Safari vs. Chrome on OS X: Which Browser Is Right For You?

Joel Lee 24-05-2016

The browser war never ends. No matter how many times we compare all of the major browsers Which Browser Is Best? Edge vs. Chrome vs. Opera vs. Firefox The browser you're using right now may not be the best one for you. The browser arena changes so frequently that your conclusions from comparisons made last year may be completely wrong this year. Read More to determine a winner, the answer is always the same: learn what each browser offers and use the one that best suits your own needs.


The problem isn’t that people are using inferior browsers — it’s that they aren’t using the optimal one for browsing the web in the way they want to browse it. Truth is, brand loyalty is counter-productive Why Brand Loyalty is the Enemy of Productivity You can't gain knowledge of something you're not willing to explore. Can you break through your prejudices and try out new things? Try. Productivity could be just outside your comfort zone. Read More . You should revisit your options regularly to see if maybe something better exists.

So, Chrome or Safari? It’s not a clear-cut answer. Here are a few considerations that will make your decision easier to make, but ultimately, it’s about using the one that feels most comfortable to you.

3 Reasons to Use Chrome on OS X

Chrome recently overtook Internet Explorer Chrome Overtakes Internet Explorer, Solving Windows God Mode Malware... [Tech News Digest] Chrome is the most popular Web browser, Windows God Mode gets hit with malware, Apple thinks you'll be upgrading soon, Google Keyboard gets a major update, and Apple Watch is improved immeasurably by Windows 95. Read More and became the most popular browser in the world with a market share over 40 percent — and that’s including Microsoft Edge as part of the Internet Explorer numbers.

A lot of people love Chrome. Can they all be wrong? Maybe, but not likely. Even though there might be several annoying issues with Chrome 10 Annoying Chrome Issues and How to Fix Them If you are experiencing Chrome problems, you've come to the right place. In this article, we take a look at some of the most common flaws and provide guidance on how to fix them. Read More , at the end of the day, it’s a browser that’s user-friendly and just works.

1. Faster Performance

Ask any ten OS X users which browser is the fastest and about nine of them will tell you that Chrome beats Safari without question. In fact, in most comparisons between the two, Chrome’s leading advantage is its speed and performance.



This is because of the way Chrome is designed. It heavily utilizes the CPU, to a greater degree than other major browsers, in order to load pages as quickly as possible. As a result, it drains power fast — but that’s fine if you’re plugged in.

2. User-Friendly & Modern Interface

People who switch from Chrome to Safari often find that there are certain features and changes that they simply dislike 3 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Switching To Safari It's not easy to switch browsers, but unperturbed, I launched myself into the world of Steve Jobs – iTunes, iWork, iCloud, and, significantly – Safari. Here's what I wish I'd known first. Read More , and the biggest experiential difference is in the user interface. For most, Chrome just feels better to use.



The three Safari interface features that are most immediately noticeable: the bookmarks bar doesn’t have favicons, the tab bar is below the address bar, and everything is strangely centered. It’s strange and hard to acclimate to.

At the end of the day, Chrome has several small quality-of-life features that make all the difference. For example, tab management is easier and more intuitive, you can reopen more than one previously closed tab, and more.

3. Better & More Extensions

It’s pretty much a fact by this point: Chrome has the best extensions. Nobody can really argue this, and even fans of other browsers grudgingly admit that Chrome wins here.

Extensions always come to Chrome first, other browsers second — but the sad thing here is that Safari is an extensions outcast on par with Opera and Edge. Most extensions never make it to Safari.



Sure, customizations are possible in Safari. We even have a guide to customizing Safari’s features The Ultimate Guide to Customizing Safari on Mac Make Safari an even better browser for your Mac by customizing it. Here's how to tweak it to your liking. Read More to make it as comfortable to use in whatever circumstances. But even so, it falls quite short of what Chrome can accomplish with its plethora of extensions.

In short, Chrome is more complex than Safari and has greater potential for extensibility yet still manages to be more intuitive and straightforward.

3 Reasons to Use Safari on OS X

Despite all of the above, there are many good reasons not to use Chrome on OS X Safari vs. Chrome for Mac: 9 Reasons You Shouldn't Use Chrome Between Safari and Chrome on Mac, Safari is the clear winner. Here's why you should avoid using Google Chrome on Mac. Read More , especially if you’re on a MacBook variant and long-duration portability is important. We’ll address some of these issues below.


But perhaps the biggest indictment against Chrome is that it doesn’t feel very “Mac” in its design.

1. Native Apple Ecosystem

Every OS X user understands that one of the biggest draws of the operating system is its coherent design and unified aesthetic. There is a “Mac” way to do things and it feels best when the OS X version of an app adheres to that way.


Chrome doesn’t care about any of that. It is its own app and you’ll have to get used to its non-Mac quirks. Of course, this criticism could be laid against other apps too, but we’re directly comparing against Chrome here and its a point to consider.

