The Mac Browser War: Safari vs. the Competition

When you purchased your Mac, you probably wanted the best web browser offered, whether it be Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, or some other worthy candidate. After all, quality hardware should also contain quality software. There has been much controversy on what truly is the best browser available for a Mac. Some say that Chrome is, and always will be, the best ever.

Others believe that it’s easier to stay with the default browser because it offers more functionality to the OS. While this is true and I’m not going to attempt to change those believers’ opinions, there is more to the situation than just that. For instance, Chrome does offer more than plugins than Safari does extensions, but this doesn’t necessarily make the latter a weak and functionless application, it just makes it a bit less desirable.

If you’re interested in finding out what browser truly holds the best functionality, speed and other elements then please join in after the break for some information that should fulfill your desires.

Warning: Strong Opinions Inside
When reading the content below, keep in mind that this is an opinion piece. The viewpoints are based on personal experiences and the conclusions reached are perfectly arguable. That’s where you come in. Feel free to leave a respectful comment stating your own thoughts.


Apple's one and only browser that does a great job at just about anything

First and foremost, it seems rather fitting to take a look at the famous Apple browser: Safari. Safari, as most know, is the default browser for all of Apple’s platforms, including iOS. I absolutely love Safari for iOS because it offers very simple browsing at a fairly adequate speed.


Nearly everyone knows that Safari has a lot of great features for the Mac, some of which are exclusive to the browser. Directly below you will find a brief list of the most notable features within Apple’s browser.


  • iCloud. Yes, that one word alone is worth using the browser. iCloud syncs all of your bookmarks between your Mac and iOS devices automatically. It’s extremely useful when you’re not in the mood to sync your iPad just to add some bookmarks.
  • Reading List. Before the introduction of Safari 5 and OS X Lion, folks used online services such as Instapaper, Readability, Read It Later, and others to compile a list of articles that they would like to read at a later time. These were great for people who were in the middle of a task or at work and couldn’t read the important news immediately. Apple saw how often users made use of these wonderful services and integrated it into their new version of Safari that was included with Lion, their latest OS released in July of this year. The built-in browser plugin works extremely well as an alternative to the services that I previously referred to, especially since it syncs the list between all of your iOS devices, providing an easy and fast way to have something with you wherever you go. However, one thing that Reading List doesn’t offer is the offline reading capability that Instapaper apps do. Let’s hope this isn’t an intentional feature omission, but instead just a future idea that will most likely be introduced along with a new update.
  • Extensions. While Safari’s expandability is minimal, several (I know, there aren’t that many, but the quantity is constantly getting bigger) of the extensions offered for the browser are actually quite good.
  • User agent switcher. Here’s a helpful feature that can only be turned on by an extension in both Chrome and Firefox. Have you ever wanted to test out your website on another browser and not have to switch to it? You can do this with just a few clicks in Safari’s Develop menu.


  • Web Inspector. One of the hidden gems of Safari is the integrated web inspector for developers. While this isn’t necessarily useful to the average user, web developers find it extremely helpful when trying to locate an error in their code or modifying a certain element on a page.
  • Activity. Safari provides a way to monitor the resource usage of your current browser session with its built in task manager. You can find the “Activity” function within the Window menu. This feature is also available in Chrome, but not Firefox.

… And lack thereof

Yes, Apple left out a few what I would call vital features in their main Internet browser, but it’s only customary because that’s how Apple’s evolution works. Some of these excluded features include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Themes. While this is Apple and the company isn’t big on customization, theming is available in both Chrome and Firefox, leaving Safari in the dust on the customization front.
  • Link hover. Most users of Chrome know what this is. I’m talking about that little feature that lets you peek at a link’s location before clicking on it. It’s located in the bottom left corner of the screen. There’s actually an extension called “Invisible Status Bar” that enables it on Safari, but I wish Apple would officially add the feature to the browser one day.


Don’t think for a minute that just because it’s Apple browser means that it doesn’t have any problems. In fact, it has quite a few of them. These aren’t mere feature omissions that I’m speaking of, but rather bugs and performance issues that actually inhibit the browser’s ability to do it’s job. I’m not going to write an entire paragraph on them because it’s easier for you to just skim over a list, so I’ll let you evaluate these aforementioned “issues” for yourself below. And don’t worry because judgement day will come for the competition as well.

  • Spellcheck says “I don’t want to work right now.” At random times during the day, I experience a loss in spellcheck abilities. This is fine for people who don’t write all day, but it’s not helpful for people who type a lot at a fast speed because they tend to make mistakes. Fortunately, there is perfect solution that’s two clicks away — provided that it’s working.
  • Sorry, but it’s beach ball time. I often experience lockups and screen freezing when scrolling up or down a page. This isn’t because I have only 4 GB of RAM either, since nearly three of those are free at the time of use. I think the problem is Safari’s constant CPU and disk usage that sometimes just gets snagged. The issue here is, I experience it at least 10+ times per day and it’s not very helpful when you spend most of your day working on the Internet.
  • Reader sticks to the desktop when minimized. I’ve had several issues with the integrated Reader function of Safari when it’s minimized. Check out the screenshot here to understand what I’m talking about. It’s a pretty major bug that could probably be fixed easily, but currently the only way to fix it is by pressing esc.




The simplest, and yet somewhat-complicated browser, brought to you by Google

Next up we have Google’s famous browser of “speed.” Since its inception in 2008, the browser has been going strong with an average of 30% of the browser market share, and it’s growing rapidly. But why is it so amazing? Let’s investigate.


