery life you paid for.

But Edge? Microsoft's newest browser is vastly superior to Internet Explorer, but it still lacks one key ingredient: support for third-party extensions. That feature is coming later this summer, and you can even try out some Edge extensions now. But it's likely to be a long while before all your Chrome favorites are available for Edge -- if they become available at all.

And that leaves Firefox. Although Mozilla's browser lasted only about an hour longer than Chrome in the aforementioned video test, Microsoft's real-world test results showed Firefox's power consumption to be just a sliver higher than Edge's:


In real-world tests, Chrome proved power-hungry, while Edge and Firefox fared a lot better.


So while it may seem a little mean to use Microsoft's data as the lever that moves you to Firefox, I suspect most Chrome users will be happier there than with Edge. (If you're not happy about Chrome's battery-hogging ways but just can't stomach the switch, Matt Elliott shows you how to curb Chrome's appetite and make it easier to live with.)

Making the move to Firefox

If you're ready to bid Chrome goodbye, it's a fairly simple matter to move to Firefox. This will happen in a few broad strokes:

  • Import your Chrome bookmarks, browsing history and cookies.
  • Installing the Firefox versions of any extensions you had in Chrome.
  • Tweaking Firefox so it looks and acts more like Chrome.

Here's how to handle the import:

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Step 1: Install and run Firefox. Press Ctrl-Shift-B to open the Bookmark Manager.

Step 2: Click the Import and Backup menu, then choose Import Data from Another Browser.

Step 3: Choose Chrome, click Next, then select all the check boxes. A few last clicks will complete the process.

That takes care of the bookmarks and such. Alas, there's no automated way to transfer extensions from one browser to another, so you'll have to check what's installed in Chrome, then head to the Firefox add-ons library and grab their counterparts. (Obviously there's no guarantee every Chrome extension will have a Firefox equivalent, but the vast majority should.)

Finally, if you miss the look and feel of Chrome, consider grabbing the FXChrome theme for Firefox. It makes Firefox's tabs the same shape as Chrome's while adding a decidedly Chrome-like skin.