A Better Way to Use Multiple Web Browsers on macOS

Choosy offers a more seamless way to dynamically switch between browsers

Rugare Maruzani
Apr 16 · 3 min read
Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

As with most things in this life, there is no perfect web browser. On macOS, Apple’s Safari browser probably offers the best overall user experience. The privacy & security features got a big upgrade with macOS Big Sur, Apple claim it’s faster than any other browser, and we now get 4K support and translate functionality. However, Safari still has its issues. The number of available plugins is way below that offered by Chrome. And besides that, people plugged into the Google ecosystem might just prefer to use Chrome.

If you are a MacBook user, you’ll know Chrome is notorious for draining battery life. Desktop Macs will also suffer from Chrome’s resource-hungry demands. Most people will have multiple browsers installed and hop between each one when they need to. You do have to pick a default browser though — by definition any time you click a link in the OS, it will launch in that default browser. I’ve always found this hugely inconvenient. For reasons I won’t go into, I have long wanted email links to open in Chrome, PDF links to open in Firefox, and still keep Safari as my default browser for everything else.

After years of living with this frustration, I finally found Choosy. This is an application that will allow you to specify which browser launches when you click a link in any given application.

Choosy describes itself as a smarter default browser for macOS. It is technically treated as a browser by macOS but more on that later. As mentioned above, this app will allow you to open a link from any application in a user-defined browser. You get a generous 45-day free trial when you first download the app, and then there is a $10 one-time purchase.

Choosy is viewed as a web browser by macOS and you have to set it as the default browser to use it. It’s not a browser at all, of cause. I suspect it’s set up this way because of some quirk of developing this kind of application. By default, Choosy will ask you which browser you want to use every time you click a link. This is just inconvenient and you can change it to something more practical.

First, in Choosy’s preferences, order your browsers by preference.

Screenshot by Author

To remove that annoying prompt every time you click a link, navigate to Rules and double-click Default behavior. On the drop-down menu, you can select what Choosy should do when there aren’t any specific rules. I have this option set to ‘Use my favorite browser’ — now Safari is my de facto default browser.

The really cool thing about Choosy is the ability to select the default browser on a per application basis. I have any weblinks from the writing app Ulysses programmed to open in Chrome for example. To set this up, in the Rules section of Choosy Preferences, you can click the + icon to add a new rule.

Screenshot by Author

In the screenshot above, any link originating from PDF Expert will launch in Firefox — even if the browser is not already open. You’ll also see options to specify browser based on web address, link type, or web addresses originating from AirDrop. There are plenty of configurations for anyone who wants to tinker.

Most of us have multiple browsers installed to sidestep the drawbacks and limitations of any single one. Choosy offers a superior way to use your browsers by allowing you to specify the default browser on a per application basis. Choosy comes with a 45-day free trial.

Happy browsing folks!

Mac O’Clock

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