Innovative Web Browser Arc Reaches 1.0 Release

Originally published at: Innovative Web Browser Arc Reaches 1.0 Release - TidBITS

The new Web browser Arc has left its beta releases and waitlist behind. If you’re unhappy with your browser or perform significant work in a collection of websites every day, Adam Engst recommends you try Arc.

For me, Arc is the VIM of browsers. It’s probably the best but there seems (perhaps unfairly) to be a chasm of time and frustration between starting to use it and actually being proficient. Alas, I’ll try this again I guess.

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Echoing @ace ’s experiences with Arc. I’m not sure it presents a “learning curve” as much as a conceptual challenge. Once I got my head around tabs being in a space and spaces being presented in a sidebar, it became clear.

I tend to approach tools like this in a granular way, so I’ve got over 10 Spaces set up, which is way too many. My next project is to reorganize into fewer Spaces, making better use of folders to differentiate among projects within a space. Arc has two helpful aids to that: moving tabs directly from one Space to another with minimum effort, and the pop up previews that appear when you hover over a folder.

I’ve barely launches Safari for the past 2 months, and feel like I’m in control of what I’m doing with my browser tasks. It may be a Chrome-based browser but to me the multiplicity of ways to accomplish a task and the ease with which the interface explains itself feels very Mac-like.

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Matt - I probably have that many Spaces too. While I recognize it’s too many I’m not sure what to do about it yet. I actually find the dot on the bottom to select a space kind of useless.

I separated clients into their own spaces. This works great as multiple clients use gmail and the same banks.

Then I made my own and I made each space into things like financial, medical, forums. Now seeing your post I wonder if I should combine mine and add folders. (I just did folders for a client this week as they had so many links I use weekly)

I’ve had a few instances where links (tabs) have disappeared and I’ve also had a few instances where the tab just doesn’t have the link I need. I think this happens more when I don’t log out of something so it’s not sitting at the login link.

I do like the sidebar!


I haven’t had tabs disappear, though sometimes I’ve forgotten to pin them in a space. Unpinned tabs are designed to “disappear” after a user-set time (I think the default is 24 hours), but what really happens to them is they go to the Archive pile. I think Adam said he hasn’t had a need to go there, and I’ve only looked at it a couple of times…same way I only occasionally look at the browsing history on Safari. Tabs that are no longer in a space should be there, but they’ll sink down like organic objects on the ocean floor.

Our experiences sound similar. I embraced the concept of exploring a UI organically with the first Macs, and can recall just a few applications since then where I’ve taken the time to read the manual. Arc reveals itself pretty well, but there have been specific instances like pinning where I’ve had to look at the online docs. I needed to do that to get my head around how Arc uses tabs, pinning, and spaces in general. Even though I’m impatient with videos because they’re linear and present stuff I already know, I have sat through a couple of them.

Yes initially I lost some because I didn’t pin them, but others I know were pinned as I’d used them in the list! I’m sure it’s user error.

I found that setting up Arc on one screen with Adam’s initial article on the other was very helpful. Then I’d google things I was stuck on.

I also get frustrated with the videos as they take way longer to get through than reading a summary would. I can read something in a minute and instead am stuck with an 8 minute video. I wish they’d include a written summary.

At some point I’ll work on the dashboard concept.


Instead of clicking somewhere on the tab, click the symbol at the left on the tab. This will reset the tab back to the link you saved.
But I confess sometimes this has not worked as expected. I am not sure if it is a bug, or me who has saved the wrong link somehow…

I’m going to go with bug. It’s happened to me just this week with a bank. It’s not the bank name as you’d expect so I am always careful to bookmark it correctly and I know it was correct in Arc as I was using it last week. Monday I had to dig it out of an email and relink it.

Just last week I figured out how to “close” the pages which has helped with some of these issues.


I agree that 10 feels like too many. I’m very happy with my four spaces, because it’s easy to switch between them using keyboard shortcuts (Command-Option-left/right arrows, though I’m not entirely sure if those are defaults or things I set up) or by two-finger swipes when I’m using the MacBook Air and its trackpad.

I think so. Folders are key for storing related sites that are still contextually within your personal sphere.

One way to think about Spaces is that (I believe) your pinned tabs and folders should generally fit in the vertical space provided by the sidebar when all the folders are closed. In other words, you should be able to see all the options in a Space without difficulty. If you can’t, it’s time either to make more folders or another Space.

The only time I’ve had a pinned tab hold the wrong link was when I made it from the wrong starting point. In that case, the solution is to Control-click it and choose Pinned URL > Replaced Pinned URL with Current.

I have lost my custom names for pinned tabs on occasion, but one release note claims that’s fixed now. I’m not entirely sure I agree, but can’t prove it just yet.