Chrome has a vast array of useful features that are nearly as great as the competition, but there are a few great exclusive features thrown in that make it a valuable browser — for some folks. Shall we take a look at them?


  • Sync. As most know, Chrome has a built-in synchronization system that will back up nearly any of the features that you use in the browser and save them in case your computer crashes. This is also very helpful if you have a few computers and wish to sync your apps, auto-fill, bookmarks, extensions, Omnibox history, passwords, preferences, and themes between them all. The drawback is that there’s no support for mobile devices, such as an iPhone, iPad or Android device, so Apple’s browser naturally wins here with its iOS sync support — even though the mobile browser technically doesn’t have extensions and themes to sync, you get the point.
  • Apps. Even though this is Apple’s biggest thing, Google took the idea of a web-based application for their browser. The Chrome Web Store has a lot of great browser apps and games available to anyone for free. Chrome web apps also help if you’re using the “new tab page” as your homepage because a lot of them are practically bookmarks on the new tab page, as opposed to the traditional bookmark bar and menu.
  • Multiple profiles. This feature was just added to the Chrome stable release a few days back. It aims to give members of a large family a personalized browser so that they may have their own set of apps, bookmarks, auto-fill, etc. This feature can also be used if you have a few different emails and want to get a different browsing experience — with some extra bookmarks and other such data that may be tied to a certain account — on all of them.
  • Speed. Google says that “Chrome is designed to be fast,” and when using it, you’ll definitely be able to tell the difference between something like Firefox.
  • Simplicity. Chrome is supposed to be simple, but in some areas I most humbly disagree. In fact, at times the browser can get downright complicated and unusable.
  • Translation. This is by far the most useful element of Chrome for me. Google has integrated their Translate service into the browser to make it easy for readers to be able to translate web pages with one click. While Google Translate is far from accurate, it’s close enough for people to get an idea of what they’re reading so that they may continue their browsing ventures. I still think that it’s annoying to see such translation issues at times, but the system will only mature with time.
  • Themes. Customization is a feature that many users love, and Chrome offers themes to change the somewhat-dull default appearance of the browser. Safari does not offer this, and it’s customary because Apple would never do such a thing. Firefox and Opera also allow this feature. Opera allows it in “Skins,” however. There are many beautiful themes available for Chrome, and you can even make your own, which gives it an advantage over Safari in the customization section.


  • Web Inspector. Chrome, too has a way to inspect the webpage that you’re currently visiting (Like Safari, Chrome is built on Webkit so they share several features). By right clicking the page and clicking “Inspect Element,” you will be brought to a screen where the page’s HTML code is displayed. Again, this is helpful for web developers only and traditional daily users won’t care about it.
  • Extensions. Even though this wasn’t a “common” element in Safari, it is in Chrome because the only difference is the quality of browser add-ons. Chrome has a Web Store where extensions can be found, as Safari has a webpage where they can be found. There’s a ton of stuff on the Chrome Web Store though, much more than you’ll find on most lists of Safari extensions.
  • Multi-touch gestures. Chrome has these, but they’re cheesy at best. In Safari, the whole page moves and it feels natural, but in Chrome it’s just an ugly transparent/white arrow that moves across the screen.

… And what’s lacking?

Chrome, sadly, does not have a “Reading List” or a built-in reading interface as Safari does, which leads me to the latter. I really love these features and use them daily, but if you don’t then there’s no big deal. I find that the other issue with Chrome is that if you want any additional features, such as the one that I just mentioned, then you’ll need to get an extension for it. This isn’t hard to do, but it does take some extra computer resources which is disruptive if you’re trying to keep the browser “simple.”

Expandability, such as the themes that I mentioned above, is good, but it’s also a resource hog at times. When you go into the Activity Monitor, it’s not welcoming to see that Chrome is using 300 MB of RAM for one single tab. Then you can head to Chrome’s own “Task Manager” to find out what is using all of these resources. This lack of speed is the reason why I left Google’s browser for Safari, among other reasons that I mentioned above.


This could be my favorite section (and yours), because it’s a place where I have the opportunity to bash Chrome, but I’m not going to do that. Instead, I will point out the obvious and most prominent issues within Google’s browser. Please note that I am not using the beta or developer versions of the browser, but instead just the stable build. When venturing into the testing path, I warn you that it may be filled with a bit of crashing and constant lock-ups.

  • Known issues. Every browser has these, but Google actually has a public page to tell you what they are. The issues range from installing the browser to the usual crashes. The thing that I notice most with my evaluation of Chrome is the frequent crashing that I experience. I wouldn’t say that it happens every day, but it does occur more than I’d like to see it. So far, Safari has only crashed about once in my three months of use — which is pretty good, even though there is the somewhat-frequent somewhat-not appearance of the beach ball.
  • Chrome occasionally wants to join in on the beach ball game. Yes, this is also a prominent issue, but it occurs just about as much as it does in Safari.
  • Images decide to stay on their own servers. Many people have experienced image loading issues with certain web pages in Chrome.
  • Full screen glitches. If you use Chrome on a daily basis with Lion, then you’ll notice a few glitches in full screen mode, such as the bookmarks bar disappearing or the dock getting stuck on the bottom of the screen. Google just has to work out some of these kinks over time, but Safari is working perfect in Lion since it was practically built for the OS.
  • “Aw, Snap!” Seen that? I have. In fact, quite a few web pages tend to crash randomly and won’t ever work. I’ve tried restarting Chrome, restarting my Mac and even reinstalling Chrome … All to no avail. For some reason, the browser has some major issues with some websites. However, there are a lot of sites that Safari isn’t fully compatible with as well, so this is technically a tie.



