The New Browser ‘War’?


A couple days ago I began to write about this post by Zeldman. But then I saw it referenced in another place or two, and thought it not significant enough to devote my time to when a couple others already had. But this thing just keeps popping up, and it’s got me thinking again.

A while back I wrote about my indecision/inability to stick with one browser for an extended period of time. I’ve been stuck in a fun-house style loop between Safari, Firefox, and Camino for far too long and I’ve yet to ultimately declare a firm winner (by my personal preference).

I guess I shouldn’t be all too surprised that Safari seems to get the nod from the Apple community – it’s even in black and white just to the right of this post, where you the readers have spoken and show Firefox as second fiddle to Apple’s browser. But yet when I use it on a regular basis I still run into little things that cause me to go back to Firefox or Camino. I just can’t stick with it for my full-time browsing needs.

So I guess, more than anything, I’m curious to hear what it is about Safari that causes you to choose it over its competition. (For me, Firefox 2 has a lot of thing very right, and I am high on the plugins again…not to mention it makes things easier going between a single browser on my work Dell and my home MacBook.) I wonder if you use different browsers for different tasks: General browsing/email in Safari, Downloads in Firefox, etc, etc. Or are you strictly a one-browser user?



Camino right now. I usually switch between Firefox and Camino. Safari is just too much of a memory hog for my taste.


Hey Brett: Safari HAS an application like Roboform. It’s called 1Passwd. Works in Firefox and a bunch of other browsers too. Can’t live without it, as a Web Dev.
As for the browser itself: I used to be an OmniWeb user, but I’m all Safari now. ‘Cept of course for the sites that choke on it (not too many these days). So Firefox (transformed with GrApple (UNO) and fixed with Firefoxy) is just always on too. Tolerated. Would use it more if the Mozilla team would build a regular Cocoa version. Would toss it rightaway though if some Mac dev would write a Firefox Extension to Safari plugin converter.

Lars-Erik Dahle

I was an Opera user for my first year with the Mac, and while the overall browsing experience and password management features were great, there were some minor niggles – like youtube not working properly, and lack of OS integration. Opera also has some features I couldn’t do without, mainly session saving.

I finally switched to Safari when I discovered SAFT, a plugin that gives Safari a lot of useful options, the two major ones for me being session saving and search shortcuts/bookmark shortcuts. Together with PithHelmet for adblocking and Inquisitor for slick googling, SAFT makes Safari the superior OS X browser for me.


I really like Firefox 2.0, there’s a lot of nice things that they’ve implemented. I am going to be floored come 3.0 as they are building in things like using Cocoa widgtets. The text rendering in minefield (codename) is already a lot better, and the memory foot print is slightly reduced. I think that FF3 will be for the win.

Also I absolutely adore furbism’s optimized build for the g4, it also has the great mac centric replacement icon.


Safari needs an application like Roboform, Actually Safari need “Roboform” – a cross platform password manager app would be killer.

Rick Shangle

I’d use Safari if I could (speed), but I’m more or less forced to use Firefox due to a number of work-related intranet sites that break under Safari. Firefox just feels bloated IMO. I really can’t deal with using more than one browser on a regular basis, simple creature that I am.

Talked about my personal search in link below. From about five months ago, but I’m pretty much still at the same point:


I will choose Firefox over IE because soon enough Microsoft will start forcing everyone to use their stupid IE7 which is very slow and it doesn’t display the web page right like a webmaster wanted it to look like.

Scott Stevenson

I like Safari for its simplicity and polish. Firefox just doesn’t feel like a Mac app to me. It could very well be that I’m missing out on some life-altering Firefox extension and not know it, but I’d rather have more attention to detail on the basics than extra features.

Jeff S.

Right now I am using Flock as the default browser. It works well with gmail, vox, flickr,, clipmarks, etc, and has not crashed since the latest update. Camino is darn fine and uses less memory than Flock, but with my recent addiction to flickr I am liking Flock more. OmniWeb would be my favorite if it worked well with all the sites I use frequently.


Safari is my main browser but I keep them all of the free ones on my HD for testing web sites. I use FF for the rare web pages that Safari can’t handle (like my bank). I want to mention Shiira here for those who have not encountered it. Shiira is being developed in Japan and based on Web Kit and written in Cocoa. It’s very responsive and has many nice features, but still feels a little too unfinished or something for daily use.

