Firefox 3 Kills Safari

by Chris Howard Jul 30, 2008

On Macs. Safari has ruled the browser space since its release in 2003. Serious challenges were put up by the likes of Firefox and Opera, but most users found themselves returning to Safari. Firefox 3, however, will stymie that return to Safari.

I'm not sure when was the last time anyone wrote a piece about Apple without mentioning its cellular device. Well rejoice, because you're not going to hear it from me today. In fact, since I'm talking Firefox and Safari, you won't hear any "i" words mentioned.

Safari has been my browser of choice ever since it came out. I've dabbled with others, such as Opera and Firefox and Flock, but always found my self coming back to Safari. However, because Safari (despite claims otherwise) is incompatible with more websites than Firefox, I've always kept Firefox at hand. Doing a little web development sometimes, I also kept it handy for testing purposes.

Firefox's biggest problem in the past, and reason I never switched to it, was it was a memory hog, worse than even Safari.

Earlier this year though I upgraded my Mac's memory to 3GB. As you'd imagine, everything runs better.

Except for one application. One app still gave me grief. Still gave me incessant beachballs. Still hangs or crashes every couple of days or so. Every other app is performing better with the memory increase -- except one.

And that rogue app is Safari.

I will acknowledge that it has improved in its stability since version 3. With version 2 hangs and crashes occurred every day. Now they're just every two or three days.

A few weeks ago I'd had enough. I decided to force myself across to Firefox full-time. I say forced because we all know that switching - although beneficial - can be a chore. Even when it's a little thing like switching browsers. Familiarity breeds content, after all.

The easiest we way to force yourself to switch browsers is to go into Safari's preferences and change the default browser to Firefox (or your preferred browser).

I have been using Firefox 3 as my primary browser for a month now. In that time it has not hung, beachballed, or crashed once. Let me repeat that:

In one month of heavy usage, with dozens of pages open, Firefox 3 has not hung, beachballed or crashed once.

I'm converted!

The only problem I've encountered is very occasionally the address bar stops retrieving pages when your press enter in it. That's easily remedied by opening a new browser window.

Firefox does have some frustrations still. It's not a real Mac app. It's print dialog doesn't bring up the preview pane lieke Safari, and dragging and dropping images from webpages still doesn't work as smoothly as in Safari. But the thing I miss most is not having access to OS X's dictionary lookup. But I'm sure with a bit of hunting, I'll find a plug-in to do the same thing. It's also annoying having to restart it every time you install a new extension.

I have to admit though, it does seem slightly slower than Safari at loading pages, although, only on large pages. So it's not a problem or hindrance.

Basically, Firefox 3 kills Safari. After the fact it never hangs or crashes, Firefox 3's next biggest advantage is, as I mentioned earlier, that it's compatible with more websites than Safari. And the plethora of plug-ins for it is also a home run for Firefox.

Apple, Safari sucks. Sucks resources that is. If you don't fix it fast, Firefox will quickly swallow Safari. Because I know I for one can't stress enough that people are better off with Firefox 3.

So, folks, if you're fed up with Safari's bogginess, now is the time to give Firefox a serious look. And don't just look, make the switch.


  • humm… still on a 12” PB here waiting for apple to give me an appropriate upgrade, not only screen and keyboard for the price of my soul wink... so my 5 cents, using a rather underpowered hardware are:

    - embedding: while I always liked FF on my previous PCs I always switch back to Safari- the reason is twofold: I don’t keep my site passwords in my head, they are in my keychain- if I should ever completely switch to FF I would have to once enter all of them again… and if I decide against it later I’d have to keep FF for “looking up passwords for sites”...

    - Camino is native, but rather underdeveloped and not running as smooth as FF or Safari- but this might turn into the killer Chris mentioned when development reaches FF3 level

    Both Firefox and Camino seem to use much more resources on my Mac than Safari- is this just my impression?

    Anyway, as long as Apple actively develops Safari I see no reason to switch…

    mat!-) had this to say on Jul 31, 2008 Posts: 13
  • Funny, I’ve never been a fan of Safari until Leopard came out (I hated brushed metal), and since Firefox 3 came out I’ve switched to Safari completely. If you read , from a web developer’s point of view Safari is doing amazing things (which will carry over to everyone else using Safari). They keep adding things that are leaps ahead of Firefox and I personally find Firefox a lot bulkier and slower (even with most of its extensions disabled). I think Firefox is really shooting themselves in the foot by not moving towards having a good mobile browser sooner. Google’s going to use WebKit in Android and so are a bunch of other companies like Nokia. It just seems like there’s a lot more excitement happening with Safari and not so much so with Firefox (whose quasi-Mac / quasi-Vista interface on Mac just looks aweful to most people I know). And pretty soon JavaScript is going to be crazy fast with SquirrelFish… Lots of sites like Gmail will benefit from that.

    Bart had this to say on Jul 31, 2008 Posts: 23
  • I’ve got 15 plugins in my Firefox 3 plus, as I mentioned, 30 pages open. And it is totally reliable and stable. Unlike Safari.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Jul 31, 2008 Posts: 1209
  • “It just seems like there’s a lot more excitement happening with Safari and not so much so with Firefox”

    Huh?  Only on an Apple fansite would you see a comment like this.  In the tech world at large almost EVERYONE not only uses Firefox, but sing its praises, and we’re talking about a disproportionate number of Apple users here.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Aug 01, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • heheh - that was very reserved of you, Beeb. I guess you were as speechless as I was by that comment.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Aug 01, 2008 Posts: 1209
  • Also, forgot to mention about familiarity, LorD1776. I’m well aware what the original saying is, but I’ve been using this variation for years, which I find just as true, and possibly more common. I enjoy using it as a play on words, and people usually enjoy the joke (and insight) so I don’t normally have to preface it with an explanation.

    Just ask all those Windows users whether familiarity has bred contempt or content. (This is why getting them to switch is so hard.)

    Whereas I have contempt, if you like, for Safari coz it’s bogs down badly under load, and crashes way too often. So I’m quite familiar with its problems - no wonder that familiarity has bred contempt.

    Conversely, for others here that familiarity has bred content.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Aug 01, 2008 Posts: 1209
  • Oz Nom is correct. Safari does store multiple passwords. Mine has started working correctly though not as elegantly as in Firefox3.

    iMatter had this to say on Aug 02, 2008 Posts: 2
  • here’s another. At the AFL’s website, they stream broadcasts of the game live. However, you get nothing with Safari.

    Works fine with Firefox 3. smile

    Chris Howard had this to say on Aug 03, 2008 Posts: 1209
  • “heheh - that was very reserved of you, Beeb.”

    I’m trying, though it’s not always easy when you’re dealing with people in Apple fantasyland.

    “Conversely, for others here that familiarity has bred content.”

    An even better example of this than Windows users and IE or Mac users and Safari, is Mac users and the iTunes Store.  The Amazon MP3 store is superior in EVERY SINGLE WAY to iTMS, but you still have Mac users insisting on using iTMS just because.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Aug 03, 2008 Posts: 2220
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