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Web Browser Recommendations

by Don Stamey, MacWisdom Systems

Being a web programmer, people ask me about web browsers. Here are my thoughts, as of March 2018.

Notes
  • Whatever browser you use, don't let it get too old. The browser creators are always improving security, and are always adding new features that may be needed to properly display some web sites. If you have a old computer with an old operating system (Windows XP, Windows Vista, MacOS 10.8 or earlier), you may not be able to update to the most recent browser because the newest browsers may only work with more recent operating systems. If that's the case, update to the most recent browser that will run on your system. Also consider upgrading to the most recent operating system that will run well on your computer hardware.
  • Mobile devices (tablets, phones), like most computers, usually come with one browser already installed. You can download others, but most people don't care what browser they use, so you can just use the default browser (Safari on iPhone, Chrome on Android).
  • It is often a good idea to have more than one browser installed on your computer. If a web site does not work well with one browser, it might work with another. If you have a desktop or laptop computer, you might want to consider have more than one.
  • You can go to Wikipedia to learn more about web browsers and compare them.
Browsers I use

I use a Mac as my main system, so I usually use Firefox as my primary browser, with Safari as a close second.
Safari is only available on Apple products (Mac, iPhone, iPad).

I like using Firefox because I was able to create an automated script that deletes most of the cookies that web sites store, but allows me to specify which cookies to keep. Since I keep all my important bookmarks and cookies in Firefox, that allows me to reset all the settings in the other browsers whenever I want. I often have two browsers open at the same time. On a Mac, don't have two browsers open unless you have enough memory (RAM) to accomodate all open applications, or your Mac could start running slow. I would recommend 8 GB.

For Windows, I recommended Firefox. I also recommend it for Mac users that don't like Safari. Firefox is created by a non-profit organization (Mozilla), and they have less motivation to track your behavior and do things I would rather them not do (see next paragraph about Google Chrome).

The Chrome browser by Google is good, but last I heard, the Chrome browser is sending reports of sites that you visit to a central server somewhere. Google, the creator of Chrome, gives you a lot of free stuff, but in return, they want to know a lot about you to make money marketing to you or selling marketing information to others. They claim no personal info associated with the data they collect, but I generally don't agree with that kind of behavior, and have difficulty trusting such companies. As a result, a rarely use Chrome, mostly for testing, but I do have it installed. If you feel the same, use Firefox or Safari instead.

Internet Explorer does not run on Mac, so I don't use it for everyday browsing. Even if it did run on Mac I wouldn't use it. More recent versions have improved compatibility and security, but the earlier versions had security issues, and were difficult to support for a web developer. I do have Explorer installed under VirtualBox (software that lets you run Windows applications on Mac), but I only use it for testing web sites. For Windows users, I would always recommend Firefox or Chrome (in that order). If you're still using Windows XP (with Explorer versions 6 through 8), you probably shouldn't be browsing the internet because of security issues.

Microsoft Edge is Microsoft's new browser included in Windows 10. It is intended to replace Internet Explorer 11. I haven't learned much about it, so don't currently have anything to say about it.

Summary

To summarize, I like these browsers (in order): Firefox, Safari, Chrome. They all do a good job of navigating the web. Safari works only on Apple products (Mac, iPhone, iPad), but Firefox and Chrome can run on Mac, iPhone, iPad, Windows, Android phones and tablets, and Linux.

Other

I use Mac because it is a better choice than Windows for a web programmer. It's roots are based on the Unix operating system, which is similar to Linux, which is what powers the majority of the web.