Easily Manage Multiple Browsers on Your Mac

Many of us have more than one web browser on our Mac – I have copies of Safari, Firefox, Opera, Camino, Google Chrome and various others. Although I certainly don’t use them all regularly (Safari is my browser of choice), I do open them all occasionally to try out new features and test the appearance of a website.

If you regularly use different browsers, manually opening them and copy-and-pasting links into specific ones can become frustrating. You can only have one “default browser” on OS X, and there’s no easy way to quickly specify which particular one to use at any given time.

Today’s How-To will be introducing an application called Choosy, which helps to make running multiple browsers far more enjoyable.

How Choosy Works

Before getting into the finer details, let’s take a quick look at what to expect when using Choosy. Essentially, whenever you click a link, Choosy will display a minimal interface to ask which browser you’d like to open the link with. A few different appearance options can be changed, but it looks similar to this:

Choosy Preview

Choosy Preview

It’s a great way to quickly and easily select which browser you’d like to use for a particular link, and a number of advanced options mean you can mould the app to work just how you’d like it to.

Installing Choosy

To get started, point your browser to the Choosy website and download the latest version. Double click it to install, and a new panel will be placed in your System Preferences. It should look something like the following:

Choosy Preference Pane

Choosy Preference Pane

You can use Choosy completely free for 45 days. If you decide that you like it, purchasing a full license costs $12. A very fair price for such a handy utility.

Enabling Choosy & Selecting Browsers

After installing the application, you can get to grips with a few of the different options and settings available. There’s no shortage of preferences!

The first step is to enable Choosy – done by clicking “Enable Choosy for links” in the General tab. You can also enable the app for when you double click a HTML file, elect to launch it automatically at login, and decide whether the menu bar icon appears.

The menu bar icon simply shows a list of installed browsers, and lets you enable/disable them on the fly:

The Menu Bar Helper

The Menu Bar Helper

The browsers tab provides a central place to add and remove the different web browsers on your system, and place them in an order of preference.

It’s worth giving a little thought to which is your preferred browser, as this will always be the easiest to access without any thought. It’s placed under your mouse cursor by default when Choosy activates after you click a link.

Behaviour & Advanced Rules

You can have Choosy work in any way that you’d like. In the “Behaviour tab”, options are available to either:

  • Don’t ask – Just use the browser currently running
  • Ask you which browser to use from a list of those currently running
  • Ask you which browser to use from your full list of browsers
  • Don’t ask – Open and use your preferred browser

In the “Advanced” tab, you can create rules that specify any exceptions to the default behaviour you have in place. In the following screenshot, I’ve added two conditions that will always result in Safari being used: (a) all links from NetNewsWire, and (b) whenever I hold down Command + Shift when clicking a link:

Advanced Rules

Advanced Rules

As you can see, this functionality is fairly powerful. The ability to assign modifier keys to different browsers means that you don’t actually need to see the interface at all!

The Choosy Bookmarklet

One final thing to note is the existence of a bookmarklet for opening the current URL in a different browser. This is available from the Choosy website, and works very well. A number of plugins are also available for Safari, Firefox and Fluid.

Conclusion

If you regularly use multiple browsers – whether for testing websites or general recreation – Choosy is a real time-saver. It uses minimal overhead, remains hidden until you need it, and can intelligently position browser icons in the order of preference you defined in the settings.

The interface of the application itself could use a touch more polish, but it functions remarkably well. A great example of simple, unobtrusive software filling a real requirement. It’s certainly worth giving a try for a few days!


  • http://www.webflunky.com Robin S

    I have been using Choosy for about three months now and it has made my multiple browser life so much easier. I use Safari as my default browser, but also several others for an assortment of reasons. I would like to emphasize the use of the Choosy bookmarklet, which helps immensely with bookmark syncing. I do all my bookmarking in Safari by using the Choosy bookmarklet when I’m in other browsers.

  • http://www.famillehache.com Rene

    For web developers or anyone that likes to or needs to use multiple browsers and Fluid Apps, I consider Choosy essential. I don’t know how I could function without it. In fact, while migrating to a new Macbook a couple of months ago, it took a couple of days for me to get my new license from Choosy, and those days were, well, painful.

    The advanced rules are particularly fantastic. For example, I created a dedicated Fluid App for Basecamp because we use it for project management at work. So when I get an email from Basecamp, I’ve configured Choosy to automatically open those links in my Fluid “Basecamp” App. I’ve got about half a dozen rules like that, and they save me an enormous amount of time.

    Cheers,
    Rene

  • Sir Ali

    It doesn’t have Internet Explorer?

    • Digital Monkey

      What is Internet Explorer? Is it even considered a “browser”?