A legend that's surprisingly still alive

Now here’s one of the legends. It’s surprising that anyone even uses Mozilla’s once-famous browser anymore. I’ve found that it’s extremely sluggish and just doesn’t measure up to the competition these days, but some people still tend to stay with their ways. Below you will find out what’s so valuable about this browser, followed by the issues with it.


The classic browser is mostly composed of common features that are shared between all browsers, but there are still a few exclusive ones in it. Check them out below.


  • “100,000s of Ways to Customize.” Mozilla claims that there are hundreds of thousands of ways to customize their browser, ranging from theming to the many add-ons available. Firefox really stands out in this area, both the themes and the available extensions are stellar.
  • “High Performance.” Even though I’ve never had a good “fast” experience with Firefox, the developer claims that it is supposed to be fast. I find that it has a lag on some pages, while others completely slow down my computer. There’s no excuse for this except for the obvious fact that it’s not polished. When I have a fairly speedy Internet connection (1 Mbps+), I’ve found that Safari, Chrome and even Internet Explorer are much swifter at loading web pages than Mozilla’s browser is. (Obviously IE is on a Windows machine, but it has nearly the same specs as my Mac.)


  • Sync. Firefox, too, offers a synchronization solution for mobile users. The nice thing is they actually have an iOS app, which allows you to sync all of your bookmarks with your mobile iOS device — that is, providing that you use their browser and not Safari’s, which is not exactly helpful since the app is very underdeveloped and needs some feature enhancements.

Again, what are the lacking ingredients here?

I could go on forever about what Firefox is lacking, but I do not wish to bore you. I personally don’t think that the browser is very polished, nor has it kept up with Mac OS X’s development very well. Firefox isn’t optimized for Lion, which means there’s no multi-touch gestures, full-screen mode, Lion scrollbars, or smooth bounce-back scrolling that you find in Safari and Chrome. It’s a shame too, because the browser could actually score better if it were more modern. With every update of an entire version (+1.0), Mozilla just adds a few performance improvements and bug fixes with no exclusive features, which pushes their browser to the bottom of the wanted list.


Firefox isn’t saturated with issues as some of the more feature-inhabited browsers are, but that’s merely because it lacks the features mentioned above. I suppose it’s suitable for people who don’t mind some sluggishness and prefer a simpler browser with less menu items, but for me it just lacks too many things.


There are a few additional alternatives to Safari out there, but I prefer to stick with the basic and most popular solutions. For instance, Opera has served me well, but the interface is ugly and the browser is not compatible with certain websites that I visit daily. If you’re in the market for something else, check out these 10 Amazing Web Browsers That Aren’t Safari.


So there you have it! As you can probably tell, I personally prefer Safari since it has the most usability and offers the best features on a Mac. Not to mention it’s developed by Apple and has some integration into the OS which other browsers just can’t match. On a Windows PC, I would recommend Chrome any day. I leave the decision of what you should use to yourself because I’ve shown every pro and con (that I could find) of each browser. Hopefully this was both informative and entertaining. If you have a favorite browser, then please share it with us in the comments and tell us why it has been so good to you.


Add Yours
  • I’ve never had any issues whatsoever with Chrome. I use it on a daily basis, and I like it way more than Firefox and Safari. I’ve actually stopped using both of those completely. I’ve never had a crash, and every page has come up without any problems. I am on Snow Leopard, and not Lion, so that might have something to do with it, but who knows.

    • agreeed. im on lion and no issues with chrome. but I do like safari because it seamless syncs read list and bookmarks with ipad and iphone. so I find myself still using safari now and then along with chrome. I use chrome probably about 90% of the time and safari 10% of the time. I like the distraction free reading mode and also the reading list.

      i use instapaper too if im too lazy to use safari to read something on my ipad an article I started to read on my imac or macbook pro.

      • Chrome is alright. I think it’s more stable than Firefox actually, but I do have a few issues with Chrome from time to time. Safari should typically work the best on Mac since it is Apple, but it does lack. My problem is, I have yet to find a browser that I really like enough to be loyal to.

    • In my OS X 10.6: Chrome and Firefox, both are eating too much memory(RAM) in long run. I found Safari with best memory optimization. In case, the tool I used to monitor the memory usage is Activity Monitor.
      So Safari works best in my tests when it comes to memory usage.

  • Why do you say that Safari has no link hover ?

    I agree, Safari is the best browser for OS X. It has a look and feel that the others can’t compare. Chrome is another very good one, and is my fav choice when I want to open some separated browsing sessions. Firefox is getting old. I never used it very much. It takes much more time than Safari/Chrome to load. And what I really hate is their new version count system: +1.0 every 6 weeks!!

    • Chrome and Firefox have the same rapid release cycle. So you hate Chrome’s count system too.
      But let’s face it, this argument is invalid because firefox/chrome can silently update (and this is the default behavior) and install the update in the background painlessly. I might also add that you can easily change this behavior in Firefox but it’s way more complicated with Chrome (you have to manually edit some .plist).

