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Switch from Chrome to Firefox (mozilla.org)
3287 points by WisNorCan on May 30, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 983 comments

Google will keep locking down Chrome and using corporate talk to hand wave it away, only recourse is to leave.

First it’s “sign in” with obtuse ways to turn it off. Then block Adblocking, once again with obtuse ways to disable... the end goal is pretty obvious, get the majority of Chrome users to turn on ads and tie their real names to their Chrome browser.

Of course let “power users” (who’ll turn that crap off anyways) have their switches to do so. It gives Google plausible deniability.


To those who say just fork Chrome adfm had a good article explaining why that doesn’t work:

> And while you can use or adapt Chromium to your heart's content, your new browser won't work with most internet video unless you license a proprietary DRM component called Widevine from Google. The API that connects to Widevine was standardized in 2017 by the World Wide Web Consortium, whose members narrowly voted down a proposal to change the membership rules for the W3C to require members not to abuse the DMCA to prevent DRM from becoming a tool to undermine competition.


You know what's horrifying about the idea of "just fork Chrome"? Google can still hurt you by blocking your browser's access to their prime properties (YouTube, Gmail, Maps, etc). Just look at YouTube denying Chromium-based Edge the new redesigned experience for absolutely zero reason.

This is already happening. Web version of Skype refuses to work in Firefox, but if you change user-agent to Edge, it works.

This is risky behaviour though when dealing with other megacorps. Legal ramifications and antitrust suits come out of actions like that.

It's like Google found developer goodwill burdensome, and decided to pack it all up into container trucks and ship it all to Microsoft.

I agree. It is truly unbelievable. Same with user goodwill.

Microsoft is vaccuuming it all up. Meanwhile Microsoft is making tons of great moves to get devs and users back on their side.

You have to read that comment from a long-time Microsoft developer : https://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/all/2019/05/24/github...

The referenced comment rehashes the evils of Ballmer's Microsoft which Nadella has mostly corrected. Satya Nadella has embraced (but not extended!) Open Source. Their Azure strategy puts all platforms on a level playing field - yet has also made Azure an incredible place to make Windows/Microsoft technologies shine. It's a great place for all apps.

Yes, they control Office and are the defacto office document standard. What they do with Office now is affordable and ubiquitous. No other office document suite can do this. They are a for-profit company, and Office serves their customers very well. Yes, in Ballmer's days this wan't the case, but today you can run Office (365/Cloud) on a Chromebook and on Android and iPhone as supported apps.

Do you live in a parallel universe where it was Ballmer and not Steve Jobs that founded Microsoft and was its CEO in 1995 ?

Meh, he lost me when he tried to say Microsoft success in cloud is due to Office. Microsoft's success in cloud is due to having a good enough cloud platform and being better at selling to enterprises than Amazon or Google. IBM and Oracle can sell to enterprises but lost because their cloud platforms suck.

MSOffice gives a pretty big advantage when you want to sell to enterprises !

And I've heard that these days, Office 365 collaborative work is at least as good as Google Docs, if not better !

So, in your opinion, Microsoft is a bad company because they have a better product and they're using it to make money from other corporations?

Wow, that's pretty damning!

And what do you think will happen when all devs and users join Microsoft? The same cycle will repeat.

Linux and Open Source tech is a huge part of Azure now. They profit from people using Linux on Azure. They don't have a reason to chase customers away when they are making money from them.

There comes a time in every corporate's life where good will is neither important nor needed.

Such as switching their browser to be based on Chromium, which is controlled by Google?

>It's like Google found developer goodwill burdensome, and decided to pack it all up into container trucks and ship it all to Microsoft.

Funny how that changes. If anyone told me in 1999 that Microsoft would eventually become one of the Good Guys...

Nah. "Stands against the Big Bad" is not sufficient to become one of the Good Guys...but it's a very convenient spin.

They did not. Read up a few levels, Skype refuses to work with Firefox, because it's inconvenient for them.

Skype is now owned and maintained by Microsoft. I don't see goodwill in either company.

Every large player has been wilfully degrading user experience in any browser they don't approve of for a few years now. This is a ship that has sailed - from the lack of antitrust suits we can deduce that there are in fact very few legal ramifications, if any.

I am very surprised that Alphabet Inc. has gotten away with what they have so far today when I look back at the history of Big Bell being broken up.

Yeah, sure, the government spent millions to break up AT&T and the Baby Bells, then let AT&T get back into the local phone and Internet business by buying up companies left and right. Now AT&T is part of a nationwide duopoly with cable companies, and most US consumers have exactly 2 choices: either AT&T for non-cable or some other company for cable.

It's government's responsibility to foster competition to push back against companies wanting to limit it. Govt is doing a shitty job and gets an F.

It seems like Google just treats fines due to antitrust lawsuits as the cost of doing business, and they're potentially making more money with such behavior than they are losing due to legal costs.

that seems like a slam dunk antitrust case to me, no?

Even some Microsoft enterprise software refuses to work on Firefox.

Well, at least we have Edge on Linux now so duopoly can live on...

We don't have Edge on Linux. Right now, it is on Windows and Mac; the questions about Linux version got an uncertain answer.

> Just look at YouTube denying Chromium-based Edge the new redesigned experience for absolutely zero reason.

The reason is almost certainly a new user agent (compared to non-Chromium Edge) that YouTube didn't expect. Chromium-based Edge is still not stable, and therefore, not properly supported by YouTube.

I don't have time to test this, but I'm willing to bet that you'd get the same result by using any indie browser that happens to send a user agent that YouTube doesn't recognize.

Somebody over on reddit tested different user agents: https://www.reddit.com/r/google/comments/btysl9/google_have_...

It seems pretty clear from the fact that nonsense user agents like "TotallyNotMicrosoft" and "IE6" worked, that there is a blacklist, not a whitelist.

Do you remember when almost all sites worked fine without internet explorer but refused to work without it unless you faked the user agent? Why are you defending round 2 of best with IE?

The web is a standard. Auto failing based on user agent is a sign of developer incompetence.

> The web is a standard

If only that were true. The web is, at best, a series of suggestions. See also https://caniuse.com

I wouldn't be defending them if YouTube refused to work with a "strange" user agent, but that's not what happened. Judging by the screenshots, YouTube still worked, it just refused to use a new design. The old design is still perfectly functional.

Chromium-based Edge is not stable. It's a new thing that I don't expect website owners to test against. The error message showed that the new design is tested against the latest version of Edge. Complete rewrite of Edge still hasn't replaced the old Edge.

Also, no, the web is not a standard. There's no fixed set of things that a browser should implement and call it a day. It's constantly-evolving depending on the needs of the owners of the website. It's why nobody dares to create a browser from scratch nowadays.

> The reason is almost certainly a new user agent (compared to non-Chromium Edge) that YouTube didn't expect. Chromium-based Edge is still not stable, and therefore, not properly supported by YouTube

Why almost certainly? We're seeing antagonistic, self-preserving and dare I say abusive monopolistic behavior from Google with Chrome's anti-adblocking. Why the benefit of doubt when blocking a competitor's browser?

More pointedly, would an independent YouTube have behaved similarly for as long?

That isn't how the web is supposed to work. Browsers implements standards. It shouldn't matter what the user agent says.

Your company's customers aren't going to care when you tell them this. They're going to complain to your support department that your app doesn't work.

Pray tell, which YouTube support department do I complain to as a viewer?

The ’I want to be a product and you aren’t letting me’ department.

Then why did it work before?

I'd been using YouTube's new layout just fine on Edge Chromium for at least a week before getting the "not supported" message.

I haven't seen that yet, but Meet just started working for me. Previously it didn't.

Very happy with my Edge switch so far! And I did it before the ad blocking really reared its ugly head too.

Google needs to faceplant hard on this one.

This is a rediculous justification. Websites should not be coded to a whitelist of browsers.

Biased reply - I work for Google.

It depends on what you choose as your choice of technology, if you choose web components then you really can only really offer that same experience to users that have a browser that supports that API natively (without polyfills) which old Edge did not do.

My understanding of this situation with yt was that our server side detection code was wrong based on an update in edge (or our UA management), and we don't do feature detection in the client because it is too slow... So we send people to the older version.

Interpreting user agent strings is what amateur programmers do. I don't generally expect high standards from Google engineers (a whole other argument I won't entertain here) but that's still pretty tragic for a top-five website.

And besides, your claim is doubtful at best since Chromium Edge doesn't share any User Agent string elements with previous EdgeHTML versions. Your YT developers would have needed to be intentionally malicious to match "Edg/" as a trigger to downgrade the user experience.

> experience

Developers care a lot more about this ‘experience’ than users do.

Yes it’s fun to play with the new shiny, but users don’t care.

User experience is an excuse, it’s double-talk.

You appear to have somehow missed the extremely loud chorus of "we hate it, change it back" that happen every time any web app gets a new design. See also the saga of Instagram on Android.

You appear to have misunderstood the comment you are replying to.