      • Sir Ali

        Sadly, it’s the browser with the highest percentage of users, so you’re forced to make your website work with it.

    • http://twitter.com/KodyTroje Kody

      Silly, Internet Explorer doesn’t (officially) have a Mac version anymore. Sure, there are ways of getting around it, but why shoot for dirt when you can aim for the gold that is Safari and Google Chrome? Even a browser in beta like Stainless kills IE time and time again.

    • Just

      If Windows is installed on a virtual machine like Parallels or VMware Fusion, you should be able to add its IE shortcut to Choosy’s browser list. Browser warring aside, this would obviously be useful for web developers who bother testing their sites in IE.

    • http://w3.securitytechnologies.com/irst/products/Pages/default.aspx smart card

      Well, to be honest, Safari is more than enough for me when it comes to browsing. However, I have managed to get all the browsers for my Mac just in case anything quite unexpected happens to Safari. In that case, Choosy has really helped me to manage all the browsers in my Mac. Sure, it costs around $12! Too much for something like this but I can assure you that the app is well worth the money!

  • http://mosotomoss.wordpress.com/ Mosotomoss

    Thanks. Never heard of it, so we will look into it!

  • http://www.twitter.com/L1TheProducer L1

    18TB hard drive? what for lol

    • http://davidappleyard.net David Appleyard

      I should clarify that :-)

      It’s a Drobo, so just displays the maximum capacity it can theoretically hold. It only actually has 4TB’s in it (only!)

    • http://davidappleyard.net David Appleyard

      Will be writing a post reviewing the hardware/software of the Drobo soon!

  • http://www.eszespeter.com eszespeter

    How did you managed that your menubar clock using words instead of numbers?

  • http://www.iamlinus.se Linus Larsson

    This seems like an awesome tool! I’m going to download the trial at once!!

  • Alfred DeRose

    This is brilliant. Downloading now to give it a try.

    There are tools – like Quicksilver – that are brilliantly simple and provide such an incredible improvement in workflow. If Choosey works as I hope it does, I can see this becoming one of those tools. I can see me installing this on all three of our Macs.

  • Romain

    Does it manage automatic opening as new tabs ? I mean, when I click on links from emails, it always opens new pages on new windows. This is quite boring…

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  • http://www.pauladalesio.com.ar Paula

    Will be writing a post reviewing the hardware/software of the Drobo soon

  • http://www.petdogblog.com dog health information

    Im glad I happen to see this post. As a webmaster I need something that I can quickly go between different browsers. Thanks.

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    Great site here. Many blogs like this cover subjects that can’t be found in magazines and newspapers. I don’t know how we got by 10 years ago with just newspapers and magazines.

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    I’d really like to be a part of online community where I can get responses from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Many thanks!

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    This is nice post which I was awaiting for such an artice and I have gained some useful information from this site. Thanks for sharing this information.

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    This is a really good post. Must admit that you are amongst the best bloggers I have read. Thanks for posting this informative article.

  • http://www.graniterockville.com Granite Countertop Rockville

    MultiBrowser also has additional options for changing how browsers are launched, handling multiple monitors, and more. It has optional usage tracking (which will not be shared with anyone except yourself) to more.

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    Updated pie chart code to work properly with updated Google Chart API

    Fixed a rare problem that could cause the MultiBrowser app to fail to launch on some 10.5 systems

  • http://www.avcibakalit.com Elektrikli Süpürge Toz Torbası

    It’s a fact, some websites look and/or work better in different browsers. For example, my WordPress site editor does some quirky things in Safari, but works great in Firefox.

  • http://www.plusoutlets.com Christmast Gifts

    Google Docs and GMail work better in Chrome (makes sense, Google wrote Chrome). There’s lots of reasons you might want to view a website in one particular browser and that one may not be your default. MultiBrowser lets you choose which browser you want to open a link with and does so beautifully.

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    This pretty cool, never heard this thing. I’ll download it and give it a try.

  • http://www.howardellison.net Howard Ellison

    What a discovery – about to try it. Issue with my iMac 10.6.8 is that Firefox sends an erroneous ‘cookies disabled’ signal to some websites. That’s a known issue, for a minority, and it scares me as a non-tech to apply the remedy: completely remove and replace browser. So, let’s see what we can do now! Will report back.

    • http://www.howardellison.net Howard Ellison

      Reporting back: Yes, Choosy did the trick. Gave me an easy way to pick a browser: finally settled on Safari in my Mac 10.6.8 and the ‘cookies disabled’ glitch has gone away. Handy also to be able to check that my website looks okay (sort of!) in other browsers.

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    Great information on how choosy works on mac.I’m thinking from a long time for the solution to use multiple browsers on Mac and now i need to use choosy.Thanks for sharing an informative and useful post.

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