Brave vs. Firefox vs. Safari?

I’m seeing a lot of love for the Brave browser here, which appears to be Chrome with added privacy – or, more precisely, Chrome with added privacy and the tracking code stripped out.

Why use Chrome rather than Firefox, which is also making a big privacy push? Why Brave rather that Safari?

Is Brave preferable because of the Chrome compatibility, particularly extensions?


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As I mentioned earlier today, there are far more and far better extensions for Chrome/Brave than for Safari. Safari is more locked down and the extension situation on Safari is fairly dire. As just one example, there used to be (only) 2 extensions that let you see EXIF data on web pages, but not only were they much clunkier than Exif Viewer but newer versions of Safari broke those extensions several months ago, they never got updated, and now there isn’t a single EXIF viewing extension that works in Safari.

One more: a few weeks ago the $3.99 Mac app Tabs To Links made a bit of a splash in the Maciverse, but it left me confused that people would pay for a Mac app (because Safari APIs don’t yet permits it to exist as an extension) to turn a Safari page’s links into a list of links. Why? Because there are numerous free Chrome extensions that have done this for years.

Chrome has a much larger variety of ad-blockers, and when applied to Chrome (or Brave) you get as good or better blocking as with Safari. One example: I use DecentralEyes, which is available for Firefox/Chromium-apps for enhanced privacy when sites you visit simply track you via the CDNs used when loading pages. As the dev noted on a Reddit thread, “a lot of websites let you load vital files through large third-party services (like Google Hosted Libraries). There are a couple of reasons why web developers are tempted to do this. It lowers upkeep costs (as these services do not cost the host any money), and it speeds up the web in the sense that if you store a specific version of a file once, you will only contact that central content delivery service too see if the file you have is identical. The fact that these companies are now deeply woven into the fabric of the web, and that telling them off actually breaks a significant percentage of all websites, made me build this add-on. It comes bundled with a fair amount of commonly used files, and serves them locally whenever a site tries to fetch them from a delivery network.”

Safari ain’t got nuthin’ like that.

Also, I’ve generally found that Chrome and Brave deliver pages to me a bit faster than Safari, and some sites/pages simply get hung in Safari and never fully load. (That could be due to the ad-blockers I’ve used, I don’t know.)


I use Brave sparingly because it’s a battery killer just like Chrome. 95% of the time, I’m using Safari. I occasionally fire up Firefox for various needs (although it’s 99% Firefox at work, Chrome just for my Google account - all on Windows there).

People like Chrome over Firefox because web developers put a bit more attention into compatibility there (due to market share) and it does the whole “sync w/ your Google/Gmail account” similar to how Safari syncs across devices with iCloud.

Apple’s relatively new requirements for publishing Safari extensions is really disappointing.


Yes, the lack of extensions is what makes me consider switching away from Safari.

What keeps me on Safari? Top of the list is probably the Reader view. So many news sites are simply unusable without it.

This is my pet peeve about ads in general. Look, as a journalist I get the business need for ads. And, well, I’m lazy enough to not be highly motivated by protecting my privacy. But for the love of Ghu just GET THE HELL OUT OF MY WAY AND LET ME READ YOUR DAMN ARTICLE!!!


I use Just Read for Chrome/Brave, and I configured the CSS to duplicate the look of Safari Reader View.


I am on Firefox and like it a lot. I do keep the number of extensions at a minimum, basically just LastPass, uBlock Origin and Ghostery to avoid slow-downs.

Having been on Firefox since the early betas, except from a few years where it became unusable, it is a habit that’s hard to shake for me.

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I use Chrome for Google services, Safari where I can, and when Safari fails, Firefox. I avoid all extensions and plugins like the the plague.

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Loving Brave now. Holy cow does it feel faster than Safari or Chrome. Might just be my imagination, though. Going to fool around with the Just Read extension and see if I can get it how I like it.

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That, and Apple issuing Safari 12 which inanely killed off a lot of 3rd party plug-ins – like those from iThoughts and Outlinely – that were no risk and made the browser a useful tool for research.

