What is a browser?
Web browsers are the most common software. A browser is a software used to explore, retrieve, and display information available on the World Wide Web. This information can be in the form of images, web pages, videos, and other files that are linked by hyperlinks and categorized using URLs (Uniform Resource Identifiers). For example, you are viewing this page using a browser.
A browser is a client program because it runs on a user's computer or mobile device and communicates with a web server to retrieve the information the user requests. The web server sends the data back to the browser, which displays the results on internet-enabled devices. On behalf of users, the browser sends requests to web servers across the Internet using HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). The browser requires a smartphone, computer, or tablet and Internet access.
The main components of a browser are:
The user interface: this includes the address bar, back and forward buttons, bookmark menu, etc. This is every part of the browser display except for the window where you see the page you want to view.
The browser engine: distributes actions between the user interface and the rendering engine.
The rendering engine: responsible for displaying the requested content. For example, if the requested content is HTML, the rendering engine parses the HTML and CSS and displays the parsed content on the screen.
Networking: for network calls, such as HTTP requests, using different implementations for different platforms with a platform-independent interface.
UI backend: used to draw basic widgets such as list boxes and windows. This backend provides a common interface that is platform-independent. It uses the user interface methods of the operating system.
Data storage. The browser may need to store various data locally, such as cookies. Browsers also support such storage mechanisms as localStorage, IndexedDB, WebSQL, and FileSystem.
How do browsers differ?
Web browsers differ in several ways. Everything from the user interface to privacy and security features and tools can and often do differ.
For example, if privacy and security are your main interests, it's best to use a browser like Brave by Brave Software Inc.
If you need speed and ease of use, then perhaps your choice is Safari by Apple or Firefox by Mozilla.
If you need maximum web compatibility and a lot of extensions, Chrome is probably the best choice.
No matter which browser you use, it will likely have unique features.
Can I use more than one browser at the same time?
Yes, and many people do. There's nothing stopping you from using Safari and Chrome on your Mac, for example.
Are web browsers free?
Yes, most web browsers are free to download. Browser companies want as many people as possible to use them, so they make them available.