Google Chrome vs Safari on Mac

Chrome is the market leader in browser market share by a large margin. It has over two-thirds of the desktop market share compared to Safari’s 10 percent.

Part of the reason is that Chrome is available on Windows and other platforms besides the Mac. If you’re on a Mac, Google Chrome vs Safari is a closer race.

Let’s look at how the two browsers compare and why you would choose one over the other.

Features of Google Chrome vs Safari

The stock configuration of Safari and Chrome offers very similar features. In fact, Google created Chrome using the same foundation that Apple uses for Safari.

Both browsers support all modern web standards and they both get updated regularly to add new features. Where they differ is the extensions that let you add more features.

Both browsers support extensions but there are far more available for Chrome than there are for Safari. This is mostly because Chrome has so many more users. It’s logical for developers to make extensions where the most people will use them.

If you need to use particular browser extensions on your Mac, check to see which browser they support. This could be the deciding factor for which browser you have to use.

User Interface and Ease of Use

Web browsers all follow some basic standards in the way they work and the way the window gets laid out. There’s an address bar at the top, a status bar at the bottom, and possibly a sidebar with bookmarks and other things in it.

The way the interface looks is different from one to another though. Apple makes Safari, and it’s only made for the Mac, so it follows the standard Mac user interface design closely.

Chrome uses some different conventions in its interface, partly because it’s a cross-platform browser. It’s made to look the same on all operating systems.

If you prefer to use apps that follow conventional interface standards on the Mac, you’ll be happier with Safari than with Chrome.

Browser Performance

When Apple created Safari, it released the web rendering engine (called WebKit) as open source so anyone else could use it freely. Google created a fork of WebKit to use as the basis for Chrome.

Because both browsers are built on versions of the same rendering engine, their performance is fairly similar. Safari has a bit of an edge here though, with slightly faster page-load speeds.

Again, this is due to Chrome’s cross-platform design. It doesn’t make as efficient use of macOS as Safari does.

Memory Usage

If you’re wondering “Why is my Google Chrome so slow on Mac” it might be due to memory usage. One of the big disadvantages of Chrome compared to Safari is how much more RAM it uses.

Tests have shown that Chrome uses as much as ten times more memory to load the same web pages as Safari.

If you’re working with a single tab, this may not cause too much of a performance hit. But if you’ve got a bunch of tabs open to different web pages, Chrome can really slow down your Mac.

Battery Drain of the Two Browsers

Another big disadvantage of Chrome compared to Safari is the amount of power it uses. If you run it on a laptop using battery power, your battery life will take a noticeable hit.

Like several other items in this list of comparisons, this power drain issue is likely due to Chrome being a cross-platform browser.

Google hasn’t spent as much time optimizing it to use less power because it’s designed to run on Windows, macOS, and other operating systems. They would have to do the work on each OS separately since they all have different power management tools.

Compare that to Safari, which is made by Apple — the company that makes the computer, the operating system, and the browser software. If anyone will know how to optimize an app to use as little battery power as possible on the Mac, it will be Apple.

Security and Privacy Compared

Safari and Chrome both offer strong security and privacy settings, with extensions available for both that can block ads, web trackers, and other unwanted intrusions.

Both browsers will warn you if you land on a page that looks like it’s trying to trick you into thinking it’s another site. And they’ll both give you a report of the number of those things they’ve blocked.

The biggest difference between the two browsers is the company behind them.

Apple has a very pro-privacy stance and publicly talks about that all the time. All of their products have a privacy-first perspective, including Safari.

Google, on the other hand, makes most of its income by selling ads. This means they have a vested interest in collecting as much data about you as they can.

While Chrome lets you block ads and other web tracking, many people don’t feel comfortable using it because of the rest of Google’s business. You’ll need to make that decision for yourself.

Cross-Platform Compatibility

As we’ve mentioned several times, Google Chrome is a cross-platform browser. It’s available on macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android.

Safari is only available on macOS and iOS devices. Apple did make a Windows version briefly but it was short-lived.

If you want to sync your bookmarks, extensions, and other customizations between two or more systems, you’ll need to use Chrome if you use anything other than macOS and iOS devices.

If you only use a Mac and an iOS device, Safari will also sync your data between them.

You Can Always Run Chrome and Safari for Mac

Now that you have a better idea of how to compare Google Chrome vs Safari, you can choose the one that best suits your needs. But remember — you don’t have to stick to only one browser on your Mac.

Why not use them both for the things they each excel at so you get the best of both worlds?

Be sure to browse through the Technology category on our site for more helpful articles about using your Mac.

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