What Is the Best Browser for Leopard on Intel Macs?

Frankly, we can only think of one good reason for running OS X 10.5 Leopard on an Intel Mac: You don’t have enough system memory to run OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard decently and you’re not willing to invest in more RAM.*

Snow Leopard will run on a Mac with less than 2 GB of memory, but it won’t run well on a 1 GB Mac. Leopard can run decently on a 1 GB system, and while it officially supports a 512 MB configuration, you really don’t want to go there.

If you’re running Leopard, you’re going to be using older versions of browsers and of Flash – Flash 10.3.183.90 is latest version for Leopard on Intel. Here are the latest browser versions supported in OS X 10.5 on Intel Macs by the year of their last update:

  • Safari 5.0.6 (2011)
  • Chrome 21.0.1180.90 (2012)
  • Firefox 16.0.2 (2012)
  • OmniWeb 5.11.2 (2012)
  • Camino 2.1.3 (2013)
  • Opera 12.16 (2013)
  • Stainless 0.8 (2013)
  • TenFourFox 17.0.2 (2013)

In alphabetical order, a look at each.

Camino: Fast but Quite Outdated

Camino browser logoI still use Camino regularly, but only for one reason: I can open my HTML files of old Low End Mac pages in Camino, select all, copy, and then paste them into WordPress without the browser making a mess of things. That is the only reason I keep using it.

Camino has a light footprint and runs quickly on OS X 10.4 Tiger or later, so it’s a good option for older Intel Macs. Camino has not been updated since 2013, and that version is based on Firefox 19 – two generations newer than Firefox for Leopard and one generation newer than TenFourFox for Intel.

It’s far from state-of-the-art, but if you’re looking for something quick on a low memory Mac, it’s a decent choice.

Chrome: Behind the Times and a Memory Hog

If you’re using OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard, you can run the latest version of Chrome, which is 43.0.2357.81 at the moment. If you’re still using Leopard, version 21.0.1180.90 is the most recent available. It’s three years old at present and a memory hog, just like every version of Chrome.

On the plus side, it has the highest level of support for HTML5 among these browsers and is the only one to support all three HTML5 video standards: H.264, Theora, and WebM. It’s also one of the few browsers for Leopard that supports full screen browsing.

To get the most out of Chrome on a low memory Mac, use as few tabs and windows as possible.

Firefox: Okay, but Outdated

Firefox logoLike Chrome, Firefox is also way behind the times. Snow Leopard users can run version 38, but Leopard users only get version 16. It’s a competent browser, and it does have full screen browsing, but you have better options.

OmniWeb: In Stasis

In my overview of Snow Leopard browsers, I point out that although OmniWeb was the first OS X browser, it was the oldest one for OS X 10.6. In this case, it’s second oldest – Safari 5 is a year older. Still, OmniWeb has been stuck at version 5.11.2 for a long time now with no sign that an update is actually coming.

It’s dated, and it looks it.

Opera

Snow Leopard users can run Opera 25, the current version is 30, and Leopard only supports up to version 12.16 from 2013. It’s a nice enough browser, but it’s not even close to current. Then again, neither is any Intel Mac running Leopard.

Safari: Ancient

Safari 5 is the reason we’re looking at other browsers. It was adequate in its day, but that day is long past. I can’t think of a good reason to choose it with so many solid alternatives available.

Stainless: Different in Some Good Ways

Stainless iconAlthough Stainless only made it to version 0.8, it’s become one of my favorite browsers, especially when working with WordPress on my Macs. Stainless loads quickly, uses RAM efficiently, and runs very nicely.

It’s middle of the pack for HTML5 support, but in the real world it gets the job done. I recommend giving it a try. It may surprise you – as it did me.

TenFourFox: What’s This Doing on Intel Macs?

TenFourFox IconTenFourFox began as a PowerPC-specific port of Firefox so people still using OS X 10.4 Tiger and 10.5 Leopard on G3, G4, and G5 machines would have a more up-to-date version of Firefox than Mozilla provides.

So why in the world is there an Intel version of TenFourFox? Because some people are still running Tiger and Leopard on their old Intel Macs, and Firefox left them high and dry after version 16. Not that TenFourFox for Intel gets you a whole lot further, being the version 17 release, but it is a generation newer.

TenFourFox for Intel is unsupported and no longer under development, but if you’re one of those Tiger or Leopard holdouts on Intel, it is an option.

Browser Overview

In the table below, browser size on disk is rounded up to the next full MB. HTML5 score is on a scale of 0-555. Full Screen indicates whether the browser supports full screen mode, which can be toggled using Cmd-Shift-F.

HTML5 Video notes whether H.264, Ogg Theora, and WebM are supported. “All” means all 3 are.

Browser
Version
Size HTML5
Score
Full
Screen
HTML5
Video
Camino 2.1.3 39 MB 134 no no
OmniWeb 5.11.2 76 MB 205 no H.264
Safari 5.0.6 57 MB 249 no H.264, WebM
Stainless 0.8 2 MB 250 no H.264, WebM
Opera 12.16 43 MB 338 no Theora, WebM
Firefox 16 83 MB 314 yes Theora, WebM
Chrome 21 232 MB 371 yes all
TenFourFox 17 64 MB 340 yes Theora, WebM

Overall, Chrome wins for highest HTML5 score, full screen support, and working with all three HTML5 video standards. The price you pay is high memory use.

For speed, it’s hard to beat Stainless, which loads lickity-split and uses memory pretty efficiently.

TenFourFox for Intel is the surprise of the bunch, scoring the second highest HTML5 score, giving you full screen browsing, and still supporting all those wonderful old (and sometimes risky) plug-ins and add-ons Firefox was once so famous for.

* Limited memory and no desire to invest in more is also the only reason to run OS X 10.4 Tiger on an Intel Mac (it supports 256 MB but should have at least 512 MB), but hardly anyone is still doing that. According to our site analytics, in March 2016, only 1.6% of Intel Macs being used to read Low End Mac are still using Tiger. Just 1.3% are using Leopard, but an impressive 11.4% are using Snow Leopard – third place overall. At present, only 5.8% run OS X 10.7 Lion, 2.9% use OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, 8.7% are on OS X 10.9 Mavericks, and 17.6% run 10.10 Yosemite. OS X 10.11 El Capitan currently holds the top spot at 50.9%.

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