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Productivity Tool: Abandon Chrome and Embrace the Sidekick Browser

[Productivity Tool] Abandon Chrome and Embrace the Sidekick Browser

Introduction and review of Sidekick browser features

Preface

I learned about the Sidekick browser from a colleague’s sharing; to be honest, I didn’t have high expectations at first. Over the past few years, I’ve had thoughts of abandoning Chrome, trying out Safari, the beta version of Safari, Firefox, Opera, and third-party browsers developed based on open-source cores, but I failed repeatedly. Almost every time, I would reinstall Chrome within a few days. Another reason is that I haven’t been actively following the browser market, so there might already be a browser that meets my needs, but I just don’t know about it.

Reasons for Failure

The main reason is that the extensions I frequently use are not fully supported. I’m too dependent on and accustomed to Chrome’s extensions. Even if the Chromium core can support them seamlessly, the functionality doesn’t stand out, and the experience is almost the same as using Google Chrome.

My Requirements

  • Chromium core, to support the extensions I frequently use
  • More unique features to help improve productivity
  • Support for MacOS; I usually use Safari on iOS, so cross-device support is not required
  • Excellent memory management
  • Enhanced privacy and anti-tracking
  • Seamless transition features

Regarding productivity features, Chrome extensions offer millions of tools that can be used. By searching and combining them, you can achieve the desired effect. However, we haven’t conducted any research or surveys, so we are not sure which processes and features are beneficial for productivity.

About Sidekick

  • Development Team: Sidekick startup team founded in 2020/11 @ San Francisco / Fundraising
  • Browser Core: Chromium
  • Current Stage: Early access
  • Core Value: A browser optimized for workflow to enhance productivity
  • Supported Platforms: Windows, Mac OS, Mac OS (M1), Linux (deb), Linux (rpm)
  • Extensions: Supports all Chrome Store extensions (bitwarden, lastpass, 1password, grammarly, google translate…)
  • Official Website: www.meetsidekick.com

Download and Use Immediately

The first thing you see is the Sidekick introduction page. Click “Continue” at the top to proceed.

Use Google, Microsoft, or directly create a Sidekick account; this account is for Sidekick services and is unrelated to Google or Microsoft.

⬇️⬇️⬇️ If you are switching from Chrome to Sidekick, please read this section before creating an account ⬇️⬇️⬇️

Unlike Chrome, where the installed login account is directly bound and synced with the Google account’s browser data; you will find that after logging into the Sidekick account, no data is imported. The reason is that Google currently blocks all third-party services from accessing sync functions, so Sidekick cannot sync or import data directly through the account.

Personnel data section cannot sync Google account information

Personnel data section cannot sync Google account information

Sidekick sync settings, only pitiful search terms sync

Sidekick sync settings, only pitiful search terms sync

How to import Chrome data?

The official method is very roundabout, but it’s the only way for now.

If you are already a Chrome user, you can skip steps 1-3.

  1. Download & install Chrome
  2. Log in to Chrome
  3. Complete the sync of browser data from your Google account to Chrome
  4. Completely close Chrome ( ! Important ! MacOS users please ensure there are no small dots under the Chrome icon in the Dock)
  5. Continue with the previous step of creating an account
  6. After creating the account for the first time, it will ask you from which browser to import data
  7. Choose Chrome
  8. Wait for the import to complete

After the import is complete, all bookmarks, browsing history, saved passwords, logged-in website sessions, and extensions will be seamlessly transferred to Sidekick; only a few services need to be re-logged in, the rest do not, making it a painless transfer!

There is a small issue here, if you are not creating a new account (e.g., reinstalling), only bookmarks, browsing history, and saved passwords can be imported; extensions cannot be automatically imported, check the official Q&A for instructions to reinstall from the Chrome extension/app store.

Sync issues?

Since Google blocks third-party access to cloud data, how to solve the problem of bookmark sync across devices?

Sidekick will soon release Sidekick Sync to solve this problem.

This article uses my personal computer, not for office use; so it includes some social and entertainment websites, please understand.

Key Features

Seamless Transfer

As mentioned in the installation steps, after the first installation and account login, you can seamlessly transfer all bookmarks, browsing history, saved passwords, logged-in website sessions, and extensions from existing Safari, Chrome, or Edge.

Logged-in website sessions and extensions provide the best experience. Previously, browsers only transferred bookmarks, requiring re-login to all websites and reinstallation of all extensions, which is very time-consuming.

Powerful Homepage Features

Unlike Chrome’s monotonous homepage and without the need to find a homepage solution, Sidekick comes with a beautiful and convenient homepage feature.

  • The search box can search browsing history and bookmarks, and if there are no search results, it automatically becomes a Google search
  • The top left displays anti-tracking, memory management, and ad-blocking status in a data-driven manner
  • Displays today’s date and current time
  • The top is called Tab, and the top left of the sidebar is called Application
  • The homepage background image can be customized or automatically display scenic images

Application Feature

Not just a quick entry to websites, it works similarly to MacOS’s Dock. When an Application website is activated, it will stay resident in the browser (with a small dot on the left) while managing memory efficiently. If the website has notifications, it will mark them with a number.

