The best browsers for privacy

It’s difficult to stay anonymous online, and even if you regularly clear your cookies, advertising agencies, criminals, or even nosy friends can still end up with your private information. While browsers can’t protect you from every trap, some are better at helping you maintain your anonymity and surf the web securely.

If you’re concerned about your privacy online, it might be time to say goodbye to Google and check out these secure browsers that our team has compiled.

The best browsers for privacy at a glance:

The best browser for privacy: Brave

Brave Browser screenshot
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Brave‘s laundry list of security and privacy features provide enough reasons for this browser to claim the top spot on our list of the best browsers for privacy. But there are a few features worth highlighting, such as its automatic HTTPS connection upgrades; its ability to block ads and scripts and manage cookies; and its native password manager. You can even customize your shield (read: security) settings by site or browser-wide. And if you’re curious to see exactly how well Brave blocks unwanted content and trackers, you can just view the blocking stats on the New Tab page.

Even if you’re not crazy about customizing your own settings, Brave’s defaults are still pretty solid since they automatically block things like phishing and malware.

The best for browser for customizable privacy: Firefox

Firefox privacy settings screenshot
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For those who want to get specific about how they manage their browser’s privacy and security settings, Firefox is a great option. While Mozilla does heavily emphasize its default settings and the fact that it provides “strong privacy protection from the moment [users] install,” you can still customize a fairly detailed list of privacy and security settings, which include features like the ability to block cookies and third-party trackers and the level of security that you want.

If you want total security, you can opt for the Strict option that blocks every single tracker detected. You can also just use the Standard option that allows you to have the best of both worlds: Better performance and tracker blocking. Firefox’s anti-tracking features are enabled by default, not just when you use its Private Browsing Mode.

The best browser for maximum security: Tor

Tor Browser screenshot on Windows 10
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If you’re looking for a browser that’s thought of everything security-wise, Tor Browser might be the browser for you. The Tor Browser handles your security concerns down to the smallest detail. Really — even when you try to maximize your browser window, Tor Browser will warn you that doing so can leave you open to having your computer’s screen size tracked, and it will recommend that you change it back to its smaller, default window size.

Tor also offers other security measures such as the automatic deletion of your browser history and cookies when you’re finished browsing, the blocking of third-party trackers, and protection that includes three layers of encryption for your web traffic “as it passes over the Tor network.”

The best browser for privacy for Mac: Safari

Apple screenshot of Safari browser
Safari website/Apple Inc.

Apple touts that its browser, Safari, is the “best browser for your Mac,” which may very well be the case, at least as far as its security and privacy features are concerned. According to Apple, Safari uses machine learning to prevent the tracking of your data, including your browsing history. Safari can do this by using machine learning to detect advertisers and other trackers and then removing their “cross-site tracking data.” Safari also offers several other helpful security features, including sandboxing, warnings for unsafe websites, Private Browsing (which includes a DuckDuckGo default search engine), and the auto-generation of strong passwords that can be auto-filled and stored for all of a user’s Apple devices.

Safari also works with iCloud Keychain, which is an optional feature that allows you to store and autofill sensitive data. You can easily create, store, and access important information, like usernames, passwords, credit card information, and social media account logins) on any device that you approve. The best part about using iCloud Keychain is that it uses end-to-end encryption to protect all of your sensitive data. The high-level encryption doesn’t even allow Apple to have access to your personal information.

Alternative option: Microsoft Edge

new microsoft edge privacy settings screenshot
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Despite its brand, you can download the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship browser on other platforms besides Windows, including MacOS, iOS, and Android. Fortunately for users, this means that the new Microsoft Edge could be a great alternative to browsers like Firefox or MacOS’s default browser, Safari. 

Microsoft Edge is an updated replacement for the disappointingly slow and antiquated Internet Explorer. When you factor in how similar Microsoft Edge’s privacy settings are to some of the alternatives, it becomes a viable substitute for other browsers. Like Firefox, you can choose from three “tracking prevention” options to determine your privacy (Basic, Balanced, or Strict). If you’d like, you can also customize site access — like whether sites can track you with cookies, show pop-up ads, or access your location. 

Another key safety feature included with Microsoft Edge is the malware defense. Even if the browser gets infected, the malware gets stuck in a “sandbox” that prevents it from reaching your operating system.

The latest version of Microsoft Edge also comes with a feature known as Microsoft Defender SmartScreen, which is turned on by default. Microsoft claims that SmartScreen could potentially protect you from phishing sites or accidentally downloading a virus. And, if you head to an unsecured site, SmartScreen will also warn you about that, too.

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