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Yes, I really like Safari!

Safari has been my default browser since it was version 1.0. I like the speed. I LOVE the features! I like the user interface. So why the switch to Chrome? Although I really really like Safari, what I didn't like was the constant crashing I was having. Safari would crash on me on average 2-3 times a day. Worse, it would sometimes do it in the middle of typing a blog post like this one and at least once a week take down the whole Mac (Kernel Panic). It wasn't any particular site and while I know some of you would be quick to blame Adobe Flash as the culprit, I've used Chrome now for a week solid browsing the same sites I always do, including the ones with Flash content, with NO CRASHES! I leave the browser open all the time. I usually have no less than 20-22 tabs open all day long. Chrome has been a champ this week without a single problem. 

 

What I like about Chrome

First off (at least for me) it seems to be much more stable than Safari. I also like that the Search bar is integrated into the Address Bar. So if you key in "What's a Macintosh?" and hit return it will do a Google Search for it. However, if you key in "macgroup.org" then it will go to the site instead. It's FAST! I know that Apple always touts how fast Safari is over other browsers, but with Chrome I've found it to be just as fast as Safari if not faster for the sites I go to. The other big factor for me was integration with 1Password. The latest update to 1Password added support for Google Chrome. That would have been a deal breaker for me had it not been there as I use it every day. The integration is pretty slick. Chrome will do an import of your Safari bookmarks as well as sync between multiple computers.

 

What I don't like about Chrome

Any time you make a switch from one product to another, there will be things that you will like about the new one and miss from the old one. This is no different. Like I said, I like Safari. So I'm missing a couple of features. First off I miss the feature that was added to Safari recently that warns you if you're about to close a window with a bunch of open tabs or quit the app with a bunch open tabs. This optional Safari feature doesn't appear to be in Chrome. A couple of times I've hit Command-Q when I didn't mean to and without warning it closed everything I was browsing. Luckily there is a feature in the History menu that will let you re-open all the last tabs of a window you had open before. It's not the end of the world but I do miss it! I also miss Safari's integration with Mail in that you can hit Command-I in Safari to send the current page you're browsing over to the body of a new message in Mail to send someone. Chrome does have a feature that sends the URL, but it's not the same. The last little nit is that when I click on a link from a page that would normally open a new window in other browsers, it opens a new to the right of the current tab. While this is probably cleaner as you wouldn't end up with so many windows open, I 'd love to have the choice.

 

Will I go back?

I don't hate Safari! I just hate the crashing. I'd be willing to switch back to Safari in a heartbeat if it was more stable on my MacBook Pro. With that said, I always have multiple browsers installed. I have FireFox too. It's best to have more than one browser installed even if Safari is your default browser just in case you run into a site that isn't rendering properly. You can try it in a different browser. Speaking of rendering properly, I found that Chrome rendered all the sites I visited identically to Safari except one: This blog! Go figure. In Safari, the navigation at the top of the page is centered (like it should be), however in Chrome it's left justified. Not sure why Chrome isn't rendering that one element properly since both browsers are based on the WebKit engine? But that's going to be the case no matter which two browsers you use/compare. One is going to sometimes render things a little different than the other.  For the most part I'm happy with Chrome and will continue to use it. I'll try each new update/patch to Safari to see if the crashing goes away, but for now Chrome is my default. 

 

You can download Chrome here and try it for yourself. Even if you're totally happy with Safari there's no reason not to have a 2nd or 3rd browser choice.

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  • Mark

    I too am disturbed by Flash ability to terminate Safari but leaving it for Chrome or some other is no option for me due to their lack of copy text with format to TextEdit.

  • Kirk Tirakian

    I find myself using Chrome a lot too. I also like the combined address search bar.
    For some reason, after doing maintenance of the OS with Onyx, Chrome won’t hold on to imported Safari Bookmarks. Perhaps it is that Google Syncing got turned off. I’ll try it again.

    I like that Chrome seems to remember that I want Facebook zoomed in since FB microdotted its font where people post. Safari has to redo every time. I like it that if I highlight a word(s) and do a right click to ask that the word(s) be searched for on the internet, Chrome will open a new tab for the result (so will Firefox).

    I would still prefer to use Safari on my Mac since it is made by Apple. The “Mail contents of this Page” is still a great feature in Safari for Mac. It pops the website into the Mail app email body perfectly if the web page isn’t terribly complicated or all Flash.

  • Audrey Williams

    I would love to switch to Chrome, but I am not real fond of the way live bookmarks are handled. I use live bookmarks every day and really like the firefox implementation. I like the way I can add my favorite feeds right in my bookmarks toolbar for easy access.

