With every Mac since 2003, users have gotten a copy of Safari. It’s basically Apple’s vision of the ideal web browser, targeted at general users. But there are many Safari alternatives for Mac users—some common, some more obscure.
It’s worth checking them out, because although Safari isn’t a bad browser, other Mac browsers can often offer something different.
So with that in mind, here are some of the best Mac web browsers you’ll find right now.
There isn’t much to say about Chrome. In a relatively short time, it’s grown far beyond every other browser. It’s one of the most extensible browsers you can use. You can get everything from password safes to full-on text editors that all live right in your browser.
Even with all the additions, Chrome is a strong contender for the fastest browser.
But this power all comes at a cost. If you’re on a laptop, Chrome can chew up a ton of battery life with only a few browser tabs. If you’re looking to extend your battery life, this is not the best choice. It is great for web apps, though, especially Google’s.
Download: Chrome (Free)
Firefox is the original alternative browser and one that many called “doomed” when Chrome came on the scene. Firefox is not dead, but it was touch and go for a few years as there was a persistent idea that it was slow.
Firefox has a renewed sense of relevance driven by quick updates. Performance can also be improved by clearing out old extensions that might hurt performance.
Firefox is not the same as Chrome. You won’t find an array of apps that turn your browser into an OS. But you will find an excellent array of extensions that make your browser more powerful.
If you’re wary of the resources Chrome consumes on your system, Firefox is worth a new look.
Download: Firefox (Free)
Opera is the vinyl record of web browsers. Its fans are deep and devoted, but a little outside of the mainstream. Opera was never the dominant browser on the web. Yet it was usually first to market with features that are now standards in other web browsers.
After a decade of putting Opera on everything with a CPU, the browser has a renewed focus on the desktop. It certainly has some interesting features.
The first is that there is an Opera-branded free VPN you can add as an extension. There’s also support for embedding social chat apps into the sidebar. Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger are standard, but you can add others as extensions. There’s a built-in RSS reader included as well.
There’s even a battery-saving feature included for laptops, which works by tweaking options on the page as it loads.
Opera is a great, lightweight Mac browser if you like features. Beyond its built-in ecosystem, there’s an extension that allows you to Chrome Extensions. It’s a solid browser, fixing many of the issues that plague Chrome.
Download: Opera (Free)
Vivaldi is meant to be a reboot of Opera, stripping everything down to a bare-bones browser. That bare-bones approach to the browser is not to say that Vivaldi is generic.
Vivaldi has a good balance of features without getting in the way. You can move the tab bar to any side of the window. There are many color themes you can use, which can change based on the time of day. You can even adjust the browser theme based on your Hue light bulb settings.
Vivaldi also has built-in compatibility with Chrome plugins. Web history has in-depth analysis, allowing you to do a deep dive into your browsing habits. The Vivaldi Sync feature lets you access your data elsewhere. There’s a notebook included, and you can take notes that include screenshots and attachments.
There are just a few of the reasons to consider Vivaldi as your new web browser for Mac. Considering it only launched officially in 2016, it’s come a long way in a short few years.
Download: Vivaldi (Free)
Having been the dominant player in the browser market for so long, it’s kind of weird to see Microsoft so far behind now. Sure, it’s the second-most used web browser in the world, but its userbase is nowhere near Chrome’s.
The good news is it’s a great web browser for Mac users. Having replaced Internet Explorer, Edge is fast and easy to use. But like many modern browsers, it owes a huge debt to Google, because it’s based on the open-source Chromium browser.
Edge offers plenty of extensibility through the Microsoft Edge add-ons store, but it also supports Chrome extensions. Plus it has features like PDF support, themes, and online tracker blocking.
All things considered, it’s an impressive alternative to Safari.
Download: Edge (Free)
The Tor network is a unique way of disguising traffic by routing it through several nodes. For a long time, it was tricky to set up, but the project now offers a browser bundle as a standalone install.
The app is essentially Firefox but with the strictest privacy settings. Your history erases between sessions. Also included are the No Script and HTTPS Everywhere plugins. These add-ons increase security even further. It’s not bulletproof, but it should provide some sense of security.
The Tor bundle is an excellent ancillary browser. Using it ensures that your sensitive traffic is not tracked during normal browsing. If you worry about privacy, the Tor browser bundle is for you.
Download: Tor Browser (Free)
It promises to load pages three to six times quicker than Chrome and Firefox. But that’s not the big selling point here, privacy is.
Brave doesn’t see or store your browsing data, and it will never be sold to a third party. Brave also includes ad-blocking and private browsing via Tor.
If you need add-ons with your Mac browser, then you’ll be pleased to know Brave can use most Chrome extensions. You also sync across different devices, as you would with browsers like Chrome and Firefox.
Download: Brave (Free)
If you remember the late 90s or early 00s, browser suites were all the rage. Even Opera took the form of a suite for a while there. Maxthon combines a notebook app, mail program, a screenshot app, a password manager, and a browser. It is one of the only alternative browsers on the Mac App Store.
Beyond the range of apps built in, there isn’t anything that makes Maxthon stand out. The newest version for Mac doesn’t even support extensions.
Yet, if you live in your web browser, having everything in one window might be helpful. You have a notebook that you can keep everything in, even your bookmarks. Rather than a sidebar app like Vivaldi, this is a full tab in the browser. Everything is passable here; it’s just not distinctive beyond all being in one place.
Download: Maxthon (Free)
One of Your Most Important Apps
Browsers are probably the most-used apps on any modern Mac. Each of these options offers something unique to each user. Give each of them a spin and find out which works best for you. You’ll likely find that one of these browsers fits your workflow better than others.
You might find that Safari does fine most of the time—it is designed with Mac users in mind, after all. In that case, you might use one of these Safari alternatives only for supplemental browsing. Plus it never hurts to have a few options installed and ready to go, especially if you experience any problems with Safari.
Having issues with downloads in Safari for Mac? We’ll cover how to troubleshoot lost, stuck, and other download problems.
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