MacHint: “Safari” or “Chrome” ?

Adapted from a “Gary from MacMost” article.

Let’s compare Safari and Chrome and figure out which browser is best for the Mac.

Safari is the built-in browser for your Mac. Often, I see Mac users go right to Chrome and use that instead. They’ve heard that it’s better, it’s faster, that they should be using it instead of Safari. But is that true? Which browser is actually best for you?

One of the primary factors is speed. So, I did hundreds of comprehensive tests between Safari and Chrome to see which is fastest. No, just kidding! I didn’t do any of that. I just looked at a lot of sites that did comparisons over the years. What I found is there is not really much difference. Some sites say Chrome is faster and some actually say Safari is faster. Most of them say they’re comparable in speed.

Most people agree that Safari has the advantage in privacy. There are a lot of great privacy features and most of them stem from the fact that Apple isn’t trying to advertise to you where Google is. Google makes some of its money through advertising so, of course, it has an interest in collecting information and using information to serve ads to you. Apple doesn’t care about that. Safari works in the Apple ecosystem so it’s using iCloud to sync things like your passwords, like your bookmarks, and if you’re using iPhones, iPads, and Macs then all of that is pretty much automatically synced between your devices. You can even see what Safari tabs are open in other devices. So you can leave our Mac, go to youriPad and then jump right into a tab that you had opened on your Mac.

Safari also has something called Reader View. It takes an article that you’re viewing and gives it to you without distractions. So just the main text and images. It’s great for reading news online. You don’t see it in Chrome because of course Google has an interest in making sure you view the ads that are there. Rumours are that it’s coming to Chrome soon, but it’s been in Safari since 2010.

Safari’s biggest advantage is specifically for MacBook users. If you have a Mac with a battery in it most experts agree that Safari is far better for conserving power. As a matter of fact, you hear people complain online that their MacBook battery isn’t lasting as long as they think it should. A lot of times it boils down to the fact that they’re using Chrome and when they switch to Safari, they find out their batter lasts a lot longer. Safari is really built for conserving battery power.

So, of course, there’s the thing that Safari is built for the Mac. It’s built by Apple. It’s going to be integrated well with the operating system, with iCloud, and the interface is going to be the most Mac-like. Plus, of course, Safari is built in so there’s nothing you need to do to get it. Whereas Chrome you would have to download and install Chrome and it’s another app you need to keep updated. For Mac users that want to keep it simple you can just use Safari. You’ve already got it.

Chrome also has its advantages. Chrome syncs using the Google ecosystem. So, this works well if you’re using android devices, tablets, and phones. It also works really well if you have Windows machines because there is no Safari for windows. But there is Chrome for Windows. You can sync your bookmarks from Mac to Windows by using Google Chrome. Google Chrome is probably the best browser to use if you’re using Google Docs a lot. So, using Google Docs, Google Sheets, you know all the Google apps, then you’re probably not going to get a better experience than using them in Chrome. They work fine in Safari, but Chrome is probably the winner. Sometimes they have new features which only work in Chrome since Google has control over both the browser and the apps. Chrome updates often – this can be good and bad. It’s good because new features and fixes appear quickly. But sometimes bugs can also be introduced. If you like browser extensions, then you probably can’t beat Chrome. There’s a ton of them and it’s easier for developers to distribute whereas Apple has tighter control. So, this is both good and bad. There’s a lot of junk in terms of extensions and Chrome apps and things like that. If you’re a developer, there are tons of tools for both Safari and Chrome. But Chrome probably has a lot more.

Conclusion. I just looked at Safari and Chrome here because they’re the two I see the most. But there are other options including Firefox. My conclusion is that Safari is best in most situations on a Mac especially if you’re using a MacBook because you’re going to get better battery life if you’re using Safari. Safari is also the clear winner if you’re concerned about privacy and you want to stay in the Apple ecosystem using iCloud and using all Apple devices. Chrome is the winner in a couple situations. One is if you happen to have an android phone and you use a Mac computer. In that case Chrome will allow you to sync up your browsing between your devices. Also, if you use Google apps a lot then Chrome is the better solution for using those. A lot of times I will go and use Chrome when I know I have to work for a while in Google Docs or Google Sheets. But there’s no reason why you can’t have both browsers. So, a reasonable solution for a lot of people is to use Safari for most things and switch to Chrome for certain situations.

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