A Guide To Internet Browsing On Steam Deck
Browsing the internet on your Steam Deck is a pretty straightforward affair. All you have to do is switch to Desktop mode, open your favourite web browser, and start surfing. That said, if the pre-installed option, Mozilla Firefox, isn't up to your liking you'll have to download and install your favorite browser yourself. You also have to add your preferred browser to Steam before being able to use a web browser in Game mode.
This guide will show you how to download and install web browsers on your Steam Deck, how to add a browser to Game mode, and what you can expect regarding using cloud services and playing browser-based games, such as poker and online casino games, on your Steam Deck. Before we show you all that stuff, let’s talk about the most popular browsers available on SteamOS.
The go-to web browser for the majority of people, Google Chrome, is readily available on SteamOS. The Linux version of the browser supports all the features you’ve gotten used to on the Windows version. In other words, Chrome on SteamOS supports extensions, themes, multiple profiles, seamless online sync between your devices, etc. Google Chrome is generally the best choice if you like playing browser-based games or spending time in online casinos playing canadian slots. It’s because Chrome is by far the most popular web browser around, no matter the platform, so most developers optimize their websites primarily for Chrome and other Chromium-based browsers.
Chromium browser is more or less an open-source version of Google Chrome. It's made by Google, and while it looks like Chrome and behaves like it, it does come with certain limitations and lacks some features found in Chrome. For example, while it does support automatic security updates, you'll have to update the browser yourself in order to get new features and other stuff that aren't part of security updates. Also, since Chromium doesn't support certain media codecs by default, including AAC, H.264, and MP3, you might find certain pages unresponsive or lacking interactive elements.
GNOME Web Browser
GNOME Web Browser is an open-source project aimed at bringing a great browsing experience from the get-go on most Linux distros. GNOME browser is available on SteamOS, and while it works fine and we didn't experience any crashes while using it, this browser's a bit slower than Chromium-based options and Firefox. Also, it does suffer from issues when loading resource-intensive pages such as YouTube's front page, issues such as slow loading of elements, bugs when trying to preview videos, etc.
Microsoft Edge is Microsoft's attempt at creating a modern web browser based on Chromium code. And we have to say that the end product works much better than expected. Edge is lightweight, feature-rich, and uses less memory on average than Google Chrome; it’s snappy and doesn't have issues with rich web pages filled with interactive elements. Edge browser supports themes and works flawlessly on SteamOS. On the other hand, Microsoft's commitment to AI may put some users away from Edge since the browser tries to make you use its AI features as soon as you open it for the first time. Another potential point of contention for many might be Microsoft Bing being the default search provider. Don't forget to switch to Google Search if Bing's not your favourite.
LibreWolf is a fork of Firefox that focuses on online privacy. This means that LibreWolf comes with a built-in ad blocker as well as other privacy-focused features that block trackers and other ways companies use to collect your browsing data. The Enhanced Tracking Protection feature that blocks third parties from collecting user data is enabled by default. In day-to-day usage, LibreWolf is as good as Firefox. It's pretty fast and doesn't have issues with showing rich pages filled with dynamic elements. Since it’s a fork of Firefox, LibreWolf supports virtually every add-on available for Firefox as well as themes and other features found in Mozilla’s web browser. Do note that LibreWolf uses DuckDuckGo search instead of Google Search by default.
Brave browser is based on Chromium, and it offers a privacy-focused option for users who prefer Chrome look and feel but don't want their every online step being recorded by Google. Brave browser includes ad and tracker blockers by default. Brave also focuses on Web3 and crypto-related privacy, allowing you to access your crypto assets quickly and securely via its Brave Wallet feature. The Linux version of Brave works wonderfully on the Steam Deck, and we didn't find any issues during our testing. And while we haven't experienced any issues we found lots of user reports regarding various instabilities –sites not working, random crashes, unsatisfactory performance, etc– so your mileage may vary.
Midori Web Browser
Midori browser is a lightweight web browsing solution for Linux, and while the browser's light on resources, it's thin when it comes to features. It doesn't support themes and add-ons, but at least you've got an ad blocker installed by default. The performance of the Midori browser is serviceable but far from impressive. We've found that Midori took more time to fully open webpages rich with ads and other interactive elements compared to Firefox and Chromium-based browsers. Overall, while fine for light web surfing, we recommend you get some other browser from this list for your Steam Deck instead. Note that a number of other browsers, including Opera, are also available on SteamOS. And while you can go to their respective homepages and manually download them, we recommend using SteamOS' Discover store.
Here's how to use the Discover Store to install web browsers.
How to Install Web Browsers on Your Steam Deck
The Discover store is a well-designed and easy-to-navigate frontend for a software repository that includes a ton of different Linux software, and web browsers included. It's great for casual Steam Deck owners because it supports automatic updates and is very simple to use. To browse and install web browsers on the store, you need to go to Desktop mode first. To do this, press the Steam button, click on the "Power" tab, and then select the "Switch to Desktop" option.
Once you're in Desktop mode, click on the Discover store's icon and then click the "Internet" tab. Once you open the "Internet" tab, you'll find a sub-menu that includes the "Web Browsers" tab. Click on that tab to see every web browser available on the Discover store.
To install a browser, just select the web browser you want to install and click the "Install" button. After the browser's finished installing, you can find it by clicking on the Application Launcher button and then opening the "Internet" tab. From there, you can add browsers to favourites, copy shortcuts to your desktop, or add quick launch icons to the taskbar.
How to Add and Use Web Browsers in Game Mode on Your Steam Deck
The good news is that you don't have to switch to Desktop mode each time you want to use a web browser. Instead, you can add a browser to Steam and use it in Game mode.
To add a browser to Steam, open Steam in Desktop mode, click the "Games" tab, and then click on the "Add a Non-Steam Game to my Library" button.
You'll be shown a list of apps installed on your Steam Deck. Every browser you have installed on your Steam Deck should be found on the list. To add a browser, simply select it and then click the "Add Selected Programs" button.
After you add a browser to Steam, switch back to Game mode, run the browser like you'd run a game, and that's it! Note that you can also have a browser opened while in-game. To switch from the game you're playing to the browser, press the Steam button and then click the "Home" tab. Once on the home page, enter the browser. Now you can switch between the game and the browser by clicking the Steam button and then switching between the game and browser tabs.
Playing Browser-Based Games on Your Steam Deck?
We haven't encountered any issues during our testing, which included using different online services and playing browser-based games. The general rule of thumb is that the browser you're using on your main PC to access cloud services and play browser-based games should also work fine on your Steam Deck.
Stuff like online casinos and poker games, as well as services such as Gmail, Dropbox, or ChatGPT, work great on a variety of browsers available on Steam Deck. That said, we recommend switching to Chrome if you encounter issues while using your favourite browser since most websites, online-based services, and games are primarily optimized for Google Chrome.