The same could be said of you. We'll never know, since your comment could mean anything.

yeah but blacklisting or at least conscious degradation is necessary. hit that with a game I built, had to degrade the experience on chrome/iOS because of the non-accelerated canvas element

And by making captchas harder or insoluble for Firefox users they block access to lots of other sites

All the more reason to stop using those "prime" properties...

Embrace, extend, extinguish.

First of all, we have no evidence that your Edge example was intentional. In fact, we have evidence to the contrary as they fixed it within hours of it being reported [1]

Now as far as your hypothetical, sure they can, but I use all of those services, YouTube, Gmail, Maps, ... on Chromium every day and they do not block nor have they ever blocked any of them.


Wrong! Google deliberately blocked Edge, see the tweet here for proof: https://twitter.com/sinclairinator/status/113344983464663859...

Wrong! You didn't read the full thread:

> And it may even be a quick ‘n dirty deliberate hack to exclude Chredge this way, just so it doesn’t pollute their telemetry / testing of new website features.

That test proves nothing without seeing the Google's code. Feature detection is incredibly slow, requiring JS and multiple round trips. Whereas user agent strings are instantaneous.

Chredge worked for many weeks, then it didn't for a day or so, then it worked again.

Turning the block on was intentional, and turning it off was intentional.

We can only guess at their motivation, and I can guarantee you it was not benevolent given what Mozilla said recently about their interactions with Google.

>How's this polluting their telemetry? Also, how is some random UA NOT polluting their telemetry? It's a horrible excuse, that's all it is. It was fine and then suddenly it became "an issue". It's singling out them, SPECIFICALLY. Nice try.

Read the reply too. ;)

The day the Web sold its soul. Such a disappointment when TBL came out in support of that. People who knew better tried to warn us, but they all got shouted down and told there "was no other choice" b/c content creators were going to try an lock down with extensions and it would somehow be worse.

TBL? Can you extrapolate? I google it and its "The Basketball League". I just think your comment had the opportunity to continue to educate me on something I have never heard of or about and to throw in an acronym without having used the the 3 words before is confusing.

Tim Berners Lee

dccoolgai was probably refering to this:


I think he's referring to EME (encrypted media extensions - W3C's standardized DRM for the web).

I can't tell if there is humor tied to this response, but either way it's a brilliantly written reply to my comment. Gave me a chuckle, and got my upvote.

tim berners lee? i guess

Not with extensions, with plug-ins, and they were already doing it. Flash and Silverlight came with DRM for any publisher that wanted to use it. Many did.

Plugins would be fine; you could always point out, that they are non-standard. Now, if you fail to support the right EME plugin, it is the browsers fault.

Back in the day a browser without those plugins was not viable. Non-standard didn't matter.

I know, but that's not the point. The point is, that the pain for the non-standard support had to be taken by the proponents of DRM. Now, it is up to the foss crowd.

IOW, it was not about tech issue, but about social issue / blame-shifting.

I used to have Firefox and Vivaldi ...but honestly I used Vivaldi mainly...when I heard that even Microsoft was going to use chromium I realized...Firefox is literally the last front ! I installed Firefox and started using it as my main browser! What I miss the most is Vivaldi speed dial and bookmarks. Add-ons aren't always a solution ! I miss Netscape days...internet wasn't a megacorp business playground :( !

> I miss Netscape days...internet wasn't a megacorp business playground :( !

You mean "this website is optimized for Internet Explorer 6" days? Or the earlier "this website is optimized for Netscape 2.0" days?

I think the nearest the web ever came to not being any megacorp's playground was when Firefox was at around 30% market share, and IE6 which had 60%+ market share had stopped moving. IOW, when MS still had the playground mostly to themselves, but chose to ignore it. And even then, the web / Firefox couldn't really innovate without breaking IE6 compatibility, so everyone was stuck.

I looked up Vivaldi Speed Dial. It looks like the same sort of thing Firefox, Chrome, and Safari have where a new tab has a pinned list of favorite or most visited sites. What does Vivaldi do that I'm not seeing?

Having switched from Vivaldi back to Firefox about a year ago, the Vivaldi speed dial is similar to the pinned lists of favorites, but it's much more user friendly. You can customize how many sites you see, how many are in each column, number of columns, etc. You can also change the icon to be anything you like. It certainly wasn't a dealbreaker for me personally, and as you said, pinned favorites serve the same purpose, but it does feel more restrictive on FF.

It used to be more customisable but FF wanted to dictate what users saw, for some reason, partially advertising ("recommended by pocket"). They really like to imitate the worst of commercial enterprise sometimes.

It has become a little more customisable now, thankfully.

There should be addons that customize the new tab page. I’m pretty sure it’s a possibility with more recent additions to the webext api.

I don't know for sure in this case, but WebExtensions are normally forbidden in the browser's own pages.

To get around this limitation, one could set up a personal speed-dial start page.

they don't let you run in browser contexts normally but they definitely let you set your own new tab page(with webextension privileges) as part of the extension which lets an extension do whatever they want.

see: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Add-ons/Web...

they also have most requested urls as a privilege too so it could be recreated and extended with a little effort.

Did you try Infinity Tab Pro (which is free)?

Sounds kinda similar to what you are looking. It does No. of sites, custom columns, custom pictures, and custom backgrounds. It really gives you a lot of control compared to all the other extensions I tried.

I'm going to check this out ! Thank you :D

It's way more than just pinning ! I organize my YouTube subscription in folders with themes like tutorials recipes and subfolders...you can do that on Firefox with the bookmark toolbar but in a less user friendly way and less visually pleasing way toi. what makes it worse is that it used to be possible on Firefox! It's not a deal breaker or anything ! But I miss that XD ! I had a hundreds of bookmarks organized on Vivaldi ! I still don't know how to "transition" that to firefox :/

You can set custom icon in FF. But yea, only rows not columns are customizable.

Add-ons are a solution, though. Have you tried the FVD Speed Dial extension?

"Most internet videos" probably is overstatement. I'm watching youtube, pornhub and twitch and I don't think that it requires any DRM. The only service with DRM I'm aware of is Netflix and it's terrible anyway.

> I'm watching youtube, pornhub and twitch and I don't think that it requires any DRM.

Depends on the content, If you are watching paid for content on YT it is most likely DRM'ed. [0] An "stats for nerds" example from such a piece of content (Notice the protected line, this line isn't present on DRM free YT Content.). But the vast majority of content on YT is DRM free.

Twitch has some DRM'ed content, things like when they streamed Thursday Night Football. But that was played via the Amazon Video player not twitches normal video player. I remember because the player threw a fit if you didn't have HDCP configured correctly, which most streamers don't. Not that they were trying to re-stream the game, but have it playing on another one of their monitors to see how it was doing. Personally I liked the idea of having a chat alongside the game :-)

Dunno about PornHub.

[0] - https://cejack.tk/2019-05-30_19-57-03-280.png

> The only service with DRM I'm aware of is Netflix and it's terrible anyway.

Ha! Tell that to their 150 million subscribers. :)

More seriously, using a browser without DRM would be a deal-breaker to many users like myself solely because of Netflix, unfortunately. That said, if you're serious about using a DRM-free browser, there are other ways to watch Netflix (iOS/Android, smart TVs, etc).

> > The only service with DRM I'm aware of is Netflix and it's terrible anyway.

> Ha! Tell that to their 150 million subscribers. :)

I'm not sure that a large number of subscribers is a convincing argument of the non-terribleness of a service. A quick Google search suggests that Comcast, excuse me, Xfinity, has somewhere in the neighbourhood of 30 million subscribers. I don't think that you will find any argument telling them how terrible Xfinity is.

Sure, but many of those Xfinity customers don't have any reasonable alternatives, whereas there are now a handful of players in the video streaming space. If someone doesn't like Netflix, they can easily cancel their subscription and switch to another service. So even though you're partially right, the subscriber count in this case is a pretty good proxy of how good the service is.

I don’t think it works like that any more.

The services used to have more or less the same catalog, but it’s become more and more broken up.

To get everything you need to subscribe to 4+ services, and if you drop Netflix, you lose a hefty part of their catalog because it’s on none of the others.

I guess when someone says "it's terrible", I assume that includes the catalog and we're not just talking about the UI or something like that. You can't say Netflix is terrible, and then in the same breath praise their selection. The catalog is part of the product, especially with each service making originals now.

While Comcast the company is evil, I loved their internet service. It was blazing fast and to this day was the most rock-solid ISP I've had for uptime. YMMV of course but for people in my area Comcast was the best (tho sometimes only) choice. (I did get really tired of playing the stupid intro/promo rate game with them tho).

Once they turned on their 250GB data cap tho it became far less useful since my wife/kids would stream several gigs a day or more of TV.

Sure but those 150 million people choose to subscribe to Netflix. Presumably they like it, otherwise why would they spend money on it every month? The people who use Comcast have no choice, because for nearly all of them, the alternative is no Internet access at home other than via cellular.

The original statement was like saying, "nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded."

Netflix is good for our household, better than Sky or BBC's offerings (for us).