    Can anyone suggest an extension for Chrome that behaves like firefox live bookmarks?

  • ChampagneBob

    I have had only one crash in Safari ever and I’m all over the web every day. Can’t understand what you do that causes your “crashes”. Any time my MacBook feels funny (about once every three months), I just restart and all goes well.

    I use CleanMyMac about every two months, usually when I install new software.

    I love the speed of Safari but use Firefox for access of our forms generation and accounting web sites. Other than that no problems at all….

  • Walt French

    You can have the best of both, you know.

    Per Gruber:
    Pull the Adobe stuff from your library’s internet plug-ins folder.
    Create a shortcut key for Safari’s “Open Page in Google Chrome”

    Now, use Safari normally, with all the extensions you prefer (or not), and when you bump into a “missing plug-in” message, just hit Command-Shift-G (or whatever) and it opens into Chrome.

    Before taking this advice, I, too, had Safari crash on me fairly often. Especially a problem as I load it up with pages to read before boarding a plane. I could watch the memory allocation to the Flash plug-in creep up as I opened pages with Flash, but not go down when I closed ’em (can you say, “memory hemorrhage”?) and eventually, Kablooey! Seems especially bad over a flaky WiFi, when I sometimes have to abandon a page with Flash as too data-hungry, while it’s loading.

    So the Safari+Chrome MO opens a limited number of pages in Chrome, and importantly, they often go to zero, and I can quit out of it and any cumulative troubles. No possible spreading corruption.

    Altho I believe Chrome has sandboxed Flash better, I think it still has troubles. Last nite, watching a Flash video, Little Snitch was telling me it was one of the system daemons that was going to the website, not Chrome. And sure enough, I got the hard kernel panic of the screen going gray and “You must restart” message. Until I hear otherwise, Chrome caused Flash to be guilty of that.

    Gawd, we put up with a lot because Flash has managed to get a decent implementation on Windows, which allowed it to monopolize video vs Real and QuickTime. But a sorta-sucky one on Mac, unix and Froyo, and nothing on the other several hundred million smartphones people use for personal stuff like videos and games these days.

  • James Katt

    Flash is what crashes Safari.

    I use Click to Flash to avoid loading and running Flash, and to allow me to use Flash only if needed.

    This way, Safari rarely crashes on me.

    Again, Flash crashes Safari.

    Chrome does handle memory better than Safari in that it keeps web pages in separate compartments in memory. This allows it to buffer crashes in Falsh. But then it eats up much more memory than Safari.

    • Not in my experience. The memory use in Chrome has been minimal.

  • Steve Meter

    Chrome is a great browser but Safari will remain my default based on at least one feature.

    Reader

    All browsers should adopt this feature and since you don’t mention it, great tip, start using it and it will become essential.

  • Interesting, I found Chrome’s threaded tabs to be a huge memory hog. Saving up for a new ‘puter that doesn’t max out at 2GB….

  • Eric

    I too use Click-to-Flash. However, I wouldn’t be so quick to blame Flash for your crashes. Did you try deleting your Safari preferences from your Library folder? Yes, you would lose your bookmarks and other settings but I suppose you had to set a lot of that up in Chrome anyway. It really sounds like a corrupted preference file. Of course using a whole other application would solve that because it has its own preferences.

  • BrianM

    Safari should not be causing kernel panics. That tends to be a hardware issue, or a driver issue.

    That being said, I use Chrome primarily for its separate process nature, which means all ram used by a tab or window is returned when it is closed, keeping total ram usage down over sustained web browsing sessions compared with Safari, Firefox or other browsers I’ve tried. This also usually means that one page crashing won’t take down all of Chrome. (I say usually, because I have had Chrome crash a handful of times since I started using it, fortunately it starts up quickly again, and with one button click, all previous pages are open again)

    re: Eurobubba if you watched ram usage of Safari and Chrome, you should see that the total ram used is nearly the same if you start from scratch and open 10 pages in additional tabs for example. As you close tabs, you would see total ram for chrome dropping quickly, while safari’s ram usage only drops about 10% if you went back to just the initial window (single tab)

    Previous to using Chrome, I would have to quit Safari and start it up again at least once a day to recover around 1 GB of ram.

  • Polimon Design

    Another vote for Click to Flash. With this handy flash blocker installed, Safari never crashes, and the web is a more peaceful place. Load only those flash items you want to see, with one click. It just works.

  • Kris

    I have tried a lot of browsers but kept coming back to Safari, but I have been using Chrome now for a couple weeks because the crashing was getting really bad. And often it would slow down and become unresponsive as well. So far I am liking Chrome! I might even stay!

