Alternative Mac Browsers Chrome and Firefox

While Safari is the default browser and the one most people use on their Macs, you can also easily use Chrome or Firefox. The advantage to those is being able to use the same browser on non-Apple devices, and for Chrome being able to use Google's cloud systems instead of Apple's. Both are free and easy to install, and may come in handy in situations where Safari doesn't work.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Alternative Mac Browsers Chrome and Firefox.

So chances are if you're surfing the web on your Mac you're doing it with Safari which is the builtin web browser and that's what most people use. It's what I use. But there are other options. The browser wars are still going on. There are two major browsers that other Mac users use.

So we have Safari and that just comes with your Mac. Another browser you can get is called Chrome. So Chrome is from Goggle. It shares a lot of the same code that Safari does. The open source part. The part that renders web pages and things like that. So you're going to find that pages look very similar if not identical whether you use Goggle Chrome or you use Safari. So what's the advantage.

Well, the advantage to using Chrome is if you're using the Goggle Ecosystem, in other words you're using Goggle's cloud services. Maybe you also have an android phone. Maybe you've got a Windows machine and you're using Chrome there since it's the most popular browser on Windows. You can then share things like passwords and bookmarks and all of that using your Goggle account.

So if you want cross platform compatibility then you might want to use Chrome on each operating system. You can't use Safari on Windows anymore so you're kind of stuck using something like Chrome across. You can, of course, just use Safari Mac and Chrome on Windows. That's fine. But if you want to have information available across those platforms using Chrome might be the way to do it.

Another browser that you can use is Firefox. Firefox has been in the news recently because they just came out with a new version of the Firefox browser. You can get that for Mac as well. It has a similar advantage in that you can get Firefox on Windows and on Mac but it doesn't have quite the market share that Chrome has. Chrome has really become the dominant browser at least for computers in general. Although, of course, the dominate browser on Macs is clearly Safari since is comes preinstalled on your Mac and most people won't move beyond that.

Now both Chrome and Firefox and Safari all have extensions. But different extensions are available for each. So if you're a developer sometimes Firefox can have an extension that you want or need to be able to develop and the same thing with Chrome.

Now Firefox is going to sometimes look a little different than either Chrome or Safari on your Mac because it's rendering things with a little bit different code. But today, in 2017, things look pretty much the same as standards have been around for a long time and the browsers all kind of render the HTML on each web page in the same way.

One big reason you may want to have multiple browsers available on your machine is that every once in awhile you run into a website that doesn't work with Safari. Safari is probably the strictest in terms of security. So it's not giving access to some apps that may want to be able to access things for video conferencing say or, you know, special security things or downloading things from certain websites, viewing things using certain plugins. It may not be available in Safari. So having Firefox and Chrome is a good way to have a backup. I've run into a few situations, usually in some pretty select environments, where I've needed to have Chrome available so that I could view a webpage or download some content.

Now both Firefox and Chrome are free to download and easy to download. They can live right along side Safari in your Applications folder. It doesn't hurt to have them sitting there just for such an occasion.

Getting these apps is pretty easy. For Chrome just go to or just search for Chrome Mac. Firefox is the same kind of thing. is where you want to go and then there's a download link right there. You can also just search for get Firefox and you'll find it as the top link. So you can just download either of these for free and have them available. Both also have mobile versions that you can get for iOS. So you can add Chrome and you can add Firefox as alternative browsers to have on your iPhone or iPad as well.

Now for the typical Mac user you're not going to need anything but Safari. If you do use Chrome or Firefox on your Mac I'd love to hear why you use it. So leave a comment here at and let me know why you prefer or why you sometimes occasionally have to use Firefox or Chrome.

Comments: 27 Responses to “Alternative Mac Browsers Chrome and Firefox”

    1 year ago

    I am a Mac user on both platforms iOS and Desktop. I prefer using Chrome because when I started with my Mac experience I kept running into the browser specifically Safari having to install something before I could say something so I realized that chrome already did all the security in the background “ patches and plug-ins so everything just worked. I have never gone back to Safari because of the negative experience but maybe they have improved user side experience. Thank you for your site.

    1 year ago

    My previous employer was very much Windows-based and this forced me to use different browsers at home and at work. The one reason I turn to Chrome these days is when Safari saves passwords as cookies and, when I turn to publishing websites, I find myself getting into a tangle if I have different levels of authorisation for different tasks. So, if I log on as editor, I used Safari but if I log on as reviewer I use Chrome.

    1 year ago

    I stopped downloading and using Adobe Flash on my Mac years ago due to security concerns and other reasons. My understanding is that the Flash player is a sandboxed extension in Chrome (doesn’t live on my Mac). This allows me to use a TV viewing app provided by my cable company with Chrome, while I can’t with non Flash-enabled Safari.

    Richard Fuhr
    1 year ago

    While I use Safari as the default browser on my Mac, I also use Firefox and Chrome. One reason for this is that I have developed a few web apps, and want to make sure that they work properly on all the major web browsers (and on some of the relatively minor ones as well, including Vivaldi and Opera).

