Safari vs. Firefox

Prior to becoming a Mac user I had a deep hatred for Safari. Why you ask? Safari was the bane of my existence as a web site developer. Since I had a Windows centered view on the world I built everything with IE and then Firefox in mind on the Windows platform. We would spend huge amounts of time getting a dynamic web site to work properly and then someone would load it up on a Mac in Safari and it would just fall apart. Things didn't line up, pages that used DHTML and more advanced presentation capabilities would simply not work. It was a mess.

The only way we could get our web site to work on Macs was to request that people that wanted to use our applications just use Firefox on the Mac. It was very consistent with the Windows version and since it was free we figured it was a reasonable compromise.

When I started using my Mac I figured I would immediately use Firefox for everything; it was one of the first applications I downloaded. I kept Safari as my default web browser though and started to play with it out of curiosity. Nearly every web site (with a couple of minor exceptions) worked fine. And I noticed something else too; Safari was fast - really fast.

Having not followed Safari closely I can only assume that Apple has made significant improvements in the rendering engine for Safari, both in terms of performance and HTML rendering. Safari looks great from a UI standpoint, has tabs and all of the shortcuts I'm used to on Firefox.

What Safari doesn't have that Firefox does is a huge range of add-ons that really add value to the web browsing experience. There are plug-ins for anything you can think of. Firefox is nearly a small operating system of its own.

Did I mention that Safari is fast? Well, Apple has a public beta for the next version of Safari and it's supposed to be double the speed of the current version. I've played with it and it does seem even faster, however it's still in beta and I've found a couple little glitches here and there. The nice thing is you can install it along side Safari and they peacefully coexist.

Firefox is also making some big improvements with version 3 - and their beta is also available to the public, though I haven't installed it yet.

Even when I was on the Windows platform I always had two browsers handy; Firefox and IE. On Mac it's the same way but I find myself spending virtually all of my time in Safari and whip out Firefox when I don't have a choice.


Mouth Breathing Old Codger said...

You want fast - and Mozilla - on a Mac? Get Camino. As the site says: "Mozilla Power, Mac Style."

David Alison said...

As a newbie to Mac I hadn't hear of it. I'll check it out. Thanks for the tip!

Tim Barribeau/Arthur Curry said...

The one thing that's always kept me coming back to Safari is the activity viewer. I find it incredibly useful to be able to view what assets are loading in realtime, and how large they are. You can also copy and paste them into new windows for downloading. Makes it damn easy to grab vids of YouTube and the like

Tom said...

There are addons for Safari, just not as openly supported like Firefox addons. should get you started if you find something missing from Firefox land.

Ed Bortoni said...

Here is the BEST mac browsing set up I've found:

1) Safari + Webkit Nightly!!!

1)CocoaSuite for Mouse Gestures to ANY app for any menu item.
2) SafariBlock

Give it a try.

Wesley said...

Personally I haven't found it difficult to get things looking the way I want in Safari, Firefox, Opera, and IE. But you do need to recognize you're limited to a certain set of things, and that sometimes IE requires hacks.

I've found Opera to be the strictest renderer, so if it looks right in Opera, it'll tend to look right everywhere else as long as what you're trying to do is supported.

I also use BBEdit + CSSEdit + Firebug. There are a bunch of Safari bookmarklets that can help too:
Safari Developer FAQ.

cizzle-jizzle said...

I would also recommend that you try out WebKit. WebKit is the framework on which Safari is based on and is updated nightly.

mystical said...

I use both browsers as well, once i tried making firefox my mine browser because it used less memory than safari for me. But i always find myself going back to safari, right now one feature that safari have, that i find myself looking for in other browsers is the snap back. That little orange arrow to the right of the address bar. comes in very handy for me when i need to get back with one click from where i started browsing.

Mike D. said...

I have not used Safari a whole lot, I have FF 2 set-up exaclty the way I like, but I am trying the FF3 beta3, and it is much faster than FF 2.

Just note if you do try FF 3, I have restore my FF 2 toolbar back to default.

I'm really enjoying the blog. I turned a die-hard PC fan at work onto Macs for the exact reason you are listing with each post.

Thien said...

I use both Firefox and Safari. I always used Firefox, but I just recently updated my iTunes, and the update came with Safari, and so I've been using a little bit of Firefox, and a little bit of Safari.
Firefox is better for my Windows Vista laptop, though.
I'd say that Firefox is a little better than Safari, but out of all browsers, Firefox and Safari would be the best choices. As for third place -- I wouldn't know enough browsers to number anything as the third, but I might say that the third best browser is Google Chrome. It downloads in seconds, and it's pretty decent. I don't know enough about it though.