17 Best Lightweight Browsers Of 2024

Firefox, Chrome, Edge, and Safari are probably the best internet browsers in the market right now; we cannot argue with that. However, they share a common trait—they use a significant amount of system resources, especially Google Chrome.

What many people may not be aware of is the existence of lightweight alternatives in the market. While these alternatives may not be as feature-rich or visually appealing as the major browsers, they do offer valuable benefits.

Below, I’ve listed the seventeen best lightweight web browsers of the year. In choosing them, I focused on four key aspects: speed, resource usage, features, and cross-platform compatibility.

These browsers make a trade-off by sacrificing some features found in mainstream browsers to minimize memory usage and reduce the consumption of system resources.

Did you know? 

The average human attention span has dwindled to a mere 8 seconds. Lightweight browsers, by virtue of their rapid responsiveness, perfectly match the fast pace of today’s digital interactions.

17. Lynx

Lynx and Firefox rendering the same webpage | Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Engine: libwww
Platform: Windows, DOS, Unix-like

Started in 1992, Lynx is the oldest web browser still in active development. It’s a text-based web browser that supports SSL and various HTML features.

Unlike some command-line tools, the browser is quite easy to understand and use. You most probably won’t face any issues after a short period of learning.

Due to its text-based nature, Lynx doesn’t handle images, videos, Adobe Flash, or JavaScript. However, you can pair it with external tools like a video player or image viewer to manage multimedia files.

Lynx is particularly handy for older computers or slow internet connections. Its text-only approach means it doesn’t load information-tracking web bugs, ensuring privacy while browsing. Like mainstream browsers, it supports features such as page caching and browsing histories.

Because the browser takes keystrokes from text files, it’s still useful for web scraping and automated data entry. It also finds applications in checking page links and testing websites’ performance.

16. Surf

Engine: WebKitGTK+
Platform: Unix-like

Surf is a simple, minimalist web browser that intentionally provides a limited set of features. There is no built-in support for bookmarking, tabs, and ad filtering. The only graphical element it has is the webpage view.

The browser makes heavy use of the keyboard. You can open new sites, scroll horizontally and vertically, zoom in and out, and reload the webpage without using the mouse.

Since the browser supports the XEmbed protocol, it can be embedded in other applications. You can even configure its XProperties to point the browser to another URI.

To make changes, you need to edit Surf’s source code or configuration header file and then recompile it. A few changes can be made without recompiling via hotkeys or command line arguments.

15. Otter Browser

Beta 12 version with breeze style and icons

Engine: QtWebKit / QtWebEngine
Platform: Windows, macOS, Unix-like

Otter Browser aims to rebuild aspects of Opera version 12 while seamlessly integrating with desktop environments. The main objective is to become a haven for users who can’t stand what happened to Opera after discarding the Presto engine.

The browser is designed to be very modular with the ability to support almost all features that a standard browser should have, such as content blocking, spell checking, customizable graphical user interface, mouse gestures, tabs grouping, speed dial, password and bookmark manager, and other related functionalities.

Previous versions had their share of bugs, but that’s a thing of the past. The current version is simple, fast, and notably stable. It retains the features and traditions that made Opera 12.x great.

14. Pale Moon

Pale Moon running on Windows 10

Engine: Goanna
Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux

Pale Moon emphasizes customizability: its motto is “Your browser, Your way.” It is entirely built from its own independently developed source that has been forked off from Firefox code with substantial divergence.

Developers have added selected features and optimized the browser to improve its stability and user experience. In fact, they have made it compatible with a growing collection of themes and extensions.

It is different from Firefox in several ways. For instance, it always runs in single-process mode, uses the IP-API service for geolocation rather than Google’s service, and supports NPAPI, XUL, and XPCOM plugins that are no longer supported in Firefox.

Pale Moon hogs way less memory and CPU resources than Firefox, but since it’s based on much older code, it doesn’t perform well on browser benchmarks.

13. Slimjet 

Engine: Gecko
Platform: Windows

Slimjet is designed to provide a feature-rich, fast, and secure browsing experience. It comes with a built-in ad blocker that eliminates intrusive ads and thus saves system resources like memory, CPU, and bandwidth. 