Zach Robbins

I just recently bought a mac after wanting to for several years but never seeing it quite profitable enough for me to do so. Before, I had always used Firefox on Windows as it’s the best browser possible (IE is a joke, Opera tries to hard, and don’t even get me started on Netscape). As a web designer and developer I’m obligated to use as many browsers for testing though.

Having said that, when I converted to Mac, I thought I would get started back up with Firefox. But I was wrong. I’ve loved Safari and haven’t really seen a need to use Firefox all that much. Safari is just so simple for me, and I suprisingly don’t need much.

What I wish for is a newer version of IE for the mac so I can continue to cross-test my websites on it without have to switch to my laptop.


Since converting to apple 18 months ago I continued to use Firefox. Don’t really get the complaints about FF’s UI or the support for Safari because “its apple’s”. Firefox’s extensions make it clearly the best. I only use safari on networks away from home because it automatically applies OSX’s proxy settings.


Firefox is slow on my Powerbook G4. Safari is faster. Omniweb (recently purchased) is actually faster for page rendering and AJAX apps like Gmail and Google Reader. My wife uses Camino so I use something else so our bookmarks and preferences don’t collide.

Rishabh R. Dassani

i have always used safari, but you know lately, i have been using Camino a lot. its blazing fast, and “lightweight” compared to the other browsers, though it would be nice to have the rss built in. i have also been experimenting with shiira and flock, but when it comes to loading and rendering pages, camino prolly beats the other browsers; it also uses lesser memory than safari and firefox; i like that.


I just recently switched back to Safari, I have been juggling between Safari and Shiira, both of them are based on WebKit.
Shiira is faster than Firefox on my mac, and it has less crashes too. The sidebar is a plus too.
Now waiting for Shiira 2.0 to be released =)

Howard Melman

Safari gives me cocoa text widgets, so I get dictionary lookups with ctrl-cmd-d, I get spell checking and completion in text fields and I get emacs-like editing key bindings. All just like in most other apps I use. Images drag and drop, and a few other things that make it “feel” like a mac app. When Camino has these things I’ll try it but to be honest the other things (speed, RAM, etc.) are similar enough between Safari and FF that they’re a wash. Also the Safari plugin for Quicksilver is better than the Firefox plugin and I use Quicksilver for keyword searches. Safari could use a better (free) ad blocking solution, but I’ve survived so far with a css-based solution.

jan garcia

I, too, have been a browser switcher for the last few months. Trying to decide what’s best for me. I used to love Firefox for the extensions, but I realized that I was missing out on the true OS X feeling.

I went to Camino and loved the sleek interface and the snappy pefromance, but it was truly week in one area that I am fanatic about, bookmarks management. I went back to Safari a month ago and haven’t looked back. With Inquisitor and SafariStand, I’m good to go.


What’s important in this era of Macintosh is that we have a choice at all. It used to be such that there was a standard and no alternative, and it seems clear that one browser doesn’t satisfy anyone’s needs fully (this can be seen simply inconsistencies in page rendering across the browsers in question.

Camino’s not only sufficient but preferred for over 90% of my usage. For development sake I use Safari and Firefox and for the odd page that Camino renders funny.

However, my feeling about Camino is strong enough such that I think it’s the best browser built for any platform, and I would love to see some page rendering stats with systematic controls that either proves or disproves that claim!

Tim Altman

I primarily use Opera. If I need to use another browser, I’ll use Safari first, then Firefox.

@Steve: Yet you use a computer made by Apple?


I have really only used two browsers in 15+ years of browsing. I used IE for Mac until Safari came out and I love it. I think it comes down to what your familiar with. I love tabbed browsing and have to do without when I use my work PC that only has an older version of IE on it. (IS won’t let us upgrade.)

I have Camino, Opera, Firefox and an old version of IE on all my Macs because there are some sites that I still can’t access completely with Safari (like Bank of America).


I tend to switch back and forth between Safari and Firefox. Safari I like because:

– It loads fast and looks sharp, and hey, it’s Apple’s browser
– Inquisitor

One nitpicky thing that gets me about Safari, though, is how the tabs hang down from the top rather than coming up from the window like in Firefox, which just seems to completely disconnect the two for no good reason.

Firefox I like because:

– I tend to use a lot of tabs (see above) and generally like using keyboard shortcuts, and Firefox’s cmd-1/cmd-2/cmd-3 tab switching beats the heck out of Safari’s cumbersome three-button cmd-shift-bracket nonsense
– Lots of searches you can add to the search bar (I have about 15 set up, all of which I use at least occasionally)

I also use the GrApple theme, which I highly recommend to anyone who doesn’t like Firefox’s default look.

