Web Browsers OpenFAQ

What browsers are available for Macintosh systems?


Netscape Communicator/Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer

Netscape and Microsoft Internet Explorer have pretty much the same features on all of the operating systems for which they are available. Netscape is locked in a features and market share race with Microsoft Internet Explorer, which surpassed the former in popularity in 1999, and is the default browser in MacOS 8.5 and up.

Both products are free, and feature HTML 4.0, Java, JavaScript, Cascading Style Sheets, and various extensions that may or may not work with other browsers. Netscape Communicator also includes a suite of additional applications for conferencing, reading newsgroups, receiving and sending email and so on (Microsoft provides this separately in Outlook Express). At this time, there are no other browsers for the Macintosh that have quite as many features as these two market leaders, though iCab is catching up.


Opera is a sleek browser, currently in public beta for the MacOS. It offers most of the features of IE and Netscape, but takes less system resources, and has a few neat extra features that IE/Netscape do not have - surch as a "search box" which is always displayed.


Apple Computer's CyberDog is based on Apple's OpenDoc technology, which is designed to allow programs to be constructed from reusable components. Although interesting to those who want to create browsers of their own, CyberDog is not as full-featured and up to date as the Microsoft and Netscape products. CyberDog has a small but enthusiastic user base, and many user sites have sprung up since Apple took the official CyberDog site down.


While still unfinished at present (09/99), iCab looks like it's going to be an excellent browser for the Mac. It keeps bloat down and performance up by focusing on its main task (web browsing) without adding in a lot of bells and whistles, but it is surprisingly complete at what it does. It is currently stable and displays most web pages correctly, but does not yet support JavaScript. However, it supports Java through Apple's MRJ. Available in both English and German versions, for 68K and PPC.


WannaBe is a small, very basic text-only browser for PowerPC and 68k Macs. Its main advantages are its lightning speed and low memory footprint. Still in beta stage (as of 09/99), it already works well for those who want to check web pages very quickly. You can download either the very latest, or a proven stable version. There is a mailing list on which announcements of new versions appear regularly.


Grail is a web browser written in the Python programming language. Grail supports full HTML 2.0, including images, forms and imagemaps, and many HTML 3.2 features. It uses asynchronous document transfer, supports printing and saving documents, searching, bookmarks, history, and more. It also supports frames, client-side imagemaps, file upload in forms, support for JPEG, TIFF and XBM images, image printing, and tables (within the limitations of the Tk toolkit). Pages can contain applets written in Python (instead of Java).
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