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What is the best Mac browser?

Mark Hattersley | May 30, 2013
We pitch Apple's browser against five popular alternatives

Web browsing in Mac OS X couldn't be easier. Ever since Apple introduced its own web browser, Safari, to Mac OS X and inserted its icon into the Dock by default all you need to do is to connect to WiFi (or a local network) click the Safari icon and you're good to go.

Many Mac users are familiar with Safari, especially if they use both iOS and Mac OS X (both of which use Safari as the main way to interact with the web). But Safari isn't the only Mac browser, and it's not necessarily the best.

In this feature we're going to take a look at some of the pros and cons of using different Mac browsers, and what they're best for.

Safari: Best Mac browser for Apple fans
Safari is Mac OS X's (and iOS) default web browser shipped with all Macs. Superficially it does the same job as other web browsers (you type in URLs or search terms) and it serves up web addresses.

Over time Apple has included features once the preserve of other browsers such as extensions and add-ons, and steadily tried to ensure that it remains one of the fastest browsers on the market (speed is probably the essence of most web browsers).

Safari is also—unsurprisingly for Apple — one of the most visually pleasing browsers on the market. With its restrained grey interface, clean menu system, rounded buttons, and unobtrusive styling it makes browsing the web a pleasurable experience. It also has some great features like iCloud Tabs, Offline Reading List, and syncs bookmarks between iOS and Mac OS X devices.

Pros: Twitter integration, offline reading list, and Tab View are all useful; iCloud Tab share is interesting; Smart Search is more straightforward to use

Cons: Bookmarks and email features are too well hidden for our liking; developers aren't impressed with Developer Tools

Best Mac browser for: Apple fans. If you own both a Mac and iOS device you'll especially enjoy the linked features. Safari is also popular amongst web developers looking to create mobile websites, due to its mobile simulator and sharing the same engine as Mobile Safari (used on iOS devices).

Firefox: Best Mac browser for tinkerers
Firefox is the most open browser, and is the one with the most add-ons and developer tools (it is a particular favourite amongst web developers). Firefox still seems more interested in testing out new bells and whistles than smoking its rivals with raw speed and power. It lands pleasantly between Safari's slick design sense and Chrome's quickness. Anyone not enamoured with either of those browsers should definitely give Firefox a try.

Pros: Terrific set of developer tools; Encrypted Google searches; Support for fullscreen mode


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