I use Firefox on Windows.
I use Firefox on Linux.
I use Safari on OS X.
Like the song says, one of these things is not like the others.
I’ve been wondering why that was for a while now, since there didn’t seem to be any particular reason — it seemed to be just a habit I’d fallen into. Recently, I wondered exactly what it is about Safari that means that I keep using it in preference to Firefox (which I also have on my dock, and which I use whenever I want to run Firebug).
It’s certainly not down to loyalty to Apple, residual reality distortion field from yesterday’s exposure to an iPhone notwithstanding. I think it’s basically a function of the following:
WebKit is good enough. By which (for once) I don’t mean anything about adherence to standards, where WebKit may actually be further ahead than the competition (or not; I haven’t really compared them — though it doesn’t help that the current version of Firefox is based on the ancient Gecko 1.8 layout engine). Rather, I mean that it works with real-world web sites. It’s not perfect, but it’s only occasionally (once every month or two) that I find that I have to switch to Firefox to get something to work on my Mac.
Safari now (with Safari 3) has feature-parity with Firefox for the feature set I use, particularly incremental search and inline spell check. It even provides resizable text areas, which I’ve occasionally added to Firefox with an extension.
Safari does have slightly better platform integration with OS X. The spelling dictionary is the system-standard dictionary, logins are stored in Keychain, that kind of thing.
And lastly, but, I suspect, most importantly, Safari is fast. Or, rather, on my machine, Firefox is really slow. Take a look below, which shows how long it takes to open a new window (as timed on my iBook with my stopwatch, YMMV).