Don't they have a desktop client that works just fine? Also, Chrome's "advantage" may be having built-in DRM, but it's not much of one: Netflix limits Chrome users to 720p video. So for all practical purposes you need a different browser or client for Netflix anyway if your main browser is Chromium based.

Netflix limits all non OS bundled browsers to 720p. Safari, Internet Explorer and Chrome OS go to 1080p and Edge to 4K.

There was a time when browsers did not have built-in media players.

Seems like ffmpeg libraries, developed outside of the web browser, support nearly all video formats a user could encounter on the internet.

Also, the part of the statement that reads "your new browser won't work with most internet video" is intriguing.

Can we define "most internet video" as Amazon Video, BBC, Hulu, Netflix and Spotify? (Widevine users listed on its Wikipedia page)

Seems like there is much, much more video on the internet that does not come from those sources.

| Can we define "most internet video" as Amazon Video, BBC, Hulu, Netflix and Spotify?

Maybe you could in terms of unique videos, but in terms of the volume of watched video, not at all. Netflix itself is responsible for something in the range of 15% of the worlds bandwidth usage.

Either way, it not going to win an end users to have something like that.

Probably depends how you define most: by number of videos or bandwidth.

«To those who say just fork Chrome adfm had a good article explaining why that doesn’t work: [Chromium, Widevine...]»

To my knowledge Widevine DRM works with Chromium. You can watch DRM'd videos: https://forum.manjaro.org/t/how-to-install-widevine-on-chrom...

I remember of projects that failed because Widevine explicitly didn't work in their Chromium. I assume that Widevine builds nicely but requires a Google-issued key to work.

Yep! Which is why the Arch package just extracts it from Chrome and then puts it in the right place for Chromium.

I mean if you could just build Widevine and decrypt content it wouldn't be very good DRM.

This is fine for power users who care enough to do it. But for the general public, as well as companies which would need to do this if they wanted to support DRM in their own kind of browser, it is not going to fly with Google and probably isn't legal.

You don't "build" Widevine. Google distributes a binary (libwidevinecdm.so) which implements a standard API that works with both Chrome and Chromium. The "master" DRM secret key is obfuscated and distributed in libwidevinecdm.so itself.

And no pirate has been able to extract the key yet?

It was broken: https://twitter.com/David3141593/status/1080606827384131590 But now we are getting kinda off topic which is that Widevine DRM does work with Chromium.

Interesting, it's a shame we never saw more (a PoC or write-up) following that though.

What difference does that make? At that point you are no longer playing by the book.

probably one has been as determined as breaking games protection

>your new browser won't work with most internet video

"most internet video"... by what metric? Hours watched? Catalog size? I find it unlikely that DRM videos outnumber non-DRM videos by any reasonable metric.

If you build a true libre browser, who needs DRM video anyway?

I guess you could call it a feature at that.

If I fail to watch a video I want to watch once a day is already too much

I wonder if that might backfire. I've been using Chromium for a while now, but whenever I need to see video, I copy paste the url over to Firefox. At some point, I'm going to be bothered enough to just switch permanently to Firefox.

Now's the perfect time, it will even import all your stuff (see the link in OP).

Make the switch.

I might be doing it wrong, but did't import passwords contrary to what it did promise.

Minor annoyance, though. Still switched in desktop as I was on mobile

>And while you can use or adapt Chromium to your heart's content, your new browser won't work with most internet video

And genuinely, most people are choosing between privacy and convenience.

>And genuinely, most people are choosing between privacy and convenience.

And with Firefox you don't need to choose.

Yes. And on top of the video codec issue, there is also the issue of getting Chrome to build, and integrating code changes from every upstream Chromium release, which is quite frequent. The build setup process is very manual for an outsider, and changes often.

Luckily for us, there's antitrust law. This isn't really possible:

Reproduction steps:

1. Check that Google search is working by opening Chrome, navigating to www.google.com, and searching for any term (such as the name of a newspaper and clicking the link to verify that search works as expected.)

2. Open firefox.com and navigate to www.google.com

You will receive a message:

"It looks like you have Chrome installed! For the most secure experience, please visit this page using the Chrome browser or wait and try again later.."

If you have not used Chrome in the past 1 hour from your same IP address, you receive the page as expected.

The above repro steps should be pretty much impossible under antitrust law. (Due to search monopoly.) Which is a very good thing.

Assuming antitrust law is enforced...

Which it hasn't been since Reagan become president.

I'd honestly be okay with using Vivaldi 99% of the time and then switching over to Chrome only to watch Netflix and the like.

And honestly, when I watch Netflix, it's usually in my Surface, in which case I'll use the app.

I don't think it would be hard to make an Electron Netflix app if one doesn't already exist.

Then you're just using Chrome...

Isn't Electron basically just a Chrome tab as an app (to over simplify it?

I presume it would afford Google the same level of tracking that Chrome does.

Electron apps' Chrome stores its cookies separately from the user's installation of it, correct? That, plus the lack of a logged-in account within Electron's Chrome might help to mitigate user cookie correlation and the like, right?

Not sure about in-browser IP tracking, though...

But Electron app has full access to your system unlike normal web page. So it makes sense to run Electron apps from separate user account so that they cannot read your browser history, cookies, install you an extension etc.

I wish someone with a lot more knowledge than me on this replies. You raise a very valid, practical and useful question, would love to hear the answer :-)

> Isn't Electron basically just a Chrome tab as an app (to over simplify it?

More like a full, independent installation than just a tab.

> Then you're just using Chrome...

Well, yeah, that was the whole point.

If we're saying fire up Chrome just to watch Netflix, I'm suggesting saving some effort and/or isolate the rest of your browser by wrapping it in a very basic Electron app.

At the very least, you wouldn't get auto-logged into your "browser" or anything like that.

Ah, my bad, I missed that point.

Why bother? Netflix ships a native app already.

Seemingly not for all platforms.

All desktops that are not on Windows 10.

I've only come across widevine for Netflix content. Are there others that require widevine?

It's usually going to be around any studio produced content Broadcast or Movie. YouTube TV uses it for live broadcasts. The Studios require DRM as part of their content licensing. PlayReady is the other primary DRM competitor.

Amazon Prime, Hulu, and YouTube's paid content use Widevine DRM.

Widevine works with Firefox. Why couldn't it with Chromium?

You have to license it from Google. And they don't always say yes: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/04/03/googles_widevine_dr...

That's only if you are making a browser and want to distribute it. There's no way that Google is going to mail howlers to end-users who use widevine with chromium forks.

Because you would need to get a widevine license from google. Mozilla was able to do that, but I know at least one chromium fork had it's application for a license rejected. It technically is possible to copy the widevine library from a chrome install to use with chromium, but non technical people won't know how to do that.

Widevine works with chromium just fine - by which I mean that like with everything chromium it gets broken without apparent reason every now and then, but after some time they fix it.

I'm sure it could, but who would implement it?

Apparently someone has, because I was using Chromium on Linux to watch Netflix several years ago without any trouble (this was before Firefox got it working).

Are you sure it wasn't using Chrome's implementation?

Actually, you're right, it was Chrome now that I think about it. It's been a while.

Before I canceled my Netflix subscription (due to lack of use), I was using Firefox to view it.

The same people who were motivated enough to get it into Firefox?

I tried this, it's very painful and not worth the effort.

It's a shame Microsoft didn't want to use Firefox's codebase instead of Chromium for its new Edge browser. I don't know what Microsoft thinks it gained by doing this, but I'm almost certain they'll regret it in the long run, because it's a trap by Google.

Google, Microsoft new "bestie" in this collaboration, will screw them over once it's clear that Microsoft "can't turn back" from using Chromium or even fork it.

That would be declaring a full on browser war with Google. I expect MS don't want to do that yet. It remains an option in the future I suppose.

As I understand it Chromium is a lot easier to wrap your own GUI around than Gecko. XUL is still not completely decoupled, separating them completely is an ongoing effort I think.

Maybe when the embedded Gecko/Servo engine is production ready would be the time for MS to reconsider.

I’ve quit chrome for a while now but... I’m pretty sure they have your real name as long as you signed in once from the same hw and browser footprint. Is real name that important for them? I think everyone’s digital signature is already out there

So you came up with 2 things, first one is actually a good feature and second one is meh and world is going down? HN is utter ridiculous nowadays.

May I ask you to explain why you think that having to be signed in to Google in order not to gete fuxored in your Web experience is a good thing?

As a developer and power user, it's difficult for me to switch to Firefox.

However for most average Joe's it's fine and won't make a difference, so I always install and recommend Firefox when I play IT guy for family/friends. Time to start doing this again like we did in 2005!! It worked then and it can now!

As a power user, I prefer Firefox to Chrome, due to its configurability and to the power of certain add-ons. One simple example: multi-row tab bar, thanks to custom CSS for the UI. It used to be even better before the mass murder of the now-called "legacy" extensions, but today we must settle for the less restricted offer.

As a developer, I don't typically use browsers as debuggers or programming environments, so I never experienced game-breaking differences.

