What are the best browsers for Mac

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For Mac enthusiasts venturing into the world of web exploration, the journey doesn't end with Safari. Despite its seamless macOS integration and stellar performance, Safari is just one of many gateways. If you're eager to move on, you're lucky. This guide introduces you to the best web browsers for the Mac, highlighting what makes each option shine and where they might fall short.

The best browsers for specific needs

  • Safari: Best for seamless integration with the Apple ecosystem and energy-efficient browsing.
  • Chrome: Ideal for those seeking an extensive library of extensions and seamless syncing across devices.
  • Firefox: Great for users prioritizing privacy and security with customizable browsing experiences.
  • Microsoft Edge: Suitable for those who appreciate a balance of performance with productivity tools and Microsoft services integration.
  • Vivaldi: Perfect for users desiring deep customization options and advanced user interface configurations.
  • Brave: Optimal for users focused on ad-free browsing and enhanced privacy features.

Best browser for Mac comparison

This table provides a quick snapshot of how each browser compares across several dimensions important to Mac users.

Browser comparison Safari Google Chrome Firefox Opera Microsoft Edge Brave Vivaldi
Feature Native to macOS Chromium Independent Chromium Chromium Chromium Chromium
Speed Fast Very fast Moderate Fast Fast Fast Fast
Privacy & Security High Moderate (with concerns) High High Moderate High High
Built-in features Minimalist design, QuickNote, Reading View Largest extension library, Google services integration Privacy-focused, Picture-in-Picture Sidebar for messaging apps, Battery Saver, free VPN, ad blocker Read Aloud, Microsoft services shortcuts Ad and tracker blocking, Crypto wallet, Brave Talk, Tor integration Customizable sidebar, Web Panels, split-screen view, built-in mail and calendar, Mastodon client
User interface Streamlined design, minimalistic User-friendly, sleek Busy design, wide selection of themes Customizable, feature-rich Sleek, integrates with Microsoft services Ad-free, privacy-centric Busy, highly customizable
Device compatibility Apple devices only All devices All devices All devices All devices All devices All devices except iOS
Extension library Limited Extensive Moderate Moderate Moderate Moderate Wide
Unique selling point Seamless macOS integration Syncs across devices, vast extensions Privacy and security features, less memory usage Integrated convenience features like free VPN Smart AI features, productivity tools Privacy-focused, ad-free browsing Research-friendly tools, privacy controls
Cons Available only on Apple devices, limited plug-ins Privacy concerns, heavy RAM usage Slow on some sites, smaller add-on library Less third-party support, low adoption Ecosystem not as developed Slower updates Overcrowded design, too much functionality for some

As you can see, each browser has its strengths and addresses different user needs, from privacy and security to integration with broader ecosystems and unique features that enhance productivity and web exploration.

How to choose the best browser for Mac

Depending on how you use your Mac browser, you may need different features and specialties. In general, there are four broad categories that sway people one way or another.

User interface: The way a browser looks and works is really important because it helps people use the internet more easily and quickly. A good design makes the browser nicer to deal with and helps you find what you need without trouble.

Speed: Slow speed can quickly kill even the best browser for Mac. Come to think of it, no one ever asked for a website to take longer to load.

Security: If you're lucky, you've never been the target of a hack or malware with the potential to disrupt or, in some cases, destroy your computer. But you can't be too careful. While some browsers are optimized for ease of use, there are also secure browsers that are built from the ground up.

Bells and whistles: For some, it's the little things that matter the most. Looking for Chromecast support? Configurable shortcuts? Extension libraries? All the best web browsers try to differentiate themselves in different ways to appeal to different audiences.

In this guide, we'll examine each browser focusing on its speed, security features, available add-ons, among other aspects. For those short on time, our convenient tables of pros and cons offer rapid insights.

1. Safari – the optimal browser for seamless Mac integration

Apple's Safari leads the pack with its stellar performance and robust security, boasting 1 billion users and about 19% market share in 2023-2024. Preinstalled on all Apple devices, Safari offers a user-friendly interface and essential browsing features like bookmarks and private windows. Its seamless integration with macOS ensures top-notch performance.

What we like is that Safari presents the most streamlined design among other internet browsers for Mac, giving you more space on web pages while minimizing the area occupied by bookmarks and the top menu.

For those using Safari for study or work, features like QuickNote and Reading View enhance productivity by simplifying note-taking and decluttering web pages.

Privacy-wise, Safari shines with anti-fingerprinting and Intelligent Tracking Prevention, blocking unwanted data tracking.

However, Safari's exclusivity to Apple devices may frustrate users who also use Android, requiring them to juggle different browsers. On top of that, its limited support for plug-ins and fewer extensions compared to Chrome might be a drawback for some. Despite these limitations, Safari remains a solid, efficient choice for an all-around web browser.

