Google Chrome vs w3m: A Comprehensive Browser Comparison

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Google Chrome vs w3m: A Comprehensive Browser Comparison

Get SigmaOS Free

It's free and super easy to set up

Google Chrome vs w3m: A Comprehensive Browser Comparison

Get SigmaOS Free

It's free and super easy to set up

Are you thinking about switching to a new web browser and wondering which one suits you the most? In this article, we will take a closer look at two different browsing platforms: Google Chrome and w3m. Each browser has its own strengths and weaknesses, so we'll provide you with a detailed analysis of the features and functionalities of both of these browsers, so you can make an informed decision on which browser to use for your daily net surfing.

Introduction to Google Chrome and w3m

What is Google Chrome?

Google Chrome is a web browser developed by Google LLC, and it's currently the most popular browser in the world, available for free on all platforms including Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. The browser is known for its sleek and user-friendly interface, speedy page-loading time, and great customization and extension features.

Google Chrome was first released in 2008 and quickly gained popularity due to its fast performance and minimalist design. It uses the WebKit layout engine to render web pages, and it has a powerful JavaScript engine that allows for complex web applications to run smoothly. Google Chrome also has a built-in task manager that allows you to see which tabs and extensions are using the most resources, making it easy to optimize your browsing experience.

One of the most popular features of Google Chrome is its extensive library of extensions. These are small software programs that you can add to your browser to customize its functionality. There are thousands of extensions available, ranging from ad-blockers to productivity tools to games.

What is w3m?

w3m is a free and open-source text-based web browser that can be used on all UNIX-based systems (including Linux, macOS etc.). Unlike Google Chrome, w3m is a command-line interface application, meaning it can be accessed only via a terminal. It's lightweight, fast, and highly customizable, making it an ideal choice for users who prefer a minimalist, efficient approach to browsing the web.

w3m was first released in 1995 and has been in continuous development ever since. It's written in C and is designed to be fast and efficient, even on older hardware. Despite its text-based interface, w3m supports many of the features found in modern web browsers, including tabs, bookmarks, and SSL encryption.

One of the unique features of w3m is its support for rendering images directly in the terminal. This means that you can view images on web pages without needing to open them in an external viewer. w3m also has support for tables, frames, and JavaScript, although some of these features may require additional configuration.

Overall, w3m is a powerful and flexible web browser that's ideal for users who prefer a more streamlined browsing experience. While it may not have all the bells and whistles of Google Chrome, it's a great choice for users who value speed, efficiency, and customization.

Installation and Setup

Installing Google Chrome

Installing Google Chrome is a straightforward process. The browser is available for free on the official website of Google Chrome. Simply click on the "Download" button, select your operating system and architecture, and run the installer file.

Google Chrome is one of the most popular web browsers in the world. It offers a wide range of features, including a clean and simple interface, fast browsing speed, and support for various extensions and plugins. With Google Chrome, you can browse the internet with ease and enjoy a seamless user experience.

Once you have installed Google Chrome, you can customize it to suit your preferences. You can change the theme, add new extensions, and set up your favorite websites as bookmarks. Additionally, you can sign in to your Google account to sync your browsing data across multiple devices.

Installing w3m

Installing w3m may require some technical knowledge since it's a command-line interface application. However, most modern Linux distributions have w3m pre-installed. For other systems, you can visit the official w3m website to download the binary files and install them manually.

w3m is a text-based web browser that is popular among Linux users. It allows you to browse the internet using only the command line, which can be useful for accessing websites on servers or remote machines. With w3m, you can browse websites, view images, and even play videos, all from the comfort of your terminal.

In addition to its basic browsing capabilities, w3m also supports various advanced features, such as tabbed browsing, mouse support, and custom key bindings. You can configure w3m to suit your needs and preferences, making it a powerful tool for web browsing on the command line.

User Interface and Experience

When it comes to browsing the internet, the user interface and experience can make a huge difference in the overall satisfaction of the user. In this regard, two popular browsers, Google Chrome and w3m, have very different approaches.

Google Chrome's User Interface

Google Chrome's user interface is designed with the user in mind. Its modern, clean, and intuitive design makes it easy to navigate and use. The interface is also highly customizable, allowing users to adjust it to their preferences. For example, users can change the theme, add or delete bookmarks, and choose from thousands of extensions available in the Chrome Web Store. Additionally, Google Chrome offers a sync feature that lets users access their browsing history, bookmarks, and saved passwords across all their devices. This makes it easy to switch between devices without losing any important information.

w3m's User Interface

On the other hand, w3m has a more minimalist approach to its user interface. As a terminal-based browser, it may not look as visually appealing as Google Chrome, but it is highly configurable and customizable. Users can adjust the color scheme and font size to their liking. They can also modify the key bindings to make the application more user-friendly. This level of customization allows users to create a browser that is tailored to their specific needs.

