The new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge offers a fresh take on web browsing and is available across multiple platforms, including macOS. If you're looking for reasons to switch from the increasingly stale Apple Safari on your Mac, you've come to the right place. Here are five reasons to make the switch, and one reason maybe you shouldn't.
Flexible privacy settings
Web trackers collect data about how you interact with a site. By doing so, they can offer web content and ads customized for your benefit. Unfortunately, some web trackers have been designed to harm. Microsoft Edge addresses good and bad web trackers in a way that other browsers do not. Rather than taking an all-or-nothing approach, the browser offers you three levels of tracking prevention for which to choose.
Under the Basic setting, Microsoft blocks trackers it thinks are potentially harmful while allowing others that are intended to personalize your web content and ads. With the Microsoft-recommended Balanced approach, the browser blocks harmful trackers and those from sites you haven't visited. More security, however, means you'll receive a less robust and personalized experience compared to the Basic option.
With Strict tracking, Microsoft blocks harmful trackers and the majority of all trackers across most sites. Under this scenario, your surfing experience becomes even less personalized. Depending on the site, the limit could also disable video and login capabilities.
Customizable tab page
When you open a new tab in Apple Safari, you see a dreary page with links to your favorite and frequently visited web pages. On Microsoft Edge tabs, you're welcomed with beautiful photos of the California redwoods, wintertime in Geneva, Switzerland, and muskoxen in Alaska. There's also a Microsoft Bing web search box, Microsoft News, and yes, quick links to your most visited web sites.
At launch, the Microsoft Edge tab page can match one of three canned layouts or you can make it your own by creating a more customized version. My favorite is the informational layout, which you can see above.
See the difference? Of course, you can!
Easy set up and import
The Windows maker really wants you to embrace Microsoft Edge as a Mac user. So much so, it's made it oh-so-simple to set up and begin using. Once you start the browser for the first, you'll be asked to import your previous browser settings. For Apple Safari, it will import favorites, bookmarks, and browsing history. For Google Chrome, it will also import payment and password information, addresses, settings, and more.
The new version of Microsoft Edge is available across multiple platforms, including macOS, iOS, iPadOS, Windows, and Android. Like you can do on Apple Safari with iCloud, with a universal Microsoft Account, you can sync your Microsoft Edge favorites, settings, addresses, passwords, and much more, across all of these platforms.
Coming soon, you'll also get to sync your history, open tabs, and extensions.
Extensions and more extensions
Microsoft Explorer was the first web browser to support extensions. Since then, these mostly free plug-ins have come to Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Google Chrome, and other browsers.
Because Microsoft Edge is based on the Chromium source-code, you can grab web extensions from Microsoft's online store and also the Chrome Web Store. The compatibility means you again instant access to over 190,000 browser extensions. As a comparison, Apple Safari currently offers less than 100 extensions. Sad, no?
But, remember this
Speaking of iCloud, this is one area where using Microsoft Edge over Apple Safari could prove problematic if you're a heavily user. One of the advantages of using Apple Safari is that your web usernames and passwords sync across multiple devices using the iCloud Keychain. You can do the same through Microsoft Edge, but there's no easy way to import the old from the new.
In the iCloud Keychain, I have nearly 800 username/password combinations. Let's assume that half of these are either outdated or no longer needed. That's still a lot of information that I cannot carry over to a new browser.
There's also the issue of Apple Pay. In recent years, I've enjoy the option of being able to make payments through web sites using this tool. On Microsoft Edge, it's not an option.
Of course, there's a work around for both of these problems: I can continue using Apple Safari when necessary. True, but that doesn't make sense over the long term.
Go for it
I've been playing around with Microsoft Edge on my Mac for many months during the public beta process. It's not a perfect browser, but in some respects it's much better than Apple Safari. Competition is usually good for everyone. In this case, I hope Apple learns some things from Microsoft Edge and revamps its browser, which has been slowly losing ground to Google Chrome. It will be interesting to see where the browser market goes in the coming weeks and months.
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