Safari vs Chrome: The best browser in 2021

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Nowadays, most of our time on Mac we spend in a browser. Web apps have become so powerful that they cover more and more functionality that used to be exclusively performed by desktop apps. 

When it comes to web browsers on Mac, the choice often falls between two options: Chrome vs Safari. While Chrome is often praised for its flexibility and power features, Safari is the default Mac option that is fast, less taxing on your system, and more private. 

So which browser should you choose? Let’s explore both options in more detail for a definitive answer and see how you can enhance either one with some powerful Mac apps. 

A detailed Chrome vs Safari comparison

There’s a lot that goes into evaluating a browser. Often, the best thing you can do is just to download every option (why not, browsers are free) and see which one you like using better. 

At the same time, comparisons across some categories like interface, features, performance, privacy and extensions could also be valuable and help you make an informed decision about which browser you should set as default. Here’s how Safari vs Chrome compare.

User interface

You can definitely say that both Safari and Chrome are beautiful and easy to use. Their differences mostly come from their respective ecosystems. 

Safari naturally integrates better with macOS and can offer unique UI tweaks such as semi-transparency of the top bar. It’s also more minimal and lets you get rid of pretty much all browser elements. 

Google Chrome is designed to be the center of ChromeOS and handle more tasks in general. It works better with lots of tabs open and is able to manage tons of bookmarks efficiently. In fact, you can even quickly change between your work and home profiles (or others in your household), and all preferences would be automatically adjusted. 

Verdict: A draw. Users who dislike clutter would find Safari more appealing, while power users would find Chrome to be easier to manage. 

Features

If evaluating user interface can be quite subjective, comparing features is much more straightforward. 

A big plus for Safari is its integration with Apple’s ecosystem. If you have an iPhone, you can instantly open the same tabs on your Mac through iCloud Tabs. You can also confirm online purchases made in Safari with Mac’s Touch ID and Face ID technologies. 

Since seemingly every media website nowadays is just filled with ads to the brim, one of the best Safari features is its Reader mode, which lets you define your own reading experience with custom backgrounds, fonts, and text size. 

Safari's Reader mode

Chrome, as you might guess, is certainly a better fit if you have Android devices or use Windows operating system (there’s no Safari for Windows). It also works seamlessly with Chromecast so you can easily stream anything from your computer to your TV. 

Additionally, Chrome closely integrates with other Google apps such as Google Translate, which allows you to translate any webpage to any language in seconds.

Verdict: Apple users in the US might be leaning closer to Safari, while international Android users would prefer Chrome. 

Speed and performance

With any app on your Mac, you’re trying to ensure you get the best performance in terms of speed. No one has time to stare at the spinning beach ball. 

With every macOS release, Apple is integrating Safari deeper within its system, making it speedier and more resource-efficient. 

Chrome, on the other hand, is notorious for its RAM consumption. Since it doesn’t have the same system integration benefits, it’s less efficient almost by definition. 

In some tests, people have found out that Chrome can consume many times the amount of RAM Safari does. At least, Chrome has its own task manager, which you can use to monitor and end taxing processes. 

compare RAM consuming in Task Manager

To verify how both apps perform on your Mac, just open Activity Monitor from the Utilities folder and monitor how Chrome vs Safari are performing. 

Want to make sure none of the apps on your Mac use more than their fair share? You need App Tamer. 

App Tamer is a significant step up from Activity Monitor. This lightweight utility lets you slow down any app that uses too much CPU, whether it’s an active or background process. You can even specify the percentage of CPU you’re willing to allow for each app individually, after which App Tamer will start to throttle the app’s appetite. 

To use App Tamer against Chrome: 

  1. Click to open the app in the menu bar
  2. Select Google Chrome
  3. Check “Slow down this app if it uses more than” 
  4. Choose the percentage (e.g. 10%)

Slow down browser

Verdict: Safari is definitely the speedier and more lightweight browser of the two. But if you need to use Chrome, its desire for more RAM and CPU can be mitigated with App Tamer. 

Privacy and security

As you know, Apple and Google have radically different business models. While Apple mostly relies on hardware sales (iPhones, Macs, etc.), Google sells advertising. And the more information Google knows about you the more it can charge for its ads. 

Even judging solely from this perspective, you can say that Google has a lot more incentives to track you. In addition, Apple is successfully using this discrepancy to push a privacy-first philosophy. They don’t need to track you and can actually turn it into a value proposition. 

On the other hand, Google Chrome does feature robust phishing and malware protection, and is getting near weekly security updates, while Safari is generally updated yearly, with some occasional mid-cycle patches.

Even though we can debate the privacy of browsers, it’s undeniable that most privacy-invasive tactics actually come from websites, from third-party trackers to overwhelming ads. 

AdGuard is by far the best solution on the market to get rid of all ads and trackers in all browsers at once. Rather than being an extension, it’s an actual Mac app that can better manage every browser installed on your system. Just like that, working quietly in the background, AdGuard can protect your Mac from tracking, phishing, malware, and more. Plus, you won’t see any ads and save a significant amount of data.  

manage all ads and trackers in all browsers at once

To ensure even more protection, as well as flexibility in private browsing the web, you should enhance your AdGuard experience with ClearVPN. 

ClearVPN is an effortless VPN for people who care about their privacy and want to get the most out of the web, with no geographic restrictions. You can unlock streaming from different countries, protect yourself from malware, hide your true IP address, block trackers, and so much more — all with just one click.

ClearVPN

Verdict: Safari wins privacy. Google Chrome takes security (for its frequent updates). Both apps can be made much better by using AdGuard and ClearVPN. 

Extensions

Even though browsers come with everything you need pre-installed, you can enhance their functionality with thousands of extensions, which can help with anything from remembering your passwords to checking on your grammar. 

Google Chrome is the clear winner in the extensions game. In fact, this is one of the most valuable aspects of this browser, and lots of people use Chrome solely because of its extensions ecosystem. Safari does feature necessary extensions, but nowhere near the level of Chrome. 

However, you should also be mindful that every extension uses up even more resources from your system and requires you to approve certain permissions. 

If you have lots of extensions to manage, update or periodically delete across browsers the best way to keep track of them is through CleanMyMac X. 

CleanMyMac X is the world’s leading optimization software for Mac. It can easily speed up all your processes, clear your RAM, and manage all extensions at a glance. Just open the Extensions tab and remove anything you don’t use or need. 

manage Safari extensions

Verdict: Google Chrome is a more reliable browser if your work requires lots of extensions operating at any given time. Just don’t forget to manage them all through CleanMyMac X.

Can you have two browsers on your Mac?

While reading our Safari vs Chrome comparison, you might’ve thought — why not just keep two browsers on your Mac and switch between them as needed? Indeed that might be a good compromise. Maybe you could decide to use Safari for personal needs and Chrome for work, for example. Or use Safari as default, with occasional Chrome supplementation. 

In any case, both browsers can benefit greatly from having the right apps around them. App Tamer can control your CPU, AdGuard gets rid of all the ads, ClearVPN ensures your privacy, and CleanMyMac X can manage all your extensions. 

Best of all, App Tamer, AdGuard, ClearVPN, and CleanMyMac X are available to you absolutely free through the seven-day trial of Setapp, a platform with more than 210 top-of-the-line Mac apps for any task you can imagine. Try every Setapp app today at no cost and find your new absolute favorites!

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