Chrome Canary: What It Is (and Who Needs It)

Want to experiment? This might be the browser for you

Chrome Canary is Google's cutting edge web browser aimed at developers, experienced techies, and browser enthusiasts. If you enjoy experimenting with new web browsers, then it might be for you.

What Is Chrome Canary?

Canary is an experimental version of the popular Chrome browser. Google offers four release channels for its browser: Stable, Beta, Dev, and Canary. Most people use the Stable release of the popular browser, which is rigorously tested and considered very reliable.

By contrast, Canary may appeal to people who like noodling around with new technology and want to get an advance look at what the standard browser may look like in the future.

Canary is a raw and unfinished browser compared to its Dev, Beta, and Stable cousins. As a result, the browsing experience in Canary could be a bit bumpy compared to what you're used to in a typical web browser. Bugs could crop up, features you like could suddenly disappear without warning, and the browser itself could bomb out on you unexpectedly. In short, this browser is a work in progress. It gets new updates and features almost every day, and although they're hot off the press, they are not guaranteed to be stable.

You might find the Canary build intriguing if you want early access to experimental features before the general public, but you shouldn't rely on it as your primary browser – in fact, you cannot set it as your default browser. It's fine to use as a secondary browser if you like, though, and you don't have to worry about any odd behavior affecting your browsing experience in the standard Google browser.

Chrome Canary download page

Who Uses Chrome Canary

Canary is not intended for web users who are uncomfortable with technology. As Google cautions, "Be forewarned: it's designed for developers and early adopters, and can sometimes break down completely." Techies refer to this type of web browser as bleeding-edge technology, meaning it might not be ready for prime time and could even be unstable or unreliable. So if the idea of a browser crash stresses you out, this wild bird is not for you.

If you don't mind occasional glitches or bumpy sailing, though, you might find it worth checking out. As the name implies, Canary gives Google engineers an early warning about bugs or glitches that could eventually become a problem if left unaddressed – just like a canary in a coal mine. With the benefit of this feedback, Google is able to speed up the development cycle and get cool new features out to the public faster than it otherwise could.

How to Get Canary

If you're curious (or just feel like living on the edge) and want to try this browser for yourself, you can use it on the following platforms: Windows 64-bit, Windows 32-bit, Mac OSX, and Android. Google keeps an up-to-date list of its Chrome release channels where you can get more detailed information about Canary's availability and find the appropriate download links. You'll notice that this browser's icon looks similar to regular Chrome but is gold in color, making it easier to tell the two versions apart.

Chrome Canary settings

You can sign in to Canary with your Google account in order to access the bookmarks, browsing history, passwords, and settings that you might have already configured in the regular version of the browser.

If you prefer to be cautious, you may not want to sync Canary with your Google account on the off chance that a bug could affect your settings and sync those changes to your Google account, later reflecting them in the standard version of the app. You can configure multiple user profiles in Canary, however. That way, you can set up a sandbox where you can play with the experimental browser's cool new features without having to worry about what happens if you encounter a glitch.

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