I’ve been trying to adopt Brave, but there are a few things that keep me using Safari in parallel:

  • The auto-filling of 2FA codes sent to my phone
  • The way it lays out the Favourites/Frequently Visited tiles in new tabs
  • The Reading List, and specifically how useful it is as a very temporary container for links that I want to visit soon and can access and add to from any of my devices

I weaned myself off a lot of extensions, but one that exists in the Chrome/Brave universe that doesn’t have any comparable alternative for Safari is Mercury Reader. Not only is it an exceptional parser with beautiful styling (I vastly prefer it to Safari Reader) but it also has a nifty “send to Kindle” feature that I make use of a fair bit to send one-off longreads to my Kindle without having to pass through Pocket/Instapaper first.

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My experience exactly. I try to use Safari every so often but the speed issues and the surprising number of problematic websites always leave me disappointed. Firefox ended up being the source of some really odd and inexplicable hiccups (e.g., file associations would get bungled up but only when Firefox was running - bizarre), not to mention their virtue-signaling drama, and Chrome, well, it runs fine but it’s Google and all. Opera was my backup browser for a while but it was relatively slow and had hangups of it’s own.

I like Brave’s built in functions, and the few extensions I use all work well. Actually, now that I look, it seems I’m down to LastPass only. It works well.

It’s been worth it for me although I’ve relatively recently switched, and still sort of testing it. And I like the little report it gives on every new tab.


I use my laptop without a power supply most of the day and brave knocks off 3-4 hours of battery life compared to Safari. I like its speed but need the extra battery life.

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If you end up liking it send me a DM and I’ll reply with paste-in of the CSS I tweaked to replicate the Safari reader View. Here’s a typical before/after when I use Just Read:


It’s still a work in progress, admittedly. A new beta allows for syncing bookmarks with iOS and other OS versions, but there are some limitations right now. I cannot speak to the battery drain, but given that it’s got the same base as power-hungry Chrome I wouldn’t be surprised if it was at least as hard on battery. (I use an iMac.)

Brave for iPhone still - like every other browser for iOS - must use WebKit as its foundation. Do any other alternative browsers handle 2FA differently or better? I really don’t know the answer, because I’m always using 1Password to retrieve/paste that info.

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I’m 100% 1Password too, but there are a few services that don’t offer 2FA via anything other than SMS.

For those, the experience in Safari is better because the system recognizes that a code has come into the Messages app and automatically prompts you to just paste it in—without you having to leave the browser or interact with the message notification in any way.

There aren’t a ton of those sites/services, thankfully, but whenever I encounter them and am using Safari it really does seem like a much smoother way to get into a site. Still, I continue to use both browsers in parallel, and I have a bunch of others installed too for testing and experimentation.

I think another aspect worth mentioning is the power of default. Not as much of a problem on macOS where you can set your own, but on iOS all browser actions go to Safari by default, so using that default just makes for a more seamless experience.

Absolutely. I’m pretty agnostic with my iOS browsers, given the Apple-imposed limitations. I’ll use Safari, Chrome, Firefox or Brave (or even the DuckDuckGo app!) pretty much interchangeably, and when I need a site to show me the desktop version, like some banking sites, I’ll use iCab (review here), which lets me change the browser ID to tell sites I’m using Chrome_60 on Windows. So I’m not recommending a specific 3rd-party browser on iOS.

That’s very nice indeed.

Since I moved to Brave yesterday, I’ve been playing with the Diigo bookmarking service. It’s like Pinboard + Instapaper with Evernote’s ability to save whole web pages and annotate and make notes on them. Very, very nice! And one of its capabilities is rendering pages in a nicely readable format. So while the Just Read plugin is excellent, and I do appreciate the recommendation, I’m using Diigo for that.

For now. This has all been less than a day. I do feel like my current setup will stick for a while, but I may find dealbreaker problems later today.

Those of you who use iCabMobile on the iPad. What do you use it for? I just downloaded it. I prefer Safari, but I have heard that iCab has a lot of features that Safari doesn’t have, which might come in handy when doing going iPad Pro only.

n iOS I use iCab exclusively to change the browser ID to Chrome 60, as I noted above. Some sites (eg some banking sites) don’t play well with what they think are iOS browsers.

(Many many years ago, before Safari on the Mac had Web Archives I used iCab to save iCab-proprietary webpage-bundles that held all html and images.)

I miss the reading list too. Any recommended extensions to replace it?
I’ve been using Pocket, but there’s a little more friction than using the reading list in safari.