An additional thought on the “correct” number of Spaces…

Having the ability to create so many feeds into my general tendency to compartmentalize my life into different, very particular domains. It’s the same issue I’ve had to confront with the “Getting Things Done” model, and in particular the Things app: I’d set up so many “Areas” that I’d end up feeling frozen and unable to decide which area a project belonged to—kind of the opposite of the concept.

I’ve taken steps today to pare down my Spaces, and am delighting in the flexibility that Arc provides through instantly changing a Space into a Folder (and requiring a destination Space for it), or a Folder into a Space.

What I have is definitely too many. But I don’t think putting clients into folders (what I had with Safari etc) is going to keep their logins separate? I have 3 clients that use the same bank, 2 clients that use gmail, two that use the same insurance company, they all use the same utility companies (and so do I!). With each client in a space I no longer have to scroll to find the right login.

I guess the question is - do folders keep info separate the way spaces do? Or do they simply organize the links?

With my personal spaces I really wanted to keep my shopping info separate as well because I use extensions (honey and rakuten) and they are really annoying when they pop up in regular browsing.


Oh! I am also a Things user though I haven’t upgraded it in years due to cost. Same here - but for some of my projects it would be the same on paper and I have to say it’s easier to find things in Things!

Are you also a tabaholic? I was/am hoping Arc can help corral my tab-abundance tendency.


In short, yes. For years, I’ve read the New York Times and Washington Post by digital subscription. My pattern is to CMD-click links I’m interested in to open new tabs while I’m scanning the home page, then read each story in its tab and close the tab when I’ve finished that story. I could have 15 tabs open for that purpose, and it came sort-of close to the analog experience of “reading the paper.”

I also had some bookmarks in the Bookmarks Bar set up to open entire folders of tabs; one way I’d use that with the Times was with a folder for the landing pages I was interested in. One click and they’d all open up in tabs.

One of the big concepts with Arc is that a Space can resemble those open tabs. So with a Space set up for media reading, I can have them right there, can open temporary tabs (links), and know it will all be cleaned up for me by the next day. Functionally it feels like a huge improvement on the opening-multiple-tabs model.

So, I have not even begun to explore the other big concept in Arc—Profiles. It looks like you could set up, say, a “Personal Profile” where your shopping info and other personal stuff lives in Spaces, and a “Client Profile” where all your client spaces reside.

All said without any personal experience…yet. But that might be worth looking into. It’s not as prominent in the Arc UI, but it seems to be there.

I did setup a couple of Profiles after stumbling across a video about them. But I am not (yet) sure I can do a “Client” profile because I think it share things across the spaces/tabs.

I could see setting up a “Client ABC” Profile because that client has multiple entities, but at this time I don’t need to separate those entities.

I need to play with that more - and look for an article so I don’t have to watch the video again.


Just to clarify, when you say it’s free to download does that mean it’s also free to use? What is their monetization method?

According to Crunchbase, it appears that they’re currently living off of VC funding.

If they operate like other browsers they will make money from search-engine royalties. Basically a kickback for sending your searches via some kind of affiliate link or cookie.

According to a Reddit post from last year, they are planning a freemium model, where enterprise customers can pay for more advanced features.


Have tried it and like it, but find I don’t really use it (yet). Since I had memory problems with Safari (and Firefox to some extent), I realised I needed to handle tabs in a new way, but Arc is not very helpful here. My thinking now is that links should be handled from a plain text document or from notes in Apple Notes (or something better: plain text notes that could be synced with icloud across devices, but I have yet to find that app …). I found that the only browsers that can open that can open two links at once in separate tabs are Safari and Firefox, but Firefox is useless in handling tabs compared to Safari. Still I like Brave though as it works better (due to Chromium) with some websites, but could have used Arc for those pages too. Safari still comes across as working best most of the time. (I didn’t quite like Orion – reinstalled it to test the tabbing. Opera is falling out of favour and both Orion and Opera feels a bit shady these days … . Vivaldi comes across as a better browser. Use a discontinued Maiar browser only for Google Maps. Firefox cannot be escaped if one use Facebook as it is the only browser that has a plugin that makes FB usable. Discontinued Tweaks for Twitter makes Safari necessary, but Twitter stinks and consumes too much RAM. Google services I mostly send to Opera … . UniFi equipment needs the f*cking Chrome browser. etc.)

Maybe I’ll give it a try again. I currently keep two browsers open all the time: Chrome and Firefox. Chrome is what I use for most of my work. FireFox I use for certain set tasks involving servers. Safari I rarely open. But it works best with Hulu over VPN from Japan.

I’d really like something where my tab groups can be managed better (i.e. I can open them all again whenever I need to). Is Arc good for that?

How about screen captures?

I wonder why I need another browser actually.

Tried Arc and can’t think of any good reason to spend the time required to learn how to use it efficiently. Safari suffices for my needs.