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The Best Browsers for Mac (Alternatives To Safari)

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Safari is Apple’s default browser in macOS but is it necessarily the best? Here I’ve looked at a selection of the best browsers for Mac, all of which are excellent alternatives to Safari.

Safari isn’t a bad browser and is the natural choice for anyone using an Apple product.

Safari is made by Apple so you can expect it to be optimized for macOS and iOS like no other browser.

However, with the browser market becoming more and more competitive, many other browsers have really upped their game.

Especially when it comes to privacy and tracking, there are now browsers that arguably look out for your interests more than Safari.

Here’s my selection of some excellent alternatives to Safari that you might like to consider.

1. Brave

Launched in 2016, Brave is based on the Chromium engine meaning it has has all the normal Chrome features you might already be familiar with (without actually having to use Chrome).

However, it has a much stronger focus on privacy with its own search tool that won’t track your search history.

It also has a built-in ad, tracker and cookie blocker which automatically clears all cookies when you leave the site.

However, as with many browsers that feature built-in ad blockers, this sometimes has the unintended consequence of blocking-out native video players on sites and some may not play properly as a result.

This setting can however be turned off if it causes too many problems.

Another feature of the desktop version is that it comes with a built in crypto wallet. Brave has quite a strong focus on cryptos and is ideal for those that need added security when using crypto trading platforms.

As a privacy conscious company, Brave also offers its own VPN service that is built in in the browser, but this costs an extra $9.99/month.

2. DuckDuck Go Private Browser

The DuckDuckGo Browser is developed by DuckDuckGo, which is known for its privacy focused Search Engine.

Just like Orion and Firefox (see reviews below), it is based on the WebKit layout engine.

However, the browser tabs, bookmarks, password management is completely custom code by DuckDuckGo, which is what allows them to fully focus on their main selling point; privacy.

The DuckDuckGo browser uses an ad blocker which blocks ads even before the page loads, which not only makes the loading time a lot faster, but it also automatically clears the whitespace where the ads are giving you a cleaner, less distracting experience.

Another great feature is the Duck Player, which is a feature that protects the user from targeted ads and cookies while watching YouTube videos.

There is also a “Fire Button” in the browser, which is a one click button that erases all browsing and history data immediately.

DuckDuckGo Private Browser is still a very young browser with its own teething issues.

The ad blocking is sometimes a bit too good, meaning it also sometimes blocks out native video players on websites, although there are settings you can change to allow them to play.

In addition, plug-ins don’t always work properly and many users have had problems syncing bookmarks and passwords between devices (although recent updates have improved this).

There was also some controversy in May 2022, when it became apparent that the DuckDuckGo browser was not blocking tracking scripts from Bing and LinkedIn.

The CEO explained this was due to a contractual restriction by Microsoft although since August 2022, the company announced it will also block Microsoft trackers in the browser.

3. Firefox

Firefox is probably the most well known free and open-source browser that was first released in 2009.

Firefox uses the Gecko rendering engine to display web pages and is available for all versions of macOS.

A version of Firefox is also available for iOS but instead of using Gecko, it uses the WebKit layout engine instead (just like all other iOS web browsers).

One of the biggest advantages of using Firefox has always been how customizable it is.

There are different themes, dark/light mode, lots and lots of extensions, adjustable search settings and you can change the tab layouts easily.

Firefox also has lots of built in features making your day to day browsing life a lot easier.

For example, it has a built in screen shot tool, bookmarks manager, synchronizer across devices, spell check and pinned tabs just to name a few.

It even has a PDF editor that can do basic editing of PDFs in the browser removing the need for using PDF editing software.

Another effective feature is the built in automatic ad tracking blocker which blocks intrusive ads without affecting your browsing speed.

Not only does it block ad trackers, it also blocks cross-site tracking cookies, crypto miners and social media trackers, making it one of the strictest browsers out there when it comes to privacy.

Although Firefox has quite a few add-ons and extra features, it doesn’t have as many as Safari. And although it doesn’t happen very often, you may find some websites that simply aren’t compatible with third party add-ons in Firefox.

4. Opera

Opera is definitely a browser veteran as it has been around since 1995.

Although it looks very different now than when first released, it has built up a loyal fan base and is starting to gain recognition with new users too.

Opera is based on the same Chromium engine as Chrome and Brave, as a matter of fact, it was the first non-Google browser to adapt it.

The most common features such as ad, tracking and cookies blocker are already covered but there are some more obscure, cooler aspects to it too.

Mouse Gestures is one of them which allows you to navigate the web by clicking the right mouse button while moving the cursor in a certain pattern.

Popular communication apps like Facebook messenger and WhatsApp are also built directly into the browser.

Twitter (or X as it’s now known) can also be added, making sure you can keep full focus on your computer without having to switch between your Mac and mobile device.

Opera also has its own media player that allows you to connect your Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music and other accounts so that you can listen to music without having any of those apps open.

The Opera browser also offers a free VPN and although the amount of servers are limited, it offers some protection while browsing.

In terms of speed, Opera is very fast although some Mac users find it can be a bit of a memory hog.

Opera does not use Google Safe Browsing (GSB) to protect you from malware on websites but uses Yandex and Phistank instead which may not be as reliable as GSB.

5. Orion

If it’s battery life you’re concerned about, then Orion is about as lightweight as you can get and also incredibly fast.

Orion has been developed by Kagi which built the browser on WebKit.

It works natively on both macOS and iOS giving you a seamless experience switching between your Mac and your iPhone.

One of the best features of Orion is Low Power mode. It extends the battery life by reducing Orion’s power consumption by up to 90%.

Orion also uses an automatic Ad blocker that blocks both first -party and third-party scripts or requests.

Orion claims that this blocks 99.9% of all ads, including YouTube ads on both desktop and mobile.

Although its nothing new to browsers, Orion also has a Focus Mode which allows you to remove all toolbars to minimize distraction.

The way Orion handles tabs is also unique as it uses vertical collapsible tabs that are organized in a tree format. For many users, this is easier to handle than multiple tabs along the top of your screen.

One neat touch is that Orion also supports both Chrome and Firefox extensions which is good because the browser itself doesn’t have many extensions itself.

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