Unlike other browsers, Slimjet offers an AI chat system to answer your questions and assist with text improvement. Additionally, it comes with a download manager that uses multiple connections simultaneously, making file downloads up to 12 times faster.

Slimjet stands out with features like a YouTube video downloader, an online video recorder, and advanced Anti-Tracking options, setting it apart from other lightweight browsers.

12. Maxthon

Engine: Blink
Platform: Mac | Windows | Linux

Maxthon is known for its user-friendly interface and cloud-syncing capabilities. It allows you to sync bookmarks, settings, and other data across multiple devices for a seamless browsing experience. 

The browser has a “Resource Sniffer” tool that can identify and download multimedia content. It accurately extracts the URL of images, music, videos, and other file types in the currently opened webpage. 

Moreover, Maxthon lets you view two web pages simultaneously. You can easily drag tabs back and forth on both sides of the split screen. Both pages remain active, allowing you to compare them side by side or use one as a working area and the other as a reference area.

It does support extensions and add-ons, so you can enhance the functionality of the browser by integrating with third-party services. As of today, over 1,500 extensions are available for the Maxthon Cloud Browser.

11. Epic Privacy Browser

Engine: Blink
Platform: Windows | Mac | iOS | Android

As the name suggests, this browser focuses on providing you with enhanced privacy and security features. It blocks various types of trackers, scripts, and other elements that could monitor your online activities.

It comes with a one-click encryption feature called “Epic Proxy.” When activated, it encrypts your connection, adding an extra layer of privacy when accessing websites. It also employs encrypted DNS to secure the translation of domain names to IP addresses, preventing eavesdropping and manipulation of DNS requests.

With a strict no-logging policy, the browser ensures that no website can collect or store your browsing data or personal information, enhancing user privacy by minimizing data retention.

What’s great is that Epic supports almost all of the 150,000+ Chrome WebStore extensions.

10. Qutebrowser 

Engine: WebKit or QtWebEngine
Platform: Windows | Mac | Linux  

Qutebrowser is a minimalistic browser developed for users who prefer to navigate the web primarily using keyboard shortcuts. It is built on the QtWebEngine framework, which is known for its speed and efficiency. 

The browser adopts keybindings inspired by the Vim text editor. If you’re familiar with Vim, you can apply your knowledge of Vim commands for efficient web browsing.

Qutebrowser features command and insert modes, similar to Vim. In command mode, you can navigate and execute commands, while insert mode allows you to input text on web pages.

It also supports user scripts and extensions, enabling you to enhance its functionality through custom scripts or community-developed extensions. For instance, you can integrate external plugins like uBlock Origin to block ads and filter content.

9. K-Meleon

Engine: Gecko, Goanna layout engine
Platform: Windows 

K-Meleon is an open-source browser for Microsoft Windows. It is built on the Gecko rendering engine, the same engine that powers Mozilla Firefox.

One of K-Meleon’s main strengths is its lightweight design. It aims to provide a fast and responsive browsing experience without burdening system resources.

What’s notable is that it doesn’t limit your ability to customize the interface. You can tweak the toolbar, menu, themes, skins, mouse gestures, and other elements to create a personalized browsing environment.

It comes with all necessary features, including tabbed browsing, private browsing mode, and session management features that allow you to save and restore browser sessions. 

The browser also supports third-party plugins and extensions. Although the extension ecosystem may not be as extensive as some other browsers, you can still find useful add-ons.

8. Dooble

Engine: Qt WebEngine
Platform: Windows | Mac | Linux

Dooble is an open-source web browser that positions itself as minimal, scientific, and stable. It is developed with only 40,000 lines of source code (excluding UI files). This indicates a focus on efficiency and simplicity in its design.

Dooble implements features to protect user privacy and data security. One way it does this is through its secure browsing mode, which ensures that whenever possible, your connection to websites is through HTTPS. This makes the transmission of your data between you and the web server more secure.

The browser’s interface is simple and user-friendly — it includes a minimalistic toolbar and menu structure for ease of use. There is an integrated search bar that lets you perform web searches directly from the browser interface. 

Just like Chrome and Firefox, Dooble has a web inspector tool. This tool is handy for web developers as it allows them to easily inspect and debug web pages.

7. Min Browser

Engine: Gecko, Goanna layout engine
Platform: Windows 

This is a minimal and privacy-focused web browser developed to provide a fast and efficient browsing experience with a focus on user privacy. 

Min browser is simple, fast, and uses less battery power for improved energy efficiency. It provides a smooth browsing experience without causing excessive strain on system resources. 

The search bar in Min is powered by DuckDuckGo, a privacy-focused search engine. It allows you to perform full-text searches for pages you’ve visited, making it easy to find information even if you can’t recall the page’s title.

Min goes the extra mile for distraction-free browsing. Tabs are space-efficient, and pages that haven’t been viewed recently fade out, reducing visual clutter. The browser offers a Focus Mode that hides other tabs to prevent distractions.

The browser is written entirely with CSS and JavaScript using the Electron framework. Its source code is available on GitHub for transparency and community collaboration. 

6. Vimb

Vimb in hinting mode 

Engine: WebKitGTK+
Platform: Unix-like

Vimb comes with a minimalist user interface that doesn’t have any graphical control elements except a command bar and URL address bar. It is mostly keyboard-driven and doesn’t distract its user from daily work.

You can customize the browser in many ways. The command bar, for instance, can be hidden when not invoked, leaving more space for webpages, which users with small screens would appreciate.

To make keyboard-driven navigation even better, Vimb uses a method called ‘hinting,’ which marks all clickable elements on the webpage. In particular, it assigns labels to hyperlinks through a user-defined set of characters. By default, these characters are the numbers between 0 to 9. To activate the hinting mode, you need to enter a character.

In addition, Vimb supports recording histories, cookies, and bookmarks – noteworthy features for a minimalist browser. However, there is no support for search engine integration by default (you can add it via configuration file though) and no tabs for organizing pages.

5. Luakit

Luakit in follow mode, with several link hints visible

Engine: WebKitGTK+
Platform: Windows, Linux, BSD

Luakit is primarily targeted at developers, power users, and anyone who wants to have fine-grained control over the web browser’s interface and behavior.

It’s a highly configurable framework, extensible by Lua using the Web content engine and the GTK+ toolkit. The browser comes with sane defaults and nicely handles webpages that are heavy on JavaScript.

You can completely customize the browser through configuration files, which are written in the Lua scripting language, enabling almost unlimited features. Plus, there are tons of keyboard shortcuts, so you can control the browser without using a mouse.

4. NetSurf

Engine: NetSurf+
Platform: Windows, macOS, Unix-like

NetSurf runs on its own layout engine to squeeze the most from limited system resources. The goal of this open-source web browser is to be lightweight and portable.

NetSurf works on almost all systems, from a modern monster desktop to a humble 30MHz ARM 6 computer. The program was originally written for computer hardware, but now it’s found in several cable TV boxes and hand-held gadgets.

The browser is scorchingly fast and friendly with your RAM banks: While a newly opened Wikipedia page takes 220MB on Firefox, Netsurf uses only 76MB (on Linux OS). Multiply this over multiple tabs, and you save a significant amount of memory.

It offers most of the basic features such as cookie management, bookmarks, pop-up blocking, Does Not Track, and a bit of JavaScript support.

Of course, it won’t perfectly work on every website you visit, but if you are one of the users who spend a lot of time on Reddit, Wikipedia, and other text-oriented sites, you will definitely find it fast and very pleasant to use.

3. Waterfox 

Engine: Gecko, SpiderMonkey
Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux

Waterfox is an open-source web browser based on Mozilla Firefox. It is designed to maintain the speed and user experience of Firefox, while offering additional functions and customization options. 

The browser has built-in tracking protection enabled by default. It also incorporates Oblivious DNS, a feature designed to make it more challenging for ISPs to track your online activities. 

As for productivity, Waterfox allows you to organize your browsing activities by separating different contexts, such as shopping, work, or personal browsing. You can give each container tab a unique color, making it simple to recognize and differentiate between different types of tabs.

2. Falkon

Engine: QtWebKit / QtWebEngine
Platform: Windows, Unix-like

Falkon (previously known as QupZilla) builds on the QtWebEngine, a wrapper for the Chromium browser core. It runs Facebook, Twitter, and HD videos on YouTube smoothly and loads dozens of webpages without crashing.