      • Although Chrome and Firefox have similar release cycle now, the difference is that firefox will leave too many of its addons and extensions incompatible every time a new version releases.

  • Ugh… I find all of these browsers unbearable. I use Internet Explorer 6 that I run using Virtualbox. It just can’t be beat!

    • LOL!!!!


  • I was a huge Safari guy and i still love it. But i switched until they can speed it up a good bit. I use Chrome and RockMelt. Raven looking promising, and Firefox is a pure turd.

    • Read the TOS, Privacy, or lack of, on Chrome, they don’t have my permission to access, own, look at or use everything including my phone calls no way, so no Chrome for me even if it spit out gold.

    • FYI Firefox has pretty much identical performance to Chrome in real world usage. It is not a turd, don’t be so dramatic and come off so fanboyish. Thanks.

      I use Firefox because of its far superior AdBlock addon, I wish it had built in PDF and print preview like Chrome but I can live without that. The fact is Safari, Firefox and Chrome both let you browse the web extremely well. If you say one of them is bad then you’re making yourself look like an utter fool.

      • All*

  • I don’t understand how people constantly hate on Opera’s interface

    • It’s just not that beautiful and complicated in areas.

    • Yeah don’t know either…
      Complicated ? what’s complicated ?
      It’s just like Chrome…
      Want a new tab ? clic on the “+”
      Want to see recently closed tabs ? clic on the tabs icon with a cross
      Want to reload ? clic on the reload button just like Chrome
      Seriously guy it’s just like Chrome or other browser nothing complicated. Stop your bad faith and say it’s ugly or whatever.

  • You mentioned you regularly experience beach balls with both Safari and Chrome.
    I’m a Chrome user, but I’ve never had such issues with either Chrome or Safari, and I’m on a mid-2007 iMac with 2GB’s of RAM. Clearly, something’s wrong with your computer… or you’re just running Lion.

  • I’ve used Chrome for a few years now and don’t have the beachball problem. The only time I tend to get the “aw snap!” sad Chrome tab is when my connection goes down partway through loading/executing a JavaScript file. The only thing that has ever caused Chrome to crash for me is [unsurprisingly] Flash Player. But then again, what browser doesn’t Flash Player take out?

    Safari may have been on top of integrating HTML5, but after fighting with some of the multimedia elements like the video and audio tag, I finally had to give up and switch back to Flash media players. Safari often will have a mind of its own when it isn’t fond of your CSS. And forget about most CSS animations because I will get the beachball (even on the fancy “Welcome to Safari” animation the first time you load it). I’ve found that the best use of Safari on the Mac is to download Chrome (much like IE on Windows).

    Nothing really needs to be said about how horrid Firefox has become. The most disappointing part of it becoming the new IE is that it was the browser to reignite the browser war after IE won over Netscape.

    • You should try out the Nightly builds of Firefox, I’m on FF12.0a at the moment and I love it! Not only is it running on 64bit browser goodness, with pages snapping up faster than I’ve ever seen on any other browsers, but it is constantly being updated with new tools and features.

      It has been surprisingly stable for alpha builds, I jumped on board when it was on 9.0a and haven’t looked back.

    • I love how people say Firefox has become horrible when actually it beats Chrome in some benchmarks and on the rest of them is pretty much on par. Not that benchmarks mean anything, in real world usage you won’t tell the difference between any of these browsers, really.

      But hey. I guess some people have to shit on other browsers in order to validate their choice. Why do you do this? I think Firefox, Chrome and Safari are all excellent browsers, Firefox wins for customisability, Chrome has better out of the box features and Safari has superior OS X / Apple services integration and its beautiful Reader. It is not a case of one being bad, it is a case of them offering different things.

  • I use Safari mostly because of iCloud. I love that my bookmarks and reading list sync with my iPhone. If I didn’t have an iPhone, it would be Chrome all of the way.

  • I don’t understand why people bash on Firefox’s version numbering, but somehow its ok for Chrome to do it. I don’t use Chrome, but what is it at now? Version 17? At this point in software technology, does it even matter what version it is? Whatever your fav browser is, enjoy it for what you get out of it.

    • Oh, and I forgot to mention that I use Safari. I use it because of the nice integration with OS X, my iPhone, and iPad. The reader and reading list options are great! I do agree with the link hover. That annoyed me, but hey, that is what extensions are for! I also don’t have a huge need for extensions in browsers that some people apparently must have. Safari is a great browser for people that don’t need much customization and a simple to use browser with very little customization required.

    • The difference between Chrome and Firefox’s version numbering process is that Chrome doesn’t interrupt what I’m doing, force a browser restart, list off a bunch of extensions to update and then shove my interrupted browsing activity to the background while it takes up a full page to announce to me that it has released another version. I don’t know what version my chrome browser is at and I don’t care either… …the reason I don’t know though, is that Google doesn’t feel the need to make a big deal out of every incremental update.

    • I think it’s because you don’t notice it on Chrome. It updates without you ever realizing sometimes. With firefox, you get that popup and have to semi-manually initiate the updating.

  • dude… in safari, press cmd+/ (that’s a forward slash), or view -> show status bar.
    there you have your “link hover”. feature’s there since safari 1.

    • Yeah, but it’s there the whole time your browsing. The bar stays visible. Quite an annoying thing when you have been used to the bar not being there.

      • Try the “Invisible Status Bar” extension for Safari. Hides the status bar when you aren’t hovering over a link.