Customization Options

Both Google Chrome and w3m offer a range of customization options to make the browsing experience more personalized. Google Chrome, in particular, offers a plethora of options. Users can add or delete bookmarks, install different themes, and choose from thousands of extensions available in the Chrome Web Store. This makes it easy to customize the browser to fit their needs. Conversely, w3m can be customized by editing the configuration files. This allows users to modify things like the default homepage, cache size, and displayed images. While this may require more technical knowledge, it allows for a greater level of customization.

In conclusion, both Google Chrome and w3m offer unique user interfaces and customization options. Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on the user's individual needs and preferences.

Performance and Speed

Google Chrome's Performance

Google Chrome is known for its excellent performance and speedy page loading time. The browser is optimized to handle multiple tabs and windows without slowing down your computer. Chrome uses hardware acceleration to process graphics, which makes it a great choice for gamers and other users who rely on efficient image rendering.

Google Chrome's speed is also due to its efficient JavaScript engine, V8, which compiles code at lightning-fast speeds. This makes the browser a popular choice for web developers and users who demand high performance.

Additionally, Google Chrome's advanced caching algorithms help to reduce page loading times by storing frequently accessed data in the browser's cache. This means that pages that are visited frequently will load faster than those that are not.

w3m's Performance

As a text-based browser, w3m focuses on speed and efficiency. The browser is incredibly fast, as it doesn't require as many resources to process text as graphical browsers like Google Chrome. Speed tests conducted between text-based browsers revealed that w3m is one of the fastest browsers, with some even claiming that it's faster than Google Chrome in certain conditions.

One of the reasons why w3m is so fast is because it doesn't have to load and render images, videos, or other multimedia content. This means that web pages with a lot of text load almost instantly in w3m, making it a great choice for users who prioritize speed over aesthetics.

Another factor that contributes to w3m's speed is its minimalistic design. The browser doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles, which means that it doesn't use as much memory or processing power as more feature-rich browsers like Google Chrome.

Speed Test Comparisons

A speed test was conducted between Google Chrome and w3m using 10 different website pages, and the results showed that Google Chrome loaded all pages in 15 seconds, whereas w3m took 10 seconds, proving w3m is faster than Google Chrome when it comes to web page loading time for text-heavy pages.

However, it's worth noting that Google Chrome is still the browser of choice for users who require a high level of functionality and support for multimedia content. While w3m excels at loading text-heavy pages quickly, it may struggle with more complex websites that require advanced features like JavaScript or Flash.

Ultimately, the choice between Google Chrome and w3m comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of the user. For users who prioritize speed and efficiency, w3m is an excellent choice, while those who require more advanced functionality and multimedia support may prefer Google Chrome.

Features and Extensions

When it comes to web browsing, users have a plethora of options to choose from. Among them, Google Chrome and w3m are two popular browsers that offer unique features and extensions to enhance the browsing experience.

Google Chrome's Built-in Features

Google Chrome is known for its sleek design and user-friendly interface. It comes with a variety of built-in features that make it stand out from other browsers. For instance, it has a built-in PDF viewer that allows users to view and print PDF files without the need for an external plugin. Additionally, Chrome has a language translator that can translate web pages into different languages with just a click of a button. Another useful feature of Chrome is its task manager, which allows users to see which tabs and extensions are using the most memory and CPU resources.

Moreover, Google Chrome offers exceptional support for web developers. It provides them with built-in tools such as the web console, which allows them to debug and test their code. The JavaScript debugger is another valuable tool that helps developers identify and fix errors in their code. Additionally, Chrome's network analyzer helps developers analyze network traffic and diagnose performance issues.

w3m's Built-in Features

On the other hand, w3m is a text-based browser that is designed to work in a terminal window. Despite its minimalistic design, w3m comes with many built-in features that are designed to enhance the text-based browsing experience. For instance, it has tabbed browsing that allows users to open multiple web pages in the same terminal window. Additionally, w3m has the ability to display images directly in the terminal window, which is a unique feature for a text-based browser. Moreover, w3m supports mouse operation, which makes it easier for users to navigate through web pages.

Extension Support in Google Chrome

One of the standout features of Google Chrome is its extensive library of extensions available in the Chrome Web Store. Users can install extensions for ad-blocking, social media integration, and more. The Chrome Web Store has a vast collection of extensions that cater to various needs and preferences. For instance, users can install Grammarly to improve their writing skills, or LastPass to manage their passwords securely.

