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Firefox vs Safari
November 11, 2004 2:09 PM   Subscribe

Can a non-Apple and non-Mozilla partisan tell me if, and the degree to which, Firefox is better than Safari?
posted by blueshammer to Computers & Internet (22 answers total)
I'm in the process of switching between the two, on alternating days, trying to come to a conclusion.

After about two weeks I'm still undecided. FireFox is a must for things like Blogger's interface, but for most surfing they're pretty much identical.

I'm on a slightly older PowerMac G4, and I find Safari's UI a little 'snappier' than FireFox's, and its load time is better. (FireFox runs about as well as on an equivalent-speed Windows machine), Safari a bit faster.

So in the end I think I'm going to keep both installed, and probably use Safari most of the time but have FireFox for a few pages.

Safari's drop-down bookmarks tab things are also a great feature.

One other minor thing, FireFox for Mac doesn't do a 'go back' when you press the backspace key. (instead it weirdly makes my mouse cursor disappear.)
posted by Space Coyote at 2:38 PM on November 11, 2004

We were devoted users of Chimera/Camino when Safari was announced as beta, with its rendering gliches and all. After the '1.0' release of Safari, we found ourselves turning to it for browsing and website debugging more and more. Now we are devoted Safari users. The browser simply seems more friendly, and as we are so easily persuaded by 'shiny things': Safari uniquely supports the text-shadow CSS property.

We did use Firefox to play with pages that required an extra amount of load-time (i.e. Technorati), as Safari failed to load pages after sixty seconds had elapsed. One could install Saft to add additional time to Safari's timeout, but Saft had caused us problems in the past, and we are still wary of the InputManager to this day.

We say 'did use Firefox...' because as of 10.3.6, Safari does not timeout, and will not cancel the attempt at loading a page until the user orders it done (i.e. waiting to preview this blasted comment).

(It should be mentioned that Firefox was not originally intended to be developed for the Macintosh platform, as the Mozilla Project felt that Apple users had a lovely array of fully-functioning browsers at their disposal as-is. We forget the rationale behind the Mac's inclusion, but we are sure it is posted somewhere.)
posted by tenseone at 3:06 PM on November 11, 2004

Whoopsy-daisy: we had meant to mention load time -- Safari opens with a 'Pop!', and Firefox seems to take her sweet time coming to fruition. This may be an isolated event, one occuring on two different computers.

1Ghz G4 PM, 1Gb RAM.
1Ghz G4 PB, 768Mb RAM
posted by tenseone at 3:13 PM on November 11, 2004

I don't have a very strong opinion on this, and for me that's saying a lot.

Neither wins hands down the way I think Firefox trounces Win/IE. Firefox is great because of all its custom extensions, and I think Safari just feels more polished overall.

I use OmniWeb 5, Firefox, and Safari interchangibly. I only really think about which I'm in when there's a feature I need to use that I need to change browsers to get.
posted by jragon at 3:18 PM on November 11, 2004

I use Firfox - if only mainly because of the "view with IE extension." It's a fact of life that too many sites still only work with IE, and the extension is handier than having to start IE, and then copy/paste a URI.
posted by sixdifferentways at 3:33 PM on November 11, 2004

Personallly, I go for Camino, then Safari, then Firefox, but I haven't used the new 1.0 version of Firefox. Why Camino you ask? Well as I understand it Firefox was not and is not designed specifically for the Mac while Camino (and Safari...) are. I like the UI of Camino over that of Safari, however if Safari (or Firefox for that matter...) would allow me to have multiple rows of bookmarks in the bookmark bar (currently it only allows one row) then I'd probably switch to which either one would let me do that. Right now Camino is the only one that puts up with my two or three rows of bookmark bar items.

posted by pwb503 at 3:53 PM on November 11, 2004

If you don't mind using Windows software on a Mac, Firefox is great. It does have lots of nice features, the extensibility really appeals to me as a geek, but it just feel wrong. It is my preferred browser on Windows.

If you'd rather use your Mac to run Mac software, Safari (or better yet, OmniWeb) is preferable.
posted by kindall at 4:34 PM on November 11, 2004

Here's some information about G4-optimized builds of Firefox 1.0. I'm running one on a 1 GHz PowerBook and it is much faster than the unoptimized Firefox, and seems even a little snappier than Safari.

Safari used to run circles around Firefox for tabbed browsing, but with FF 1.0, tabbed browsing is single window goodness.
posted by tomharpel at 4:42 PM on November 11, 2004

said optimized Firefox 1.0 information
posted by tomharpel at 4:43 PM on November 11, 2004

Safari doesn't deal with very long web pages well... one of my favourite blogs has too much stuff on the front page, and i can't really read it in safari. Also, the search box in safari isn't customisable, so i can't make it default to
posted by ascullion at 4:56 PM on November 11, 2004

I like Firefox, my only problem as a Mac user is that some of the great extensions I can not use. I simply can not click to select the text fields and type in them on their configuration windows.

I tried the optimized build of Firefox for the G4 when they were mentioned the other day the MeFi 1.0 launch article. I so loved how snappy the rendering of the pages were. Especially active message boards using large table based layouts.

If it wasn't for that field entry issue with Firefox I would be using it gladly as my primary browser and enjoying all the extensions I use on my Windows machine at work.
posted by Animus at 5:22 PM on November 11, 2004

Supposedly the Firefox team is making improvements on the Mac version to make it behave much more Mac-like for the next update.
posted by gyc at 5:51 PM on November 11, 2004

I've been trying to make Firefox my main browser for a while now, but Safari (and the Saft shareware) keep getting better. The main problem I have with Safari is that ad-blocking--which I consider a must--is s l o w with Pithhelmet, which, outside of host-blocking, is the only option (and I don't want to get into maintaining an anti-ad host file). Additionally, as mentioned, it can be very slow on long pages, which includes pages that have lots of CSS, even if they don't have lots of visible text.