  • Woah. My biggest issue with Chrome is, it tries hard not to look native, and people would like to theme Safari? WTF?

    Chrome is the best browser hands down, but its ugly, so i’m sticking with Safari. Call me girlish, but i just can’t stand using apps that refuse to adapt to the system. Also Safari with a multitouch trackpad just can’t be beaten. I can’t remember how i ever lived without being able to flick beautifully animated through my last visited pages.

    But whatever browser i choose, i’m never really happy. There is always another browser with an exclusive function i really miss. Choosing a browser is extremely frustrating.

    • I would LOVE for Chrome to look more native to OS X.

    • I completely agree. I like Safari because if it’s interface, and that’s the main interaction I have with it.

      Safari, like Chrome, uses the webkit rendering engine, and while it might not be quite as fast as Chrome, it gives it a good run for it’s money.

  • What I’ve noticed about both Safari & Chrome (usage split 60/40) is that ever since the update that occurred on Snow Leopard, just before the Lion release, is that both browsers are very sluggish and beach ball prone. I believe this coincided with the release of Safari 5. But Chrome was instantly effected with these same issues as well. Both browsers have the same slow down and temporary lock up issues regardless of the OS I’m running. (2 on 10.6.x and 1 on 10.7.x)

    My understanding is that it has something to do with a migration from using ‘web objects’ to ‘web processes’ and that the beach ball issues some of us are seeing in both browsers are not even directly a result of the browsers themselves but are contained within the OS. (This may be total BS, I really don’t know what is causing the issues, I just know that both browsers started acting up on 3 machines within the span of about 24-48 hours and they’ve never recovered despite my best efforts to fix anything I could think to fix.)

    Either way, they’re still miles better than anything else I’ve found online… …Opera doesn’t render a lot of elements properly and Firefox is, well… …just annoying.

  • i use rockmelt.

    • Cool story bro!

  • Your appraisal of Firefox is on the most lacking I’ve ever seen. Indeed, it has issues like all browser. But until lately (when it knuckled under to Google’s “safe browsing” nonsense), it was the only one of the three mentioned (but not the only one out there) that didn’t report you IP and that of everywhere you got to either Google or Apple. Both the browsers you list above do so, and they, like IE, are primary violators of privacy. Now Firefox is the same via Google’s “safe browsing.”


    The features lacking that you mention are only because you didn’t mention that FireFox has THE largest library of add-ons compared to the other two. This includes plugins that are (or aren’t) available for the other two. And by the by, speed has never been a problem in it for me. Speed also depends on how you setup a browser, and believe, the safest isn’t the default settings for any of them.

    For those interested in privacy and streamlined browsing, go look up Ghostery and AdBlock Plus. And don’t believe any “do not track” setting in your browser. That is only a “request” to the sites you visit and they are under no obligation to obey it. Ghostery makes them obey it by taking much of the tracking capability out of the site’s grip. You might also look into HTTPS Everywhere, which forces sites with HTTPS ability to use it in all things when you visit a site.

    Safari does match up on any of this… and Chrome is the number one violator of privacy, which is why many of those in the community first involved with it splintered off to work from earlier Chrome stems toward something better. Look up SRW Iron if you don’t care about superficial crap like themes and want something that fights for you privacy. I use both FF and Iron where appropriate for different needs.

  • Safari – slow running on an modern day machine
    Chrome – has issues with SSL especially self signed ones. doesn’t update automatically due to bug
    Firefox – it’s for windows

    • I have no problems with Safari, none at all on my Imac running Lion, I love it.

    • The only problem I found in Safari is that PDF files don’t load. I haven’t seen this problem anywhere else though.

  • You say: “User agent switcher. Here’s a helpful feature that can only be turned on by an extension in both Chrome and Firefox. Have you ever wanted to test out your website on another browser and not have to switch to it? You can do this with just a few clicks in Safari’s Develop menu.”

    I don’t think you understand what a user agent switcher is. It has nothing to do with “testing your website in another browser” — browser emulation is so difficult that basically nobody even tries (except for some ways of getting one version of IE to emulate a different IE). The switcher is merely to lie to websites about what browser you’re running, to circumvent arbitrary blocks (which crappy developers sometimes implement so they don’t have to bother testing in every browser).

    And to say that Firefox can “only” do this with an extension — that’s an advantage, not a limitation. The FF extension system gives it a customizability/flexibility that’s orders of magnitude beyond other browsers.

    Also, on my Mac — which is fast, with lots of RAM and a very fast Internet connection — the speed difference between the different browsers is trivial.

    Firefox has plenty of problems, and the interface is going downhill IMHO (due to Chrome envy), but it’s still competitive; and of the three browsers you mentioned, FF is the best and Chrome the worst for Web development, based on the developer tools available.

  • Nothing beats safari

  • I wonder if there really are web developers out there who think that switching your browser user agent can be considered ‘testing’

  • Safari does have a hover link feature and while i have used each of them for about the same time, after the Lion upgrade, Safari is the only choice. And whatever it doesnt have, The Mac App Store will take care of.

  • you didn’t mention Opera.
    my opinion in mac osx 10.7 browser running best & User friendly Safari>Chrome>Opera>Firefox

  • Check out Raven. It will become hudge on mac. I sense it somehow. It’s a decent and inivative browser thats still in beta. Also have a look at sleipnir, featuring a enormous speed bump in the last version.

    Safari in Lion spoiled me with the seamless multitouch navigation. If I dont see a page mooving whan going forward or back I don’t use it :).

