macOS comes with a secure, fast and compatible built-in web browser — Safari. A lot of Mac users prefer to use Safari for their web browsing, but may decide to use another browser due to familiarity, compatibility issues with Safari, or curiosity about the features available with another app. In this article, we’ll describe how to easily move to another web browser while keeping many of your settings and bookmarks.
Alternatives to Safari
In this post, we’ll look at the three primary alternatives to Safari: Google’s Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox, and Opera Software’s Opera. All three of these browsers have their own special features and capabilities that set them apart from Safari and each other. While we won’t delve into a complete comparison of those feature sets, it’s worth looking at each browser’s home page (links listed earlier in this paragraph) for details. (Related: Testing Lab: Battle of the Mac Browsers)
Safari to Chrome
Using Google’s Chrome is an interesting experience, as it uses Google’s cloud for syncing bookmarks instead of iCloud and also features a library of very powerful extensions that can be used to add features to the browser. To sync settings and bookmarks between computers, you’ll need a Google account (a Gmail address is sufficient). Once Chrome is installed, moving your existing Safari bookmarks to the Google browser is simple:
1) Launch Chrome, and log in with your Google account
2) With Chrome open, select Chrome > Import Bookmarks and Settings (see screenshot below)
3) Select the browser that you’re importing bookmarks and settings from. This is done with the pop-up menu, seen in the screenshot above with the word “Safari”. Usually the browser will be Safari, but Chrome also imports from a variety of other popular browsers.
4) Depending on the browser, you may see other options to import. For Safari in this example, only Favorites/Bookmarks are available to import. Make sure that item is selected with a check mark, then click the Import button.
5) In just an instant, Chrome imports your bookmarks and any settings that might be available. A dialog appears showing that the work is complete (see screenshot below):
Once you’ve cleared the import dialog by clicking the Done button, Chrome defaults to the Settings page where it’s possible to continue customizing the browser to your needs. The bookmarks that have been imported are now available across all devices that are using the Chrome browser and are signed into the same Google account.
Safari to Firefox
Firefox recently benefitted from a complete rewrite from scratch, making it one of the speediest browsers now available for Mac. It is also one of the best browsers for those who desire privacy during their web sessions, and is now available for all major platforms (Mac, iOS, Windows and Android).
Synchronization of bookmarks and settings is done through a free Firefox account, and users can choose what to synchronize between devices — open tabs, bookmarks, logins, history, add-ons, preferences, and even addresses.
1) Launch Firefox, and log in with your Firefox account.
2) On the right side of the Firefox address/search bar is a button that looks like a stack of books. Click on it, then select Bookmarks from the pop-up menu (see screenshot below):
3) Click on Bookmarks, then to the bottom of the list and select Show All Bookmarks
4) The Library window appears, displaying browsing history, downloads, and any bookmarks that you may have created.
5) Click the “Star” button and select Import and Backup, then select “Import Data from Another Browser” (see screenshot below)
6) This opens up the Import Wizard. Depending on what browsers are installed on your Mac, you’ll see one or more listed in the Import Wizard (see screenshots below)
7) On the Import Wizard, click the browser you wish to import settings and data from, then click Continue (left image above). Select the items you wish to import from the other browser, then click Continue. The import is completed quickly, at which time there is a Done button to click to close the Import Wizard. If you have more than one other browser on your Mac, you’ll need to run the Import Wizard for each browser if the bookmarks are different.
Safari to Opera
Opera is also a very useful web browser, with client software for Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, and even Linux. If you’re new to Opera, there’s a handy feature built into the installer — one of the default settings is to “Copy bookmarks and settings from the default browser”. As a result, once you’ve installed Opera, all of your browser bookmarks and settings from Safari (if it is your default browser) are already listed in the browser.
Already moved to Opera, but didn’t get the bookmarks and settings you wanted? You can import them from any other Mac browser…
1) With Opera launched on your Mac, select Opera > Import Bookmarks and Settings from the menu bar.
2) The following dialog appears (see screenshot below). Select the browser you wish to import bookmarks from, and then check the boxes for the items that you wish to import. Note that unlike some other browsers, Opera can bring over “cookies” — those files created by websites and stored by your browser locally to keep information like your name, interests, and so on. Don’t want to have your cookies moved over from another browser? Deselect the Cookies check box. Once you’re ready, click Import to bring over the passwords and bookmarks.
Other Browsers to Safari
Perhaps when you made the switch to Mac you also decided to move to Apple’s built-in Safari web browser. In that case, you’ll need to know how to import settings and bookmarks from Chrome, Firefox and Opera to Safari. That’s quite simple, as you’d expect from an Apple product.
1) With Safari launched, select File > Import from on the menu bar. You’re given a choice of importing bookmarks from any other browser that is currently installed on the Mac (see screenshot below)
2) Once you select the browser you wish to import bookmarks and other settings from, a small dialog appears with check boxes for all items that are available for import from that browser: Bookmarks, History, and Passwords are usually the items listed (see screenshot below). Uncheck any items you do not wish to import, then click the Import button to proceed.
3) In the screenshot under #1 in this section, you’ll notice that one of the items that can be selected for import is a “Bookmarks HTML File”. This is extremely useful if you’re moving to the Mac platform from a PC. Before you shut down the PC, be sure to go into your PC browser — whether it is Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Chrome, Firefox, or Opera — and find the appropriate menu command for exporting bookmarks as an HTML file. Once that’s done, save that file to a USB flash drive or send it to yourself via email. Then, when you’re setting up your new Mac and open Safari for the first time, just be sure to use “Import From > Bookmarks HTML File” and select the HTML file you created.
This should help you move from Safari to other browsers… or vice-versa. If Safari just isn’t working for you in some circumstances, there are plenty of other browsers to choose from.
Further Reading on Browsers: