Horse Browser 🐴 - my new research companion

I’ve been playing with a new browser for the past week called Horse Browser, and it’s great! Let’s discuss!

Table of Contents

Intro

Horse browser is a relatively new, paid browser that is centred around the idea of trails. These are hierarchical representations of your behaviour online: you click on webpages because you’re on the parent page, so each new click is nested under it’s parent. It’s a fantastic way of representing you being an internet explorer, which is exactly what I try to do.

Essentially, these trails represent research rabbit holes, so I’m utterly convinced by the team’s claim that it’s the browser for research.

My Experiences of Research in Browsers

I’ve always got projects going on. You know about one already with my history project, and Réka and I are actually cooking up something very exciting that we hope to share with you later this year. Both of these things involve deep research, fun rabbit holes, and lots of clicking.

Until last week, Arc was my research companion. I’d go about my research and end up with a big list of tabs stacked in the sidebar. I’d go through them one by one, trying to remember why I opened the page. For the past 6 weeks I’ve been heavily researching a lot of things and I can’t say the tab management was bringing me joy, but I wasn’t aware of alternatives.

So when Réka mentioned she was using Horse Browser for research, and was loving the experience, of course I had to try.

How Horse browser has made this so much better

What I just described above totally disappeared because of the trails. If I’m on a webpage and I click a link, it’s nested beneath the open tab I’m reading. I can finish reading what I’m reading, open the sidebar (as I prefer to work with it closed) and see all the links I’ve been interested in, and then I can continue reading, continuing clicking, and continue researching. But I can see where I’ve been before.

I cannot tell you how grounding this is. Research rabbit holes and Wikipedia explorations are such good fun but it’s so hard to remember what path you took to get to a certain page. Now, I can just look at the trails and I get the answer.

I enjoy this greatly, and frankly that’s all the convincing I need that this browser is worth the $99 (for lifetime access) to me. I used it constantly this past weekend and it was excellent.

Three considerations

No command bar

If you’re used to the Arc command bar like I am, and you close the sidebar whilst working, you might feel some friction in Horse Browser, as I have. This is because the side bar has to be open for you to search things.

I understand this in principle if it’s about always having trails open, but I’d prefer to easily open that sidebar only when I need it. I could just get to the search bar with Cmd + L, type my search term, and press enter. I wouldn’t need to see the tab in the sidebar for this.

This isn’t a huge deal, but it is noticeable as a loyal command bar user.

No browser extensions

There are no browser extensions- and as someone who just wrote a post that is essentially born from the Raindrop browser extension, this briefly gave me cause for concern. It was only brief though because I remembered I had the Raycast extension for Raindrop. Problem solved.

But there’s also therefore no Zotero extension, and there’s no Save to Zotero x Raycast integration. Given it’s not unusual on these research rabbit holes that I save academic ~things~ to read later, this made me think too.

But from this thinking came two realisations:

  1. I should be treating academic reading in the same way I treat bookmarks - everything to Raindrop first.

  2. I’m not in a rush, research time is play! It’ll feed into my work eventually through articles like these, but I’m not writing at the time of research, that comes after.

The price

You cannot access the app without paying $99 for a lifetime license. But there is a 14 day refund period.

So this begs the question, why pay for a (young) browser when free ones exist?

  1. If the browser solves a need the free ones don’t, or don’t do well

  2. If you want to support the teams building them

  3. If you can afford to spend $99 or if you have two weeks to test and ask for a refund

I can’t answer these questions for you but I can say that I chose to try it because

  1. I could live without the £87 it came to (the fact that it’s a lifetime licence versus yearly was really interesting to me too).

  2. A 14 day refund period is long enough to test something in my world and it’s easy enough to ask for a refund via email.

  3. I’ve paid for a browser before (Wavebox, which I (still) use for work) and it was immediately worth it because it solved a need

  4. I really enjoy the team’s vibe and website. I trusted them immediately, and I’d like to support them as my money goes on apps and books these days (by choice!)

Summary

So do I recommend Horse browser? I really do. It’s fun and fresh and immediately grounding which is lovely. This is the perfect, playful environment for research. So for those of us who enjoy internet rabbit holes and note-taking more than trainers or meals out, it just might be worth checking it out 🐴 

Is it for everyone? Absolutely not. But it doesn’t have to be. So if this isn’t you, then I’d still recommend Arc browser - another excellent browser, but in very different ways.

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