    • agreed, Safari;s UI just cant be beat. Once you are used to the smooth way that you can pinch and zoom in safari or use two fingers like ios to zoom into a column, or slide back a page, every other browser looks like its built for the 90s. Using a trackpad with the mac changes the whole experience for the better.

  • Hi everyone,
    I am currently deciding which browser should I use. I have been using Safari for a long time. But since I have a Mac at home and a Windows 7 at work I would like to use a browser that would completely sync my bookmarks, pref setting and other stuff on both computers. I have tried Safari on PC but it is slower and the webkit crashes a lot – which means I have to reload every website if I have a lot of tabs opened. And the interface of Safari on PC is ugly.

    Also I tried chrome, but got pretty tired of it – it is also not compatible with Alfresco CMS interface in which I work a lot. Currently I am trying Firefox, and it works pretty well on both my Mac (Lion) and PC at work. Which browser would you use in my situation? Thanks.

    • If you want a browser that will “completely sync” your bookmarks, preferences, and other settings cross-platform — that is, Mac + PC + maybe Linux — then Firefox is your only realistic, mainstream choice.

      • Chrome does that better.

  • I wish you’d speak more about Opera. I use it daily on my MacBook and I’m very happy with it. The interface is far from ugly, in fact version 11.60 integrates perfectly in Lion (more than Chrome in my opinion). The only thing that lacks for me is the ability to navigate from page to page with the two-fingers slide gesture as in Safari.

  • Chrome has slowly become bloated and slow beyond belief, and since this article is ironically stated an “opinion piece” with no benchmarks are data-either the author is clearly uninformed or misinformed about what actually works outside his anecdotal bubble.

    Right now Firefox and Opera are your best choices in terms of stability, security, and speed. Safari shouldn’t even be discussed, regardless of Apple-bias, there’s better alternatives on the home OS than the built in one so much so that I personally don’t even think it should be considered. Maybe I’m just not some crazy person that chooses usability and special features over performance, I don’t know! >_>

    • Funny, you seem to be clearly uninformed or misinformed about what actually works outside your anecdotal bubble. Strictly speaking on a Mac, Firefox is nowhere close to Safari and Chrome in both performance, usability, and special features.

  • I love Safari, but when I plan to open 10+ tabs, I use Chrome, because it’s more reliable. I’m very happy with the lack of themes and customizations for Safari, because they are so ugly that I don’t get why people use them.

    Firefox was good about 5 years ago, but right now even Firebug isn’t reason enough for me to use it.

    • Firefox 64bit Nightly builds should be more than enough reason to use Firefox. It has rekindled my love for web browsing!

      But be warned, it’s not for lightweights or people who are inexperienced, Aurora builds might be better suited for those people.

      • There’s absolutely zero reason to use a 64bit browser.

  • I use both Safari and Chrome. Safari is great for iOS web app development (webkit + iOS User Agent switching). I keep Chrome around because it has Flash built in which comes in handy when I hit a website that has Flash – saves me the trouble from having to install it on my Mac.

  • As a user of all 3 of the big browsers, I have to say that I use them all quite uniquely and individually. I often find that for loading up quick pages like Facebook and Twitter, that Chrome is the way to go, simply because it’s fast and saves a lot of screen space. It also comes pre-installed with Flash, so there’s instant YouTube and flash app capabilities right there.
    If I want to work on, say, developing things for the Mac and looking at how I can do things better, create scripts, that kind of thing, I will use Safari, because nothing beats home soil for development.
    And for all-purpose, every-day browsing their is Firefox. With a few addons, some tweaks here and there, it really surpasses both Chrome and Safari in nearly every way. Sure, there are features of Chrome and Safari that surpass Firefox (like downloads and tabs-on-top, respectively), but over-all I use Firefox for every-day browsing. It’s stable, secure, fast, and is generally the more reliable of the three.

  • I used Chrome as my primary browser for the last year or so, but recently changed back to Firefox. Everything Google is getting a creepy stalker quality, so I’m happy to be able to use the open-source Firefox (though I now use their Aurora version).

  • The latest Beta & Dev versions of Chrome offer full bookmark syncing with Android. The Crome-To-Phone extension is also invaluable to Android users.

  • Safari is the Internet Explorer for Mac, ie. there by default, but embarrassing if anyone catches you using it.

  • The main thing that stops me using Safari is the separate address/search bar. There’s no need for it and I can’t/won’t get used to it.

    I use Chromium and Chrome Canary as my primary browser(s). No beachball problems on Lion either.

    • If you google search ‘omnibar for safari’ the first result will be what you’re looking for. Takes 2 seconds to install and you’re ready to go. I love it.

  • How is the lack of themes an issue? 99% of themes that I’ve tried in Firefox are amateurish and/or making GUI controls hard to read.

    Also, Safari does show you where links lead to, in the bottom left corner. It’s called a status bar. And I find the kind of status bars that Firefox and Chrome have, that hide and show spontaneously, a bad usability design. It’s distracting when you aren’t interested in it, whereas a persistent status bar creates a nice little edge to frame the website content instead of overlapping into it. You can also use it to drag the window by the way.

    The reading list feature in Safari definitely does NOT “work extremely well”. For example I can’t mark entries as read; it’s just not possible. Neither can I reorder the entries in the reading list, or rename them, or copy their URLs! Furthermore,
    you can’t tag stuff and there isn’t even a text search for it. And the way that a single click loads the clicked entry into the current tab is inconsistent behavior. So, you see, Safari’s reading list is nothing but a very, very basic implementation of PROPER reading list services/extensions, and it’s a lousy job done by Apple.

