Living on the (New) Edge: What Syncs, What Doesn’t

Posted on April 9, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Edge, Windows 10 with 8 Comments

Even though many are impressed with the first pre-release versions of the new Microsoft Edge, there are still important some functional gaps. Key among them is sync.

In the first article in this series, Living on the (New) Edge: Getting Started, I explained how the new Edge configures sync automatically through your Microsoft account (MSA) if you sign-in to Windows 10 with that account. This is in keeping with how classic Edge works today, but the new Edge goes a step further by allowing those who do not sign-in this way to manually sign-in to the application as well.

And that’s where we run into our first sync limitation: Today, you can only sync new Edge-related data via an MSA. Azure Active Directory (AAD)-based work and school accounts are not currently supported. They will be, of course. But we’re still very early in the pre-release testing cycle, so this support is not yet enabled.

What gets synced is the second major limitation. If you look at Sync settings (Settings and more > Settings > Profiles > Sync), you’ll see that the new Edge will eventually sync Favorites (what all other browsers call bookmarks), extensions, browsing history, settings, open tabs, personal data for form-fill (addresses, phone numbers, payment information, etc.), and passwords between your devices.

Today, however, with the initial pre-release versions of the new Edge, only Favorites sync is available. So all you can configure is whether to enable sync at all, and whether to sync your Favorites between your Edge-based PCs and mobile devices.

Practically speaking, this is a minor issue: You can import the data from other browsers—including classic Edge, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and others—at any time, a process that is essentially a one-way, one-time sync. And that’s how you can get other data, like your passwords, into each install of new Edge if you use multiple PCs. If something changes—you add a new web account and password, perhaps—you can always re-import the data.

To do so, navigate to Settings > Profiles > Import browser data.

Here, you can choose which browser to import data from and which data you’d like to sync. If you only want to get your passwords moved over, for example, just select “Saved passwords.” (And don’t worry about that yellow bang: It simply indicates that newly imported passwords will overwrite any duplicates.)

Finally, there is a third limitation to sync. The new Edge can’t yet sync to mobile. So if you’re using Edge mobile on Android or iOS, you won’t be synced up. However, Edge mobile does sync with classic Edge at the moment. So those who import data from classic Edge to new Edge should be as synced up as is currently possible.

Over time, sync will improve and you will be able to take advantage of unique Microsoft platform features like Windows Timeline and mobile. But even with the limited sync capabilities in today’s new Edge, you should be able to get a fully-functional version of the new browser on any computer. And while you won’t have some of the niceties of true cross-device sync, not yet, this should be enough for most users, especially for the time being.

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Comments (8)

8 responses to “Living on the (New) Edge: What Syncs, What Doesn’t”

  1. Daekar

    When I realized sync was only between versions of pre-release Edge, I started using it at work instead of at home. They don't let us sync anything at work because of security issues, so I'm not losing anything while they get the sync engine up and running. As long as they get all of the sync stuff working before they drop the beta tag and go full release, I don't think this is too much of an issue.

  2. pmeinl

    Will the new Edge have the same PDF support as the old one? I am asking because I currently prefer Edge as PDF viewer over Acrobat and Foxit - the latter two became slow to diplay even short documents some months ago.

  3. beatnixxx

    I haven't looked at which extensions are enabled for this early version of Edge on Chromium, but using an external password manager gets you around at least one of the sync issues, provided that the one you use is currently supported.

  4. nevadah

    I installed the Developer channel yesterday and set up my standard set of extensions. All appear to work just fine. One extension I use is EverSync, to synchronize bookmarks. It's cross-browser and cross-platform so I'm not locked in to any one browser maker's system. With old Edge, you had to install the version of EverSync for IE, which ran as a separate application. With new Edge, simply installing the Chrome extension appears to work fine.

  5. bart

    Thanks for this article Paul. I was wondering about all the stuff that is/isn't syncing. Once the full sync suit is activated, I will start anew with new Edge. Sort of a house keeping.


    Speaking of Timeline, I found this extension called Web Activities from this (it must be a start-up) company called Microsoft. It does work! ?

  6. dcdevito

    Editable search engines do not work the same way they work in Chrome (and Chrome based browsers). If this doesn't work correctly I cannot use this new browser, and it bums me out.

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