> It used to be even better before the mass murder of the now-called "legacy" extensions,

I can't even switch because one of the vital extensions for my workflow do not exist any more and the author of the Chrome equivalent doesn't want to port it. (I even offered a little money, I probably can't pay enough for an experienced developer to do the full port.)

> I can't even switch

Wait, you haven't had a security update for your browser since 2017?

No, I am running Chrome for a long time now. I use an extension there which doesn't exist for Firefox. An equivalent existed in the old Firefox. I made an attempt at porting it but my JS skills are super meagre.

What is the extension? I could take a stab if it isn’t too complicated, and if not perhaps someone else will be interested.

I’m a developer and power user, I switched to Firefox months ago. What is making difficult to switch? I found equivalent for all my plugins so far.

What many others have already said - it's slower and many popular sites don't work properly on it. I don't feel like randomly having websites break when I am trying to get things done.

Even on a newer computer Firefox feels jagged and hangs. Memory leaks still happening years later. It is so frustrating to see Firefox using 1.5GB of RAM when only 2 tabs remain.

Quantum helped a lot, but it's still not enough for me and many others.

Really? Firefox feels faster to me than Chrome at this point. I use both for work, but I prefer Firefox at home.

What popular sites don't work in Firefox?

> many popular sites don't work properly on it

Really? Do you have examples? I haven’t faced this issue. Some websites breaks somehow if you block 3rd party tracking (by breaking I mean that some pictures or video embedded into the page won’t load), but that’s an opt-in feature so I don’t think that’s what you mean.

Popular sites? If they work only with Chrome they aren't popular sites for me, and I'm happy to know that I shouldn't trust them too much.

I suffered with the same until around december last year. Ever since I cannot distinguish chrome from firefox most of the time.

I've had a terrible time using Firefox since Tab Mix Plus was killed. Dev is working on a replacement but many of the necessary APIs were also killed in the great add-on death of 2017 (Firefox 57), and have yet to be rewritten (and may never be).

Same here. I'd also highly recommend Firefox Focus for mobile. Now to convince my enterprise network admins...

It would probably take me a bit to figure out exactly how to work with the FireFox advanced debugging tools, but it's familiar territory.

What is the equivalent for one tab? It is technically simple enough that I could develop one one my own, except I remember firefox extensions to be an unbelievable pain to install back in the day.

If you want the ability to save lists of Tabs, Firefox has https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/tree-style-ta... which makes tabs appear in the sidebar, which makes managing even dozens of tabs simple.

Installing is one click - as simple as the chrome web store.

If you want the ability to unload tabs, firefox struggles with it. The best addon is https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/unload-tabs/ but it admits that it is buggy. Haven't tried it though.

You don't need an equivalent, One Tab is available for Firefox also.

I consider myself the same. I quit using Chrome & started using Brave about a year ago. I haven't looked back or missed Chrome. What would you be missing?

Edge & Firefox have also been useful in the same way I once used Opera (special tasks where their features really shine). I really liked Edge's reading mode & for just browsing websites it was great.

As a developer and—I think—power user, I use Firefox without issue.

What developer tools available in chrome but not firefox?

PHPStorm IDE Support, Netbeans Connector are both only available for Chrome. Not a game changer but it certainly makes using Firefox less convenient.

Check out browsersync if you want some of that functionality with any browser.


First, you are being overly critical. Automatic (forced) sign-in is actually useful. Second, why do you call leaving the "only" recourse? As if it's something completely horrid that you would never ever do freely. Leaving is a completely fine path to take.

With webRequest, Google is "just" testing the waters. Just like with the forced sign-in, they will back down when they see the backlash.

Based only on Google's description, they seem to have a valid reason to remove (even though they say "deprecate", they mean remove) the offending API. However, there's zero chance they can get away with this. For what reason I'm not sure, market share of Chrome is very important to them. So they'll have to keep it or implement some new, acceptable method.

If you are ever in the market for a bridge, let me know.

It is so clear to me that we need to support and promote mozilla and Firefox. They're not perfect, but they, wikipedia, eff, archive.org (who else?) are such an important part of the Internet guardianship in the face of the monopolies, that it's our duty to support them. Doesn't hurt that Firefox is actually a great product.

> Doesn't hurt that Firefox is actually a great product.


On these threads there is always a handful of complaints about the state of Firefox, mostly on macOS. On my machine, I can’t even launch Firefox in headless mode without the fans turning on, which never happened on Chrome. While I haven’t benchmarked it, for normal browsing it does feel slower than Crome.

But what kills it for me is their crippled AppleScript support. Firefox is the worst major browser (even worse than smaller browsers) for an automator on macOS. I rely on browser control every day, so Firefox is useless to me.

I’d sooner switch to Safari, which despite laughable controls (can’t even disable JavaScript on a per-website basis) I can do something with.

    On my machine, I can’t even launch Firefox in 
    headless mode without the fans turning on, which 
    never happened on Chrome. While I haven’t benchmarked
    it, for normal browsing it does feel slower than Crome.
I believe you, but I'm always so confused by hearing this. I use my Mac (2015 MBP) 10+ hours a day, evenly split between FF and Chrome.

Truly is close to an even 50/50 split -- FF is my personal browser and I use Chrome for all work-related tasks.

And they are subjectively indistinguishable in terms of performance. The only exceptions to that statement are, well, Google properties where Google has clearly invested time and money into optimizing things for FF.

One other possible sorta-exception is when I'm using a scaled resolution mode on an external 4K monitor. MacOS warns me, straight up, that these modes will cause performance issues for me and my modest Intel Iris graphics. The whole system's a little sluggish in those modes, and I think FF fares worse than Chrome, but I won't hold that against FF.

FWIW, Safari does feel subjectively more responsive to me when it comes to scrolling and navigating. And I recently spent a few bucks upgrading my PC gaming rig to a 120hz monitor, which makes a massive difference. And I'm one of those weirdos who keeps CRTs around for his old consoles because he enjoys that true zero lag experience. So I am not exactly insensitive to latency. I don't have magic professional gamer golden magic eyes or anything, but it is an area of interest for me.

Too late to edit my post, but "where Google has clearly invested time and money into optimizing things for FF" should read "where Google has clearly invested time and money into optimizing things for Chrome."


Makes more sense :-)

Personally I feel it is worse than that: there have been som issues so bad that I hardly get Hanlons razor to work at all, notably one where just having a search result page open in Firefox would consistently spin up my CPU for no good reason twice a minute.

(Of course there were a number of other weird lagging issues as well.)

I think one problem, especially if you have many tabs open, is that about:performance isn't very useful / accurate (at least for me) so I'm not sure which is the offending tab to close. With Chrome that is pretty easy.

When you find the culprits on FF, what do they tend to be? How many tabs do you typically have open? Do you run an ad blocker? Not saying you're doing anything wrong - just genuinely curious about which usage patterns trigger FF to be "slow."

I usually have perhaps 5-15 tabs open in FF and I've really never had a reason to even look at about:performance.

But, I do understand that different people have different usage patterns. I run an ad-blocker and I don't typically have any "heavy" resource-sucking tabs open. Hacker News, old Reddit, Twitter, Wikipedia, NYT, etc. That kind of thing. Not heavy video/streaming/interactive stuff.

Anecdotally my understanding is that really heavy tab users (like many dozens or even hundreds of tabs) feel/felt that Chrome handed that better than FF.

Since you use both Chrome and Firefox, do you know if it's possible to import saved passwords from Chrome into FF on Mac? I was able to do it on my work PC but the Mac version of FF didn't show that option.

Yeah, unfortunately, Mozilla has consistently demonstrated over recent years that it doesn't care about Mac users. It's weird, to be honest.

The widespread issues for many, though not all, Mac users, will not make it a ubiquituous browser.

From reading a lot of mailing list and bugzilla posts I get the impression that they do care about Macs but the current (very old) renderer is just never going to play nicely with MacOS without a major overhaul, and that major overhaul is Webrender which has been in development for several years but has yet to land in stable because writing a new renderer is just a really large undertaking. Webrender and planeshift should bring a pretty huge performance and power efficiency improvement when they finally land in stable.

That's great to hear. I keep Firefox installed on MBP for dev testing and each time do the update and see if it's worth changing too. Hopefully, the answer will be yes once Webrender arrives and smooth Mac like scrolling.

It has come a long way, and I want to like it, just really hard in its current form.

Just checked it (I have a recommended setup) - it's whooping fast.

I don't know what these commenters are talking about. I've been using FF on Mac for over a year now on 3 different Mac Machines. It's super fast, as good as Chrome. May be you need to reset it or something to get it working properly. The only issue I had with FF is Developer Tools, which are also have improved a lot with latest release, and continuing to improve.

As I noted, the issue affects many, but not all, Mac users. It seems to be a special configuration of display resolution and other factors that can be difficult to replicate. That’s great for you that it’s working, but you shouldn’t discredit this very serious problem for the general user base.