Pros:

  • Clean design
  • Seamless integration with the Apple ecosystem
  • Excellent privacy and security features

Cons:

  • Limited extension library
  • Only available on Apple devices

Tip: Even though Mac computers are built for privacy and security, you can always increase your protection with a virtual private network (VPN). Connecting to a VPN creates a secure, encrypted tunnel between your device and the VPN server, ensuring all your data remains hidden from outside observers, including ISPs or hackers on public Wi-Fi networks.

ClearVPN is a simple, powerful, and secure VPN. Just download the app via Setapp and you're good to go. This user-friendly VPN is a breeze to configure. To establish a secure connection, simply select your preferred feature, like Location changer or Smart connection, and hit the Connect me button.

clearvpn smart connection

2. Google Chrome – the leading browser for extension enthusiasts

Google Chrome dominates as the leading internet browser, known for its user-friendly and sleek interface that suits both beginners and advanced users. It is customizable and syncs effortlessly across devices.

On top of that, Chrome integrates smoothly with Google's suite, like Google Docs, Gmail, and YouTube, using a single Google account for seamless navigation and syncing. It's quick, efficiently loading pages without heavily consuming RAM.

Boasting the largest library of Chrome extensions, it offers everything from ad-blockers to password managers, making it a top pick for macOS users. 

However, Google Chrome might not be the best option in terms of privacy. Google was sued for tracking users' private browsing, seeking $5 billion in damages for collecting data on users' online activities despite being in Incognito mode.

Using Chrome means accepting Google's deep dive into your browsing habits, even in Incognito mode – a compromise many users are willing to make, while others may look for alternatives.

Pros:

  • Fast performance
  • Syncs across all your devices
  • Huge extension library

Cons:

  • Poor reputation in terms of privacy

Tip: Online ads can slow down websites, use a lot of data, and get in the way of what you're trying to read. AdLock stops these ads, making websites load faster and saving your data. Plus, it's great that the app shows you how much data you're saving by blocking these annoying ads. 

adlock for browser mac

3. Firefox – the privacy-centric browser for Mac users

Before Chrome came along, many people liked using Firefox. It's made to use less memory, which means it can help your Mac run faster and smoother.

Firefox keeps your information and what you do online safe. It has special blockers to stop ads and hidden trackers. You can choose how much protection you want and even tell it which websites are okay to not block.

Firefox also keeps your passwords safe, lets you pick from lots of free designs, and has a cool feature where you can watch videos in a small window while doing other things. It doesn't have as many extra extensions as Chrome, but the good part is Firefox doesn't keep track of everything you do online.

Note that Firefox can be slower when opening websites. And while you can sign into your Firefox account for bookmarks just like in Google Chrome, the fact that it's not a standard option on most computers in the way Chrome is, makes this feature less useful. Its design also doesn't match well with the sleek look of macOS.

Pros:

  • Excellent privacy and security features
  • Wide selection of themes

Cons:

  • Smaller add-on library
  • Slow by modern web standards
  • Busy design

Tip: Dealing with links that open in unintended browsers can clutter your workspace and disrupt your workflow. There's no need to exclusively pick Safari over Firefox when you can use both simultaneously. OpenIn solves this problem by allowing you to open links in your preferred browser with ease. Simply click on a link, and OpenIn will present you with a list of browsers, letting you choose exactly where you want it to open.

open links in preferred browsers mac

4. Opera – feature-rich browser with built-in convenience

Opera stands out as a great choice for Mac users. It uses the same technology behind Chrome but adds its own special touches. One handy feature is a sidebar for messaging apps like WhatsApp, making it easy to stay updated on messages.

We especially like the Battery Saver feature, which detects when you're running your laptop on battery power and reduces background activity to conserve power.

Opera also focuses on privacy, offering a free VPN and ad blocker to keep your web browsing private and quicker by blocking ads.

On top of that, Opera offers a wide range of extensions. You can also customize its appearance with themes and pick up where you left off on another device with Opera installed.

Pros:

  • Integrated ad blocker and free VPN
  • Innovative features like battery saver mode
  • Customizable interface with sidebar access to tools and social media

Cons:

  • Less third-party support compared to Chrome
  • Low adoption

Tip: Opening too many browser tabs can quickly become overwhelming, making it difficult to stay organized and focused on your essential tasks. A practical solution is to select the crucial pages you need daily and pin them to your menu bar for easy access. MenubarX is the perfect tool for this, allowing you to streamline your workflow by keeping important tabs within reach. Plus, it has the added advantage of being much less demanding on your CPU than traditional browsers, ensuring your computer runs smoothly.

menubarx save browser tab on mac

5. Microsoft Edge – a balanced browser for modern web users

Edge is a great browser for Mac users who also use Windows or Microsoft's services. Like Chrome, Edge uses Google's Chromium, so you get lots of extensions to help with work. But Edge is smarter thanks to Microsoft's CoPilot AI. It can chat and summarize web results for you.