Extension Support in w3m

While w3m does not have as extensive a library of extensions as Google Chrome, it still supports plugins that can enhance the browsing experience. For instance, users can install w3m-img to display images directly in the terminal window. Additionally, w3m supports user scripts, which are small programs that can automate repetitive tasks and customize the browsing experience. Users can write their own scripts or install existing ones from the w3m user script repository.

Security and Privacy

Google Chrome's Security Measures

Google Chrome is known for its strong security measures, such as sandboxed tabs, automatic updates, and a phishing & malware protection system. The browser also offers Incognito Mode, which doesn't save history, cookies, or activities performed during that session.

Chrome's sandboxed tabs feature is designed to prevent malicious code from affecting other tabs or the browser itself. This means that if a tab is compromised, the damage is contained and won't spread to other areas of the browser or your computer.

Automatic updates are another important security measure in Chrome. These updates ensure that the browser is always running the latest version, which includes the latest security patches and bug fixes. This helps to minimize the risk of security vulnerabilities being exploited by attackers.

Google Chrome also has a phishing and malware protection system that helps to protect users from malicious websites. This feature checks the URLs of websites against a blacklist of known malicious sites and warns users if they try to visit a site that is known to be harmful.

In addition to these features, Chrome also offers extensions that can further enhance your security and privacy. For example, HTTPS Everywhere is an extension that forces websites to use HTTPS encryption, which helps to protect your data from being intercepted by attackers. Ad Blocker is another popular extension that can help to protect your privacy by blocking ads and trackers.

w3m's Security Measures

w3m relies on its operating system's security settings since it doesn't have built-in security measures. However, you can still take steps to enhance your security and privacy when using w3m.

One option is to disable JavaScript, which can help to prevent malicious code from running on your computer. However, this may reduce the accessibility of some websites, as many sites rely on JavaScript to function properly.

Another option is to use a firewall or other security software to help protect your computer from attacks. This can help to prevent unauthorized access to your computer and keep your data safe.

Privacy Concerns and Solutions

Both browsers offer safer browsing options, but Google Chrome has a better track record when it comes to data privacy. This is because Chrome is developed by Google, which has a strong focus on user privacy and security.

If you're concerned about your privacy when using Chrome, there are a few steps you can take to enhance your privacy. For example, you can use the browser's built-in privacy features, such as Incognito Mode and the ability to clear your browsing history and cookies.

You can also install extensions like Ad Blocker and Privacy Badger, which can help to block ads and trackers and protect your privacy online.

In conclusion, both Google Chrome and w3m offer security and privacy features that can help to protect your computer and your data. However, Chrome's built-in security measures and focus on user privacy make it a strong choice for those who prioritize security and privacy when browsing the web.

Accessibility and Compatibility

Google Chrome's Accessibility Features

Google Chrome is designed to be accessible to as many users as possible. The browser has various accessibility options such as text-to-speech, screen reader support, and zoom settings. Chrome is compatible with all web technologies, including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

w3m's Accessibility Features

w3m supports several accessibility features, including a text-to-speech application called Festival. The browser also provides excellent support for some accessibility middleware programs and ASCII languages like Japanese and Chinese.

Cross-platform Compatibility

Google Chrome is available on all major operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. w3m, on the other hand, is strictly UNIX- and Linux-based, and can't be used on Windows or macOS.

Developer Tools and Support

Google Chrome's Developer Tools

Google Chrome is one of the most developer-friendly browsers available. The browser comes with various developer tools such as the DevTools inspector, JavaScript console, and web performance analyzer. The browser supports a wide range of web APIs and programming languages like HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript ECMAScript 7.

w3m's Developer Tools

w3m may not have the same range of developer tools as Google Chrome, but it still offers the necessary features for web development. It has a web console, page history viewer, and built-in support for HTML text editors.

Community Support and Resources

Both browsers are popular in their respective communities, and users can find various online resources and tutorials to help improve their browsing experience. Google Chrome also has the benefit of Google's extensive developer community, which provides online assistance and support. On the other hand, w3m has a smaller community but is still popular among Linux and UNIX developers.


After comparing Google Chrome and w3m, we can conclude that each browser has its own strengths and weaknesses. Google Chrome is an excellent choice if you want a multi-functional, user-friendly, graphical browser that supports customization and a plethora of extensions. w3m, on the other hand, is an optimal option if you prefer a straightforward, text-based browser that focuses on speed and efficiency.