Safari is also better for those deeply entrenched in the Apple and iCloud ecosystem. With iCloud, you can keep all of your details synchronized across your OS X and iOS devices: passwords, bookmarks, open tabs, history, etc.

2. Unique Built-In Features

A lot of people view Safari as a primitive browser in several respects, but it really isn’t. It comes with a number of cool features built right into the browser — no extensions necessary.

For example, the Push Notifications feature allows websites to send alerts and notifications to the Notification Center, which is really useful for oft-visited sites with a lot of user activity.


Other interesting features include: AirPlay (which lets you stream video directly from OS X to Apple TV What's AirPlay, And How To Use It In Mac OS X Mountain Lion Imagine you want to play your favorite album in Spotify. Naturally, you'll be hooking your computer up to a better sound station. But what if you're lying in bed, or sitting on the couch? Ideally,... Read More ), Reader (which lets you read articles in peace by clearing away distractions like ads), and Responsive Design Mode (which lets you see what a website would look like on other devices and screen sizes).

Not everyone will make use of every one of these features, but it’s something to keep in mind anyway.

3. Lighter Resource Usage

Perhaps the most winning feature of Safari over Chrome is the fact that it uses less CPU and RAM to accomplish the same tasks. Less resource usage translates to less power drain, which translates to longer battery life.


Indeed, studies have shown that Safari can provide up to an additional hour of battery life compared to Chrome, which is significant when you’re traveling with your laptop 8 Crucial Things You Should Know Before Travelling Abroad With Your Phone, Tablet, Or Laptop If you're about to go international with your smartphone, tablet and/or laptop there are a few things you should know before you go. You might need extra peripheral devices and plugs, entertainment and maps pre-downloaded,... Read More , doing work on an airplane, or even if your power goes out for a night.

Less resource usage also means less heat being generated by the CPU (which could mean longer lifespan 5 Laptop Maintenance Tips To Extend Its Life Expectancy Laptops are replaced every few years. We crave fancier hardware, novel features, and maybe our old device has become unresponsive and suffered some damage over time. Consequently, most laptops get thrown out prematurely. Unless you... Read More ), which also means slower spinning fans, less fan noise, longer-lasting fans, and more bearable temperatures if you use the laptop on your actual lap.

Safari or Chrome: What’s Your Choice?

If you decide to go with Chrome, take a minute to view our Chrome vs. Firefox comparison Chrome vs. Firefox in 2016: Which Browser Is Right For You? I want to explore why people might prefer one over the other, and hopefully those reasons will shed some light on features and aspects that you may not have considered before. Read More as well as our recommendation to use Opera 3 Unmissable Reasons Opera Is the Right Browser for Your Mac Chrome and Firefox rule on Windows, but on OS X, Opera is the browser to beat. Eternal favorites Chrome and Firefox can give you flexibility, but not without some heavy compromises. Read More . Even if Safari isn’t the browser for you, it’s possible that Chrome isn’t either.

On the other hand, if you’re thinking of switching to Safari, then check out our guide to switching from Chrome/Firefox to Safari Faster, Sleeker, Better: How To Switch From Chrome/Firefox To Safari Thinking about using Safari on your Mac, but worried you might lose features and bookmarks? Here's a quick guide to comfortably moving to Apple's web browser, without missing out. Read More . The process is much easier than you’d think.

And don’t stop there. Tweak Safari even further with these crossover features from Chrome/Firefox Power up Safari with Your Favorite Features from Chrome and Firefox It would be convenient if you could port your favorite Chrome/Firefox features to Safari, right? We’ll show you which features you can add to Safari and how to make that happen. Read More , these extensions for boosting productivity 12 Extensions for Safari That Can Really Make You More Efficient Essential add-ons can add not only convenience, but more efficiency. Safari offers some terrific tools, between toolbars and buttons that can help you improve your work and even your play on this popular browser. Read More , and these general tips for Safari users Improve Your Safari Experience with These 10 Tips Don’t you wish you could fix a few Safari quirks here, speed up a few things there? A good mix of in-built features and extensions is all it takes. Read More .

So, which browser have you decided to use? What are your reasons for going that way? Was there anything we missed? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Related topics: Google Chrome, Safari Browser.

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  1. Victor Step
    September 6, 2017 at 6:29 am

    I used to use Safari all of the time. I even developed with Safari.
    However, now on my personal MacBook at home, Safari just seems to lag all the time, and Chrome is so much better, despite the many extensions working simultaneously. I am still not quite sure why it is the case. The computer is now 4 years old, a lot of stuff on it, yet Chrome has no problems handling all of this.
    Maybe someone has a tip?
    Thanks for the post!

