7 things Safari can do that Google Chrome can’t

Time to give Apple's browser a second chance.
macbook semi open in the dark
The browser was designed and optimized for Apple computers. Andras Vas / Unsplash

In the past, Safari used to be underpowered, which is why a lot of Mac users install Google Chrome without even thinking about it. But you might want to re-think that habit because Safari is not underpowered anymore. 

In fact, there are all kinds of features Apple’s browser offers that you won’t find in Chrome—from copying text in images to hiding your IP address from trackers. 

Live Text lets you copy text from images

From memes to screenshots, a lot of the text you read online is actually part of an image file. This is especially frustrating when you want to copy said text and paste it somewhere else. 

[Related: Level up your browsing with these five Safari tips]

Live Text is a macOS feature built into Safari that uses optical character recognition to identify text in images, allowing you to highlight and copy it. To use it, just open a photo on Safari and start selecting the text you see in it. It’s that easy. 

Privacy by default

Intelligent Tracking Prevention stops third-party cookies from tracking you, meaning that companies like Facebook or Amazon won’t know what you’re reading or looking at on other websites. 

According to Apple, websites use Like and Share buttons, and other social widgets like comment fields, to track us even if we don’t use them. Safari automatically blocks this tracking, giving users more control over their data. 

You can get similar functionalities on Chrome by using add-ons, but in Safari it’s all built-in and enabled by default.

Autoplay controls that actually work

Chrome can stop auto-playing videos—but it’s not easy to set up. We’ve written entire articles outlining elaborate workarounds to do this in Google’s browser, but in Safari things are much simpler. Just head to Preferences, and then open the Websites tab to find the Auto-play section.

From here you can set a universal rule for auto-playing audio, which can be Never Auto-Play. You can also configure exceptions for currently open sites. For example, you might want YouTube to be able to start playing videos immediately. 

A straightforward Reader Mode

Chrome has a reading mode that you can enable using experimental settings or flags. But through the years Google has never made this feature easily available from the settings panel. Safari does. 

A reader mode cleans the website you’re on, allowing you to concentrate on reading an article without the distraction of sidebars, pop-ups, ads, and other annoyances. They’re essential for browsing the modern web. 

Safari not only allows you to easily convert websites using reader mode, but it also allows you to open articles on a given website in reader mode by default. We can all think of a few websites that go way over the top when it comes to clutter—this is a way to avoid it entirely. 

To use it, go to View and Show Reader, or click on the Reader icon to the left of the address bar—it looks like a page. 

Get some continuity

If you’re reading this article on a Mac you can open it on your iPhone or iPad right now. Just open your browser on your handheld device and pick things up from there. 

This is a Continuity feature for Apple devices and it notably works even if you’re using Chrome as your browser. But the integrations go deeper if you use Safari. For example, when you open a new tab you’ll see a list of currently open tabs on other devices, and your bookmarks and reading pages will all sync over without any effort on your end. 

Pay for stuff with your finger

You probably think of Apple’s payment system as an iPhone feature. But if you’re using Safari, you’ll find online retailers are increasingly supporting this system on other devices as well, allowing you to confirm credit card details using TouchID. If you’re a dedicated Apple Pay user it’s well worth considering. 

Better battery life

Safari consistently uses less RAM and CPU than Chrome—you can confirm this yourself by opening both and checking out the stats in Activity Monitor. 

[Related: Give iOS Safari a fresh look by customizing your new tab page]

Most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about that, since modern computers have more than enough power to run Chrome smoothly. But it can be more of an issue when your Mac is not plugged in. More system resources means more power usage, draining your battery faster. I’ve personally noticed I can get an extra couple hours out of my laptop by using Safari instead of Chrome, and I’m not the first person to notice this. Try it out for yourself.