Sorry, it came of stronger than I wanted to. I actually run into high CPU utilization shortly after I posted it. Haven't had it for a full year, may be something in later version got messed up. I did go away after refreshing FF though, so I do recommend trying it to see if it will fix things. I am routing for FF, but it's definitely not perfect.

How close do you think webrender is to landing in stable? I've not heard much about it before.

Hard to say. It's actually already in stable but currently limited to a very specific set of OS/hardware combinations and they're working on gradually adding more. FF67 enabled it in stable for desktop NVIDIA hardware on Windows. AMD and Intel GPUs on Windows and Linux are currently enabled in the nightly channel, presumably MacOS is next on the list once those are stable. Webrender is mostly done and at the stage where there are mostly just lots of little bugs left to fix so it's naturally kind of hard to estimate how long things will take.

They have a webrender newsletter with progress updates usually every couple of weeks, one of the recent posts talks about the release timeline but it's all kind of vague at this point: https://mozillagfx.wordpress.com/2019/05/21/graphics-team-sh...

Yeah, I went and installed Firefox on my home machine after this landed in 67 since I have the right hardware and...

It's SO much fucking better.

Lots of folks on here claiming that Firefox has been just as good as chrome in terms of performance for years, and frankly that's an utter load of BS.

On top tier hardware (and honestly - most hardware in general) chrome was always blindingly fast, and Firefox just wasn't. It was perceptibly slower at just about everything.

It was just annoying enough that I'd always switch back to chrome for personal use.

Not anymore. This last week is the first time I can remember that I honestly can't tell the difference in speed. If anything, Firefox may actually be legitimately beating chrome in terms of speed.

It's been a pleasant breath of fresh air. Google may lose me as a chrome user (personal use at least), which is something I just couldn't have imagined a year ago.

I use a mac and firefox is my main browser, I don't remember having any problems.

So do I. There are things like text replacement, download progress indication on file icons, and other Cocoa-esque things that don't work on Firefox, but outside a probably very small segment of users who would even notice these things, and a smaller yet segment who would actually care, Firefox feels at home enough in macOS.

What I think damages Firefox's user-friendliness more is how easy it is to get to setting screens that look scary to the average user. For example Firefox recently started recommending an extension called "Enhancer for YouTube" when a user visits YouTube after upgrading to some new version of Firefox. Upon installing the extension, you get taken to the extension's settings screen which has a design that would definitely throw off my non-techie family members [1]. Also, take a look at the Firefox release notes for iOS [2] – sure it's "nice" for us devs to have access to raw GitHub issue labels or whatever those are – but for non-techie users they might be interpreted as conveying a certain messaging that Firefox is not really designed for them.

[1] https://i.imgur.com/8TIetRA.png [2] https://i.imgur.com/QoUG1ZF.png

I think it's crazy how everyone has such different experiences with Firefox on Mac.

I want to love it, but even after a fresh install of MacOS every time I go to use it on my 2015 MBP it grinds to a halt.

I'm sticking to ungoogled-chromium for now. I really hope it's resolved down the line!

Yeah, it seems like there's always this split on every Hacker News thread about Firefox.

Personally, I've use Firefox as my primary browser since before I started using Macs, and after 6 different Macs between home and work, I've never had any problems with it.

What's even weirder is that a significant proportion of Mozilla's developers use Macs as their main platform (if I recall correctly the most popular platforms are Linux, then Macs and Windows a very distant third).

Headless mode maybe, but for regular users I don't think there's many issues.

I'm running firefox as my daily driver on Mojave with no issues whatsoever. Without seeing this thread, I didn't even know there were issues with the mac version.

Just to add to the pile of anecdotal evidence - same here...I switched to Chrome some years ago when the speed difference was just too much to ignore and switched back to FF a couple of months ago after I started realizing the growing firmness of the cold grip Google has on the web more and more...There's absolutely no noticeable speed difference any more, fans on the laptop are as always and it's been smooth sailing since (on Mojave). The only thing that still annoys me when developing is the lack of websocket frame inspection - but as a "regular" user, no issues at all.

> but for regular users I don't think there's many issues.

There are. As an example, complaints of Firefox on retina Macs abound.

> Without seeing this thread, I didn't even know there were issues with the mac version.

Read any recent HN thread on Firefox, and you’ll find more people exposing their issues with Firefox on macOS.

Interesting. Every browser than firefox is useless to me as they have no good support for plugins (addon api's) like tree style tab.

I've been using firefox as my daily driver on a 2015 macbook air for the last year. It's been fantastic, not at all slow.

I haven't tried to use applescript/automator with it so i can't comment on whether or not that works, but that doesn't seem like the biggest issue for most users, or even most developers.

> I haven't tried to use applescript/automator with it so i can't comment on whether or not that works

It doesn’t. They don’t have a dictionary.

> but that doesn't seem like the biggest issue for most users, or even most developers.

I specifically said (emphasis added):

> But what kills it for me is their crippled AppleScript support.

Though I’m sure I’m not alone, because I have several users (of tools I’ve built that interact with browsers) and fellow developers that share the same complaint.

This is a very powerful JS blocking extension I used for a while: https://jsblocker.toggleable.com/

That extension is deprecated.

Can you tell me more about what you mean by "browser control" ? What are you wanting to do with automator & firefox?

At the very least grab the URL and title of the frontmost tab. Firefox can’t even do that without finicky GUI automation (i.e. faking key presses).

Anything Google related running in that Firefox? (Seems like a stupid question since it also happens in headless.)

Only Google-owned website I open is Youtube, and even that I don’t use in the browser (I redirect the URL to mpv).

I already use Firefox on the iPhone. I think it’s better than Chrome. Probably gonna switch on the desktop.

Is there any actual difference between the two beyond UI and sync? From what I understand they're both safari underneath?

I think you meant iOS WebKit for rendering rather than Safari. Firefox iOS uses WebKit while it used to use Gecko.

I seem to remember speed being a difference. It’s been awhile. I also switched from gmail to outlook because gmail was using headers and footers for ads which was annoying on a 4” SE.

>while it used to use Gecko

How was it ever permitted to use Gecko underneath? Have the iOS app rules changed in recent years? Did they used to be more permissive?

Thanks, I was wrong about that. On iOS, Firefox switched to webkit for iOS for rendering (which includes JS). For the desktop, Firefox used and uses Gecko; the desktop version of course came first.

Firefox-on-Store uses Webkit but there is an experimental fork using Gecko/Servo in case Apple allows in the future. You can build and developer-sign that fork for your own.

I would switch today if Mozilla added tab completed search in the address bar that Chrome pioneered. It's very intuitive and difficult to give up.

Not everyone is understanding what you're saying, as evident by the downvotes you're getting

I'm fulltime FF but I won't pretend that the in-site (site specific) search works as smoothly as it did (does?) in Chrome

In Chrome you would go to foo.com and you would use their search input and from then on, in your address bar you can type foo (or maybe just f, depending on how often you use foo.com), and press <tab> to search within the site

This is a workflow you get used to

For the longest time I wanted this in FF, but I think the real thing that clicked for me was just heavily leaning on duckduckgo's bangs


(Firefox does have in-site search, which you can use by right clicking in the site's search input and clicking "Add a Keyword for this Search", but I'm not even sure how it works heh)

edit: okay so this is how it works https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/how-search-from-address... and I just added `a` for amazon.com and I typed `a` in the address bar and pressed <enter> and it didn't do anything, hm

edit2: so I guess my main point should have been: Firefox has a manual step for what Chrome did for "free", after you made your first in-site search, which you were probably already going to do

Not everyone is understanding what you're saying, as evident by the downvotes you're getting

Well also I'd like the address bar to be a fucking address bar and not an address-but-sometimes-search bar.

Here are a few firefox settings to make your URL field behave only as a URL field:

  user_pref("keyword.enabled", false);
  user_pref("browser.fixup.alternate.enabled", false);
  user_pref("browser.urlbar.suggest.searches", false);
  user_pref("browser.urlbar.filter.javascript", true);
You can put these in a "user.js" file in your profile directory if you don't have one already, or just set them in about:config

FWIW, I believe most if not all of these settings are also available under preferences | search.

Thank you for perfectly illustrating why Firefox will not find the mainstream acceptance of other browsers.

It's not like Chrome has an easy and user-friendly way to do the same thing. Quite the opposite: Chrome has no way at all to do this, while Firefox has a technical way to do it even if it's not obvious to most users that it's possible.

Almost nobody will enable this, though.

How does the tab-to-search feature in Chrome negatively affect how you use the address bar? Are you entering URLs with tabs in them?

It doesn’t negatively effect it. I like it

I was highlighting what I missed when switching over

Hm, yeah, probably can't help you there

Minimally you can restore the search bar, and now `ctr-k` will focus that bar, while `ctrl-l` will continue focusing the address bar

HOWEVER.. if you type keywords and not a domain in the address bar, it's still gonna search. That's the rub you don't like, I suppose


I'm pretty sure that Opera and Firefox had that search feature before Chrome was even released ?