The reasons I want to try Firefox are a) to become more familiar with it; b) because it seems faster overall; c) because I want to try some of the extensions.

With Firefox 1.0, I'm going to try really hard to work with it and not get pissed of when it does stupid shit, but it's hard.

Currently I have these unresolved complaints:

It cannot use the Services menu because it is not a Cocoa app. This means I cannot use some of the text reformatting extensions, which remove double-spaces, line breaks, quoting, etc. I use these services (via a keyboard command) dozens of times every day.

The find bar should disappear when the page being searched clicked, after a given time limit, or when the first matching item is found. There should also be a preference to use the previous method, where a little window popped up--but that itself had problems, because, like the find bar, the stupid thing stayed up as you searched, inevitably blocking the text on the screen.

If you double click on the space between two words, that space and both words are selected. This is wrong. Just the space or nothing at all should be selected.

Some text area windows have scroll bars, even when they are not supposed to or don't need them.

Key commands for launching a new tab in the foreground or background are exactly opposite of Safari. Command-click on a link should open the link in a new tab in the background. Shift-command-click on a link should open the link in a new tab in the foreground.

For some reason, Comman-T now opens two empty tab windows instead of one.
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:04 PM on November 11, 2004

Maybe if you give us some criteria?

Firefox has a more compliant rendering engine, more themes, plugins, but Safari is pretty good too.

But if you're just reading mefi and the news, a few blogs, then it doesn't matter. I don't know, flip a coin or something...

(The only reason I'd like you to use Firefox over Safari is for browser usage statistics)
posted by holloway at 6:07 PM on November 11, 2004

I've also been flipping back and forth between Safari and Firefox -- for several months on the old Firefox, for the last couple of days on 1.0. I think overall I lean towards Safari, but that's largely just because it's prettier and the interface is simpler, and because it renders most of my favorite pages much better -- its CSS rendering is just really gorgeous, dotted borders and the such look very nice. I keep Firefox around (a.) just so that it's showing up on browser usage statistics and (b.) because some sites still stubbornly refuse to work properly with Safari -- my gas company, for one. I also prefer the bookmark management in Safari; I keep hyper-frequently-used bookmarks in the bar up top, and things I find myself wanting to go to every so often in the full bookmarks menu, which is still quite easy to access from the icon in the top-left.

So I'd vote Safari, but Firefox is definitely worth keeping around on your comp too.
posted by logovisual at 6:57 PM on November 11, 2004

I'm probably going to switch just so I can get full-screen without paying for Saft. Also, I love the find bar to death.
posted by lbergstr at 7:04 PM on November 11, 2004

I use Safari mainly, as I find it faster, prettier, and friendlier, but I use Firefox also for two reasons:

1) the main site I use for my work has some fancy stuff that goes slightly wonky under Safari, and Firefox works perfectly.

and 2) Firefox has some great plug-ins/extensions available, including one where, when coding, I can play with the CSS and have the page change dynamically as I type to match.

Use that info as you will
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:20 PM on November 11, 2004

Safari's Javascript engine has significant "issues" (I understand they're rewriting it for v2.0).
posted by John Shaft at 7:37 PM on November 11, 2004

For me I stay with Safari because:

1) I can check spelling while I type in comment boxes like this one and the countless other places on the internets where may leave comments. [edit -> spelling -> check spelling as I type]

2) I use .mac to sync my bookmarks between macs and use the on my xp system at work.

I use Firefox on sites that don't like Safari. I like the old-school click and hold for the contextual menu on Firefox.
posted by birdherder at 8:46 PM on November 11, 2004

I'm now running a G5-optimized build, thanks to tomharpel's post above.

posted by lbergstr at 10:49 PM on November 11, 2004

I used Safari for the first time the other day, for several hours, to deliver a guest presentation to a web design class. Prior to that, I would have called it even based on what I knew about Safari from using Konqueror and reading the press.

For the way I use a browser, I would have to recommend FireFox over Safari; the latter is just missing so many things that I use frequently, which are available in Konqueror and make it a much tougher call on a Linux system. FireFox is a better choice for people who need to know a lot about the site they're browsing, or for whom the FireFox extensions are attractive. Both are true for me; I found myself frustrated in this class when I wanted to show the students some feature that would be easy to illustrate with, say, the Mozilla or Konqueror DOM browsers.

For most users, though, I would think that Safari might have better UI conformance and OS integration than FF.

I know it's a wimpy response, but you're going to have to figure out which one suits your browsing habits more. The talk is that FireFox will support the new Apple DA standard, so it should continue to work pretty well within the UI. OTOH, Safari has a really, really solid foundation, it's fast, and as far as I could see, stable.
posted by lodurr at 6:09 AM on November 12, 2004

I want to like Firefox. I really do. And I keep it around (as well as Camino), but mostly I use Safari because it just has mostly better page rendering. I've noticed that all Gecko-based browsers have problems with certain ranges of non-ASCII characters (such as the heart in "I [Heart] Huckabees", as well as other more subtle quirks).

I also just can't get over the ugly form widgets in FF. But it has all those really cool extensions, it loads really fast, and it works better with my bank's website (Safari still has JS quirks), so I definitely do have uses for it.
posted by adamrice at 9:05 AM on November 12, 2004

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