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What is the best Mac browser?

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

Cons: Not especially fast at loading pages

Firefox is the best Mac browser for those who like to tinker. It has a huge range of add-ons and features that you can play with to your heart's content.

Google Chrome: Best for developers
Google's Chrome reminds me of those speed demons: It lacks the fit and finish of Apple's Safari, but man, does it ever burn (virtual) rubber. The browser fully supports Lion's Full Screen mode—which coexists somewhat awkwardly with Chrome's own, functionally identical Presentation Mode.

Also, despite Google's stated intention last year to ditch H.264 video support in favor of its own WebM codec, Chrome still appears to play both types of HTML5 video. Another key feature of Chrome is that it has a built-in Flash renderer, so you don't need to install Adobe Flash to render video.

Chrome also has widespread support and a huge range of add-ons and extensions used by developers. On the whole it's generally considered the developer and tech savvy choice.

Pros: Top JavaScript performance; big improvements to VoiceOver support; top HTML5 standards compliance, built-in Flash rendering engine, good developer support

Cons:Relatively bare-bones interface

Google Chrome is the fastest web browser, so there's little surprise that it's also the most popular. It's also good for developers with a range of add-ons and extensions, and working in the most popular browser is good for ensuring website accessibility.

Opera: Best web browser for innovation and proxy content
While Opera 11.5 calls itself a browser, it feels like it really wants to be more than that. But in trying to do so, this perpetual innovator's latest version falls short.

Opera's site trumpets 11.5's new twists to Speed Dial, a feature similar to Safari's Top Sites launch page. It's still easy to add new sites to Speed Dial's grid of big, clickable buttons, or set your own background image. Now you can also add extensions that Opera says will dynamically display quick, useful Web information: weather reports, clocks, RSS feeds, and more.

Opera still includes a nifty mail client, an ambitious but inelegant file-, message-, and music-sharing service, and the ability to run downloadable Widgets, including—for some reason—aquarium simulators and scientific calculators.

One neat feature worth noting is Opera Turbo, which loads cached web pages from the Opera server rather than online. This speeds up the load time, especially of pages with images. It also has a neat side effect of bypassing web pages that are blocked by your ISP, such as Piratebay which is blocked by Virgin Media.

Pros: Pleasant user interface; Wide variety of features in one program; Continues to strive for innovation

Cons:Slower than Opera 11 in some areas; New features didn't always work as advertised; Packed with superfluous abilities


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