The world’s most popular open-source browser, designed for users who want a customizable, feature-rich alternative to Safari that still takes privacy seriously
By far the most popular open-source browser, Firefox has attempted, since it was first developed, to counter the dominance of Internet Explorer, then Chrome, and now the multitude of Chromium-based browsers as well.
Seemingly doomed to never be the top dog, Firefox is nevertheless an impressive browser, and its commitment to transparency and user privacy makes it a sound choice. Other than Safari, it is the only major browser not to be powered by Chromium, relying on the in-house Gecko engine ever since its inception.
For M1 Mac users, the biggest recent news is native support for Apple Silicon processors. All Firefox editions are now released as universal binaries, offering improved performance on the new devices, which until now relied on Rosetta 2 emulation.
With Firefox 85, Adobe Flash is no longer supported, and it is impossible to enable it on any website. If the sites you’re visiting still require Flash, it’s probably wise to avoid them anyway.
Feature-rich, as expected
Aside from the things you need for actual browsing, Firefox comes equipped with a password manager, tracker blocker, private browsing functionality, fingerprint blocking, cross-device synchronization, and fairly impressive customization options.
Of course, nowadays, feature availability isn’t much of a concern when choosing a browser, at least for most people. Sure, Firefox doesn’t have a built-in ad-blocker or full-page translation, but these things can be added via extensions.
Open-source, privacy-minded browser
One of the main reasons to choose Firefox is the fact that it is completely open-source. Every day we get more reasons not to trust big corporations to do the right thing, and what better way to keep an eye on them than to see everything that’s going on behind the scenes?
Mozilla is also at the forefront of safeguarding user privacy and promoting transparency. Aside from blocking cross-site tracking cookies and preventing all tracking in private windows, the browser also prevents fingerprinting, which lets companies create a profile based on your hardware and data, allowing them to track you for extensive periods.
Firefox has also implemented an HTTPS-only mode, which blocks all unsecure connections. However, you will need to enable this feature after installing the browser, as it is not turned on by default.
Plenty of extensions to choose from, but Chrome is still better in this regard
Firefox has been around for a long time, so it makes sense that tons of extensions have been created since the browser was first released. However, those that have not been upgraded since the introduction of the Quantum engine will likely not work on later versions of the app. Mind you, that was over three years ago, so it’s not much of an issue today.
Despite the fact that Chrome came onto the scene quite a bit later, its sheer popularity has resulted in far more extensions being created for Google’s browser. Nevertheless, almost every popular add-on is available for Firefox as well, and it is vastly superior to Safari in this respect.
Performance — there’s no beating Safari
Whether on Intel or Apple Silicon Macs, Safari is superior to all other major browsers when it comes to page load times, general performance, and RAM usage. If you’re looking for an alternative to Apple’s browser, it’s not because of performance issues or resource consumption.
Between the alternatives, however, it’s a toss-up. Firefox and Chrome seem to trade the title of “faster browser” on a regular basis, but they’re always close. Given that most users don’t want to switch to a different browser with every new release, it’s probably wiser to discount performance as a factor for the time being. Most major browsers are similar enough for it to not matter all that much.
Firefox, Chrome, or Safari?
Mac users are somewhat fortunate in having the privacy-friendly Safari as a default browser, so finding an alternative isn’t as important as it is for Windows users. However, Safari offers very little customization and has a limited pool of extensions, so it isn’t the best choice for users who like to personalize their browsers.
So if you care about privacy but still want to take advantage of certain extensions and customize your browser, Firefox is an excellent choice. Of course, there are other Chromium-based browsers that take privacy seriously, but none of the major ones are open-source.
Firefox is part of these download collections: Web Browser