A Safari User’s Switch to Chrome

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I’ve used Safari as my default browser since 2008, but lately I’ve decided to give Google Chrome a shot at becoming my new standby. The main reason I chose to give Chrome a chance was that one of the sites I use every day loads like molasses in Safari, yet loads quickly in Chrome.

Since I know some of you are going to mention Firefox, I’ll tell you right now that I’ve ruled it out. It just doesn’t feel right to me. I’ll use Firefox on Windows, but on a Mac it’s just… weird. Feel free to disagree in the comments.

Interface

I suppose Chrome has an attractive interface, but I do think it looks better on Windows, partly because it feels designed for it rather than OS X (look at Chrome’s bookmarks manager and you’ll see what I mean). It just looks better with Aero.

Some aspects of Chrome’s tabs implementation annoy me. Mostly, I’m pretty happy with them, but there are two drawbacks. One being that, because the tabs take up the title bar, there’s less room to drag the window. This isn’t a problem for people who maximize their browser windows, but I like to keep my windows a certain size and I move them around a lot, since I’m always dragging images onto my desktop.

Another side effect of having the tabs in the title bar means that Chrome’s title bar doesn’t really function like one; you never actually see the full title of a web page unless it fits within the tab, which seems like a small complaint, but it’s still annoying.

Features

There were several features I missed from Safari when I switched to Chrome. Probably the one I missed most was Safari’s Reader view, which lets you reformat a long passage of text in an attractive drop-down that cuts out the clutter.

Fortunately, there’s an extension for Chrome that mimics Reader, and actually surpasses it in some ways. The extension’s called iReader and is available in the Chrome extensions gallery. When you hit the arrow keys to scroll through something in Reader for Safari, the cursor doesn’t disappear like it does in normal web pages, but it does in the iReader extension, which is less distracting for me.

Speaking of extensions, there aren’t any extensions I’ve come across for Chrome that aren’t available for Safari, or that I absolutely can’t live without. The opposite isn’t true. In fact, one of the unofficial Safari extensions that I love, ClickToFlash, isn’t available for Chrome, and it looks like that’ll be the case for some time.

Performance

It’s almost a crapshoot here. I can tell you that using Chrome feels faster than using Safari, but only a little. They both use the same rendering engine, WebKit, but they use different JavaScript engines, and from what I’ve learned about both Safari’s Nitro and Chrome’s V8, V8 is superior, but the difference in speed is also small.

On the interface performance side, I’ve noticed that when I have about six tabs open in Chrome, dragging the tabs around gets laggy. I don’t experience this lag with Safari, which I think has the best implementation of tab-dragging in any browser.

Bugs

I can generally say that I’ve experienced more bugs in Chrome than I have in Safari. For instance, in Chrome, almost every time I go back to a Google search result from, say, a Wikipedia page, the page doesn’t display and I’m left with the cute little dead tab face, then I have to re-enter the search in Google. It’s almost a deal-breaker for me.

There are other bugs, of course, but none that are as annoying or pervasive as the above.

Security

Chrome wins here, bar none. Safari is notorious for being a vector of vulnerability attacks, having famously been hacked in just 10 seconds at the annual Pwn2Own contest in 2009, while Chrome was the only browser that wasn’t hacked. However, security isn’t enough to make me switch to Chrome, as there’s very little chance I’d get a virus anyway, since there aren’t many viruses developed for the Mac and I’m a pretty safe surfer.

Will I stay with Chrome?

After using Chrome for a couple of weeks and getting accustomed to all its quirks on the Mac, I’ve decided to switch back to Safari. There just isn’t enough reason for me to stick with Chrome, and the Google search bug mentioned above is a huge annoyance, one that outweighs the poor performance of Safari on the one page that had me considering a switch to begin with.

Did I make the right choice? How’s your experience with Chrome been?

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