Falkon has grown into a feature-rich web browser that has all the functions one can expect from a standard browser. It has bookmarks, tabs, history, web feeds, and several icons set to match the native look of Windows OS.

In addition, it has an opera-like speed dial homepage, a built-in plugin for blocking ads (enabled by default), and a feature to capture the screenshot of an entire page.

The browser is best for running e-mail, calendar apps, and text-oriented websites. However, the whole concept of being extra lightweight seems quite exaggerated when you play a YouTube video on the browser. In that case, Falkon consumes as much RAM (220 MB) as Firefox.

1. Midori

Engine: WebKitGTK+
Platform: Linux, Windows

Midori, which means “green” in Japanese, is a resource-efficient web browser that packs a punch despite its small size. It supports popular web platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Spotify, handling the latest technologies such as HTML5 and CSS3 for activities like gaming and music playback.

The browser has several built-in privacy tools, including third-party cookie blocking, script disabling, stripping referrer details, and automatic history clearing after a specific amount of time.

Midori comes with five useful extensions: Adblock, mouse gestures, cookie management, form history, and an RSS feed panel.

You get features like configurable web search, tab management, session and bookmark organization, smart bookmarks, and a private browsing mode. What’s cool is that you can customize the interface to your liking and even write extension modules in C and Vala.

More to Know

Do lightweight browsers sacrifice features for performance?

Yes. Lightweight browsers focus on speed and fewer resource consumption, which often leads to a streamlined user interface and a more focused set of functionalities. They tend to be minimalistic and have essential features such as basic navigation tools, bookmarking, and tab management. 

Many lightweight browsers do not support third-party extensions. They may sacrifice certain background processes or rendering techniques found in more feature-rich browsers. This approach ensures faster loading times and a seamless user experience, especially on lower-powered devices. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a typical lightweight browser? 
Advantages  Disadvantages
Speedy performance Limited set of features
Minimal RAM and CPU usage Fewer extension options
Ideal for devices with limited specifications Some sites or apps may not work optimally
Quick installation and launch times. No extensive customization options 
Reduced data consumption Generally have longer update cycles 
Simple and easy to use  Fewer syncing options across devices
Can lightweight browsers provide a secure browsing experience?

Of course. Most lightweight browsers prioritize secure connections (by supporting HTTPS) and come with private browsing modes, such as Incognito or Private Windows. Some even have built-in ad blockers and tools to prevent online tracking.

Furthermore, the streamlined nature of these browsers minimizes the risk of security threats. With fewer complex features, there are fewer potential entry points for security vulnerabilities.

Read More 

30 Cool Alternative Web Browsers You Didn’t Know of

10 HeadLess Browsers For Automated Testing

Written by
Varun Kumar

I am a professional technology and business research analyst with more than a decade of experience in the field. My main areas of expertise include software technologies, business strategies, competitive analysis, and staying up-to-date with market trends.

I hold a Master's degree in computer science from GGSIPU University. If you'd like to learn more about my latest projects and insights, please don't hesitate to reach out to me via email at [email protected].

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7 comments
  • anarchotaoist says:

    Midori DOES NOT use WebKitGTK+ and has not for well over a year.
    It is now just another Chromium based browser

    • it uses electron, not chromium
      and it is very skimmed down from what chromium is

        • somerandomdev says:

          No idea what Electron and Chromium-based libs these people are talking about, the closest thing I see there is GCR which is used to build on Google Cloud and use Cloud Run.

          If it was using those it would be listed in the repo…

        • The link you’ve provided is outdated.

          “Since 2019 Astian, Inc took the lead in the development of Midori Browser since then Astian, Inc has been in charge of developing an ecosystem of applications all focused on user privacy, security and protection of users and their information. ”
          ↓ This is the home page…
          https://astian.org/midori-browser
          https://github.com/goastian/midori-desktop
          ↑ This is the updated Gihub link for the source code.

          Regarding the engine used:
          “We have built our lightweight web browser with an open source project called Gecko project used by millions of users and companies “

  • I am fairly sure Midori now uses Blink, the engine most chromium-based browsers use.

    • I instead think that it uses firefox as engine.