With every Mac since 2003, users have received a copy of Safari. It's basically Apple's vision of the ideal web browser aimed at general users. But there are plenty of Safari alternatives for Mac users – some common, some more obscure.
They are worth trying out because while Safari is not a bad browser, other Mac browsers can often offer something different.
With that in mind, here are some of the best Mac web browsers you will find right now.
There's not much to say about Chrome. In a relatively short amount of time, it has outgrown any other browser. It's one of the most extensible browsers you can use. You can get everything from password safes to full-fledged text editors, all of which live right in your browser.
Despite all the additions, Chrome is a strong contender for the fastest browser.
But that power comes at a price. If you're using a laptop, Chrome can use up a ton of battery life with just a few browser tabs. If you want to extend the battery life, this is not the best choice. However, it's great for web apps, especially those from Google.
Download: Chrome (free)
Firefox is the original alternate browser, and one that many called "damn" when Chrome first came out. Firefox isn't dead, but it was touch-and-go for a couple of years since the lingering idea was that it was slow.
Firefox has a renewed sense of relevance powered by quick updates. Performance can also be improved by removing old extensions that could affect performance.
Firefox is not just Chrome. You won't find a bunch of apps that turn your browser into an operating system. But you will find an excellent selection of extensions that will make your browser more powerful.
If you're unaware of the resources Chrome is consuming on your system, Firefox is worth a fresh look.
Download: Firefox (free)
Opera is the record of the web browser. His fans are deep and devoted, but a little off the mainstream. Opera has never been the dominant browser on the web. Still, it was usually first on the market with features that are standard in other web browsers today.
After a decade of betting on anything with a CPU, the browser is once again focusing on the desktop. It certainly has some interesting features.
The first is that there is a free Opera branded VPN that you can add as an extension. There's also support for embedding social chat apps in the sidebar. Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger are standard, but you can add others as extensions. An integrated RSS reader is also included.
There's even a laptop battery saver that works by tweaking the options on the side when charging.
Opera is a great, lightweight Mac browser if you like features. In addition to the built-in ecosystem, there is an extension that allows you to use Chrome extensions. It's a solid browser that fixes many of the problems plaguing Chrome.
Download: Opera (free)
Vivaldi is supposed to be a restart of Opera and reduce everything to a simple browser. That sober approach to the browser doesn't mean Vivaldi is generic.
Vivaldi has a good balance of functions without getting in the way. You can move the tab bar to any side of the window. There are many color themes that you can use that can change depending on the time of day. You can even customize the browser design based on your Hue bulb settings.
Vivaldi also has built-in compatibility with Chrome plugins. The web history has in-depth analysis that allows you to delve deep into your browsing habits. The Vivaldi Sync function allows you to access your data elsewhere. A notebook is included and you can take notes with screenshots and attachments.
There are just a few reasons to consider Vivaldi as your new web browser for Mac. Considering it wasn't officially launched until 2016, it has come a long way in just a few years.
Download: Vivaldi (free)
Having been the dominant player in the browser market for so long, it's kind of strange to see Microsoft so far behind now. Sure, it's the second most widely used web browser in the world, but its user base is nowhere near that of Chrome.
The good news is that it is a great web browser for Mac users. Edge replaces Internet Explorer and is quick and easy to use. But like many modern browsers, it owes a lot to Google as it is based on the open source Chromium browser.
Edge offers a lot of extensibility through the Microsoft Edge Add-Ons Store, but also supports Chrome extensions. Besides, it has features like PDF support, themes, and online tracker blocking.
All in all, it's a formidable alternative to safari.
Download: Edge (free)
The Tor network is a unique way of disguising traffic by routing it through multiple nodes. The setup was tricky for a long time, but the project now offers a browser bundle as a standalone installation.
The app is essentially Firefox, but with the strictest privacy settings. Your history will be cleared between sessions. Also included are the No Script and HTTPS Everywhere plugins. These add-ons increase security even further. It's not bulletproof, but it should give you a sense of security.
The Tor bundle is an excellent additional browser. Using it ensures that your sensitive traffic is not tracked during normal browsing. If you are concerned about privacy, the Tor browser package is for you.
Download: Tor Browser (Free)
It promises to load pages three to six times faster than Chrome and Firefox. But that's not the big selling point here, it's privacy.
Brave does not see or store your browsing data and is never sold to third parties. Brave also includes ad blockers and private browsing through Tor.
If you need add-ons for your Mac browser, you'll be pleased that Brave can use most of the Chrome extensions. They also sync across different devices like you would with browsers like Chrome and Firefox.
Download: Brave (Free)
If you remember the late 90s or early 00s, browser suites were all the rage. Even Opera took the form of a suite there for a while. Maxthon combines a notebook app, an email program, a screenshot app, a password manager and a browser. It's one of the few alternative browsers on the Mac App Store.
Aside from the built-in apps, there is nothing that sets Maxthon apart. The latest version for Mac doesn't even support extensions.
However, if you live in your web browser it can be helpful to have everything in one window. You have a notebook to keep everything, even your bookmarks. Instead of a sidebar app like Vivaldi, this is a full tab in the browser. Everything is passable here; it's just no different than having everything in one place.
Download: Maxthon (free)
One of your most important apps
Browsers are probably the most used apps on any modern Mac. Each of these options offers something unique to each user. Try each of them and find out which one works best for you. You will likely find that one of these browsers will suit your workflow better than others.
You may find that Safari works fine most of the time – it was designed for Mac users after all. In this case, you can only use one of these Safari alternatives for additional browsing. Plus, it never hurts to have a few options installed and ready to go, especially if you're having problems with Safari.
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About the author
(44 articles published)
Michael didn't use a Mac when they were doomed, but he can program in Applescript. He has degrees in computer science and English; he's been writing about Mac, iOS, and video games for a while; and he's been an IT monkey a day specializing in scripting and virtualization for over a decade.
By Michael McConnell
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