One of my Mac360 colleagues has pointed out that we live in the golden age of Mac browsers. Not only are they free, they’re fast, render pages well, but each has a different personality.
What many Mac users may not know is there are a few dozen browsers beyond the madding crowds that use Safari, Google’s Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox, or even Opera. What are these browsers? Why do they exist? Should you try one and switch? What’s the end game with browsers? Oh, so many questions and so few answers.
iBrowse, Because iCan
Most of the world uses one or more of the big four of browsers. Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari. Wait. What? Safari. Isn’t that a tiny market share browser? Nope. Safari on Mac, iPhone, and iPad gets used by nearly 1-billion computer, smartphone, and tablet users so it’s a big deal, but Chrome is the most used browser on earth.
The good news is that most browsers are very, very good, and each has a distinct following and specific functions that set them apart. There’s also a growing underground of browsers not associated with the big four. Without judging, here are the best.
Roccat Browser – this nifty little browser has something you won’t find in others; a way to draw with a built-in pasteboard. Roccat is fast, doesn’t use much CPU, but also looks different than the status quo, what with all those visual bookmarks called VisiTabs.
Brave – here lies one of my favorite newcomer browsers. Brave is fast, secure, renders pages well, blocks inline advertising (except on Mac360) and offers an interest glimpse of the future with built-in micropayments so you can pay to view publisher’s websites.
Vivaldi – if speed, familiarity, and customizability are your thing, Vivaldi is worth a try because it’s packed with features and you can choose which ones to use. Speed Dial is like bookmarks for favorite sites. Rewind gets you back to a recently viewed page. Fast Forward takes you to the next page on a website, thanks to mouse gestures and keyboard shortcuts. Did I mention tabs. No Mac browser has more tab management options.
Webkit – this is the browser package that Safari is based on, but you can have the raw open source version with a click. It looks like Safari, smells like Safari, works like Safari but it’s called Webkit, the same innards used in Safari, iOS, app stores, and many Linux browsers. Think bleeding edge.
Chromium – think Chrome and you’re almost there. Even the logo looks like Google’s Chrome and so does pretty much everything else in Chromium.
SeaMonkey – if Firefox is your thing but you want a few extra features, SeaMonkey is your game. It’s got email built in, plus tabs, sync, newsgroups, web code, IRC chat, themes, and it’s all free. And much like Firefox with a different app icon.
iCab – last but not least I mention this old favorite; a blast from the distant past that just won’t die thanks to the efforts of Alexander Clauss. iCab has a following and a list of features you won’t find combined on most other browsers, but also a price tag (which you won’t find on other browsers).
The point here is that browsers are growing in number even though the top and most used browsers are free and fast and feature full. I don’t see much of a business model with so-called third party browsers, but every few months a new one pops up, usually worth a try. Beyond Safari, Firefox, and Chrome on my Mac, I keep Min, Brave, and Vivaldi as the best of the rest.