    Finally, why does the author of this post write about things he has no clue of? A user agent switcher does NOT allow you to “test out your website on another browser and not have to switch to it”. That is complete nonsense. Just like the assertion that Safari’s activity window provides any resource usage information, like, AT ALL. That is plain and simply false, and can’t be excused by this article being “an opinion piece”.

    Please, appstorm, don’t make articles just for the sake of getting content out. That just makes you look like wanna-be know-it-all’s, arrogant nerds who think they are qualified to write about whatever they want, when in reality they don’t get simple facts right.

  • Chrome has become a huge program, beyond belief. Normally I wouldn’t care, but since my MBA is my only machine I keep an eye on things, due to lack of space. As for all the fancy doodads everyone looks for, I don’t need them. I added an OmniBar to Safari and it has become the perfect browser for me.

  • Safari. Really tho? What can compare?

    Lean, minimalist UI design, fast rendering. I mean, really?

    What can compare?


  • Well, Safari is powered by WebKit 2, and Chrome WebKit 1.

    if I understand correctly, the WebKit 2 has some improvements in memory management (maybe even the sandboxing implemented in Safari 5.1).

  • I use Safari almost exclusively (some things require a Firefox extension).

    I want to use Firefox, but it’s just so much slower than Safari, even without any extensions installed.

    I’ve tried to use Chrome, but it silently installs all this other junk from Google and the terms for using Chrome stipulate that you have to accept anything Google wants to install and they don’t have to tell you what they are installing. The last time I installed Chrome to try it, Google Earth appeared. Not cool Google.

    So, I stick with Safari. Fast browsing, OS integration, and no sneaky, devious Google system takeover.

  • I have to agree that Firefox on Mac is sluggish but not on Windows. There got to be something wrong with it.

  • definitely thinking about going full safari with ipad, iphone and 2 iMacs, macbook pro and macbook airs… Chrome sync is sometimes screwy

    but i do like chromes full screen mode better
    and the incognito shortcut is faster in chrome to get into a private browser fast.

  • You can actually turn on “link hover” in Safari by going to View > Show Status Bar. Clunkier than Chrome, since it shows the bar at all times, but if you’re already using Safari, you might want to look into that.

  • Chrome definitely much faster the Safari on my iMac with Lion just downloaded. But I liked Safari and would go back to it if I know how to improve the speed (fast Lan connection). Can anyone help? Thanks in advance. BLG

  • Chrome is a copy (is based on) of Chromium Browser the same that make ChromiumOS
    Download dayly realese here, (there are portable and installer linux and windows)

  • semi accurate review, because security is an ever growing issue with OSX; there’s a lot of technical reviews on the net that says Chrome is far better in security than Safari. Many reasons contribute to this the main one being Chrome’s Sandbox. Just make sure you dont just read any article and read their conclusion and agree. Do your research

  • for “invisible status bar” in Safari command + ?

  • The author considers himself a web developer, and yet… “Have you ever wanted to test out your website on another browser and not have to switch to it? You can do this with just a few clicks in Safari’s Develop menu.”

    “When I have a fairly speedy Internet connection (1 Mbps+)”
    1Mbps isn’t very quick at all, and these days is pretty much bottom of the barrel. 1MBps, on the other hand…

    Sorry, but this is not the person I want comparing browsers for me.

    PS. Browser themes are for housewives and little girls.

    • I’m sorry that I came across that way, because I’m not a web developer at all – I just know a few things about it. That method of testing your website using another user agent seemed realistic, but maybe it wasn’t.

      I have a 1 Mbps connection because I live in a rural area and that’s all I can get for a rather large price.

      • I googled your name. Sorry if my comment was a bit harsh, I know it’s just an opinion piece but I felt the technical aspects of the article could have used some work.

        For what it’s worth, I used Safari for many years, but am now a (mostly) happy Chrome user. There are a few small things and bugs that bother me but not enough to get me to crawl back to Safari. The one Safari extension which I still haven’t found a good Chrome version of is “Shut Up”.

  • I completely uninstalled the Flash Player from my MAC. Now I use Safari and it’s super fast! No beach balls or anything. I use Chrome when i want to view something in Flash since the Flash Player is built into the browser. Definite upgrade to my web browsing experience!

  • People laugh at me when I say I use Safari but imo, it’s the best browser in Mac Period.
    Good support for html 5, css 3 & decent JS acceleration. (btw Chrome sucks at video tag support.)
    Native & simple interface.

    What I would like to see in the future:
    Full HTML5 support
    Removal of browser specific prefixes for css like chorme.
    Better hardware like IE 9 in windows (hw acceleration is only good thing about IE lol)

  • Nice post
    Note:>>there multiple profile feature in firefox
    you just need to activate it :)

  • Personally I use Chrome on my mac and with 8GB RAM I don’t really mind the extra resource utilization. But, yes, its a personal choice triggered by just one feature in Chrome which I couldn’t find in any other browsers: the Incognito mode. There is no better way to avoid your system from unwanted cookies and history.

