Why I switched from Chrome to Safari (and why I switched back)

A few weeks ago, I decided I’d give Safari a try. I’ve been using Chrome for a long time – probably since version 5.0 or so (and I was a Firefox user before that) – so I didn’t think switching web browsers would be easy.

Except… it was.

Safari let me import my bookmarks right from Chrome without any issue whatsoever. A few minutes in the preferences and browsing for Safari extensions later, I had all the functionality I needed (i.e. 1Password integration, full URL display in the address bar, and an actual Chrome-esque status bar). So off I went: I removed Chrome from my dock and went Safari-only for a few weeks. I also switched from Airmail to OS X’s Mail.app, just for the lulz.

And you know what? Safari wasn’t even bad. The main reason I had made the switch was in an attempt to extend the battery life of my MacBook Pro, and it worked: I had a few days where I was on battery for about 11-12 hours until it finally died. Admittedly, I was mostly just doing web browsing all day – any sort of development would require opening my IDE, which instantly caps my battery life at about 6-7 hours on a full charge – but I was surprised, in a good way. I also much preferred the overall UI style over Chrome (though there were a few nuances, like the tabs being below the address bar instead of above, that I wasn’t particularly fond of), as well as the gesture support.

So why did I switch back? Well… a few reasons. The main reason is because Safari seems to have an issue where page loading will start out fast (even faster than Chrome in some cases), but will slow to a crawl over time (at least until you clear the browser cache). This is just unacceptable.

The second reason is because Safari actually fails to render some websites. That’s not Safari’s fault – after all, it’s based on WebKit, just like Chrome – but I’ve had sites that work just fine in Chrome display a blank white page in Safari. As you might be able to imagine, that’s not too great for usability.

As for my honeymoon with OS X’s Mail.app? It’s not bad, but I’m switching back to Airmail for one main reason: the message swipe gestures in Mail.app aren’t too smooth. I usually have to swipe my fingers all the way across my trackpad and then manually click “Move to Archive” with Mail.app, whereas with Airmail, gestures are very fluid and go through with a slight, intentional swipe.