Most of us nowadays spend a lot of time online browsing and using the web, for both personal and work related tasks. Whether you are catching up with the news, using social media, shopping online, or doing work, you want to use the best web browser available for your Mac.
When it comes down to it, a web browser is simply a tool that let’s you navigate to and use different web sites on the web. There are a number of web browsers available for the Mac, and each one works slightly differently, with different features and capabilities. And for this reason, you can get very different results when it comes to speed, performance, and battery life. Or even how a web page will look or works on different browsers. Certain websites may not work properly in one browser, and yet work perfectly using another browser. Back in the early 2000’s, you could get wildly different results on certain websites depending which web browser you were using. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case, and the vast majority of websites usually work great with just about every web browsers.
Although there are about a dozen different web browsers that you could install on your Mac, in this article, I’ll focus on the big 3: Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. When using a web browser, most people are looking for speed and performance, ease of use, stability, and the ability to customize the browser various ways. Those 3 browsers have the biggest market share, with Chrome in particular being by far the most widely used web browser in the world.
Safari comes included in every Mac, iPhone and iPad ever sold. As such, it is a very popular choice among people who use Apple products. It has a number of things that it does really well. If you’re using a Mac, Safari is the fastest web browser you can use on your computer. Over the years, and after countless tests, Safari always comes out on top when it comes to speed and performance on a Mac. Which is not too surprising given that it’s made by Apple. But, in my opinion, the difference in speed between Safari and Firefox or Chrome is not that huge nowadays. One of the biggest difference between Safari and the other two is how much less resources it requires. And this affects both battery life and performance, helping to avoid the spinning beach ball since it doesn’t use up as much RAM when web browsing. So, if you’re using a laptop and you’re not plugged in, Safari is going to be much easier on your battery than the other two. And if you like to open up a lot of tabs at the same time, Safari is able to handle that really well without freezing up. One of the other big advantage it has is how easily it will sync up your passwords, bookmarks, and personal information between your Mac and other Apple devices you may own. It’s auto-fill functions work really well in general, and can save you a lot of time when filling out forms on websites. Safari also makes it very easy to save and organize bookmarks so that you can access you favorites easily. The main issue you’re likely to run into with Safari is when playing or streaming videos on certain sites. Safari blocks users from using Flash as much as possible. So you may find for example that a weather radar video on a weather website may not work well. Or you may not be able to stream a sports game correctly on certain websites. In some instances, such as government websites, you may find that Safari behaves erratically. So, overall, Safari is a great web browser that is probably the best choice for Mac users. But, you should definitely have a back-up option just in case you run into a problem on certain sites.
Firefox has been around since the early 2000’s, and it was for a while the most commonly used web browser before being passed up by Chrome. For a few years Firefox started to really fall behind Safari and Chrome is speed tests. But in 2018, Firefox was dramatically upgraded with their Quantum update, which brought about major speed and general performance improvements. Now, Firefox is very fast and responsive. Another advantage regarding Firefox is privacy. The Mozilla foundation is a non-profit, and one of the biggest selling point of Firefox is that they’re not collecting or selling information regarding your web usage. They also offer a wide variety of tools that you can use to protect your privacy on the web. I think the user interface for Firefox is the easiest to learn, and makes it very easy to organize your bookmarks and various other tools you may install on the browser. There is a large selection of Add-ons and Extensions that you can add to Firefox to improve your experience. You can add Themes to change the look of Firefox, install ad-blockers, YouTube tools and much more. If you create an account with Mozilla, you can also store passwords and sync bookmarks easily between all your devices. In the last year, Firefox has become a firm favorite for me, and if I wasn’t already so invested in Safari, I would probably completely switch over to Firefox. As it is, I use every day mainly for business and other general tasks, and I’m very pleased with it. You can download Firefox here.
Chrome is by far the most popular web-browser in the world right now. In large part because it is a great web browser, but also very much due to the fact that Google has very aggressively marketed Chrome and tried to push it onto as many computers as possible. Chrome is usually quite fast on Macs, and it boasts an impressive choice of extensions that you can use to boost the capabilities of Google Chrome. If you use a lot of Google’s products such as Gmail, Google Docs or Google Drive, Chrome is a great choice indeed. Even though the Google apps work fine with other browsers, I think they still work best with Chrome. Also, since Chrome currently has something like 70% of the market share when it comes to web browsers, a lot of sites are optimized to work well with Chrome. So generally speaking Chrome is fast and works great on most sites. The downside is that it just doesn’t seem well optimized for modern Macs the way Safari and Firefox are. It consumes battery power at a much higher rate than the other two, and also uses a lot more RAM than the others. So, for example, streaming Netflix on a MacBook that’s not plugged into power is going to shorten the battery life dramatically faster than Safari or Firefox. If you keep a lot of tabs open at the same time, you may see the spinning beach ball quite a bit more as well. And of course, it’s not a big secret that Google tends to sift through and analyze consumer’s web usage and activities far more than almost any other company. So, if you’re concerned about privacy, you may want to stay away from Chrome.
You can download Google Chrome here.
All three of these browsers are generally excellent and each one is more than capable of being your main browser. For most Mac users, Safari is an excellent choice once you learn how to get the most out of it. It’s a great combination of speed, performance, and ease of use.
Firefox has done a lot of things in past couple of years to improve the experience for Mac users, and I generally feel that it’s probably the best browser available at the moment. It’s fast, very full-featured, and great for privacy.
Chrome is a fast browser, and you can extend its capabilities with a ton of great extensions. But it comes a cost when it comes to battery life and privacy if you don’t like Google tracking your every move.
So, I recommend having a least 2 different browsers installed on your Mac. And if I had to choose between the three, I would opt for Safari and Firefox as the two best web browsers for Mac users in 2019.