I use Safari, Chrome, and Firefox simultaneously. But I’m not sure I’m doing it right. Here’s why and how.

Chrome · Never really used it much before I joined Google. But it’s what’s logged into the mothership and where a lot of work happens. Via the magic of pinned tabs, gmail is on command-1, calendar on command-2, docs on command-3, Google Voice on command-4, and @Androiddev on command-5. Anything I click on in one of those apps opens a new Chrome tab.

I like that Chrome’s fast, and I really like that it’s robust. There doesn’t seem to be any one web page that can bring it to its knees, and when something is grinding, you can look in the management console, find out what’s wrong, and clean up. The process-per-tab design seems to be a winner. I even leave Flash turned on in Chrome.

By the way, I use the Type-ahead-find extension to get /-to-search.

Of course, a large part of my Chrome time is spent in Google apps like gmail and calendar, and we’re always dogfooding unreleased versions, so my impressions of the browser may not line up with non-Googler experience.

Chrome’s aesthetic, in-page, is just fine. My eyes are not wildly pleased by the general look of the three-strip top: tabs, tools, and bookmarks, each bulging with teeny little blurb-of-color icons. On the other hand, as tools they get out of the way and take me where I want.

I use Android themes both for Chrome and gmail, so the general effect is perhaps overly green.

Safari · It’s still my default browser. For years it was the fastest and prettiest route from a Mac to the Web. And for years the only browser that knew about color profiles.

These days, on the pages’ part of the pages, all three browsers look and work about the same, and if there are differences in color rendering, they’re too small for me to care about.

I like Safari just fine, in particular the soft monochrome peace of its headers. I don’t like the way it shuffles tabs out of sight once you’ve built a few up, but my main gripe is that it feels a bit fragile. It is the most likely of my three browsers to lock up or inexplicably start gobbling 100% of my CPU cycles. This is surprising since I run it with ClickToFlash on.

Command-number does bookmarks rather than tabs, so command-1 is blog comments, command-2 is goo.gl, command-3 is my satellite-TV listings, and so on.

I haven’t figured out how to make Safari do /-search though.

Firefox · Unlike many geeks I’ve never been Firefox-centric. I liked the old Mozilla SeaMonkey, and when everyone switched to FireFox, I went to Camino instead because it had better Mac integration. On the other hand, I’ve long used Firebug for whacking CSS and JavaScript moles, although I understand that these days, both Safari and Chrome offer first-rate alternatives.

But in recent months, I’ve kept a Firefox around to run my personal textuality.com gmail in — there was some weird bug nobody else seemed to have where, when I was working on an email, Safari would lose the cursor and leave me editing blind. Thus, links showing up in my mail get opened up in Firefox. I find that I actually kind of like it; it’s neither faster nor slicker than the others, but feels kind of comfy.

While on the subject, I should pass along that Lauren has switched to Android Firefox for browsing on her Nexus One; it seems speedy and friendly and works just fine.

Take-Aways · I’m not claiming that the way I wrangle browsers is the best, or even good. But I’ve noticed that when I write up how I’m using this or that aspect of the computer, I almost always get told a better way to do something or other. Thus I learn; and judging by the occasional thank-yous, maybe teach a bit too.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Hub (May 31 2011, at 22:50)

I use Firefox 4. Safari on my main work machine to keep myself in par.

Google Chrome went bye bye when I discovered it installed behind my back something to update itself.... I hadn't launched it in 6 month and it was up to date. Some call that a Spyware. I just deleted it all. It is apparently a feature. I call that a bug.


From: Ashraf Ali (May 31 2011, at 23:38)

Honestly I was a Firefox diehard for a while with 1.0, 1.5, and 1.6. However, as soon as Google released Chrome, I downloaded the little beta bugger and stuck with it ever since. It really just works, fast. I never thought that some of the UI implementation could be so thoughtfully, interestingly implemented. Very smooth, very nice, very efficient browser.

And safari? That makes me toss and turn at night...it's a hungry dinosaur to be sure.


From: Ralph Haygood (Jun 01 2011, at 00:16)

I too use Safari, Chrome, and Firefox simultaneously. And then, over a period of time that varies but rarely exceeds one hour, my MacBook Pro gets hopelessly bogged down, and I have to kill one of them. So I try not to do this very often.

I'd probably never use Safari if it weren't so convenient for developing and debugging applications built using Sencha Touch and destined for mobile Safari and the Android browser. They don't work at all in Firefox (no surprise, as Sencha Touch assumes WebKit), and they don't work well in Chrome (the last time I checked).


