Web “Sessions” in Private Mode

I’ve written about Private Browsing Mode a lot previously, and I’ve written a bit about the behavior of “Session restore” previously, but one topic I haven’t covered is how “Sessions” work while in Private mode. Session Sharing Historically, one of the top-reported Private Mode issues was that users unexpectedly found that opening a new PrivateContinue reading “Web “Sessions” in Private Mode”

Images Keeping You Awake?

A Microsoft Edge user recently complained that her screensaver was no longer activating after the expected delay, and she thought that this might be related to her browser. It was, in a way. To troubleshoot issues where your PC’s screensaver and power-saving options aren’t working correctly, you can use the Power Config command line tool.Continue reading “Images Keeping You Awake?”

Debugging Browsers – Tools and Techniques

Last update: March 29, 2021 Earlier this year, I shared a post on how you can become an expert on web browsers from the comfort of your desk… or anywhere else you have an internet connection. In that post, I mostly covered how to search through the source, review issue reports, and find design documentation.Continue reading “Debugging Browsers – Tools and Techniques”

Local Data Encryption in Chromium

Back in February, I wrote about browser password managers and mentioned that it’s important to understand the threat model when deciding how to implement features and their security protections. Generally speaking, “keeping secrets from yourself” is a fool’s errand, so it’s a waste of time and effort to encrypt data if you have to storeContinue reading “Local Data Encryption in Chromium”

Browser Memory Limits

Web browsers are notorious for being memory hogs, but this can be a bit misleading– in most cases, the memory used by the loaded pages accounts for the majority of memory consumption. Unfortunately, some pages are not very good stewards of the system’s memory. One particularly common problem is memory leaks– a site establishes aContinue reading “Browser Memory Limits”

Web-to-App Communication: The Native Messaging API

One of the most powerful mechanisms for Web-to-App communication is to use an extension that utilizes the NativeMessaging API. The NativeMessaging API allows an extension running inside the browser to exchange messages with a native-code “Host” executable running outside of the browser sandbox. That Host executable runs with the full privileges of the current userContinue reading “Web-to-App Communication: The Native Messaging API”

Font Smoothing in Edge

Update, June 2021: See the Microsoft Edge blog post. Text rendering quality is an amazingly complicated topic, with hardware, settings, fonts, differing rendering engine philosophies, and user preferences all playing key roles. In some cases, however, almost everyone can agree that one rendering is superior to another. Consider, for instance, the text of this GizmodoContinue reading “Font Smoothing in Edge”

Managing Edge via Policy

The new Microsoft Edge offers a rich set of policies that enable IT administrators to control many aspects of its operation. You can visit edge://policy/ to see the policies in effect in your current browser: Clicking on a policy name will take you to the documentation for that policy. The Status column indicates whether theContinue reading “Managing Edge via Policy”

Beating Private Mode Blockers with an Ephemeral Profile

Back in 2018, I explained how some websites use various tricks to detect that visitors are using Private Mode browsers and force such users to log-in. The most common reason that such sites do this is that they’ve implemented a “Your first five articles are free, then you have to pay” model, and cookies orContinue reading “Beating Private Mode Blockers with an Ephemeral Profile”

Web Proxy Auto Discovery (WPAD)

Back in the mid-aughts, Adam G., a colleague on the IE team, used the email signature “IE Networking Team – Without us, you’d be browsing your hard drive.” And while I’m sure it was meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek, it’s really true– without a working network stack, web browsers aren’t nearly as useful. BackgroundContinue reading “Web Proxy Auto Discovery (WPAD)”