  • I used to use Firefox in the past but because it look so massive and it’s a true ressource hog i stopped to use it. Maybe now it’s different but well still now firefox is the past for me. But i still use it for my development routine to check compatibility.
    So now i use Chrome.
    Why ? because it’s fast and have plenty of plug-in.
    But with time i think that Chrome is also a ressource hog certainly because of a lot of plugin installed and most of the time 20+ tabs.
    And i can tell you that Chrome is not invincible and does have issue and some freeze…
    I’m also use Opera and i love it !
    It’s super fast, light, love the tabs grouping and all but still it’s not my default browser.
    So i use Chrome and Opera side to side.
    Strangely i’m not a big fan of Safari (i’m on a MAC) and don’t wan’t to use it. Don’t know why… personal preference i guess.
    I use Safari from time to time for compatibility check but that’s all…

    In my opinion use whatever you like ! There is no ultimate browser who rule them all.

    • You should check again. Chrome uses the most memory out of all modern browsers by far. I’m talking double the RAM usage on OS X according to the recent Toms Hardware Web Browser Grand Prix tests.

  • I prefer Chrome now since a long while. You didn’t mention the most obvious user facing advantage over everything else: tabbing behaviour.

  • I’ve been using FFox (as my main browser) for months now. Hasn’t been slow for the past few versions for me, and it now has the lion scrollbar, and does the two-finger back/fw. I stopped using Chrome just because I got an increase in that damn “Aw, Snap!” page. I’d use Safari if it didn’t reload tabs at random, and had more extensions.

    And for what it’s worth, I think the Firefox UI looks more mac-like than Chrome’s. All three suck on mac though. I keep em all installed though…

    • Also, ff has tab grouping and the ability to prevent from loading tabs on restart until you actually select that tab. Makes startup faster.

  • One major lack that keeps me not using Safari on Mac OS 10.7 is that it doesn’t do text wrapping, which I believe Opera 11.61 for Mac does better than Google Chrome 17.0.963.46 for Mac. Google Chrome squeezes the second column in Google News main page to less viewable when Zoomed In. Opera 11x is my default browser,

  • Thanks a lot concerning spreading these superb information in your website. I noticed it on the web. I most certainly will visit again if you publish additional aricles.

  • I do agree with all of the ideas you’ve presented in your post. They’re really convincing and will certainly work. Still, the posts are very short for starters. Could you please extend them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

  • There is noticeably a bundle to find out about this. I assume you made sure nice factors in features also.

  • The ‘Aw Snap!’ issue comes and goes, and it can be a major problem when a whole series of tabs that I’ve been sitting on for a while suddenly goes dead.

    The other major issue is that Chrome frequently refuses to download pdf documents from URLs (not emails). The timer in the bottom left will sit there for hours pretending that it is waiting to download. I thought this was a Great Firewall of China problem, but when I tried the same page in Firefox it downloaded quite quickly. This is a major problem!

    Pretty irrelevant to almost everyone (but interesting) is the fact that Chrome is one of the only browsers to show vertical left-to-right scripts (which means traditional Mongolian). Safari renders almost perfectly, Chrome renders but not very well. Firefox and Opera don’t work at all. (See if you are at all interested.)

  • Can’t believe the line about FireFox where you said you can’t believe anyone uses it anymore…….

    I work in IT and myself and everyone of my co-workers use FireFox. Safari is lightning fast on Mac, Chrome owns you if you use it…..but FireFox allows one to completely customize their browser and their huge library of AddOns are indispensable for many things beyond just browsing the web. As far as speed goes when using a browser, I don’t think a half second is that big of a deal, and I’m willing to ‘wait’ a half-second in order to have a fully featured and customized browser.

    FireFox is by far the best browser, and your review of it is incredibly weak…

  • I’ve been using Safari for quite a while, but I’ve noticed that it’s privacy settings are a joke, the security and privacy settings really don’t seem to do anything as you can’t erase cookies from google and other sites, and before you know it you have all sorts of strange cookies in you cache and other places on you hard drive files after browsing th web. I started using Firefox and it really seems not to accept cookies, or most anything unless you give it permission to. When you close Safari and open again even with private browsing turned on, all those cookies will show up again as soon as you visit 2-3 sites, and deleting them does nothing they come right back real soon. Firefox history and cookies are empty and stay empty. This is something you may seriously consider if you don’t want to be loaded down with cookies and questionable additions to your cache. I haven’t noticed any difference in browswer speed and think its time to say goodby to Safari and start using Firefox when ever I can. Also Cocoon (advanced firefox option) is not bad if you want to store your stuff in the cloud if you trust the security. Too bad Apple doesn’t get on Safari and offer better security, if seems like it is going the way of yahoo AOL, IE or one of the lamer search engines, but if you look at the cookies you get in Safari and then research them, you’ll find most come from e-Bay, google, and Pay Pal and god knows what else.

  • Safari doesn’t block cookies. Third party or otherwise. Don’t care what your settings are, it will ignore them. Updated to Java 7 for 64 bit, so I had to get rid of Chrome. Now using Firefox. So far so good.

  • In my opinion Safari is best… Google Chrome messes up my online games like Roblox and Minecraft.

  • I don’t see any diminished performance using Firefox compared to Safari. Safari continually has problems with Java applets, and the fact that apple will never develop the side bar book mark system makes the safari option difficult to choose. Firefox is every bit as good as Safari in every way, Its developer tools section is as good as any of the other major player’s, and its side bar option makes it the more practical choice. It also handles various media types the best. I don’t like the fact that there seems to be a new version every month and installing it disables many extensions though.