I hope I don't sound crass, but how much is this feature going to matter to you once Google locks up the web?

Hysteria of HN is hilarious.

What is your argument? It is clearly happening and it is not surprising given Google's business incentives. It's slow enough that there is a large chance of many falling for it, which is what makes it so dangerous.

You have tab completion in the search bar (Ctrl+K)!

Personally I disable the cloud-based suggestions and rely only on my local history.

I'm not sure if this accomplishes what you're looking for, but when I switched to Firefox I had similar complaints and turned to custom keywords:


Basically, Firefox allows you to set a keyword (which I often set to an abbreviation + question mark) which you can link to a site's search URL. For example to search Google Scholar I would type my keyword, "sch?" and then my search query, and after pressing enter I am taken to the site's search results. It's a few more steps you have to take, but has the added benefit of allowing you to add the functionality for any site.

Alternately you can switch the default search engine to DuckDuckGo, which lets you use DDG's "bang" search shortcuts (see https://duckduckgo.com/bang) from the Awesomebar. So you just type a search query and then append "!g" to run that search query through Google, "!w" to search for it on Wikipedia, "!yt" to search for it on HN, etc.

You're good to go! Just enable it in settings!

On top of uBlock Origin / uMatrix, some of the other Firefox's trump cards to me are:

* Tree Style Tab: makes tabs much more manageable, no parallel in Chrome. If you open dozens of tabs, after using this, you can only pity the traditional tab management [1].

* Containers and container tabs: it's a bit like having separate Chrome profiles for separate contexts, but you can also have them as tabs in the same window.

* Sync / sign-in server that is open source and that you can run on your own if you choose.

[1]: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/tree-style-ta...

Container tabs have made my life much easier, as I'm managing a number of Amazon accounts, and being able to do that side-by-side is a life-saver.

I really enjoy the Containers. The only problem is that you can only have a single container tied to an individual site. I'd rather like it to be tied to a subpath or url "root" so I could use it with GitHub.

Only for the automatic association you mean? You can manually open a tab into any container.

I recommend the Search and Switch container[1] extension for that. You open a new tab, type 'co <container name' and it reloads that tab into the given container. For example, I have a container for all things Google, called "Google", and the extension use would go like this 'co google', or even 'co goo'. It's smart enough to figure it out.

Plus, you can also move existing tabs into a given container the same way, not just new tabs, all at the cost of a single tab refresh.

[1] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/search-and-sw...

You can do the same thing with Profiles in Chromium-based browsers, without having to add an extension.

If a person wants to test a website using several accounts in Chrome, they need to open and manage several windows. Lame.

If a person wants to access an ad-ridden website using several accounts in Chrome, they need to install, configure and maintain all of their favorite ad-blockers and anti-tracking extensions in several Chrome profiles. Lame.

In my experience, people who prefer profiles over containers are mostly casual users who don't configure profiles and use maybe one or two extensions.

firefox has profiles too. Profiles aren't the same as containers tabs though. They are also built in, not addons.

Correct. Firefox's profiles are not the same as Chromium.

What benefit do the Firefox containers have that Chromium profiles are missing?

Mostly, you can't have different profiles in the tabs of the same window in Chrome, and you can have different containers in the tabs of the same window in Firefox.

E.g. you can run your email tab in the default container, and a bank app in a separate "money" container next to it.

Or you can run one gmail (or outlook, etc) account in one tab, and an another gmail (or outlook, etc) account in another tab next to it.

Also if you only want to separate (log-in) cookies, local storage and that kind of things for certain sites, but don't want separate history, bookmarks, settings, add-ons, etc., which is what you'd also get if using completely separate profiles.

First, I'd like to point out, that Containers are built-in with Firefox, even though you generally want at least the official add-on for ease of use.

Containers were actually the reason for me to switch over from Chrome about a year ago. The biggest benefit I see is that they're made easy to extend via add-ons.

In my set up I currently have a new container created every time I open a new tab, either blank or from a link, and automatically removed after I close them, which is made possible by Temporary Containers add-on in auto mode.

This creates automatic boundaries for all of my browsing. I then also have persistent containers for sites I want to be logged in to.

I just discovered "Reader-View" in Firefox! Chrome doesn't have anything like that built-in and I've always had to rely on an extension to make CSS heavy pages readable. No more!

Reader view -> Save as PDF, and you have a nice readable copy of a non-interactive website to read when connectivity is sparse.

very handy to quickly get rid of visual clutter like overlays for cookie consent checkboxes, subscribe notifications or disable-your-adblocker overlays/popups.

Just hit reader mode and its all gone.

I always loved using the ' key to open a find box that only searched links. great for mouseless browsing. (Although I switched off from firefox a long time ago due to their political ideology.)

I don't understand why Mac users use Chrome. Safari seems to be out of fashion: people just assume that it should not be used for some reason, even though it is actually a great browser.

I use Safari for both my own browsing and for development (a fairly large ClojureScript application), and it is by far the best browser on the platform by all measures (speed first and foremost).

The only place where Safari falls short is 3D CAD programs (like OnShape), where Chrome is faster and better.

Agreed. On macOS, Safari is fastest, hands down. All while preserving battery life better than Chrome, and even Firefox. PiP, swipe to peak navigation, pinch to zoom, better 1Password integration, Apple Pay, etc. are all more than just nice to have features.

However, my biggest gripe about Safari has to be the developer tools. They're noticeably slower, clunkier, and the network tab is unpredictable at times. I think it's getting better, but I defer to Firefox to do development.

> and even Firefox

if you have a retina display, this "even" is sort of a joke, because ff is so CPU-heavy (and often slow) that it's unusable for me https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1404042

I have a retina display and I'm using Firefox right now with 5 tabs open. Working fine for me!

Do you use scaled resolution? It seems the bug is Retina + scaled resolution which is a default on some Macbooks.

150 tabs here, lol.

But it is true that for some users Firefox on retina is barely usable. It is a confirmed bug.

I think if you have a 2 core 2015 13" macbook it's slow. If you have a 4 core 2015 15" macbook or better then you are fine with firefox.

Unless you have other software running, in my case. The Docker for MAC VM idles at 80% CPU (obviously not FF’s fault).

> better 1Password integration

Am I using it wrong in Safari?

Because to me the Chrome integration with 1Password X extension is by far the easiest, you get the dropdown right there in the field. In Safari, I have to click the 1Password extension button next to the address field and then select Autofill.

You can set a global keyboard shortcut for 1Password (e.g. cmd-alt-' or similar), which shows the autocompletion popup for whatever Safari window you're in.

That's what I've done. Thanks for confirming that I wasn't missing anything. I still think the Chrome implementation is the gold standard, but it's without a doubt workable in Safari.

No, that's right. It doesn't pop up next to input fields like it does on Chrome; I have to click the menu icon, or right-click > 1Password, or use a keyboard shortcut. I haven't found it a nuisance however.

The one thing about 1Password X is it doesn't integrate with the installed 1Password app on your system, which means no TouchID, for one.

Interesting. I don't have a Mac but it would be worth trying.

TBH the ability to use uBlock Origin was my only killer requirement, but Container tabs are a leap in web security. I hope that idea gets stolen and becomes a norm in browsers. (Or First Party Isolation in general).

Extensions. Safari has almost none of them and I need them. And not just uBO. I have 10+ of them install and I'd say 8 of them are mandatory for me. I don't care about Safari being the fastest or battery life.

Also dev tools are so much better in Fx and Chrome...

Safari user here—I personally have never used extensions much (probably my own loss), and on Safari I just have 1Password and uBlock°.

Besides Safari's lack of extensions I find it to be more or less on par with Firefox, assuming you're in the Apple ecosystem. The dev tools feel extremely polished and feature complete. The only thing Safari's dev tools lack IMO is no fancy CSS support for things like grid or animations.

I occasional open up Firefox Dev Edition when I get a weird bug on a webpage and that sort of thing but besides that Safari has served all my needs perfectly.

>The dev tools feel extremely polished and feature complete.

Much less than that of Fx or Chrome. No support of extensions means I can't use something like https://github.com/vuejs/vue-devtools, no command menu, poor debugger, no performance\memory usage information etc. The list can go on and on. Safari's dev tools are about at the same level as they were in Chrome or Fx 5+ years ago.

As for the extensions part... well, not everybody needs them, I guess, but I can't really imagine my browser without at least, 1P, uBO, Stylys, Tempermonkey, TreeStyleTabs, Tab Session manager, Bloody Vikings! and All Mangas Reader.

LiveReload, Pocket, PageCapture, Privacy.com, OneTab/TabsOutliner, VideoSpeedController, SocialBlade all add significant value.

Safari's inspector always feels obtuse compared to Chrome or Firefox but maybe I'm just not used to it.

I don't understand why people are use the same browser for browsing and development.

I use Chrome for development. It has lots of helpful extensions, like the React and Redux devtools, extensions for cookie editing, screen measuring, JSON formatting and so on. I often need to forcibly restart tabs (or the entire browser) due to misbehaving devtools, so it's great having a dedicated browser for it. Same goes for cookies and local storage state. It's completely separate.

