In celebration of Tera’s ‘eventual’ return to writing, the following is an encore publication of the most read article of Mac360. By Tera, of course…
“Next to email, we probably use our browsers more than most other applications (general purpose) on the Mac. Apple did some great things with Safari, now easily the Mac’s most popular browser.
I stopped using Safari. It was causing me grief. Firefox looked too much like Windows. Here’s what I use now and you’ll be surprised.
First, what I’m using now is not Mozilla’s very popular and highly acclaimed Firefox, although it’s a great browser, very fast, and might provide the best experience ever for Windows users.
Firefox is as fast as they get at page rendering, has plenty of features and competes well with Safari. I’m not using Firefox except for select sites when checking HTML. It has too much of a “Windows” feel for me. And if you’ve read my past articles, you’ll remember that ‘I Don’t Do Windows™.’
What am I using as my main browser? Well, if it’s not Safari or Firefox, the choices get slim, don’t they? There’s Mozilla, Camino, Opera, iCab, and OmniWeb. Of those, I agree with Alex Kayhill’s recent review, OmniWeb shines. But it crashes too often for me.
Safari crashed occasionally, too. The recent upgrades have been good if not noteworthy. Safari’s bookmark and tabs use is about as good as it can get. I actually like the brushed aluminum finish on Apple’s major applications, including Safari.
If it’s so good why would I switch?
And I found something faster, and, well, mostly better.
Clicking from window to window (many open windows) seemed to give Safari fits. Spinning beachball. Delayed response in filling in forms. Check the feedback on VersionTracker. Others have the same problems. And more.
Don’t get me wrong. I like a little browser competition and considering the fact that Microsoft has all but ignored the browser (except for scurrying around trying to patch security holes all the time) on Mac and Windows for over two years, Apple’s Safari and the other Mac browsers are a stream of fresh air.
The best browser is Camino. OmniWeb is an extremely close and debatable second. Then Safari. Then Firefox and Opera in a dead heat.
What? You’ve never heard of Camino? Think of it as Firefox for the Mac. Outside of Safari, Camino is easily the most Mac-like of the browsers available for Mac OS X. It’s also been the slowest to develop (now at version 0.8.4, with a 1.0a release available) but that extra care shows.
First, Camino is based on the guts of Firefox (based on Mozilla’s Gecko engine), so it’s quick. So quick that it outperforms Safari. Yes, Camino is faster at rendering full web pages than Safari, or OmniWeb.
That brings me to my biggest issue with Safari and why Camino is looking slicker than a Brit’s slicker in January.
Not so with Camino.
On the lighter side, I like Safari’s tabbed browsing implementation, and bookmarks. But not so much that Camino is overshadowed. It’s not.
Other readers have found Safari and Firefox quirks, too. Reader “mike” from the UK took issue with Alex’ glowing review of Firefox.
“You haven’t written *anything* which describes the problems this browser has. The extra window that shows with Exposé, for example. The fact it’s not dock-aware. The generic drop-down menus, not Mac style. No middle-click to open new tabs. No backspace to move back a page (a must in my eyes, especially for notebook users). Unfamiliar (and unpleasant) key combination to switch between tabs.”
“These are a few of the issues that have been there since Firebird (as it was) 0.7, the first Mac version. I’ve been using this browser since it was Phoenix 0.5 on Windows, and I love it to bits on Windows, it’s the best browser ever. (I firmly believe that Firefox on XP is a better browser than Safari on Mac). On the Mac though, it doesn’t feel anywhere near a 1.0.x release.”
Though “mike” likes Safari a bit more than Camino he rated it well above Firefox and others.
Camino is worth a long look. It’s a free download, so there’s little to lose. I like the fact that it’s not stuck in a “Windows look” like Firefox and feels like a Mac application through and through.
Fast? Download, install, and try out a few pages. Use either the stable 0.8.4 version, or the even faster 1.0.x version. Then try Safari. What do you think? Pretty quick, huh? Just as nice is the quick and painless way to import Safari bookmarks.
Camino is often the “forgotten” browser. It’s based on the same engine as Firefox but uses a Cocoa front end (hence the look and feel of a Mac application) but feels faster, much faster. I love the customizable toolbar. Moving icons around up there makes the experience that much more “personal.”
Should you switch? I recognize that a browser is something personal for many Mac users. Safari really “feels” great (you gotta love that blue progress bar at the top). It’s not perfect, though. So give Camino a try.
Not convinced? What’s the difference between Camino and OmniWeb? The former is free, the latter is pay for. If features are what you’re after, OmniWeb is king, you’ll pay, then Opera and you won’t.
OmniWeb is almost a Swiss Army Knife browser. So is Opera. The major benefit is that the Mac and Windows versions are nearly identical, so cross-platform browsing is easier (as with Firefox).
Still, I’m a Mac user from waaaaay back. Simplicity, speed, and ‘Mac-like.’ Review? Camino is the best ‘all around’ browser. OmniWeb is the most feature-rich and still retains a ‘Mac feel.’ Safari on Tiger is a huge improvement but lacks the right simplicity and some features.
For example, why does it ask you if you’re sure you want to go into private browsing mode? Duh.
Looking for speed? Firefox, Camino, Opera seem to have the edge. Cross platform? Opera and Firefox. Brushed aluminium? Safari. What about iCab? Aren’t there enough browsers already? MSIE? Puhleeeeze.
Camino, OmniWeb, Safari (Tiger), Firefox and Opera, then Mozilla, iCab, and last, MSIE. Comments, anyone?”
This was an encore publication of one of Tera’s most popular articles. When I met with her last week I also updated her PowerBook with the latest from Safari, OmniWeb, Opera, and the new, speedy, Firefox and Camino beta versions. And as many other updates as I could find. She’ll have opinions. We look forward to hearing from her soon.