What’s the most popular web browser?

  1. Google Chrome
  2. Apple Safari
  3. Internet Explorer & Edge
  4. Firefox

When you first turn on a new PC or laptop, you’ll find that your only route to the internet is via Internet Explorer or, if you’ve just bought a machine running Windows 10, Microsoft’s new Edge web browser.

It’s the same with an iPhone or Android device. There will be Safari, Google Chrome or another browser.

But you can download whichever browser you like, either using the one on your PC or laptop already, or the app store on your phone or tablet.

And thanks to W3Counter’s browser stats (April 2017), you can see which are the most popular:

Google Chrome, then, is by far the most used browser which accounts for well over half of web traffic, followed by Safari in a distant second place. IE (plus Edge) comes in third, with Firefox fourth. Opera is fifth with 2.9 percent of global web traffic.

Here’s how it breaks down into the Top 10 browsers, showing the versions used. Note that Microsoft Edge and Opera don’t even make the list.

Google Chrome is no longer supported on Windows XP and Vista. Google recommends you upgrade your OS. For more details, see Google’s blog post.

Which is the best web browser?

You can’t always believe statistics, and not all surveys agree. StatCounter, for example, puts UC Browser in third place, not IE. However, all agree that Chrome is by far the most popular.

Of course, you’d be right to say that just because more people use a certain browser, that doesn’t make it “the ‘best”. It’s just one measure, and there are others of course.

Previously we have reviewed web browsers, benchmarking them for speed and rating them on features. The problem with that approach was that all of these browsers are updated constantly, meaning that those reviews quickly became outdated. And that’s why we’re not offering benchmark results here.

Google, Mozilla, Microsoft, Apple and others also add, change and remove features in those regular updates, so on the odd occasion, a feature which was a reason to use a particular browser would vanish overnight.

Even if a browser is better than its rivals because of performance, security or features, they’re all free and there’s no limit to how many you can install or run at the same time. So while many would agree when we say that Google Chrome is the ‘best’ web browser, there’s nothing stopping you from using five or six different browsers.

At Tech Advisor we all use multiple browsers on a daily basis. Those of us running Windows use Chrome, Firefox and Opera most of the time with Edge when necessary, while Mac users will use a blend of Safari, Chrome and Firefox.

And all of these browsers offer decent performance and compatibility. They all offer to save your passwords and aside from Internet Explorer (and to some extent Microsoft Edge) they will sync your data, favourites and tabs between multiple computers and devices so you can grab your phone and carry on reading where you left off on your laptop.

They all support extensions and add-ons so you can add specific features, shortcuts and widgets. As of the Windows 10 Anniversary update in mid 2016, Edge finally started supporting extensions.

If a specific extension isn’t available on your favourite browser, simply check and see if it for another browser. Similarly, if a website isn’t displaying properly or working in one browser, try another. These are the most common reasons why we use more than one browser.

Arguably the best browser is one that runs on all your devices and shares bookmarks, logins, current tabs and other data so you can pick up where you left off on any device. Chrome does this, as does Safari (but this is only useful if you have Apple products of course).

Here’s a table which summarises the main features, as well as which platforms each browser supports. Chrome, Firefox and Opera are the most compatible. You might find older versions of Safari for Windows, but it’s no longer kept up to date by Apple.