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Safari vs. Edge: Which Browser Is Better for Mac?

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Microsoft Edge has quickly become a serious contender for many people’s coveted “Default Browser” position. This is true even on Macs, because, though Edge was made to be the default Windows 10 browser, it works really well in macOS.

But how does Edge compare to Safari, Apple's own default Mac browser?

We’ve pitted the browsers against each other in some key categories, and we found some surprising results. Read on to not only see which browser is better for Mac overall, but to decide which might be better for your Mac going forward!

Design

The Appearance window is open in Settings on Microsoft Edge on Mac

It’s very likely you’ll spend a lot of time staring at your internet browser as you use your Mac. Therefore, it’s nice to have a browser that’s nice to look at. Between Edge and Safari, is there a browser that has a more visually appealing design?

We personally think both are sleek, with user interfaces that are pretty easy to jump into and understand.

Safari relies a lot more on icons, but looking at them might be easier than Edge’s slightly more minimal top menus. Safari also offers Dark Mode, if you prefer that look, or want that to activate it at a particular time of day.

Edge looks and acts a lot like Chrome, but with a few more appearance customizations. You can change Edge’s theme to switch up its entire color palette, and every time you open a new tab you can see a beautiful picture along with some news articles.

With new tabs in Safari, you can select a particular picture to be the background image. You won’t see headlines, but you’ll see your favorites, your frequently visited pages, and a Privacy Report.

So each browser is attractive, and customizable in some way. Edge’s themes make its design options a bit more varied, but Safari offers control over new tab customization. So this category might come down to personal preference.

Security and Privacy

The Privacy Report window from Safari open on a MacBook Pro

When it comes to browsing the internet safely and anonymously, you can do so with both Edge and Safari. Though Safari might just be the better option.

There are several Safari features that boost privacy and security, including Intelligent Tracking Prevention, Privacy Reports, and a robust password manager that lets you know if your passwords have been detected in known data leaks.

Edge also blocks online tracking and will block access to potentially malicious sites via the built-in Microsoft Defender SmartScreen program. You will also soon be able to enjoy a super duper secure mode in Edge for correcting a flaw in JavaScript that can let in malicious code.

But Safari offers more customization with its tracking prevention, and its Privacy Report feature gives you a better idea of who’s after your data than anything Edge offers.

So in the battle for keeping your Mac safe and secure while you’re online, we’d say Safari is the winner here.

Organization

If you’re doing any sort of research online for something you want to buy or for a work task, it’s extremely helpful to have a browser that can keep you organized. Both Safari and Microsoft Edge can do that, but Edge a bit more so.

This is mainly because of Edge’s Collections feature. Rather than simply bookmarking important web pages, Edge lets you save webpages in groups you create, called Collections.

You could make a Collection of gift ideas for someone, and another one for vacation destinations. Then you could switch between them whenever you need to. You could also make a Collection for a research project or for important webpages you use at work a lot.

Collections can be shared with other Edge users, which is great for group work and event planning.

There are also hidden features in Edge, like the ability to pin tabs in a browser window, so you can never accidentally close an important resource, and you can always keep certain pages open when you open the browser. You can also orient its tabs vertically, if that helps you keep track of them more easily.

Safari also lets you pin tabs, and you'll soon be able to group tabs together in Safari with the macOS Monterey update. Tab groups seem to work like Collections, but Edge has one other feature we think puts it just above Safari in this category—Profiles.

When you make a profile in Edge, you can customize the bookmarks, Collections, pinned tabs, and appearance of that particular profile. Meaning you can make a work profile, and keep everything on it work-oriented, as well as home profile for fun and games.

You can of course keep tabs and windows organized in Safari. Edge just offers a few more features for it that we think can really help you out. So in terms of organization, we say Edge is the better Mac browser.

Extensions

The Safari Extensions window in the Mac App Store on a MacBook Pro

Safari and Edge both come with great features, but you can add even more via browser extensions. Extensions are downloaded and once added can act as ad blockers, grammar editors, tab managers, and so much more depending on what ones you get.

You can get many of the same extensions on Edge and Safari thanks to developers ensuring they can be downloaded on both. Or rather, developers have made sure their extensions are available on the Mac App Store and the Chrome Web Store for this purpose.

Yes, Edge extensions are really Google Chrome extensions. Edge was designed to allow users to use Chrome Web Store extensions with it, as a large library of them already exist. We have a few favorites, like our list of the best Chrome extensions for managing your reading list.

Safari predictably makes use of the Mac App Store for its extensions. The Chrome Web Store has more extensions available than the Mac App Store, so in terms of numbers, Edge is the winner here.

But Chrome extensions make Chrome, and therefore Edge, drain a lot of your CPU. Therefore, this category can go either way for us. If you want lots of extension options, you probably want Edge. If you want your Mac to run quickly and efficiently despite extensions, you should use Safari.

Performance

A prompt to select the Mac version a user has, Intel or Apple chip, as they download Microsoft Edge

In addition to everything we’ve listed above, it’s important to consider which browser, Safari or Edge, works best on a Mac. In this regard, we think each browser has different strengths.

Edge is faster than Firefox, and faster than Safari per a HTML5test.com run for both browsers. It also has a built-in task manager that allows you to quit individual pages and processes to further speed up and improve its performance on your Mac.

Safari, meanwhile, can allow for 1.5 hours more streaming and up to 1 hour more browsing than Chrome and Firefox on a single charge, according to Apple. With the ability to stream in 4K and still pretty incredible speeds, it’s a powerful browser on a Mac.

This might be yet another draw category, but there is an important aspect to consider. Ultimately, because Safari and Macs are both made by Apple, Safari will always be optimized for Mac performance. Edge has historically been updated on new PCs first, and other systems second.

You might, therefore, get a better performance out of the Mac-native Safari in the long term. But Edge is still speedier right now, and that might be a major consideration for you.

Safari vs. Edge: Which One Wins on Mac?

Safari and Edge are hardly duplicates of one another, but it turns out they both work remarkably well on Mac. Based on our above categories, Safari might eke out the win here if you like its design or extension options more.

But if you prefer Edge on your Mac, or think it wins above based on your own needs, we’d still highly recommend it as a Mac browser. Regardless of which browser becomes your default, you’ll get a powerful, secure program letting your browse and stream quickly and easily.

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