Thanks to Microsoft’s transition to Chromium for the Edge browser, it has quickly gained pace against its larger rival in Chrome. With strong performance and a smaller hit to battery life, Microsoft Edge is a strong alternative to Chrome for macOS users looking for something other than Safari. With support for Chrome extensions, it’s as full featured as any Microsoft browser has ever been and that’s a good thing. So how do you know if it’s the right browser for your Mac? Let’s check out Microsoft Edge for Mac and see if it’s really any good.
The first thing you see as soon as you install Microsoft Edge is the user interface. Fortunately, it doesn’t deviate all that far from the likes of Chrome. The omnibox doubles as a search bar and place to enter website addresses. You can see shortcuts to all of your extensions directly to the right of the bar, while options for home, refresh and back and forward are all right where they should be.
Similarly, clicking on your profile button will help you not only switch between profiles but also ensure that your sync function is working with other Edge browsers. Clicking on the menu (three dots) shows you all of your browser options, including where you can tweak settings, add or remove extensions, and look at downloads, as well as open up an “InPrivate” window for private browsing.
As of the last few weeks, Edge now allows your browser tabs to not only rest on top of your omnibox but also on the side of the browser so you have more vertical space. Vertical tabs are not a Microsoft invention (Vivaldi already has this), but it is a big differentiator from the likes of Chrome, Safari and Firefox.
That just about everything is where it’s supposed to be in terms of the interface adds an immediate level of familiarity.
Edge offers an already impressive library of extensions through the Microsoft Edge add-ons store. Where Edge really shines is its ability to install extensions that are already available for Chromium browsers, and that opens the door to Chrome’s web store.
With that door open, the number of available extensions on Edge blows past Safari’s relatively small library. That the extensions add only a small performance hit in terms of RAM usage is all the more reason to give Edge a try. Having extensions that can help you store all of your passwords, edit your writing or block ads is just scratching the surface of what is possible.
On Windows, Microsoft is touting Edge as its most secure browser. What about its macOS version? For its part, Edge offers three levels of protection against tracking, and it’s really nice to see the company offer something that allows the user to choose how it wants to be tracked online.
- Basic: this prevention method allows most trackers across all sites with personalized ads and content. The biggest protection is that Basic blocks any known trackers that can be harmful.
- Balanced: the recommended approach blocks trackers from any site you have not visited while content and ads are less personalized. Likewise, this setting also blocks known trackers that can be harmful.
- Strict: this setting blocks a majority of web tracks with content and ads having very little personalization. Whereas Basic and Balanced will allow websites to work as expected, the Strict setting may affect part or all of a website, preventing it from properly appearing.
As an additional option, Edge also lets you send a website a “Do Not Track” request. In a perfect world, websites receiving this request would stop tracking you, but it’s a cautionary approach as websites can still track your activities even if this request is sent over. Overall, after a few months of use, this appears to work pretty well, and while most people will go with the Balanced option, since it arrives as the default, it won’t hinder performance. There is definitely still some tracking based on web searches, so there is still plenty of work to be done on that front, but it’s less so than with other browsers.
At the end of the day, it’s going to be tough to beat Safari on macOS in terms of overall performance. If you need the most minimal memory footprint, Safari is and likely always will be the answer. However, Edge is hardly bloated and performs admirably. Websites load fast and with better compatibility than Safari thanks to the Chromium engine. Software benchmarks are one thing, but what really matters is real world speed.
Between the two, it’s unlikely you’ll see a huge difference in loading times, which is a good thing. Edge doesn’t necessarily need to beat Safari in loading time as much it needs to keep pace. What’s more, unlike Chrome, Edge doesn’t make the fans on your computer sound like it’s about to take off. On top of that, Edge doesn’t hit the battery nearly as hard as Chrome does.
Here’s one area that Microsoft Edge for Mac can quickly pull away from Safari. While Safari does an excellent job of syncing bookmarks, passwords and open tabs across its ecosystem, that limits you to just the Apple world. Where Edge can excel is that all of the same data can be synced, but you can do so with any Windows computer – like a work machine.
This cross-platform compatibility makes Edge for Mac even more friendly, knowing that anywhere else you use Edge will be automatically connected and supported. That goes for bookmarks, passwords, extensions and more. That also includes the Edge browser for iOS and iPadOS, where all of the same data will be available including open tabs.
In the end, Microsoft Edge for Mac is a fantastic macOS experience that rivals other browsers. Safari users will be hard pressed to find a better experience that offers a much deeper set of extensions to choose from as well as greater Web compatibility. That Edge also runs light on CPU and RAM is all the more reason to download it today.