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

The browser war never ends. No matter how many times we compare all of the major browsers 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. 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 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, 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.

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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, and the biggest experiential difference is in the user interface. For most, Chrome just feels better to use.

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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.

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Sure, customizations are possible in Safari. We even have a guide to customizing Safari’s features 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, 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.

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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.

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Other interesting features include: AirPlay (which lets you stream video directly from OS X to Apple TV), 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.

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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, 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), 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 as well as our recommendation to use Opera. 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. 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, these extensions for boosting productivity, and these general tips for Safari users.

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!

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