    Mark D.
    1 year ago

    Similar to Jack (above post), I have not had Adobe Flash installed on my iMac in years. As such, I used to use (and still do actually) use Chrome, but only for viewing YouTube. For everything else, Safari works fine for me.

    1 year ago

    I use Linux and macOS. My OS of choice is macOS. In macOS I only use Safari. Safari is fast, secure and I never ha problems to open any website with it. I already test on macOS Firefox, Chrome, Brave, Opera and Vivaldi. After test all described browsers in macOS still Safari is my choice. Beside, why to have several browsers on macOS if Safari is good enough? Like I said, I never found any website that Safari did not open or did not do what I want.

    1 year ago

    It’s a shame Opera isn’t available on Mac, as it’s a fantastic browser with good built-in ad blocking

    1 year ago

    Opera and Brave are my go to browsers when I’m not on Safari.

    Stu – Opera is on Mac and it seems to perform more reliable than Chrome.

    1 year ago

    I use Firefox on my pc’s, macs, iPads, and iPhones.

    I prefer the interface.

    And, I love the clean integration with LastPass password manager and form filler.

    1 year ago

    Similar to Jim above, I use Chrome mainly because works well with LastPass password manger. Safari has difficulty launching websites and filling in IDs and passwords directly from LastPass program. Unless Safari has been fixed to solve this problem.

    Bruce Anschutz
    1 year ago

    I use Firefox on my mac because I am a webmaster on a couple of different platforms and Safari does not transfer the correct lettering as posted which requires going back in a repairing with Firefox.

    Philip Noguchi
    1 year ago

    I actually keep Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Vivaldi on hand. I use an extension called Choosy, that allows the same url to be opened in any of these browsers on demand. It’s very handy when any one website looks funny or doesn’t work to try it immediately in another browser. I find myself using the latest firefox most of the time, with chrome second and safari third. The major issue I face is lack of full synchronization of bookmarks among the four browsers.

    carl hammel
    1 year ago

    I have actually switched my default browser to Opera. It has free, baked-in VPN.

    geo lud
    1 year ago

    I use Opera on my Mac…it’s faster, doesn’t bog down with open tabs, and many Chrome extensions work on Opera……Gary you should try It!!!

    John H
    1 year ago

    I use Chrome with my MacBook Pro because I find it faster than Safari.
    I use Safari for my banking and financial matters because I I have a program designed for Safari which is excellent for these matters.

    Bill W
    1 year ago

    I use Safari the most but I also use Opera ( I use Opera since version 3.5 )
    and now lately Brave.

    1 year ago

    For general web browsing on my Mac’s at home I use Safari. At work for doing web development I use Chrome. The developer tools in Chrome are better, especially when editing CSS. I occasionally also use Firefox for web development too.

    Joe Kozuh
    1 year ago

    I find Safari the easiest to us.

    Chrome logs info on my web-pages trail, but I find it is awkward to use within a web-page.

    I use Google Search with Safari, but Google Search on Chrome gives better results.

    1 year ago

    I use both safari and Firefox. I like Firefox for its philosophical background.

    1 year ago

    I have an online account with a finacial/bank/brokerage business. Every once in a while I cannot log in with Safari, but I can with Firefox. I started using online financial accounts in 2003 and learned that many were not supporting Mac OSX. That problem has dramatically improved.

    Mike W
    1 year ago

    I use Chrome most of the time on the Mac. One issue I have with Safari is that it has a paltry list of available extensions available for it, as opposed to Firefox and Chrome which both have loads of them, including themes. Also, I use the Google stuff sometimes and Chrome is just better with that.

    Jesper V
    1 year ago

    I use Firefox for homebanking and Safari for everything else.
    The reason is that if I – by mistake of course – visit a “nasty” website and get a virus or something (not very likely on a Mac, I know), it will be sandboxed in Safari and not affect my homebanking. Is that correct thinking, or will it be okay to use Safari for everything including homebanking ?

    1 year ago

    Jesper: If you were to get some sort of malware on your Mac, it would compromise everything. It doesn’t matter which browser you use. But you can’t get malware from just “visiting” a website. You’d need to be tricked into downloading and installing something (prompts, passwords, etc).

    Jesper V
    1 year ago

    Thanks Gary – I will stick to Safari in the future.
    And thank you for your website and newsletter.
    You are a great inspiration.

    1 year ago

    Mozilla also offers the Tor browser — I’d be interested in your general comments on using Tor

    1 year ago

    Ron: Tor would only be needed if you have a significant privacy concern. So for the vast majority of typical users, it isn’t needed. Do you have a significant privacy concern?

    Tom Voelz
    1 year ago

    I had to download Firefox to access 2 sites. The Harley Davidson Ride Planner does not work with Safari. The site has maps and you can create routes and then export to a GPX file for import to GPS.
    I have Humana insurance and their website doesn’t work with Safari. Many of the drop down menus and other content are not displayed. I even called them on it and they told me to use Chrome. I found it worked well with Firefox.

Comments Closed.