The pros and cons of running Microsoft Edge on a Mac

Picture: Microsoft

Mac users have many web browser choices – Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera Norway – but many professionals find it easier to just use Safari, the browser included by default in macOS. However, users often encounter an issue where a specific web platform is found to be incompatible with Safari, or another browser (often Google Chrome) may be recommended instead.

SEE: Checklist: Deploying Microsoft 365 apps and services on Mac (TechRepublic Premium)

There is yet another option. Microsoft’s replacement for the hugely popular (and infamous) Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, as shown Figure A, is an alternative marketed as fast and secure. These claims are not without merit, given that the browser is built on Google’s Chromium engine.

Figure A

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Microsoft Edge is an alternative browser for Mac with many features.

While personal experience shows that most apps and web portals work well with Safari, it’s true that a handful of sites (payment portals and some cloud consoles among them) sometimes experience issues. Maybe a page won’t display correctly, the necessary menus won’t work properly, or some other problem exists. Or, perhaps a business relies heavily on Google Workspace, in which case Google Chrome becomes a natural accompaniment.

While alternative browsers may, compared to Safari, sometimes open more slowly, take longer to display web pages, or use more power, thus shortening the battery life of a Mac, it sometimes a third-party browser is required. An example immediately comes to mind. As organizations become increasingly dependent on Microsoft’s 365 platform, which can power everything from email and file storage to office productivity apps and even powerful cloud-based tools powered by Power Apps, Power BI or SharePoint, Microsoft Edge deserves a look.

Therein lies, however, the most compelling reason for Mac users to embrace Microsoft Edge: reliance on Microsoft 365 apps and services. Just as it’s hard to make a compelling case against Mac users that depend on Google Workspace pairing Google Chrome with these apps, Microsoft Edge is a natural complement to Microsoft 365 services.

Addicted to Microsoft Planner, SharePoint, and Office documents and spreadsheets online, I broke one of my last commandments by installing an app on my Macs that wasn’t absolutely necessary: ​​Microsoft Edge. As a general rule, I only load the bare minimum of programs onto my production systems, hoping to limit threat surfaces while reducing clutter and the risk of background applications unnecessarily slowing down updates. performance search updates, generate alerts, and perform other common actions. But I’ve encountered enough weirdness in the form of web-based Visio diagrams not loading correctly, payment portals not displaying correctly, and other tools having difficulty navigating through options. level of security and multi-factor authentication that I gave Microsoft Edge to try.

Although I couldn’t find Microsoft Edge in the Apple App Store, my preferred method of purchasing and installing software due to the platform’s ease of administration and updating, Microsoft Edge s turned out a quick install from Microsoft’s website. Surprisingly large when installed at 674MB, the app is closer to Google Chrome (929MB) than Safari (14MB). But chances are Mac users have the extra space, so the extra bloat probably isn’t a problem. In my mind, if you’re using Microsoft Edge as a secure alternative to Safari, you probably don’t need Google Chrome anyway. So throwing Google’s browser in favor of Microsoft Edge would actually free up a few hundred megabytes, anyway.

Anyway, Microsoft Edge offered a smoother experience when opening Office files, as noted in Figure B, including Visio diagrams, online. Microsoft Edge also loads Microsoft 365-based sites and portals, including SharePoint-based directories and schedulers, quickly and seamlessly. Microsoft Edge also provides decent performance when accessing Microsoft web-only productivity tools, including Excel, PowerPoint, and Word, included in Microsoft 365 subscriptions that include access to web-only applications (as opposed to downloadable desktop versions of these same programs).

Figure B

Microsoft Edge makes it possible to proficiently open and edit Office files online.
Microsoft Edge makes it possible to proficiently open and edit Office files online.

As with Google Chrome, you can sign in to Microsoft Edge to sync your web session information, including browsing history, favorites, and bookmarks, using the same browser across multiple devices. Microsoft developers have also worked hard to improve Edge’s performance. Startup Boost technology speeds up the time it takes to reopen the browser after an app restart or system restart. Sleep tabs, on the other hand, are designed to rest inactive tabs, saving CPU cycles and active memory to encourage better overall system performance.

Immersive reading and dictation include two more benefits associated with using Edge. With Immersive Reader, the browser provides a less cluttered layout and fewer distractions by emphasizing the web content itself. Read Aloud is an Edge feature that does exactly what it says: reads information aloud from web pages. When web pages are open, users simply right-click on the page or a selection and choose the Read Aloud option to activate the feature.

Importing Safari data solves one of the drawbacks of installing a new browser, which is that none of your history, bookmarks or preferences are there. Another downside is that many links, including those found in emails, PDFs, and other files, open URLs in Safari, by default.

Although I find myself favoring Microsoft Edge when logging into specific payment portals and Microsoft 365-powered files, portals, and services, I still use Safari for just about all other web browsing, so this issue is not a problem for me. If you want, however, you can have macOS automatically make Microsoft Edge your default browser. To set Microsoft Edge as the default browser using macOS, open System Preferences, click General, and change the default web browser from the drop-down menu provided for Microsoft Edge.

SEE: Adjust Mac elements to add style, improve functionality (TechRepublic)

Another benefit of Microsoft Edge is its profile support. You can create different profiles for different users. Although less likely to be necessary in a business environment where users typically use their own login to access various settings and preferences, in cases where multiple users share the same login, creating different profiles for each user might help. to confer a certain security and confidentiality. Nevertheless, organizations should avoid sharing user accounts whenever possible for various security and auditing reasons.

Microsoft’s new browser also offers several other features, including:

  • Collections: Collect, organize, and share web pages, images, links, and other information in collections, which can also be shared, including via a Word document or Excel document.
  • Tab Groups—Allows you to sort tabs into groups accessible from the buttons at the top of the browser.
  • Vertical tabs—Changes the orientation of tabs in vertical view.
  • Password Health: Provides password strength hints and alerts users when a password is recycled.
  • Password Monitor: Notifies users whenever a compromised password is detected on the Dark Web.

Another feature of Microsoft Edge is Page Settings. Three different presets are available:

  • Inspirational: Sets the browser home page to display a large inspirational image behind a prominent search bar, followed by common shortcut links and panels featuring news highlights.
  • Informational: Shortens the background image to help display more news and information immediately below commonly used shortcuts.
  • Focused: Prioritizes the search box, followed by commonly used shortcuts, with no news or information present on the page.

Mac users have a choice of which web browser they use. Although Safari works well for the most part, sometimes the need for an alternative arises. If you work with Microsoft 365 services or are tired of Chrome and other options, Microsoft Edge is worth a look.


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