  2. john
    June 28, 2017 at 8:54 am

    To compare Chrome and Safari, just answer the following questions :
    Is Safari a cross platform browser ? –> No
    Who are Linux users ? –> Developpers
    Will Linux users buy an expensive computer just for testing ? –> No
    Is an untested website reliable ? –> No

    So why people should not using Safari ? –> because it is broken by default (it render untested websites)

    Personally, as a developper, everytime safari users tell me that websites don’t work, I simply say : yes it is normal. It is because you are using Safari. They download another browser (not IE) and are always happy with that change.

    Cross platform compatibility should always be the starting point of comparison. If this point is not checked, all other reasons are meaningless.

    PS : As long a Apple will continue to ignore developpers, the number of users of Safari will continue to decrease just because their will not be able to browse the web correctly.
    Note that Safari is not alone in this case : Internet Explorer has lost a lot of users exactly for the same reason.

  3. Drew
    January 14, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    Chrome: manages to be both bloated and resource heavy out of the box but also rely on extensions for basic functionality like storing more than one password per site. I tried to go back to it but it scrolls like it has arthritis on most sites and completely forgets that inertial scrolling is a thing on others. Chrome feels like Google ported IE to macOS.

    If Firefox, Opera or Vivaldi plugged into iCloud Keychain I might use them more but bouncing back and forth between devices and using Touch ID for logins is just too easy in the Apple ecosystem. Transferring all my logins to another browser sounds like a pain in the ass. FF for web dev and computers I don't own. Safari for everything else.

  4. Anonymous
    May 25, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    I agree with Ryan above. A post on mirroring all of the built in functionality of Safari on Chrome would be nice. For example, the top sites and favorites view on Safari is excellent. Sure, there are speed dial tabs on Chrome that are similar. But none of the feel as polished as Safari's. Also, when you click on the address bar in Safari it shows you your favorites right there. Haven’t been able to find an extension like that for Chrome. Also, the ability to sync open tabs and start reading something on my Mac and then continue reading it on my phone is something I use all the time. The speed of Safari seems to always be faster in my opinion that Chrome as well. Especially if you go full screen and then turn off the top bar and install an ad blocker extension like wiper. You’ll notice a huge speed improvement.

    • Joel Lee
      June 2, 2016 at 1:35 am

      Thanks for the feedback and thoughts, Scott! A strict side-by-side comparison of features would be an interesting approach, perhaps for a future article. :)

  5. Fraser Smith
    May 25, 2016 at 5:13 am

    "an extensions outcast on par with Opera and Edge."

    Aren't you aware that Opera can run most Chrome extensions? There's even an extension that allows it to use the Chrome Webstore.

    Hardly an outcast…

  6. Jackie
    May 25, 2016 at 12:14 am

    Both are garbage and always freezing up. I use Opera and its always smooth.

    • Joel Lee
      June 2, 2016 at 1:33 am

      I use Opera as my main personal browser so I can't say I disagree. ;)

  7. Lorenzo
    May 24, 2016 at 11:13 pm

    For developing Chrome and Firefox Developer Tools are better than Safaris because they are improving constantly.

    • Joel Lee
      June 2, 2016 at 1:33 am

      Yeah, other than Responsive Design Mode, I don't feel like Safari is very good for web dev. I prefer Chrome over the rest if that's the only criterion.

  8. MrBrady
    May 24, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    I disagree that Chrome is faster than Safari. Well, perhaps in benchmark applications with no extensions installed, but you put them side-by-side in the real world and, at least in my experience, Safari seems smoother. Plus, as mentioned in this article, it's more resource friendly, which on a laptop means longer battery life.

    I still prefer Chrome though because of it's integration with Google's Ecosystem and plethora of extensions.

    • Joel Lee
      June 2, 2016 at 1:32 am

      Safari is smooth, yeah, but I think Apple has learned how to mask things like lag and delay with nice animations and stuff like that. Maybe that explains the discrepancy?

      Seems like one's ecosystem (Google vs. Apple) is a big deal-maker between Chrome and Safari. Then again, I'm not really plugged into either, so I make my decisions based purely on usability and aesthetics. :D

  9. Ryan Hayden
    May 24, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    I love Google Chrome (I even use a Chromebook for some things and always use chrome on Linux or Windows) but I've recently switched back to Safari as my main browser. For me, the main two reasons are:
    * I like the way it looks. I've never been a fan of Chrome's aesthetic.
    * I it integrates really well with my iPhone.
    * I love the sidebar and reading list features (again, especially with the iPhone)
    * I use the reader view all the time and like it better than extensions like Evernote clearly.

    One interesting post would be the Chrome extensions that you need to mirror all of the built in functionality of Safari.

    • Joel Lee
      June 2, 2016 at 1:27 am

      I could never get used to the look and feel of Safari but if you like, all the more power to you! Thanks for sharing your reasons, Ryan. :) Would be interesting to see what extensions can replicate Safari on Chrome.