I use Safari as a browser. I has the basic extensions (adblocker, etc.) that I need personally. Its development tools are terrible, but that's okay — I only use them in the very rare case where a rendering/JS problem only shows in Safari.

I use Safari for non-work browsing (the dev tools make it unusable for work, in my opinion). I was a Chrome user, but Chrome nuked the battery on my mbp in record time. Safari has its kinks and oddities, but it sips the battery even with a ton of tabs open, and it's good enough that I've been using it for about a year with pretty much no thoughts of switching. I also like not feeling like I have the big G looking over my shoulder all the time.

Safari doesn't support doesn't support multiple user profiles, and it doesn't support uBlock Origin.

If you're switching browsers because you're upset that Chrome is breaking uBO, it makes no sense to switch to another browser that's never supported uBO and probably never will.

uBlock Origin is available on Safari. Installing it results in a "will slow down your browser" which is apparently just a CYA warning from Apple for any extensions not installed via the App Store.


It's not 'a CYA warning'. The in-process JS extension API is going away.

Safari supports multiple user profiles because it’s running on a Unix operating system that provides full user accounts.

If you’re switching browser because google is breaking ad blocking, it absolutely makes sense to switch to one with a blocking technology that the browser vendor specifically added, rather than grudgingly allowed.

It also makes sense to use a browser where the blockers don’t get access to what you’re actually browsing. What’s the point of blocking trackers if the blocker just tracks what you do?

Unless you want to log out and into another mac account just to change profiles, this really isn't useful.

The utility comes from having multiple sandboxed, separate profiles running at the same time with separate cookie jars, in separate memory spaces. Kind of like docker containers for the browser. Chrome does this magnificently--I have personal, school, and work profiles all running and open at the same time. It's very useful if you have multiple accounts on any services and need access to them simultaneously (i.e. multiple google accounts). Also useful if you don't want the browser in one of the profiles to remember any sites/cookies from another area of your life. I wouldn't want some of sites I visit on my own time to autocomplete at work, but I still want to have it when I go home.

As far as I know it also isn't possible to make any sort of CLI incantation to open the safari binary as a different user (like sudo with specifying a different non-root user) and not have it override whatever is currently running.


I seriously did not expect the terrible "macOS is a CERTIFIED(C) UNIX(R)(TM)" argument to be deployed in this manner.

That extension has been dead for over a year.

For it to work on future macOS versions, the developers would need to convert it to a Safari App Extension and cough up $99/year. They’re not interested.

It's not the money. The extensions would have to be ported over to Swift or Objective-C. Complete rewrite of what was JS code previously

I seem to recall an issue on Github where they claimed the cost of an Apple Developer Account was a deterrent, but I may be misremembering.

I don't think you need to pay to develop a Safari App Extension.

You do if you want to sign and publish it.

If you use an iOS device, Safari is awesome. The integration between all your hardware devices syncing passwords, tabs, bookmarks, reading list, etc. kicks ass.

That’s all not to mention its excellent built-in privacy features and that it’s really really fast.

I would argue experiences of alternative browsers on iOS is somewhat artificially hindered...

Not that I'm saying Safari is bad browser, but on iOS you can't really set other browser as your default browser, browsers can't use their own engines, etc. etc.

3rd party browsers are not able to make use of the Content Blocking supported by iOS, which is a major sacrifice to use Chrome.

That was originally the case, but I believe it was opened up in iOS 11? I certainly use Firefox iOS primarily and don’t see many if any tracking ads.

Firefox may be doing their own thing, since they own the webview, but they cannot use the content blocking API.

You can set a default browser on iOS w/o Jailbreaking with my app UpTime https://www.producthunt.com/posts/uptime-3/edit

Safari is so much better at preserving battery life it's not even funny. I'm still using Firefox because I find their containers concept incredibly useful, here's hoping Apple steal that idea with the next version of macOS.

How's the dev tools (aka whatever the equivalent of Chrome "dev tools" is)?

As a web dev, the main reason I don't switch is I know how to use Chrome dev tools, and hate spending time I could be producing code instead learning new tools for something like this. But eventually I'll get myself to (prob to FF rather than safari, as long as I'm switching).

I prefer Safari's dev tools, actually. The UX is far better, Chrome's dev tools UI is so incredibly cluttered. The only area I find where Chrome's dev tools outshines Safari's is JS profiling — that tree chart graph is pretty useful. The other 95% of the time I stay in Safari.

I agree, I love profiling JS in Chrome. I'd switch to FF or Safari in an instant if they compared. Last time I checked, they were both nowhere near as easy or productive to use.

The other day I had to shut down a chrome tab that was utilizing 1.5 gigs of ram though. That's crazy. There's definitely no perfect browser.

The dev tools in Safari are OK, usable and useful enough for the odd task. But there's no reason your everyday browser has to be your primary web dev environment too. I switch to Chrome when doing front-end web dev or hacking in WebGL playgrounds.

The dev tools are pretty good, just laid out slightly differently than the other browsers, and not quite as deep in some areas. But FWIW I use Safari as my primary browser and FF Developer Edition for the dev tools, and that arrangement works well for me. I do use Safari dev tools when I’m running on battery though - I get about 2 more hours of life, which is more than worth it.

Safari dev tools are terrible and laid out in a completely un-intuitive manner. It's somewhat sad because the original Safari dev tools (which now live on as the foundation for Chrome's) were best-in-class.

At some point they decided to mimic Xcode which pretty much put a nail in them for being useful for anything.

> ...completely un-intuitive manner

No, it's just that you're used to something different.

I primarily use Safari for development and when I switch to Chrome or Firefox it feels unnatural and weird at first. Then I acclimate and all is well.

I tried switching to Safari for a few months. Somehow it caused really odd beach balling and freezing of the computer. After a while I couldn't be bothered to jump all the various hoops to debug it, the solution wasn't simple or obvious, and switch to Brave, then finally back to Chrome when dark mode came about.

If uBlock stops working, I'll switch off in an instant though.

FWIW Brave also has a dark mode

I use a lot of different platforms, and Safari only runs on a couple of them. Firefox lets me sync bookmarks, settings and extensions across all of them.

Safari has a few things not going for it: 1) ad blocking options are really inferior to chrome (for now) or firefox so a lot of what you gain in speediness gets taken away by some of the garbage that modern websites spit back at you. 2) The dev tools are confusing now. They have good ones but they need to redesign some of the UI on it. 3) There's not a good way to containerize things which means you end up having to open private windows when trying to login to services with different users.

While I disagree about ad-blocking and webdev options, Safari's reader mode and overall OS performance is a reason enough to never touch another browser. I have no use-case for multi-user containerization so no opinion there.

To add to others points I find that safari often lags behind implementing standards features and sometimes straight up implements then wrong. For that reason I make a point of not using it.

Also as far as I can see I have to upgrade my OS in order to upgrade by browser with safari. Sometimes I just can't be bothered to wait for a 40 minute upgrade to complete.

Safari redesigned their dev tools at some point a long time ago and made the interface (IMO) terrible. Until they did that I used to use it a lot more.

Safari is a great browser if you don’t need the most cutting edge features or extensibility though, and I believe it’s also the best optimized for battery life.

That's what WebKit's devtools look like, across all branded browsers. Blink stayed with the old layout and iterated on it.

I don't really care which one I use, but change for changes' sake is frustrating. I'm used to Blink/old Webkit and I don't see any reason to learn a new layout.

I legit can't even use the Safari tools even if I try. I have no idea how its supposed to work...the idea is not just terrible. It makes absolutely no sense and I have to google stuff to figure out how to use it every time I do.

People keep saying this, but I don't see how Safari dev tools are all that bad. My needs are quite simple, but by and large things appear to work in a way very similar to Chrome. What would be the main things you usually do with the dev tools where Chrome shines and Safari sucks? I'd like to understand what I'm missing by developing on Safari.

The safari dev tools used to be the exact same as chrome.

Then they were redesigned and everything was moved to different places.

I’m sure they still work fine, it’s just a learning curve to understand where everything was moved. It’s a matter of opinion but IMO the Firefox and chrome tools both have a more intuitive UI as well.

Edit: just to be clear this is what I liked https://webkit.org/blog-files/inspector-elements-panel.png

They've recently been re-redesigned, particularly the Elements and Network tabs. It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on the latest version.

I don't remember any recent redesigns. The Web Inspector has looked more or less the same since Safari 9 was released in 2015. [1]

[1] https://webkit.org/blog/5718/10-years-of-web-inspector/

I have no idea if they're actually good or not when you figure out how to do it. But its getting to figure out where feature xyz is that drives me insane.

Chrome's tabs are nicer to use. They're visually easier to parse at a glance and arguably nicer to look at. Chrome's tab dragging is really tight and predictable.

Chrome's first paint is faster and more consistent. I think when I used macOS, Chrome had DNS preloading but Safari didn't.

It's been a while since I used macOS (RIP my 2012 13" MacBook Air), but Chrome's scrolling behaviour is more effective -- "solid" is how I'd describe it.

