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What browser to choose?

Well… all throughout my Linux days and now, since I have moved on to Macs, I’ve been a Netscape and, later, Mozilla/Firefox.

Since I make some of my money with building websites, I actually need Firefox, or better: Firebug. This add-on is a real must-have for everyone who ever wanted to know why a website doesn’t behave as expected.

However, from time to time (pretty regularly every six month, actually) I doubt my choice of browser and give them all a shot again. Knowing, that I will still have to use Firefox every now and then for reasons stated above.What’s wrong with Firefox?

Well, if there were no other browsers around I’d say: nothing. Knowing Safari and Chrome (I don’t like Opera), I see that Firefox can be, sometimes, a real memory hog and it’s rendering engine actually isn’t as fast as Safari’s or Chrome’s.
And that’s really about it… not that much but still enough for me to go and look how the other’s are doing by now.

The Chrome Experience

Google’s Chrome for Mac is out since today (well, at least the official beta) and it’s blazingly fast, and… – but I’m sure you all already read about why Chrome is great. Here’s why it’s not so great. At least for me.

Hardly any plugins/add-ons – especially, I miss Firefox’s AdBlock. I know, I know… Google is a search and ad company and an ad blocker in their browser would be counter productive, however, my browser of choice needs to be able to block ads and/or flash.

No support for 1Password, yet – I really depend on this neat little tool called „1Password“. By now there’s no plugin for Chrome – but they’re working on it.

To be fair: it’s a beta and still pretty new. Time will tell if Chrome will become usable for me.

Safari. The Internet. The Apple way.

Safari is as fast as Chrome and, especially with complex pages, a lot faster than Firefox. Although I didn’t benchmark any of these browsers, I’d say that Safari’s even a bit faster than Chrome.

However, it suffers from the same disease as Chrome: only very few plugins. One even has to install a plugin, in order to make Safari restore the last session (including all the tabs you had open) at the next start. For this I chose GLIMS, by the way.

Also, there seems to be no really good ad blocker for Safari. I tried all of them. Well, all of those that run on Snow Leopard and with Safari in 64bit-mode. The clear winner: Glimmerblocker. With Glimmerblocker installed and activated (under System Preferences) the web looks like I’m used to. BUT: Glimmerblocker doesn’t work like AdBlock Plus in Firefox. Glimmerblocker is a little proxy server and all web traffic is piped through it in order to filter out unwanted content – and that’s not what I want for several reasons. One being that I don’t really know what Glimmerblocker does and wether it interferes with, say, LittleSnitch.

Another really annoying thing with Safari: selecting tabs. Well, thanks to GLIMS, I can toggle through all the tabs of a Safari window with „,“ (left) and „.“ (right), but what did I buy that MagicMouse for?

In Firefox I can place the cursor over the bar with all the tabs in it and can scroll through these tabs by moving my finger from the left to the right (or vice versa) across the surface of the mouse. That doesn’t work in Safari, which is more than just sad…

Well, as you might have guessed, I’m back to using Firefox. Yes, it uses up a load of memory. Yes, it is a bit slower in rendering websites than the other contestants. And yes, it’s even slower at starting up (especially if it has to load a significant number of tabs. I have about 45 opened right now.). Still it is my clear winner for the following reasons: 1Password (which also works with Safari), ad blocking, plugins and ease of use/comfort.

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  1. As a new Mac user, I started off liking Safari. It’s fast and sure looks neat. My issue: take Google Reader as an example, it doesn’t render the page correctly. While I don’t use this page very often thanks to EventBox, I would still like to be able to read my pages if I wish to do so.
    Not being able to install for example xmarks and the described adblock quickly got me back to using firefox. And while it doesn’t load as quickly as others may (starting up), that is just not reason enough to deal with other issues.
    Comparing starting times is of browsers is (to me) almost as bad as doing the same with operating systems, which I’ve seen enough people doing over the years 😉

  2. As a new Mac user, I started off liking Safari. It’s fast and sure looks neat. My issue: take Google Reader as an example, it doesn’t render the page correctly. While I don’t use this page very often thanks to EventBox, I would still like to be able to read my pages if I wish to do so.
    Not being able to install for example xmarks and the described adblock quickly got me back to using firefox. And while it doesn’t load as quickly as others may (starting up), that is just not reason enough to deal with other issues.
    Comparing starting times is of browsers is (to me) almost as bad as doing the same with operating systems, which I’ve seen enough people doing over the years 😉

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