  • Terry, I’ve found Safari to be a lot more stable. Perhaps I get 1 crash a week, and I almost always have 2 or 3 windows open, with 5 – 10 tabs in each.

    By any chance, were you running Safari in 32-bit mode? (Something you might have done to use the Adobe Reader plugin.)

    The 64-bit Safari can’t keep Flash from crashing, but it doesn’t bring down the whole browser. You just get a message saying the plugin crashed, but your windows and tabs remain unaffected.

    Here’s what Safari looked like, after the crash: http://steve.us/flash%20crash/safari%20after%20flash%20crash.png

    Here’s the crash report: http://steve.us/flash%20crash/flash%20crash%20report.png

    • Thanks Steve, will try again in 64bit mode now that Acrobat X is a 64bit plug-in. However, my crashes weren’t necessarily Flash related looking at the crash log. Also the crashes would sometimes happen while downloading a large files (in half the cashes locking up the whole Mac) and I’ve even had it quit just running in the background with multiple tabs open but I wasn’t actively browsing. Feels more like a memory leak in that case and I again I start the day with 20+ tabs in one window and 6 or so in another.

      P.S. – “one crash a week” is still too much.

  • Jeremy

    I stopped using Chrome because Growl kept reporting that Chrome was trying to mount something on my computer, even when Chrome was closed. No other program I use does that, and I could find nothing in the preferences that would enable me to “turn off” whatever Chrome was trying to do.

  • Terry,

    I’d try downloading and re-installing the latest version of Safari. I haven’t had a Safari crash in quite some time (and they used to be all too common).

  • I have never had a Safari crash but I do experience the spinning ball and apparent memory leaks (over time and with more tabs/windows) the Inactive portion of the mac’s memory keep growing and quitting Safari only partially helps.

    I have been using Chrome for a few months and it seems less reliable than Safari, lots of little problems, and interface junk, like it tends to easily zoom in when I drag my fingers on the track pad of my MacBook Pro and will not change back to actual size reliability.

    It does seem fast – similar to Safari both are faster at different things. It has replaced Firefox for me as my second browser. The tabs don’t work as well as Safari too. And it does crash more for me but a only a few times over a few months, and no browser has every crashed my mac and only Microsoft Office and Adobe CS have caused kernel panics and even then not in as long as I can remember.

    I started using Chrome more for Flash sites as I thought it’s internal plug-in would be more up to date than the Adobe supplied plug-in but have not seen any improvement in terms of overhead or memory.

  • Scott

    I’ve switched to Chrome. Two things I miss from Safari:

    * Much better saving. I can set the default to save as HTML. When I do want to save a complete page, it can save in a single webarchive file. I can do a Get Info on saved files to find the originating URL.

    * I sometimes miss Safari’s History menu… though just as often, Chrome’s is more helpful. It would be nice if either were more customizable to track things just the way you want. Chrome’s “Recent History” extension is helpful here. in the end, while I sometimes miss Safari’s implementation, if I switched back, I’d miss Chrome’s more (especially with the extension).

    Once you get used to one problematic page not grinding all your other pages to a halt (or worse, causing them all to quit), it’s tough to go back.

  • germ

    Safari rarely if ever crashes on my computer.

  • ADeweyan

    Actually, this problem sounds like the classic corrupted preferences error. Have you tried deleting your Safari preferences file?

    And for Flash, I love Click-to-Flash, so I have control over what flash pieces get loaded.

  • sray341

    Try Camino.

  • Donna

    I would probably switch to Chrome full-time except for one thing: I use google reader to read blogs. In Firefox I have a button in my toolbar that takes me to the next blog post on the list. I have the same thing in Chrome, but they work differently. In FF if I click the “next” button, then decide that I want to go back to the previous blog (usually when I’m clicking through too fast in a “wait, what was that?” kind of moment) the back button takes me to the previous blog. In Chrome, the back button takes me to the site I was on before I started reading the blogs.

  • Any user level application should not be able to cause a kernel panic. As BrianM said, it’s either failing hardware (maybe a bad RAM chip?), a kernel extension (anti-virus?), or I’d like to add: damaged disk. I suggest at minimum to reboot using safe mode (shift down) to force a disk repair. Your comments about downloads above strongly point to disk corruption. Send some love ($) to DiskWarrior too for some additional disk improvements.

    Safari intentionally keeps objects hanging around in RAM in case you reopen them. For that reason, memory usage isn’t reduced greatly when a tab/window is closed.