Applications can be quickly added from the homepage, or you can create them from the Tab or manually enter the URL and ICON image to add them.

Sidekick has built-in hundreds of productivity tool websites that can be quickly added to Applications.

If the Application added from the homepage does not appear in the left sidebar, you can drag it over manually.

Right-clicking on an Application allows you to quickly view recent browsing, and it also supports multi-account switching.

Not many websites support multi-account switching. If not supported, you can use Private Mode (Incognito Mode); currently tested Slack and Notion are supported.

  • The left Application and the top Tab do not affect each other. The Application section is independent and will not appear in the top Tab.

Each app can be individually configured, such as turning off notifications, turning off badges, etc.

Window Splitting Feature

Although MacOS comes with a window splitting feature, I rarely use it; unless I want to fully enter a focused state, most of the time I need to compare web content + use other MacOS apps simultaneously. In this case, the browser’s window splitting feature is very useful!

For example, you can take online classes and take notes at the same time.

The size of the middle divider can be freely dragged and adjusted.

To use it, just click the split window button in the upper right corner of the browser, select the window to add to the left, and click again to close the split.

Spotlight Feature

Similar to MacOS’s Spotlight, you can press “Option” + “f” to search the entire browser in any window.

  • You can use “Option” + “z” or “Control” + “tab” for quick tab switching
  • “Option” + “1–9” to quickly switch to tabs 1~9

Tab Saver (Save Sessions) Feature

Similar to the popular Tab Saver extension on Chrome, it can quickly save the currently open tab pages and switch between them, making it convenient to manage different work states.

Click the “F” (First Session) in the lower left corner to enter the session management page.

Click “Add new session” at the top to save the current tab state and open a new clean browsing environment.

You can switch between sessions, click “Activate” to restore the tabs.

Sessions will not affect the applications activated on the left.

  • You can use the shortcut “Option” + “W” for quick session switching
  • “Option” + “⬆️” + “W” for session management

Excellent Application Notification Feature

From now on, as long as there is a web version of the communication service, you can directly use the Sidekick application without installing a computer application; as mentioned earlier, the application’s notification feature is just like a computer application, instant and complete.

  • Remember to authorize Sidekick to send desktop notifications; this way, web notifications will pop up on the desktop.

Note-Taking Feature

Built-in integration with Google Keep cloud note-taking feature, click the document icon in the lower left to quickly open Google Keep for note-taking.

Google Keep is stored in the cloud Google account, supporting cross-platform and cross-device note synchronization and access.

You can use this feature to quickly record things.

Not sure if it will be changed to Sidekick Sync in the future, as this would allow for optimized integration.

  • You can use the shortcut “Option” + “N” for quick session switching

Built-in Anti-Tracking, Ad Blocking, and Memory Management Features

With the wave of privacy concerns, major companies are gradually paying more attention to user privacy, with Apple being the main leader. The new version of Safari also starts to include privacy protection features; however, as the biggest beneficiary of privacy information, Google Ads, it is unlikely to see changes in Google Chrome.

Chromium != Chrome, Chromium is the open-source project of the browser technology core.

Although Chromium is also led by Google, its open-source nature allows any developer to optimize based on this core; Sidekick also uses this method to optimize on the Chromium base, retaining Chrome’s features while enhancing the functions Chrome lacks.

Details

More features await your exploration and experience!

Pricing

“It is a sin for a business not to make money (If you don’t make money, it is a sin against society because we take society’s funds and talents. Without sufficient surplus, we are wasting society’s precious resources, which could be used more effectively elsewhere.)” - Panasonic Founder — Konosuke Matsushita (Text referenced from Business Thinking Academy)

A good product needs a good cash flow to provide better services and to last longer; here are the charges for Sidekick:

For personal use, the free plan is more than enough, but if you have the means, why not support the development team!

  • Currently, users who join are under the Early access plan, which seems unaffected by the Free plan (I have more than 5 Sidebar apps and it’s fine).
  • Now there’s a plan to invite 10 users for 6 months Pro / invite 20 users for lifetime Pro; so friends who like this article can download and install through the link in the article to support me and Sidekick!

Usage Summary

After using it for a while, due to the painless transition, I have completely abandoned Chrome. There’s nothing that I must go back to Chrome for. The best feature is the Applications on the left side, where you can add frequently used work websites for quick switching and getting the latest notifications.

In the past, I would get lost in the chaotic tabs or could only use Pin Tab to pin important work services at the front; but switching was still painful, having to search for them.

Now, when I need to do a Code Review, I just click on Github; when I need to submit an App for review, I click on App Store Connect; when I need to check a project, I click on Asana. It makes work very efficient.

Regarding memory management, I haven’t done any specific research or testing; not sure about the optimization effect, but having it is better than not.

The only concern is that this product is still too new, and it’s uncertain how far it can go; if it stops development and maintenance due to poor management, it would be a great pity! So please promote and support it vigorously!

Further Reading

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me.

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本文中文版本

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This article was first published in Traditional Chinese on Medium ➡️ View Here


This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.

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