The omnibar is simple and usually shows exactly the right suggestions. Safari's address bar often didn't have the thing I wanted, and had extra things that I definitely didn't want or took a second for my brain to parse.

Chrome's context menu has better contrast, being black on white rather than black on silver. The choices are ordered better as well.

This is all that comes to mind right now.

An employee at my old company used a Mac Mini. She's not computer-saavy, but she far preferred Chrome over Safari. I asked her why and she couldn't describe it -- just that she was certain. I think it would be really insightful to do studies where you take tiny features from Safari, like the context menu colour, put them in Chrome and survey users on how they liked the product.

Tab management is worse on safari vs chrome. Until recently, there were no favicons in tabs so it was hard to differentiate, and once you have a lot of tabs you have to scroll, while on chrome there is no scrolling and you can use favicons to see all of your tabs at a glance.

FF has tab scrolling, but you also have tree style tabs which is better than chrome when you have a lot of tabs. Container tabs are also a big plus and is what made me start using firefox again. Chrome has a tree style tabs extension but the user experience makes it unusable for me. I can't find it for safari.

Firefox is still slower & consumes more CPU than chrome and safari after all of the improvements. Especially on a few heavyweight websites I use a lot, like facebook and google maps. Chrome is fast enough by comparison. So on my personal macbook I never use firefox because it's too slow.

If safari fixed it's tab issues then I would use it. But being silent apple, they will probably never fix that because it goes against some designer's idea of good design. Look how long it took to get favicons in tabs and it's still not the default option.

Pro-tip for Safari: Press Command+Shift+\.

This will show an overview of all your tabs at once. Just start typing to find a particular tab by name.

A two-finger pinch-in gesture will also trigger the Tab Overview.

Another fun one: use Command-Option-<+> and Command-Option-<-> to make text larger or smaller (as opposed to zooming the entire page).

To view other shortcuts, click the View menu in Safari, and then hold down the Option key.

> Just start typing to find a particular tab by name.

Note that this is probably one of the least discoverable features I've ever seen.

Disclaimer: I work for Google

I actually really liked Safari when I used it. The issue for me is just that I don't only use OS X and like having my stuff synced across devices.

If I had an iPhone I would probably be very happy with Safari.

I'd use Safari over Chrome, but Safari has a couple of show-stopping bugs:

1. Swiping back on the trackpad to navigate backwards freezes the page for a couple of seconds. It then redraws the page with any updated elements (perhaps a refresh?).

2. The element CSS attributes in the dev tools often fail to update the DOM, duplicate with every keystroke, or revert what you have typed.

1) is a known bug. The fix is to switch to 3 finger back swipe in trackpad settings. Back becomes instant.

good of apple to not fix the bug and instead rely on the internet to fix the issue, very safari

For me, for 1. it seems to do the same thing as the back button. There is a refresh, but it has to do that.

I'm sure it's fine for casual users, and you can't deny the battery life improvements when using Safari.

However as I posted in another comment, Safari is the new IE when it comes to bugs and standards compliance.

Here's an example that broke many many sites that use OAuth2 Auth Code Flow for login (including the main UI portal my company provides clients): https://bugs.webkit.org/show_bug.cgi?id=194906

This was also an issue in iOS, and since Apple doesn't let any other browsers actually use their own rendering engine on that platform (they're just wrappers around Safari's guts) this was broken for all iPhone users no matter the browser.

This is just one example. There's been numerous other issues such as disabling third party cookies by default.

I can only surmise that Mac users use Chrome/FF because the internet just _works better_ when they do.

Safari seems lacking in the browser extensions department.

This is probably the only reason I don't use Safari on macOS. Especially since their new extension API came out, most of the (few) extensions I was even able to find are now manual-install pains.

No uBlock Origin. Literally the singular reason I don't use it.

No extensions, no sync between devices if you don't want to (or can't) use iOS, and overall worse experience for me than anything else I can use on Mac. But I'm using Opera, not Chrome. I think that Vivaldi is currently the best browser, but unfortunately they don't have mobile version yet.

Funny, I also use Safari on my Mac and I also work with a rather large ClojureScript application.

> The only place where Safari falls short is 3D CAD programs (like OnShape), where Chrome is faster and better.

You completely disregard one of the biggest appeals to Chrome, which is its massive extension support (which Safari is miles behind on).

> The only place where Safari falls short is 3D CAD programs

Safari has poor controls if you care about privacy and having some modicum of control over the websites you visit.

In Chrome we can — on a per-site basis — disable/enable JavaScript; disable/enable cookies (and local storage); allow only some cookies; set which cookies clear on exit. You can also do more, but those are the ones I use.

You can do all that without extensions, and the controls are right there on the omnibar. In Safari, I can’t even do that with an extension (that I’m aware of).

Safari gives you privacy by default without the need to fiddle with controls.


Safari guesses what is privacy invading or not, and as such makes mistakes. I appreciate their effort, but I don’t believe it’s good enough.

This month we got reports of browser fingerprinting on iOS that happened via the phone’s gyroscope[1]. There was a way to not be affected: disabling JavaScript.

[1]: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/05/21/iphone_mems_gyrosco...

> I don't understand why Mac users use Chrome.

No profile support. I have four profiles in use right now, mostly "thanks" to the fact that Twitter can't run multiple accounts at once and Tweetdeck is garbage. Three "private" profiles and one for "work" stuff. That's a dealbreaker for me.

In addition, as a web developer, Chrome has way better development tools, and I like to use Chromecast integration and see full URLs in a real address bar, not just the domain like Safari does.

There's a setting to show the full URL in the address bar.

Preferences > Advanced > Show full website address

Ah, cool, good to know. Thanks. Still, though, the dealbreaker with profiles remains :/

I'd really like to switch to Safari especially because it is extremely battery friendly but there are so many features it lacks :'(

I also use safari as my main browser. When there is the rare case when a site malfunctions (not so rare anyways... sheesh its like IE all over again) I have brave-browser pulled from brew.

I’ve tried chrome in the past but it installed some sort of GoogleUpdater daemon without permission and I absolutely hate that. The same reason I don’t install MSOffice on my machines. If a desktop application needs a background service for wathever reason I don’t want it anywhere near my computers.

Can Safari play webm files in the browser? Never works for me.

No, and due to the removal NPAPI extension support you cannot add this feature to it.

It can't. I think Apple is against Webm because there's little hardwire support for it, while mp4 (h264/265) has very good hardware support

Safari has a noticeable lag making a new tab, and it doesn’t support my Yubikey.

> I don't understand why Mac users use Chrome.

One word: iCloud. I don't feel like being encapsulated in Apple's ecosystem because their support on non-Apple products is limited, buggy, and/or non-existent.

> I don't understand why Mac users use Chrome.

Because sensible people don't deliberately handcuff themselves to trillion dollar megacorps. How can I get my Safari bookmarks on my Android phone?

Safari is the only modern browser I run into that renders differently.

I can't claim the same. I get (usually minor) rendering differences between Safari, Chrome, and Firefox pretty equally at work.

Safari UX sucks -as someone who used windows all their life and recently transitioned to mac. i do not understand the choices and can't integrate them into my workflow

I tried to switch the other day and the big blocker is no u2f support.

I have switched on my phone, but desktop thats a pretty harsh trade off.

Does Safari have a sandbox now? (like Firefox and Chrome have had for a long while now)

Yes. Safari had sandboxed separate processes per tab for years (well before Firefox).

As others have said, Safari has vastly inferior dev tools. I am not a fan of the UI at all. Also, Safari generally lags other browsers in supporting features. They added beacon years after others, even Edge had support for it way before Safari.

As a web developer I don't like Safari. Safari is for me the number 1 reason to implement workarounds in HTML/JS/CSS because stuff does not work in Safari which is no problem on Chrome and Safari.


Please don't post unsubstantive comments or flamebait to HN.

I use a Mac because they come with a bunch of tools that I need out of the box and are easy to use. The interface is nice and I am comfortable with it. On top of that, I have had the same MBP for 7 years. I have never been able to make a computer last 7 years before buying a MBP.

iTerm2 is a decent reason. I've tried to switch to Linux numerous times and I have yet to find a terminal app that is even half as good as iTerm. And command line tools on Windows are a joke currently, at least until the new one comes out soon (which looks good, but I doubt it will be better than iTerm). If you spend a lot of time in your terminal, being able to use the best one that behaves the way you want it to and is customizable nearly to a fault is a decent reason to stick to Mac

Try Tilix. It has nice UI, a tons of cusomization, even quake-mode.

Next time I am messing around on a Linux desktop, I will give it a shot. I don't think that is one of the ones I've tried. Thanks for the suggestion!

mublock origin

Vastly inferior dev tools, amateur tab management (no multi selecting tabs to rearrange or close), and a lack of extensions that are super valuable in web dev.

I keep trying to switch but every time it is clear that Safari is an inferior product (aside from efficiency, where it beats the heck out of Chrome).

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