Hands-On with New Microsoft Edge Preview for Mac

Posted on May 28, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Mac and macOS, Microsoft Edge with 6 Comments

I was traveling last week when Microsoft announced its first preview release of the new Edge for Mac. But I’m back now, so I figured I’d give the new browser a spin. After all, the new Edge has already won me over on Windows.

This release marks the second major platform for the new Edge: The initial release was available only on Windows 10. But where Windows 10 users can currently choose between Canary and Dev channels, with their daily and weekly updates, respectively, Mac users have to make do with Dev channel (weekly updates) only.  (Microsoft has yet to officially release any new Edge versions for Windows 7 or 8.1.)

On that note, the current version of the new Edge on Mac, as of this writing, is 76.0.172.0. Which happens to map exactly to the Canary build I’m using on Windows 10; that will change over the course of this week as Canary is updated each night, but it also gives me, temporarily, a good way to compare how Edge looks and works across the two platforms.

Install and initial setup is straightforward: You download the new Edge from the Microsoft Edge Insider Preview website and it installs normally for a Mac app and auto-runs so you can get it up and configured. I like that it automatically detected that I was using macOS Mojave’s Dark mode and configured itself accordingly.

As is the case on Windows, configuration is manual at the moment: You can sign-in to your Microsoft account, which will one day be a necessity for most, but right now it only syncs favorites, as it does in Windows 10.

So you’ll need to import your passwords, autofill data, and browsing history, if you want any of that, from Chrome. And you will need to download extensions manually—I recommend enabling and using the Chrome Web Store now, and not Microsoft’s store for compatibility reasons—to fully duplicate your Chrome setup. Also, don’t forget to switch the search engine to Google; that setting is purposefully hidden in Privacy and Services > Address bar.

With all that completed, the new Edge seems to work identically to the versions I’ve used in Windows. Passwords auto-complete normally, my favorites are available, and the browser seems to run and work properly.

But what I was most interested in, perhaps, was the new Edge’s ability to handle web apps.

To test this, I visited two web sites, Gmail and Twitter; the former is a normal website while the latter is a Progressive Web App (PWA) that Chrome can install natively as an app.

Both worked as expected. With Gmail, I can “Pin to Finder” (“Pin to Desktop” in Windows) and then access it like a pseudo-macOS app by pinning it to the Dock and configuring it to open as a window (in edge://apps).

And with Twitter, the new Edge offers up an address bar-based “Install” prompt that likewise places Twitter in edge://apps.

It also automatically configures it to run in its own window.

There is one final oddity, unless you’re used to Chrome on macOS, I guess: When you try to quit the new Edge normally, by typing CMD + Q, you’re prompted to hold down the keys to complete the action. Other Mac apps don’t do this, but Chrome does. And now the new Edge does too.

I’ll need to spend more time with it, but at first blush, the new Edge appears to work nearly identically on macOS as it does on Windows. And that’s a nice win for Microsoft, and for any Mac users that would like to minimize the Google in their lives.

I’ll keep experimenting.

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