Orion browser for macOS is now available in public beta, it supports Firefox and Chrome extensions

Jun 3, 2022
Updated • Jun 7, 2022

Orion is a new web browser for macOS that has entered public beta testing. The app from Kagi, uses Apple's Webkit engine and includes a lot of customization options.

Orion browser manage extensions'

Since it is based on the same engine as Safari, Orion has native support for Apple Silicon such as the M1 processor.

Orion browser for macOS - an overview

Ad Blocker

Orion has a built-in ad blocker and tracker blocker, which the company claims will block 90% of the ads. It uses the EasyList and EasyPrivacy filter lists. The developers recommend using uBlock Origin for complete protection, and disable the internal ad blocker from the Preferences > Websites > Content Blockers page.

orion browser ad blocker


This is where it gets interesting, Orion supports Firefox add-ons and Chrome extensions. It even has a small curated library of recommended add-ons that you can install.

Orion manage add-ons

Or you can go directly to the Chrome web store or Firefox's AMO to install the extension of your choice.

Orion chrome extension install

This is, in my opinion, the selling point of the app.

Orion browser install firefox add-on

The Manage window lists all add-ons that you have installed, and also labels them as Firefox or Chrome, so you know which version of the plugin you are using.

orion add-on settings

Vertical Tabs

Orion has a vertical tree tabs view, that you can switch to by pressing Ctrl Command V. It hides the tab bar. The Vertical tab panel allows you to drag and drop tabs to reorganize them switch between tabs, and close them. You can resize the side panel as required, to display just the icons or the icons and the title.

orion vertical tabs

Tab Groups

The app supports Tab Groups, but its not what it sounds like. Hit the window button to the left of the address bar, and you can rename the group. Create a new one, and you will see that it actually creates a new Window. Make sure you name the group, if you want it to sync.

Sync and other features

Orion syncs your settings and saves them via your iCloud Drive. That makes for a good backup. The browser also supports Keychain for passwords, Focus Mode, and a low power mode, which can come in handy when your MacBook is running low on battery.

Orion browser settings

The browser supports blocking Autoplay Videos, just like Safari. You can set Orion to stay on top of other windows, watch videos in Picture-in-Picture mode.


The announcement article says the browser has zero telemetry. Orion browser does not share crash reports with the company be default, but it does have an option to send these reports, if you allow it to. It's an opt-in feature, which is always a nice thing to see.

Kagi Search

Kagi's founder, Vladimir Prelovac, has announced the availability of a new search engine called, Kagi. The company, which has its HQ in Palo Alto, CA, promises a privacy-friendly experience devoid of ads and trackers.

orion search engine settings

The free version will allow limited use (number of search queries), while the paid version will offer unlimited use. The service requires you to sign up for an account before you start using it. You can try a demo of Kagi Search on its website.

I have been using Orion sparingly over the past few weeks during the closed beta phase. But I have not used the Kagi search engine, so I cannot comment on the quality of web searches. The privacy policy seems to be good, which is a promising sign.

Kagi Search Engine Privacy Policy

Orion+ browser

Kagi has announced that it will also offer a premium version of its browser, called Orion+. It does not offer special features per se, it is just a way of contributing to the project and getting a few perks like contacting the development team, and influencing the product's development. The announcement says that a Linux version of the browser is in the plans.

And now for the cons, Orion browser is not open source, but states that there are plans to make the source code available in the future. I think this might be the biggest hurdle for the browser to attract users.

The toolbar customization panel is a bit glitchy. I couldn't drop icons on the overflow window, as the browser minimized it whenever I clicked on an icon on the toolbar. I don't like the Tab Groups either, Vivaldi's implementation of it is so much better.

Orion browser's extension support is good, but not great. I used the browser with about a dozen extensions including Bitwarden, Dark Reader, Simple Translate, SponsorBlock, OneTab etc.

I only had trouble with the following extensions:

Auto Tab Discard - Shortcut not available in the Tab context menu. I had to use the add-on's button instead.
behind! - Didn't work at all.
Group Speed Dial - Did not render the new tab page properly, but the Options page worked.
Undo Closed Tab - The add-on's right-click menu didn't display the list of closed tabs.

If a Firefox add-on doesn't work properly, try the Chrome version, and vice-versa. Overall, the extensions experience is a mixed bag, But, that's to be expected since the browser is still in beta phase.

Download Orion browser from the official website.

Is Orion browser worth using?

Yes, I'd say it's worth trying just for uBlock Origin, which is not possible with Safari. Orion is also pretty good in terms of battery life, and it is not surprising since it uses the Webkit engine, which is well optimized for MacBooks.

But, if you're a Firefox or Brave/Vivaldi/Edge/Chrome/Opera user who relies on a lot of extensions, you may have to give up on a couple of add-ons to switch to Orion.

Have you tried Orion browser?

We take a closer look at the Orion browser for macOS
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We take a closer look at the Orion browser for macOS
Orion browser for macOS is now available in public beta. It supports Firefox and Chrome extensions.
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  1. David said on June 7, 2022 at 8:06 pm

    Good news. As a Mac and iOS user I appreciate that versions for both platforms are being built. Safari has never offered the richness of extensions of Chrome and Firefrox, and the ones that it does support have to be installed as Mac apps (ugh!). Safari was previously limited to bookmarks but can now synch passwords with iOS devices via iCloud keychain. I wonder if Kagi will use the same mechanism. Vivaldi shot themselves in the foot by failing to deliver an iOS version. For Mac users there’s no incentive to use a desktop browser that doesn’t synch with your mobile device.

  2. Allwynd said on June 3, 2022 at 5:18 pm

    I wish it would release on Windows and Linux too. AFAIK, both can use WebKit.

    1. Noktikula said on June 4, 2022 at 12:13 am

      They plan to do so in the future (i.e., post 1.0).

      So far my experience with Orion has been a little bit on the buggy side, and the complex extensions that, for me, are non-negotiables (e.g., Surfingkeys or Tridactyl) don’t work at all well. With the bugs ironed out, though, and extension support being 1:1 with Fx/Chrome, I anticipate this becoming my daily driver—especially when paired with Kagi search, which so far has the best results of any privacy-oriented search engine I have used.

  3. Klaas Vaak said on June 3, 2022 at 5:02 pm

    I played around with Orion a bit. It seems to have great potential offering the best of 3 worlds: Safari, Brave/Chrome, and Librewolf/Firefox.

    The are still a number of websites it could not open for no apparent reason, considering I had my extensions disabled. And the overflow for extension icons does not work. But hey, it’s early days yet.

  4. Vladimir Prelovac said on June 3, 2022 at 4:29 pm

    Great review!

    > The toolbar customization panel is a bit glitchy. I couldn’t drop icons on the overflow window, as the browser minimized it whenever I clicked on an icon on the toolbar.

    Note that his is fixed in the last beta (0.99.115), please update.

    1. Klaas Vaak said on June 4, 2022 at 3:52 am

      @Vladimir Prelovac: yes, that is fixed, but the icons on the overflow window remain on the toolbar, so they occur in 2 places now.

  5. Tom said on June 3, 2022 at 9:13 am

    > Since it is based on the same engine as Safari, Orion has native support for Apple Silicon such as the M1 processor.

    There is no relation. Other browsers like Firefox or Chrome also have native support for Apple Silicon.

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