From: Nick (Jun 01 2011, at 03:10)

My Safari does the same with the cursor thing in gmail, very annoying. I use Safari as my main browser, Chrome for any Google apps(surely they work best in there) and Firefox/bug for building sites.


From: Brent Rockwood (Jun 01 2011, at 04:22)

Before my mac was stolen (grr...), I was using Fluid.app and Safari to get GMail, Twitter, and Facebook site-specific browsers - and Chrome for everything else. It was a bit irritating that app-mode is not implemented in Chrome on the Mac, but it came with an unexpected bonus. Because my primary browser was not logged into any of those sites, I was not susceptible to click-jacking.

I wonder if this "separation of cookies" will ever become a feature in some form or another.


From: JulesLt (Jun 01 2011, at 05:35)

Safari has definitely taken a turn for the worse of late - i.e. 2-3 years back I'd have said it was the most solid browser I used - across Mac and Windows.

But it seems that a consequence of the performance improvement arms race has been an increase in web pages that completely lock it up for a few minutes - frequently the BBC does it for me - to the degree that IE is now far more reliable.

But I still tend to use it as my default.

(Probably for the same reason - I quite like all the grey. My Firefox is cluttered with coloured favicon bookmarks).


From: Matt Leidholm (Jun 01 2011, at 07:18)

I'm with you on Firefox and Chrome--I use Firefox mainly for a few extensions I can't live without (and, as deep-hooks extensions, can't be ported to Chrome), but would totally switch to Googly Chrome if I could.

But Safari? Though I'm currently PC at home and at work, I'm half Mac guy, and Safari...just...gross. If all you like about it is its color palate, you're using the wrong Firefox/Chrome themes. Do yourself a favor and remove the compass from your dock.


From: Bill Clementson (Jun 01 2011, at 08:51)

1. You could try the "Type-To-Navigate" Safari Extension (http://dbergey.github.com/) if you want something similar to /-search in Safari.

2. With regards to your "Safari would lose the cursor and leave me editing blind" issue - turn off the "Advanced attachment features" option (bottom of the General tab of Gmail prefs). This is the cause of the problem in Safari.

3. Using ClickToFlash will prevent Flash from automatically running; however, once you've run it one time, it's loaded. This can be the cause of your 100% CPU issues (it was for me). It's best to remove Flash completely (http://daringfireball.net/2010/11/flash_free_and_cheating_with_google_chrome) and just use Chrome when you need to view a Flash page (since Chrome has it's own Flash and Chrome tabs run in separate processes, when you kill the Flash tab in Chrome, you also kill Flash, avoiding the problem that Safari has).


From: J. King (Jun 01 2011, at 15:43)

You can -try- prying Opera (and Opera Mini!) from my cold, dead fingers, but I doubt you'd be able to. I've been using Opera and only Opera for eight and a half years now, and in all that time I've never seen a feature-set compelling enough for me to even contemplate switching. That said, that it is now the only runner not to have stable hardware acceleration kind of hurts. On older/slower hardware this is one of the big advantages of, particularly, Chrome. Kudos for that, definitely!


From: Jon Allen (Jun 01 2011, at 16:02)

I have the same problem with the cursor disappearing in gmail with safari too.

Maybe I should give chrome a go.

The best thing about Safari on a Mac is you can zoom in and zoom out using two fingers on the touch pad in a pinching movement.


From: Shazron (Jun 01 2011, at 19:45)

Strange error on your site using the latest Chrome on Windows and Mac, 13.0.782.1 dev. FF, Safari, IE renders it fine. Looks like the CSS is not applied somehow.

Screenshot here: http://cl.ly/7HFR


From: Roger Pate (Jun 02 2011, at 17:31)

Even if you don't regularly use vim, you should try the Vimium Chrome extension: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/dbepggeogbaibhgnhhndojpepiihcmeb

Its f/F are probably the single most valuable feature to many of the keyboard-focused users that I suggest it to, but it has lots, including /-to-search.


From: Mike (Jun 14 2011, at 20:49)

You're lucky Safari only uses up 100% of your CPU. It sometimes jumps to 140% of mine according to Activity Monitor - how is that even possible? I gave up on Safari a year ago because it was freezing and crashing my whole iMac (not just itself). This was an experience I hadn't had since OS 8 or so. Recently I came back from my year-long vacation with Chrome, because I wanted better 1Password integration, and I'm still getting the 100% CPU and crash stuff. I hope Lion fixes this.


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