Edge's Read Aloud feature is perfect for long reads. It turns text into spoken word, like a podcast or audiobook, which is great if you like listening while doing other things.

You'll also find quick links to Microsoft services like Office and Outlook in Edge. This is handy if you use Microsoft's tools. While some require a subscription, many are free to use online.

Pros:

  • Wide range of extensions
  • Useful productivity features 
  • AI-powered

Cons:

  • Ecosystem and community are not as developed as Safari, Chrome, or Firefox.

Tip: Using different browsers for different tasks can be useful, but if you're someone who opens a lot of tabs, it can quickly get overwhelming to keep track of them all. Sometimes, you might struggle to find a tab you were just on moments ago.

That's where the Tab Finder app comes in handy. It compiles a list of all your open tabs across various browsers, making it easy to find exactly what you're looking for with a simple keyword search.

tabfinder for mac

6. Brave – feature-rich and secure web browser for Mac

For Mac users who prioritize privacy and security without compromising on speed, the Brave browser emerges as a perfect choice. Unlike other browsers that often require additional extensions to bolster user privacy, Brave comes with these features preinstalled. This built-in security suite offers comprehensive control over ad blocking, cookie management, and tracker prevention, allowing you to customize your browsing experience according to your privacy preferences. A unique feature, Brave Shields, provides real-time insights into the ads and trackers being blocked, with the option to disable this protection if you want.

Brave stands out with additional features uncommon in other web browsers. Crypto enthusiasts will appreciate the built-in self-custodial wallet for managing digital assets. Brave Talk enables private phone calls directly from the browser, adding to its suite of privacy tools. On top of that, its integration with Tor appeals to users seeking access to the dark web, all while maintaining the capability to use most Chrome extensions, including those for private search engines and cookie management.

Despite its emphasis on privacy, Brave doesn't lag behind in performance. And while it may not claim the title of the fastest browser on Mac, its efficient RAM usage ensures a smooth online journey. However, note that Brave's update cycle is slower compared to other Chromium-based browsers. This is a minor setback in an otherwise stellar browser, right?

Pros:

  • Built-in adblocker 
  • Good speed and performance (thanks to the absence of ads)
  • Extremely secure browser
  • Many great features 

Cons:

  • Brave's update cycle is slower compared to other Chromium-based browsers

7. Vivaldi – fast and safe browser with clever features

Vivaldi, built on the same Chromium base as Opera, features a versatile sidebar for swift access to web content, including a handy notes function for jotting down insights and capturing screenshots during your browsing – ideal for research.

This browser stands out for its ability to organize tabs into groups, stack them in various positions within the window, and view multiple tabs simultaneously through a split-screen setup. 

Vivaldi's Web Panels keep essential pages ready in the sidebar, opening next to your main window for easy multitasking. You'll appreciate the customizable sidebar that allows for panel reordering, zooming, and width adjustments for better visibility.

Beyond these innovative features, Vivaldi is equipped with built-in mail and calendar apps, a translation tool, robust privacy settings, and an integrated Mastodon client, enhancing its utility and security.

While Vivaldi might not seamlessly integrate with Apple, Google, or Microsoft ecosystems, its comprehensive research tools and privacy measures make it an outstanding choice for users dedicated to extensive online exploration and who prioritize data protection.

Pros:

  • Good speed and performance 
  • Extremely secure browser
  • Many great features 

Cons:

  • Overcrowded design
  • Too much functionality for some users
  • No iOS version

Best browser for Mac: Final thoughts

Choosing the right browser for your Mac can be a challenge with each offering unique features. Whether you prefer Safari's smooth macOS integration, Chrome's vast extensions, or Firefox's privacy focus, remember you're not limited to just one browser. Mixing and matching browsers could be the key to meeting all your online needs.

For those who find themselves juggling multiple browsers, integrating apps like ClearVPN, OpenIn, Tab Finder, AdLock, and MenuBarX can significantly enhance your browsing experience.

These tools, along with others, are readily available on Setapp, a platform with more than 240 top-of-the-line Mac, iOS, and web apps for any task you can imagine. Try every Setapp app today at no cost and find your new absolute favorites!

We hope this guide assists you in finding the perfect browser or combination of browsers. 

FAQ

Which is the fastest browser on Mac?

Safari and Chrome are both fast, but Safari is optimized for Mac, often making it slightly quicker.

Is Safari or Chrome better for Mac?

Safari is better integrated with macOS and more energy-efficient, while Chrome offers a wider range of extensions and better cross-device syncing.

What is the most secure browser for Mac?

Firefox and Brave are known for their strong privacy features, making them among the most secure browsers for Mac users.

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