Getting the best browser for macOS
You have a shiny MacBook or iMac sitting staring at you and you need to get online pronto: so what is the best browser to use? Naturally, you can always lean on the Safari option, as that comes pre-loaded, as Apple’s browser. Safari is a good browser, as we will see, but other choices will offer you a variety of features, such as download managers and other handy tools. If you want to try something different and find out what looks and works best on your Mac, the best thing to do is firstly have a read of this guide, then download a new browser and try it for size.
Out of the box, you’ll have Safari as default on your Mac computer and most likely you will have used it when clicking on any weblinks using an iPhone. It is a perfectly good, functional browser and indeed, some will say it might actually be the best choice all round; when it comes to stability, security and speed.
There are some key advantages built in. For one thing, Apple tends to focus on selling you its hardware. Which means Apple software is usually free and as such, designed to enhance your appreciation of said hardware. It is in Apple’s interest that your browser software works very well on Apple products. They introduced a whole suite of privacy measures in MacOS Mojave. Intelligent Tracking Prevention (or ITP 2) is an update which looks to prevent ‘cross-site tracking’, making it harder for websites to follow you around online.
• Safari essential tip: try Reader Mode, it eliminates issues with bad formatting, weird fonts, and ad pages, to offer pure streamlined text that’s easy to read.
If there is safety in numbers then you’d consider Google Chrome, which is the most widely used browser around. Chrome offers efficiency, speed and good functionality. One thing you immediate get is a user interface where the search and address bar merges into one field, which soon becomes second nature.
You’ll also enjoy a convenient way to organise your bookmarks; synchronising them, as well as settings, across different devices with one Google account. That can save time and make finding pages easier, if you’re jumping from your phone to your Mac. With 40-70% of all internet traffic going through Chrome browsers, it is no surprise it is seriously fast and easy to use. You’ll also find it looks great and allows you to customise its appearance, using themes, as well as the option to have your own photo as a backdrop. All round, many stop their search at Google Chrome and leave it there.
• Google Chrome essential tip: be sure to try out browser extensions, from grammar checkers, to virus protection, coupon finders and shopping tools.
Firefox has been around a while, and a few years back was in the running in the race for best browser on Mac or PC. It is well known and offers good security and other features, even if it doesn’t quite hold the same esteem as when it was considered king. A new upgrade to the web-slinger is called Firefox Quantum, which offers a slick and smooth experience.
Generally, Mozilla Firefox is not as fast as Chrome but has a strong game on privacy protection; helping secure you as you whizz round the net. Also, if you are low on RAM (storage), Firefox has a light footprint and so could be a good option for your Mac.
• Firefox essential tip: Switch on Tracking Protection to block trackers following you and to add a layer of security to your web browsing.
Another solid option for your browsing comfort is Opera. A plucky challenger, it can serve as an alternative to Safari and also uses low system memory or RAM, like Firefox. Unnecessary content gets compressed away and you are only shown what matters.
Another feature which separates Opera from the field is Turbo, which maintains speedy browsing even when your internet connection is lagging. Although best not to have slow or lagging broadband. Opera also offers a clear and crisp design interface, making it easier to shop, blog, research or just hang out on your chosen pages.
• Opera essential tip: you will find a built-in VPN (Virtual Private Network) in the browser, offering you a quality security option if that’s what you need.
The Brave browser is an interesting one to consider. First off, it lets you use any of the major search engines you want and make them default. It also heavily favours personal security, allowing you to use what’s called a Tor Browser which helps to anonymise all your web movements. With this, it is also big on blocking data-hijacking ads, as well as highly secure and reliable - in fact it even earn rewards you for looking at privacy-respecting ads!
• Brave essential tip: try the Distils Page Function that not only removes unnecessary data on the page but also makes content easier to read.
You may need to pay close attention here but Edge Chromium is a browser from Microsoft, so some aspects may be familiar to Windows users. This new version of Microsoft Edge is itself based on a browser project called Chromium, which forms the basis of Google Chrome. Which is confusing, so let’s instead talk about what it does when serving up new web pages.
Edge Chromium works well if you trust Microsoft more than Google and it sports built-in tracking protection features; to keep an eye on your security as you move around. Chromium also features a nifty text reader called Read Aloud and more options than Safari to customise the web browser.
• Edge Chromium essential tip: if you use extensions, you are in luck, Chromium features the most on any MacOS compatible browser.
Vivaldi is a browser for all seasons. A classical music gag, as it is named after the Italian composer and built on the adaptable Chromium engine we mentioned earlier. Vivaldi is all about offering the best user interface, as you can pretty much customise every aspect of the browser experience; from themes, fonts, menus, colours and toolbars. It also looks sharp and could be one of the most compatible browsers for Mac users.
• Vivaldi essential tip: this is an easy one to install and download, it doesn’t even ask you to download third-party software.
What is the best alternative to Safari on a Mac?
The best choice if you want to try something different to Safari on your Mac will come down to personal preference. That said, you won’t go far wrong with Edge Chromium, Opera or Chrome – if you are happy to be part of the Google eco-system. As Google Chrome is so popular it is worth looking at a head-to-head with Safari.
Safari versus Chrome
As we’ve seen, Safari is Apple’s default Mac browser and Chrome is the most popular web- slinger around. There is a case to be made for sticking with Safari, here are some reasons why.
- Chrome drains your MacBook battery. This is a known issue. We don’t need to say much more here.
- Google is watching you. Simply put, Google’s revenue model is based on ads, and while that is a thorny subject it is clear that data collection, based on your web movements and preferences is baked into Google Chrome. Safari does not have the same issue.
- There is no Chrome support for systems older than Yosemite
- If your MacBook runs an OS older than Yosemite, Chrome won’t work. You could update your Mac but this might not be ideal just to update your browser.
- Safari just works better with Apple stuff.
- Your passwords will be managed better when linking with Safari, using iCloud. The same goes for your Bookmarks, as iOS links work seamlessly with Safari, and Safari only.
- Safari is just surprisingly good to use.
- Recent versions of Safari are sleek, fast and easy. Even though it is the vanilla option in a world where people like to customise everything, if you go back to it you might find it has everything you need.