I have noted about the observed slowdown of the Google Chrome browser on the new updated Mac OSX Mavericks, and decided to give the Safari browser a try. Several noticeable differences come to my mind as I started to use Safari as my daily browser. I gathered pieces of pros and cons of each.

The Ones Where Google Chrome Wins

Separated Windows for Private Browsing

The first inconvenience is the lack of using private browsing and non-provide browsing together in Safari. In Google Chrome, private browsing opens a separate window (called the Incognito window) so that all tabs in this window are private, where existing opened tabs remain unaffected.

In Safari, when I start private browsing all existing accounts (email, twitter, Facebook, etc.) will be logged out, which is really inconvenient. I cannot check two gmail accounts at the same time in Safari, and context switching back to normal is painful, even if I have Safari remember my passwords.

Customized Search Engines

Another feature in Google Chrome that I love is the customized search engines. It is not that you can choose from Google, Bing, Yahoo!, or Baidu in the preferences, but that you can defined keywords to common sites that searching using these sites is just a few fingertips away from the keywords you are searching.

For example, acronymfinder.com supports the search for acronyms. It is possible to define a keyword (for me, it is acro) so that typing this keyword followed by the acronym I want to check (for example, otoh) directly brings me to the URL www.acronymfinder.com/otoh.html, with the explanations. What’s more, the address bar changes to label my search with very helpful tips, as shown in the picture below. How neat is that?

Searching AcronymFinder.com in Google Chrome

Searching AcronymFinder.com in Google Chrome

Directly Googling otoh gives me quite a list of hits (about 3,570,000), but why would I care when I just want to know what it stands for? This one simple trick saves me so much time that I have defined a few dozens of such customized search engine keywords.

Unfortunately this feature is not there in Safari. Googling acronymfinder otoh probably puts the item in the first in the results, but I am still a click away from what I want. Moreover, I have to type more letters and have to spell exactly correctly—even an extra space as acronym finder otoh won’t work.

AdBlock Performance

I hate ads. So I have the AdBlock plugin installed in both Google Chrome and Safari.

I have both the latest version (2.6.13), I have the same options selected and I have the same set of filter lists subscribed to. However, it is apparent that the Google Chrome version is able to block ads from some video sites while the Safari version cannot.

I noticed this when I watch videos on YouTube. Previously when I do this, I noticed no ads during a video. Now the amount of interval ads during a video is much more. I have not investigated the reason for this difference, but I think it may be a problem of the underlying browser support for plugin development.

(Footnote: if you are a Google Chrome user and get confused by the difference between AdBlock and AdBlock Plus, here is all you need to know: They are developed by different groups. The latter lets certain advertisers, including Google, pay so their ads pass through and cluster your sight on screen. It is evil, lame, and a shame. Simply do not use it.)

Searching for Extensions Is Painful

The Google Chrome app store is simply easy to use. Though I am a minimalist and use only very few apps/extensions, it is undeniable that it is very simple to starting using the Google Chrome app store. They are all well categorized and searching for a particular one is just easy.

That’s why I got shocked when I found out that there is not a search box to search the Safari extensions. I have to resort to Google to search for extensions with certain features (e.g., screenshot) and then luckily got a link to that extension from my search result. How ironic is that!

The Ones Where Safari Wins

Flash Performance

A new feature in Safari prevents plug-ins from play automatically. This feature probably is already there in Google Chrome but I never realized how important it is to boost my productivity. Now I have disabled auto playing of the plug-ins for most sites and only allow them as I need.

System Freezing Gone When Using Google Hangouts

Previously I noticed that my system would occasionally when I use the Chinese input method inside the Google Hangouts chat window. (This, according to what I know, is a tricky problem that is tied to the Mac OSX treatment of alternative input methods in general, but I only noticed this when using the Google Hangouts chat window.)

This problem has not occurred even once after I switched to Safari. I hope this good trend can continue.

Productivity Improvement

I have complained that the popular SNS extension FaWave for Google Chrome is not available in Safari. It turns out that this is a very good thing for my productivity. Browsing Twitter, Facebook and Weibo took so much of my fragmented spare time that I have not realized before. Now I spent much less time on these sites, and I feel nothing is substantially lost. In fact I feel good because I know I am wasting less time on the SNS.

Safari Unsatisfactions

Another bug/feature is the newly added Shared Links tab in the new tab screen in Safari. However, it slows down the loading of the page significantly when I previously left the page on the left pane on the Shared Links tab (among Bookmarks and Reading List). The same thing happens when I switch to Shared Links from Bookmarks or Reading List.

I guess it is because the links will get refreshed when I open a new tab or switch to Shared Links. Unfortunately there is no way to turn this feature off. I can only do two things: one is to remember not to leave the left pane on the Shared Links tab; and the other is possibly to remove the system integration of the social networks. Either way it is inconvenient.

Conclusion

It seems that I have more favorable items for Google Chrome, so would I go back to use Google Chrome as my daily browser of choice? No. The reason? Again, Google Chrome is now becoming hopelessly slow on my Mac OSX Mavericks. This is unbearable no matter what. Now only for certain occasions would I use Google Chrome. One instance is that I forgot the password for the site Automata Zoo, so that I exploited the bug/feature of Google Chrome that passwords are stored in plain text. Another case is when I watch online videos for a long time and want to avoid the ads, provided that I am running on an AC adapter.

Other times? Safari for sure.