Optimizing browser usage for genealogy

People often ask me which browsers I use for genealogy. For quite a few years, my go-to browsers have been Firefox, Opera, and Chrome. I use all three for genealogy. And I use them for different purposes.

Firefox is a browser that I use for viewing my family tree at ancestry.com. I check Ancestry messages and DNA matches using Firefox. And I also have tabs for my frequently used databases or web sites.


One thing I have learned using Firefox is that it helps to alter a couple of settings. Under “options” and General Settings, I first chose for Firefox to start showing the same windows and tabs from last time. I also chose for Firefox to open a new window in a new tab. This helps me with my genealogical research. I don’t have to retrace my steps or back my way out of Ancestry’s site. If there happens to be an update to Firefox, there is an option to “restore” the last session as soon as it reloads. So, all of my tabs and web sites are still there.


Opera has some wonderful tools that are useful for genealogy.


Speed dial is one of my favorite things! When you open Opera, the speed dial opens and you can keep your commonly used sites here.



You can add new pages to your speed dial. And you can change the settings to view as many tiles as you want.

If you have other hobbies or work uses, you canĀ rearrange the tiles in a way that collections of items are grouped together or groups of tiles are in a “folder.”



A folder can contain many similar items. You can arrange, rearrange, and fix folders in any way that you want.

In order to combine two items into a folder, drag one over the top of another, and a folder will appear.

In order to change the name of the folder, right click on the folder. A menu appears that will allow you to


change the name.









I use Google Chrome for many genealogical needs. The best thing about Google Chrome is the easy use and availability of Google Docs and Google Sheets and other office software. So, if you want to use a spreadsheet or document, particularly if you want to collaborate with cousins, Google docs are terrific.

chrome icon

And you can “pin” the documents to the browser, so opening and closing Chrome doesn’t disrupt what you are working on and logged into. If you right click on the tab, you can choose to pin it to the starting of the browser.


You can pin all sorts of sites to the toolbar. If you have genealogy sites that you look at often, pin them. And the other “quick use” I have found… if I am reading an email or see a link on Facebook, and I open it, I don’t have to read it right away. I can pin it, wait to read it without losing it, and then unpin it if I don’t need it anymore.


I meet many people who use Internet Explorer for everything. And it’s a good browser, but don’t limit your options. Give one of these others a try!

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