When we asked last week which Web browsers you use on your Mac, I had no doubt that Safari would be at the top of the list. It has been one of Apple’s most important apps since it shipped with Mac OS X 10.3 Panther in 2003, and it regularly receives updates that improve its performance, features, and security. So, it’s not in the slightest bit surprising that 87% of TidBITS readers report that they use it.
More interesting are the next few browsers. I was intrigued to see that Firefox (59%) has significantly greater usage levels among TidBITS readers than Google Chrome (40%), which is by far the most used browser across all platforms. Chrome’s relative poor showing may reflect TidBITS readers putting an above-average emphasis on privacy, as evidenced by the privacy-focused Brave (21%) and DuckDuckGo (11%) in fourth and sixth place, respectively. Arc almost certainly enjoys its 15% usage share due to my coverage and enthusiasm for it, and Microsoft Edge likely squeaks into a 10% usage number due to employers requiring it for internal sites and its AI integration. The remaining browsers garnered only single-digit percentages, and although I regret forgetting them, iCab and OmniWeb would likely have fallen into that category as well.
In retrospect, I’m unsure how illuminating this poll was. It shows with broad strokes which browsers TidBITS readers use at least occasionally, but most people have a primary browser that they supplement with others for specific reasons, most commonly when a website doesn’t work correctly. My vote, which you can see in the blue bars above, doesn’t make clear that I primarily use Arc but occasionally use the other browsers to test misbehaving websites, log in with a secondary account, or document interface elements.
I considered running another poll to tease out the primary browser question, but I didn’t want to ask people to vote yet again on essentially the same topic. Besides, I have some data about that from Google Analytics. When I look at tidbits.com traffic from desktop Web browsers for 2023, Safari remains in the lead, generating 48% of page views, but Chrome is second with 40%, and Firefox and Edge are tied for fourth with 5%. Finally, Opera slips in with 1%. Chromium browsers other than Microsoft Edge and Opera identify themselves as Chrome, so its 40% includes at least Arc, Brave, and Vivaldi.
Perhaps the takeaway from this poll is that using multiple browsers is common, and you shouldn’t shy away from doing so. Pick one that fits your working style the best as your default, but if it doesn’t meet your needs in a particular way, there’s no shame in falling back on an alternative. If nothing else, Safari is always waiting in your Applications folder.