You don’t want to be dripping out your private information as you browse the web. The biggest browsers — from Chrome to Firefox — can help you lock away your data from prying eyes. But securing your browser may require setting up a few security-minded extensions or fiddling with privacy settings in preferences. But a browser startup is taking the setup and fiddling out of the process and offering a browser that goes all-in on guarding you and your information.
Out of the box, Brave Browser blocks trackers and third-party cookies that monitor your activity as you travel across the web. But the browser gives you control over what you do and don’t want to be blocked — from ads and cookies to Facebook and Google login buttons.
The maker of the unusual Brave browser said it understands that its strict blocking policy has a consequence for websites: You don’t see ads that help support the creation of website content. To compensate content creators, Brave takes a clever approach that allows you to make anonymous contributions to websites you visit. Publishers then receive the contributions in the form of cryptocurrencies once they opt into the system. Or, you can allow ads and tracking in Brave’s settings if you can’t be bothered. But the cost of being tracked is losing control of your privacy.
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Available for Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS, the Brave Browser is built on the same foundation as Chrome, which means Brave can use Chrome extensions. In fact, when you click ‘Find extensions and themes’ in Brave’s settings, you are taken to the Chrome Web Store to find extensions and themes for the browser.
Here’s how to set up Brave and make contributions to websites and content creators.
Control what Brave blocks
By default, Brave blocks all ads, trackers, third-party cookies (which track you across the web via social buttons on a webpage) and third-party fingerprinters (that track you by creating a unique profile of you using your browser and computer settings). You can, however, adjust how rigid Brave approaches protection.
1. From the Brave menu, click Preferences.
2. In the Settings panel on the left, click Shields.
3. Via the pop-up menus to the right of Ad control, Cookie control, and Fingerprinting protection, select the level of protection you want.
4. Click Social media blocking to control whether to allow Google and Facebook login buttons, embedded Twitter tweets and LinkedIn embedded posts.
5. If you want finer control, under Additional Settings, click Privacy and security.
6. Here, you can adjust control services the browser uses, such as a predictive service to help autocomplete searches and URLs.
Contribute to websites and content creators
Brave’s restrictive approach to ads comes at a cost: Websites don’t earn money for their work. As a way to contribute to websites you visit without being tracked, Brave developed Brave Rewards, a program that lets you earn tokens by watching Brave-selected ads which then automatically contributes the revenue in the form of cryptocurrency to websites you visit. Here’s how to join the rewards program.
1. Click the three-parallel-line hamburger menu over on the right of the toolbar and select Brave Rewards.
2. Click Yes, I’m In.
3. On the Brave Rewards page, you can set up and adjust your participation in the revenue program:
- For ads, you can adjust how many ads to view per hour.
- For auto-contributions, you can control how much to contribute each month and set a minimum threshold for time spent on a page before the site is rewarded with a contribution.
4. In addition to earning tokens through your web activities, you can add your own cryptocurrency to your account to contribute to sites.
Sync bookmarks across your phone and desktop
Brave has a syncing tool that lets you manage your bookmarks across the desktop and mobile versions of the browser. It’s in beta, and it takes fiddling to set up. But if you don’t mind tinkering, it’s a handy way to have your bookmarks in sync.
1. Click the hamburger menu over on the right of the toolbar and select Sync.
2. Click Start a new Sync Chain and then choose whether you want to sync to a mobile or desktop device.
3. If you chose Computer, you will see a string of words that Brave calls the Chain Sync Code. Go to the desktop device you want to sync with, navigate to the sync settings in Brave, click I have a Sync Code and enter the chain sync code from the first device.
4. If you chose Phone/Tablet, you will see a QR code. On your phone or tablet, navigate to the sync settings in Brave, tap the Scan Sync Code button and scan the QR code back on the first device.