Safari is the default web browser on Apple devices, much in the same way the Microsoft Edge is for Windows devices. Despite having been around since 2003, Safari hasn’t had the same kind of success as other long-lived browsers largely due to its lacking feature set, along with its exclusivity to Mac and iOS (there used to be a Windows version, but it was discontinued in 2012). So how does it stack up against the best web browsers (opens in new tab) out there?
We’re sad to say that not much has changed on this front since we last looked at Safari. It’s still sorely lacking in features and quality of life features. Considering the fact that you can easily install Google Chrome (opens in new tab), Mozilla Firefox (opens in new tab) or even Microsoft Edge (opens in new tab) on your Mac devices, is Safari still worth using?
Apple Safari review: Installation and set up
You should never really have to install Safari, since it comes as standard on Apple devices, and it’s only compatible with Apple operating systems like MacOS and iOS. If you have uninstalled Safari and need to reinstall it, you can do so by reinstalling MacOS or iOS. This will not affect your saved data, it merely restores the operating system itself and brings Safari back.
Apple Safari review: User interface
Like most web browsers these days, Safari has a minimalist design layout. You get the address bar in the top center of the screen, There’s a reason everyone is doing it though - it works. Safari offers a clean visual style and doesn’t clutter your screen up with a million buttons you’ll never use. Everything is tucked away inside drop down menus and the like.
Below the address bar, you’ll find any bookmarked pages you have saved and below those are your tabs, which allow you to have multiple web pages open at the same time. Beyond that, there is a menu button in the top left corner of the screen and that’s about it. Hey, we told you it was minimalist.
Apple Safari review: Features
Safari uses Google as its default search engine, though you can change this in the settings though you’re bizarrely limited to only one of four options: Google, Bing, Yahoo and DuckDuckGo.. We’re not sure why you would change anyway though, as Google is easily the best search engine.
The address bar where you enter your web page URL also doubles as a search engine interface too, meaning you don’t need to go to the Google homepage to search. This is a standard feature on most search engines, but we’re glad it’s here.
You can download extensions for Safari, but your options will be far more limited than they would be on Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. You’ll still be able to download an ad blocker, but there won’t be as many to choose from.
Private Browsing is here too, allowing you to surf the internet without your browser storing your search history or the websites you’ve visited, which is useful if you’re on a shared computer. It won’t stop your ISP from seeing what you’re doing though (if you want to be completely anonymous online, try one of the best VPN services (opens in new tab)).
Beyond that though, Safari offers very little in the way of customization. You can’t set new themes or do much to alter the look of your browser. The only truly unique feature that Safari can boast is the ability to emulate iOS in a tab, which basically lets you view the mobile version of a website - this is useful for some websites which have better mobile versions than their desktop one.
Apple Safari review: Performance
If there is one area that we can’t really fault Safari in, it’s performance. It loads pages quickly and is responsive to commands on both iOS and Mac. Even so, this isn’t enough to differentiate it from the competition - Chrome and Firefox also perform excellently on Mac and offer a ton of extra benefits on top.
System resource usage is lower than Chrome though, which could be useful if you have an older Macbook (opens in new tab) and don’t want to upgrade just yet. Chrome can get a bit hungry on your RAM, so Safari might be the better option if you’re finding that Chrome lags a bit.
Should you use Apple Safari?
Safari just feels like a bare bones and low effort web browser when compared to many other options on the market. And that’s fine - it’s the default option that gets thrown in with your MacOS and iOS devices. If you’re a casual user, it’s fine for your needs but we’d struggle to recommend it over something like Chrome, Firefox or Edge.