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.


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!