The Best Browsers for Your Mac in 2023
You probably spend hours on your Mac every day, so you’ll know that if you’re not using the right browser, your productivity can suffer. You’ll find about 200 browser options for Mac, from the ultra-popular to the ultra-niche, but how do you figure out which browser is best for you?
To spare you some time and effort, we’ve put together a brief overview of the 5 best browsers for macOS, including the features that make them our top choices.
We’ll look at each browser in terms of security, performance, extensions, and more. If you’re in a rush, you can scan our handy pros and cons tables for quick insights.
The 5 Best Browsers for Mac
1. Safari: Optimized for macOS
Safari, Apple’s own browser, comes in first for its performance and security. While it isn’t as common as Chrome, it reached 1 billion users worldwide in 2022, taking almost 20% of the browser market share.
Safari comes preinstalled on all Apple devices, including Mac. It has a straightforward design and most of the features you’d expect from a decent web browser. You can create bookmarks, browse in a private window, and choose from various search engines.
Since Apple designed it, Safari’s naturally optimized for macOS, so you won’t have much to complain about performance-wise.
Safari is also pretty convenient for study or work. The QuickNote feature offers an easy way to jot down notes with links, while the Reading View mode removes ads and presents text in a clean, readable format.
Apple’s Safari also ticks most of the boxes when it comes to privacy and security. Privacy advocates appreciate Safari’s anti-fingerprint settings and the Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature that blocks all types of data tracking.
Safari has some downsides, though. For one, it’s only available on Apple devices. If you have an Apple computer and an Android phone, you might find having to switch between two different browsers annoying.
Also, Safari no longer supports most plug-ins. While this saves energy and optimizes performance, it’s a disadvantage if you need certain plug-ins for work, for example. Safari also doesn’t work with nearly as many extensions as Chrome and the other Chromium alternatives. Still, if you want an easy-to-use, fast, all-around browser, it’s a great choice.
2. Chrome: Best for Convenience, Worst for Privacy
For more than a decade, Chrome has dominated the browser market. In 2023, Chrome held a whopping 63.5% and was firmly established as the default browser on most devices. While it’s packed with handy features and integrations, it’s far from ideal for privacy-conscious Mac users.
Overall, Chrome offers convenience and intuitiveness that’s unmatched by other browsers.
When you sign in to Chrome on your Google account, you instantly get access to Google’s other products, including Google Drive, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and YouTube. It also has the largest extension library.
Chrome also lets you easily sync your settings across multiple devices. Pretty convenient, right? But the privacy trade-off is no joke.
Lawsuits against Google’s surveillance-advertising business model include a $5 billion class action lawsuit for claims of misleading users about “incognito” browsing. Earlier this year, Alphabet Inc. (Google’s parent company) paid $23 million to settle claims it illegally shared search data with third parties.
Today, many want to de-Google their lives and reclaim their privacy, but at what cost to convenience?
The fact is, Google is not the only one watching your online activity. Your ISP, government, advertisers, and Wi-Fi owner can also see everything you do online. You can stop snoops from spying on you online with PIA VPN.
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3. Brave: Best Private Browser
Despite taking less than 1% of the browser market, Brave is easily one of the most private browsers for Mac. It’s also surprisingly feature rich for such a wildly underrated browser. If you’re looking for a fast browser that takes your privacy seriously, Brave might be your Mac’s new best friend.
Built on Chromium, Brave offers a smooth and familiar interface that resembles Chrome. Unlike Chrome, however, it’s ad-free and far more private. It also lets you finetune your anti-fingerprinting, blocking, and cross-site tracking preferences.
Brave Shields lets you see trackers and ads being blocked in real time. If you’d rather go back to seeing ads, you can easily toggle the Shields button to turn it off.
Why would you want to go back to ads? For Brave Rewards.
Brave Rewards is a feature unique to Brave. The idea is you “get paid for your attention.” You can choose to see ads and earn Basic Attention Tokens (BATs), which you can exchange for gift cards and other currencies.
Even if you choose to see ads, the ads can’t track you. And, since Brave blocks resource-consuming ads, it has more bandwidth to dedicate to speed and performance, so you can forget about slow loading times.
Brave also has features most browsers don’t. Crypto enthusiasts might like the fact that Brave has a built-in self-custodial wallet for storing and managing your crypto assets. Also useful is Brave Talk, which allows you to make private phone calls directly from your browser.
Dark web travelers like Brave for its Tor integration. And since it’s built on Chromium, it works with most Chrome extensions, including private search engines, cookie managers, and more.
4, Firefox: Good for Privacy
Before the Chrome era, Firefox was one of the top browser choices. It says it’s optimized to use less memory than some competitors, which should contribute to your Mac’s overall performance and speed.
Firefox protects your data, web activity, and online life using built-in fingerprint blockers and ad blocking. The Enhanced Tracking Protection lets you select the protection level you want. You can even create exception lists and add trusted domains if you don’t want to block certain sites.
Firefox also has a password manager, thousands of free themes to choose from, and a Picture-in-Picture feature that lets you separate work from recreation in a resizable window. The choice of add-ons and extensions isn’t as vast as Chrome’s, but the upside is Mozilla isn’t tracking your every move.
5. Vivaldi: Most Feature-Packed
Vivaldi is built on Chromium and is compatible with Chrome’s extensions. Unlike Chrome, it fits under the private browser category and has a strong commitment to safeguarding your data. It makes money through its collaborations with search engines, rather than from targeted advertising, and claims to have no interest in monitoring your activity.
The Vivaldi browser’s sidebar has tons of options, including downloads, bookmarks, and a unique “Notes” feature for quick information jotting. You can even attach screenshots to your notes. You get other useful features like tab grouping, stacking, and the flexibility to position the tab on any side. The split-screen view comes in handy, too.
The downside is all the options, icons, and customizations can make the user interface a bit overwhelming. Sometimes less is more.
What’s the Best Browser for You?
It really depends on your needs. While Safari has proven itself a strong contender and a great all-rounder for Mac users, it’s not the most customizable and can be a bother if you don’t use Apple products exclusively.
Our top pick for privacy is Brave — its dedication to privacy is unmatched. If it didn’t mean losing the convenience of Google’s workspace apps, Brave would be our #1 choice.
Browsers are always evolving. It will be interesting to see if any browser can come up with the goods to topple the all-mighty Chrome. But until then, safe browsing!
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The best browsers for Mac are Brave, Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Vivaldi. These are in the top 5 for different reasons. While the ‘default browser’, Chrome offers tons of convenient integrations, others like Firefox, Brave, and Vivaldi offer far more privacy.
That said, the only way to truly browse in private is to use a VPN. PIA VPN comes with military-grade encryption, a robust Kill Switch, and a strict No Logs policy to ensure your browsing data is never leaked, recorded, or shared
It offers advanced anti-fingerprinting settings, ad-blocking, and a built-in VPN (paid).
Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome are all fast browsers for Mac. Firefox claims to use less memory, which could contribute to your Mac’s overall performance and speed.
Safari is built specifically for Apple devices, so many Mac users find it works well enough for them. Finally, Google Chrome is an all-around fast browser that syncs well on all your devices. Pity it’s tracking your every move!
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