(Side note: I have no idea which uses more RAM, although I find it funny that one person here commented that they don’t like Firefox because it uses too much RAM, and another that they don’t like Safari because it uses too much RAM.)

Camino I tried for a while, but ultimately couldn’t get past the inclusion of the site icons in the favorites bar–I think they look ugly and distracting there and remind me way too much of IE, especially when you have a mix of sites that have icons and a sites just showing the default icon or nothing at all. (Why don’t any browsers seem to have this as an option you can turn on and off?)

Richard Neal

I’ve been in love with OmniWeb since early September, after using Safari for a while, but not really being satisfied. I tried pretty much everything, and laughed at the thought of a browser that isn’t free, until I tried out OmniWeb. When the trial was over, I couldn’t resist paying for it. However, Firefox works a lot better for WordPress and Blogger, so I need it as well.

Brian Warren

Rarely a day goes by that I dont have at least two browsers open, bouncing back and forth. For me the big three are Safari, Firefox, and OmniWeb. Whenever I’m in one I wish I had features that are in the others. And I didn’t even mention NetNewsWire, which is where I am now submitting this comment.

Safari has some awesome plugins unavailable everywhere else. I love PithHelmet, it buries AdBlock. Omniweb has the best tab implementation, though Safari and Firefox do have extensions to emulate the thumbnail previews, it’s just not the same. PicLens is brilliant.

Still, firefox is pretty stinkin fast, supports a few sites that Safari and OW don’t. These days I dont use the web dev extension as much as I used to due to Xyle scope and CSSEdit doing much of the heavy lifting that web dev used to.


Probably 50% of my browsing is in netnewswire’s build in browser, sure it uses WebKit but I do not consider that the same as safari, that is like saying OmniWeb is safari.

When not in netnewswire I use firefox 1.5 . I have many extensions that make it impossible to switch to anything else. As soon as all of my installed extensions are FF2.0 compatible I will upgrade.

By using firefox I miss out on 2 things:
– speed
– key chain

With firefox I get
– web dev extension
– firebug (best reason to use FF)
– tabs customized how I like them using TabMix+
… and many others


I’ve been having the exact same problem for quite some time now. Firefox is just plain ugly for the Mac, let’s admit — I cringe every time I have to open it. In fact, I also find it slower than Camino. Even with all the functionality, I don’t use FF anymore. So basically, the choice is Safari or Camino — while Safari is robust, smooth and beautiful (but a bit slow sometimes), Camino feels faster (but it is still buggy). It is hard to decide…=)

Tyler Kieft

I was also switching around – Safari eats RAM for breakfast and crashes on me a lot, but Firefox is so clunky on the Mac and really does render text poorly. Camino didn’t really appeal to me. Then I found OmniWeb, and it was on sale last month for 10 bucks, so I snapped it up, and I haven’t gone back since. OmniWeb has so many great features and it is built on WebKit, but on a newer version than Safari is, so it has all the Safari goodies and more. OmniWeb is really just a pleasure to use, so clean and intuitive.


I’m a new mac user, and I’ve been looping through these 3 (plus a few more) for days now. And I LIKE Safari, I WANT to use Safari – it’s clean, elegant and seems very plugged into the system.

But when I use Safari I also feel crippled. Firefox’s extensions always end up sealing the deal. Camino would be great, but it’s just not there yet.

But, I tell you, if either ever gets solid support like Firefox does – I’d probably bail. After using that system for bookmarks and searching for bookmarks, I NEVER want to go back.

Marcus Aurelius

Definitely Safari.It’s nice and slick, built right to system. With a bit of tune up it’s even more powerful app.Firefox is lazy with slow start up, consumes a lot of RAM. It’s completely different story on win machines but hey this Apple world!We think different and like to have things different and better!


My RSS reader (vienna) uses webkit, so it’s going to register as Safari. I’m guessing most RSS readers in OS X are doing the same thing. If I’m browsing browsing the net – it’s on firefox.


I’ve always used Safari because it’s there, it’s made by Apple, and there has never been any reason for me to need another browser. I tried Firefox, but it feels clunky and weird, as if it was written with Real Basic or some other horrible dev environment that rolls its own UI. Camino feels a little better. But neither are a Safari killer for me. I can not bring myself to use an app named Opera.

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