Best Mac browser: pick the best Safari alternative for you

Browsing on iOS

Mobile browsing is enjoying phenomenal growth, and iOS is at the forefront!


When Apple introduced the iPhone, one of its key selling points was that it gave you the real internet in your pocket. Not some cut-down, hard-to-navigate alternative version of web pages (remember WAP?), but the same web pages you see on your desktop.

The release of the iPad made mobile browsing even more popular and now, huge numbers of people access the web on iOS devices every day. Safari is of course the default iOS browser - Apple doesn't yet allow you to change this - but there are alternatives with more and different features.

Google makes Chrome for iPhone and iPad and it brings the same slick interface to iOS that you get on your Mac or PC. With easy access to settings and Incognito browsing from inside the app, it also has a speak-to-search feature that saves you typing in text by hand. If you use Google's sync system, you can link up bookmarks and passwords across Chrome on your devices, as you can with most browsers, though unlike Safari this does not use iCloud.

Out of this world browsers

Power users on iOS might like the Mercury Browser, a free app with great functions. It has a built-in news reader and easy sharing of web pages and content across social media, Evernote and email from in-app.

Its interface is easy to customise with font size and brightness controls, private mode and fullscreen mode. You can even theme the browser and spoof the way your user agent is reported, which can force a site to display the desktop version of a site if the iPad version isn't working properly. This bypasses a site's 'auto detect' features that can force you into a view you didn't want.

The swipe is smart between tabs and there's extensive customisation for multi-touch, ad blocking, Dropbox, data compression and more. Even better, it has a file manager so you can download files, view them and send them on, even to your Mac using the Wi-Fi server function.

The Atomic Web Browser is another multi-functional iOS browser that does much more than Safari, including many of the things that Mercury can do.

The Puffin Web Browser is designed for gaming and supports Flash via server-based translation, file download via the cloud and a virtual mouse and gamepad.

The Photon browser also enables the use of Flash content on iOS. There are still sites that have Flash-only content and although these are becoming rarer, it's still not uncommon to find content on iOS that you can't see without Flash. Skyfire is another browser that uses this trick to let you see Flash content.

As we've mentioned before, Opera for iOS is a good, lightweight browser that is also able to compress websites to provide less data-heavy browsing for when bandwidth is an issue.