Your Mac’s Safari browser was nearly called Freedom

20 December, 2012 - Killian Bell
Safari 6

Thanks to the huge success of iOS devices and the increasing interest in Macs, Safari has become a hugely popular web browser. Believe it or not, it actually replaced Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser on the Mac, and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs wanted to name it ‘Freedom’.

Jobs actually suggested a lot of names for the Mac’s web browser before Safari finally set, and some of them were terrible — such as ‘iBrowse’ and ‘Alexander’. Don Melton, a former Apple developer who worked on Safari and WebKit, tells the story on his blog.

“During the Summer of ‘02, Steve Jobs and the Apple management team realized that we were going to pull this off — we could actually ship a Web browser by the end of the year. And at one particularly good Human Interface design session, discussion turned to what we were going to call this — thing,” Melton writes.

“I don’t recall all the names, but one that stands out is “Freedom.” Steve spent some time trying that one out on all of us. He may have liked it because it invoked positive imagery of people being set free. And, just as possible and positive, it spoke to our own freedom from Microsoft and Internet Explorer, the company and browser we depended on at the time.”

Melton says all he could think at the time was, “Please don’t let us name the browser after a feminine hygiene product!” And a lot of his colleagues didn’t like the name, either. The browser was then called Alexander for over a year, Melton says, before Jobs finally decided on Safari.

“I honestly didn’t know what to think. My mind was a blank because I just didn’t expect it. The name seemed to come out of nowhere. It sounded more foreign at that moment than its actual origin,” Melton says. Finally, he decided: “It doesn’t suck.”

What do you think to Safari’s previous names? Would you have preferred iBrowse or Alexander? Personally, I’m happy with Apple’s final choice.

About the author

Killian Bell is a freelance journalist based in Worcestershire UK. In addition to writing about all things Apple, he's one of the co-founders of the football site TitleTalk. You can follow him on and Twitter.