When comparing desktop browser market share between Google Chrome vs Safari, there’s no comparison. As of February 2021, Chrome had over 66 percent of the market while Safari only has a little over 10 percent.
Market share isn’t everything though. There are plenty of other factors to consider. Let’s look at which is the best browser for the Mac.
Features and Expandability Comparison
Out of the box, Safari and Chrome offer very similar features. They both support standard browser options like bookmarking, tabs, password autofill, and syncing open tabs with mobile devices.
The big difference is in their expandability.
Both support extensions and add-ons but Chrome has far more extensions available for it than Safari. Chrome runs on all the major operating systems giving it a much larger user base than Safari, which only runs on macOS. That large user base makes it a more attractive platform for building add-ons.
Since Google makes Chrome, it also integrates very closely with services like Gmail and Google Docs. If you use Google’s services, Chrome has the best support.
Which Browser is Easier to Use?
Web browsers all work similarly to some degree. The way they’re laid out and how you interact with the pages you view was mostly settled years ago.
But because Safari is the Macintosh web browser made by Apple, it’s the most “Mac-like” of the two. Google designed Chrome to work on macOS, Windows, Linux, and various other platforms so some of its features don’t feel quite right on the Mac.
If you’re a die-hard Mac user, you’ll likely feel more at home in Safari. If you aren’t as concerned about how an app looks as the features it offers, either one is quite usable.
Performance Comparison of Google Chrome vs Safari
Performance is one of Safari’s biggest strengths. It’s one of the fastest browsers available for the Mac, loading pages quicker than Chrome and generally feeling more snappy.
This is partly due to Chrome’s cross-platform support, meaning it isn’t optimized as well for any given operating system. And it’s partly because Apple makes the hardware and software for their computers so they can optimize Safari to a greater degree.
The biggest black mark on Chrome’s performance is its heavy memory usage. It uses as much as 10 times more RAM than Safari when browsing the web.
Power Consumption and Battery Drain
Another performance advantage Safari offers is better power management. If you’re using a Mac laptop and running on battery power, Chrome will run your battery down noticeably faster than Safari.
Browser Security and Privacy Compared
The Chrome browser and the Safari browser both use Google’s Safe Browsing database to identify websites known to contain malware or other risks. They both have filtering protection built in that will pop up a warning if you land on one of the sites in Google’s database.
Since they both use the same source of information, it’s a wash as far as their website filtering.
They also both support ad-blocking add-ons but the latest versions of Safari have a lot of that protection built in. Advertising fuels a large part of Google’s business so they’re a bit less inclined to build that kind of blocking into Chrome.
You also need to consider how you feel about Apple and Google as the companies behind the browser. Google’s business model relies on tracking what you do to a certain degree so how comfortable are you that they’re not tracking too much of your online life?
Apple is pretty clear about its stance toward online privacy so there might be less chance that they would use the information they could gather from Safari.
This comes down to your opinion as much as anything. There are plenty of ways for companies to track you online no matter what browser you use.
Running Web Apps in Your Browser
A lot of popular apps and services people use today are web-based, which means you’ll access them through your browser. Tools like Slack, Google Docs, and Zoom offer standalone apps but they can also run through the browser, letting you log in and use them from any computer.
These tools generally work better on Chrome than on Safari, for a couple of reasons.
First, Chrome’s market share means it’s the most important browser for those companies to support. They may not do a lot of testing on other browsers, particularly on Safari since it’s a Mac-only application.
Second, Chrome’s better extension support means those companies can build custom extensions for their apps and services that work more like a stand-alone app. While Safari has extension support, it’s not as flexible and the more limited reach means it’s not worth the effort for most companies.
What About Cross-Platform Compatibility?
If you look past the Mac and consider the iPhone and iPad, the market share numbers change considerably. When you factor in all platforms, Safari jumps to almost 20 percent of the market while Chrome drops slightly, to a little less than 64 percent.
Both Mac browsers work with their mobile counterparts so there’s no reason to pick one over the other from a cross-platform perspective. But if you want to use the Safari browser on your iPhone or iPad, you’ll get the best results by using it on your Mac as well.
Your bookmarks, browsing history, open tabs, and other information will sync automatically, letting you move from one device to another.
If you use Windows PCs as well as Macs, Chrome is the only one that will sync between the two, at least when comparing it with Safari. Apple did make a Windows version of Safari at one time but stopped updating it many years ago. It wouldn’t even open on a modern Windows PC, let alone support the latest features.
The Best Browser Depends On How You Use It
In the Google Chrome vs Safari comparison, there’s no clear winner. They both have advantages and disadvantages so it comes down to what benefits are most important to you.
Consider all the points we discussed above and choose the browser that meets your most pressing needs.
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