Got browser? Of course you do. For most Mac or PC users, the browser is the window to the internet. It’s where we go for news, video, email, information, and entertainment.
Mac users have more good browser choices than ever. Which browser do you use and why? Do you go for the default Safari? Or, do you venture into browsing beyond Firefox? Do you run more than one browser? Where did browsers originate?
A Little Browser History
My first internet experience came in the early 1990s with Mosaic on a Mac. Frankly, Mosaic and the internet didn’t work very well back in those days.
Mac or PC, the browser crashed regularly.
In fact, dial up internet was problematic at best. Still, I remember watching the first web page open up in Mosaic on my Mac—graphics and text—and I thought, “Holy cow. This is very, very cool.”
Since then, Mac browsers have come and gone. From Mosaic to Netscape to Internet Explorer to Safari and Firefox and a dozen or two in between. For browser users, we live in the best of times.
The browser pre-dates my usage—back to Tim Berners-Lee, the development of HTML (on one of Steve Jobs’ NeXT cubes), NCSA Mosaic, Netscape Navigator and eventually Microsoft’s infamous Internet Explorer.
After those early days, the Mac and Apple almost died, both were reborn in the 21st century, and today we have more browsers than you know. And they’re all better than browsers of the 20th century.
That Was Then And This Is Now
Today, Mac users have a dozen or so browsers available but none from Microsoft, which exited the Mac browser arena in 2003 when Apple introduced Safari.
Not including the vertical market web browsers, Mac users can choose from Safari and Firefox, SeaMonkey and Camino, Opera and iCab, Chrome and OmniWeb, and a dozen others. 10 years ago, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer commanded 90-percent of browser users—over 300-million.
In 2010, with over 1.8-billion browser users, Apple’s Safari, with between 5-percent and 10-percent market share world wide, still accounts for over 100-million users (Macs, Windows PC, iOS devices).
This week, Mac360 will explore the Mac browser.
The most used Mac browser to the least used Mac browser. Features and functions, vertical market and mass market. For example, among our readers, Apple’s Safari accounts for just over 50-percent usage. Firefox gets just over 30-percent. Internet Explorer (Windows) gets just under 10-percent. And all other browsers combined share less than 10-percent.
Clearly, Safari and Firefox are the most popular on the Mac. What about Windows? Internet Explorer’s mind numbing number of versions range up to 60-percent of usage (varies world wide, but is declining), while Firefox takes up 25-percent to 30-percent, and the rest is divided between Google’s Chrome, Safari, Opera, and others.
We’ll explore fast browsers, lean browsers, feature laden browsers, anemic browsers, popular browsers, social browsers, and why-bother browsers. Why? Because it’s browser week at Mac360.
Because Firefox on Mac looks (looked) so much like Firefox on Windows, Camino was born. It’s The Mac Browser We Want To Use But Don’t.
Apparently. Less than 1-percent of all visitors to Mac360, a site devoted to Macs and Mac apps, uses Mozilla’s Camino, a very Mac-like browser. Fast, stable, attractive, and full of the basic browser features, Camino just doesn’t get much respect. Maybe that’s because it’s just not different enough.
Speaking of respect, there’s iCab, which doesn’t get much, either, but comes with plenty of Think Different™ features to set it apart. It’s The Little Mac Browser That Asks “Why Me?”.
iCab is far better than any Mac browser of a few years ago, but lags in speed, total features, and comfortable interface. Plus, in an age when browsers are free, iCab is nagware and comes with a price tag.
Back in the day, Netscape Navigator and Communicator were all the browsing rage—full of options like email, web page editing, newsgroups, and more. Those days are gone.
Today, there’s SeaMonkey, born of a Mozilla project that got no respect. In Why Get The Mac Browser With Old Functions? we explore all those browser functions you’ll never see in Safari or Firefox or Chrome.
Yet, they live in SeaMonkey.
Mac users have a special relationship with application interfaces. While SeaMonkey, Firefox, Opera, and Chrome are all very much like their Windows PC brothers, OmniWeb truly traces think different to roots beyond Mac OS X.
OmniWeb is The Mac Browser That’s Older Than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, yet it works and feels so Mac-like, you’d almost think Apple made it.
Tracing heritage back to the pre-OS X days to Steve Jobs’ NeXT, OmniWeb is fast and thinks different with visual tabs, and per-site preferences. Despite a healthy list of goodies, OmniWeb languishes in online usage, overshadowed by the likes of WebKit and Mozilla inspired browsers.
It’s time to go crazy for kids, and crazy for crazy browsers. Mac users get the best of both worlds. Among kid browsers, there are options to lock down Safari in Mac OS X, but even more granular controls can be had in other kid-centric browsers.
GiddyUp and BumperCar are two browsers of The 3 Ways To Get A Safe Mac Browser Just For Kids. Only Safari is the free way to be safe.
Just when you thought the browsing race was between Safari, Firefox, and Google’s upstart Chrome, along come 5 Crazy Ways To Browse Different On Your Mac.
There’s a social network browser, a browser for hobbyists, a browser for developers, a kiosk browser, and a text browser. Yes. Text. No images. No photos. No Flash. Just read ‘em and weep.
Opera is the Rodney Dangerfield of Mac browsers. It just doesn’t get any respect despite the fact that we found 12 Ways This Mac And PC Browser Thinks Different.
If you want a browser that is fast, secure, stable, and has more features than Lady Gaga has hubris, Opera is the one. It’s everywhere. Except it’s not widely used. Why? No respect. Opera tries too hard to be cool and fashionable and hip.
It’s not. But it’s good enough to try for a week. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Finally Freaky Friday
Sure, it’s a matter of the sweet concoction of taste and functions. Or, maybe it’s hatred of everything Microsoft. Or, something else. Whatever it is The Top 4 Most Popular Mac Browsers On Planet Earth cannot come as a surprise.
Popularity, it seems, is in the eye of the beholder. Or, maybe it’s the default setting. After all, the much maligned Microsoft Internet Explorer is tops on PCs and it’s the default browser. Likewise, Apple’s Safari is tops on the Mac and it’s the default browser, too.
Which Mac browsers are #2, #3, and #4? One is as cluttered as Lady Gaga, one is as ugly as Miss Piggy, and one is the Rodney Dangerfield of browsers—it just doesn’t get any respect.