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?

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

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

Chrome Canary is a raw and unfinished browser compared to its Dev, Beta, and Stable cousins. As a result, the browsing experience in Chrome 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, Chrome Canary 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 Chrome Canary intriguing if you want early access to experimental Chrome features before the general public, but you shouldn't rely on Chrome Canary as your primary browser – in fact, you cannot set it as your default browser. It's fine to use Chrome Canary as a secondary browser if you like, though, and you don't have to worry about any odd behavior in Chrome Canary affecting your browsing experience in the standard Chrome browser.

Chrome Canary download page

Who Uses Chrome Canary

Chrome 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, Chrome Canary is not for you.

If you don't mind occasional glitches or bumpy sailing, though, you might find Chrome Canary worth checking out. As the name implies, Canary gives Chrome 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 for Chrome and get cool new features out to the public faster than it otherwise could.

How to Get Chrome Canary

If you're curious (or just feel like living on the edge) and want to try Chrome Canary 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 Chrome Canary download links. You'll notice that Chrome Canary'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 into Chrome 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 Chrome.

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