I’ve never been one of those people who only use one browser to interact with the Web. I use tabbed navigation heavily for work and leisure, and I also love to try different browsers to see what kind of features and approaches they present, what makes them unique or in what ways each browser can be the best tool for the job. Over the years, my preferences have varied depending on a browser’s UI, its performance, its resource- and energy consumption, its memory management. As browsers have evolved, they’ve got better at managing their impact on the CPU and RAM, but there have been periods of relapses even for the best among them.
Since version 3, I’ve been using Safari as my primary browser, and have been quite happy with it all this time. But my habits and workflows have always demanded at least a second browser, and very often a third. For a long time, my setup was pretty much like this:
- Google Chrome
- Whatever other browser I was testing/exploring.
That third seat has been occupied by several different browsers. In no particular order: Stainless, OmniWeb, Firefox, Camino, Shiira, Opera, Sunrise, Sleipnir, and recently Vivaldi and Brave — both very interesting projects in my opinion. I talked about the built-in ad-blocking features of Brave back in May in this article.
In that article on the Brave browser, I wrote:
My preferences for these secondary browsers have changed with time. […] When I decided to remove Flash from my system, the secondary browser would become Chrome because it incorporates a Flash plug-in, and I would resort to Chrome to access those websites requiring Flash to work. Then in recent years, when 99% of the sites I visit either don’t use Flash anymore, or serve HTML5 content, I’ve basically stopped using Chrome.
After a period of using Safari, Opera, and Firefox as main browsers (being very pleased by the recent improvements of Opera: much faster, with some ad-blocking features that don’t require extensions, etc.), and after a subsequent period using Safari, Vivaldi, and Brave, I briefly returned to Chrome, after a friend suggested I should try to explore the many extensions and resources available to turn it into a ‘power tool’ (his words). Well, I don’t know if suddenly my aging MacBook Pro was not enough to handle Chrome, or if Chrome has become more resource-hungry, or if I had installed perhaps too many extensions, but the experience was pretty much terrible. Considering that about two years ago I was often choosing Chrome over Safari for the better overall performance, I was rather disappointed.
Then, around mid-November, Mozilla introduced Firefox Quantum. Intrigued by that blog post, I immediately updated Firefox, and put to the test Mozilla’s claims regarding speed. I was stunned. The jump in performance compared with the ‘old’ Firefox was very noticeable. Not only that: the new look and UI had got better, too. Suddenly, Firefox had become a browser I enjoyed using. If you haven’t tried it yet, download it, and see for yourself. Great job, Mozilla.
While I still use Opera and Vivaldi every now and then, for the past two months my browser setup has been steadily Safari, Firefox, and Brave. And Chrome has been uninstalled for good, as it’s no longer needed, at least on my Mac. Why go all the way? Because removing another piece of Google from my ecosystem doesn’t hurt. Now it’s just a few Gmail accounts I mainly use for newsletters and mailing lists; and Google Maps because, quite frankly, it’s irreplaceable.