Orion
Frequently Asked Questions

What is Orion?

For now, Orion is an alternative browser for Apple users, open to the web and all its standards and protocols. One day, we hope everyone will say that it’s the best browser for all Apple devices.

If you want a lightning-fast browser that respects your privacy and stays out of your way while still getting the job done, Orion makes it possible! It was built for professionals by professionals, but everyone can benefit from it. Installing it on Grandma’s devices with its default settings will cut down on annoying ads and speed up page loads. Enjoy the web, Grandma!



What does it mean that you’re in “private beta”?

While we're in private beta, we don't feel like our vision is fully realized and ready for prime time. But we also don't want to build something in isolation. We want to build it with you, our users, which is why we are inviting a number of users every week to test Orion. We count on your feedback to build Orion and we hope to have v1.0 ready some time in 2022.



Why use Orion instead of Safari?

Safari is truly one of the best browsers you can use on macOS, and we’re grateful to Apple for creating such a solid foundation. By basing Orion on Safari’s tech stack, then adding productivity enhancements such as built-in ad-blocking, Orion can provide users with exactly what they need.

You want speed? Orion is currently the fastest Mac browser out there. We built a snappy, lightweight browser around Safari’s WebKit engine to accelerate your web experience.

Orion is fast

What about privacy? Orion is a true zero-telemetry browser, with a powerful built-in ad and tracking blocker. Even with its default settings, Orion offers the highest possible privacy protection on the web.

And extensions! Unlike Safari, Orion has native support for both Chrome and Firefox extensions. This gives our users access to the largest extensions ecosystem in the world. With Orion, you can one-click install your favorite extensions directly from the web.



Why use Orion instead of Chrome, Firefox or other browsers based on Chromium/Firefox?

Google and Mozilla have made great technological strides over the past decades, and we’re grateful for those efforts because they help us take the next step in browser evolution. Orion has superior performance, memory use and battery efficiency compared to any non-WebKit browser on a Mac.

Orion is fast

Orion is also the first browser to have a zero-telemetry policy, meaning it will never "phone home" with any of your data. It also comes with a default blocker that knocks out ads and trackers, keeping websites respectful of our users.

As a native Mac app, Orion uses macOS components to give you the speed, look and feel of a Mac app along with deep integration of native system technologies.

And of course, Orion takes its users seriously. Because we’re zero telemetry, we design the product based only on what our users tell us. We’re here for you, and we’re doing this together!



How fast is Orion?

Orion is as fast or faster than Safari, because while both use the WebKit engine, we streamlined our browser for smoother use. Orion is much faster than non-WebKit browsers like Firefox or Chrome and its derivatives (Edge, Brave, Opera, etc.).

Orion is
                        faster

On top of this, the native ad-blocker makes Orion simply unrivaled in browsing speed. And thanks to thoughtful optimizations, Orion feels faster and more responsive than Safari on slow and old Macs.

Orion is perfect



How much memory does Orion use?

Orion is lightweight with advanced memory-use technology. From single-tab optimizations to pinned tab management, we strive to minimize Orion's memory footprint.

Orion low memory
            use

For our power users, Orion has the best closed-tab management of all contemporary browsers. On default settings, Orion will consume 2x-3x less memory than mainstream choices after closing tabs.

Orion low memory
            use



How does Orion respect my online privacy?

Orion has no built-in telemetry, so it can never “phone home” and risk exposing your data. Orion is truly and verifiably a privacy-respecting browser, unlike those that offer only an illusion of privacy.

Most browsers regularly send dozens or even hundreds of requests. Each request poses a security risk, no matter what information it sends, by potentially exposing your IP address and your browser fingerprint. Telemetry can also inadvertently leak personally identifiable information or corporate intelligence.

Orion
            zero phone home policy

The safest way to secure your private data is if your browser has zero telemetry out of the box. Want to keep your information safe and private? Orion makes it possible!



How does Orion protect my online privacy?

Web ads have steadily eroded the online experience with their layout crowding, page slowing, annoying popups, and insidious malware. Yet most browsers do not block ads by default. Orion is different.

It comes with a state-of-the-art ad and tracking blocker that blocks first-party and third-party scripts and requests. That means that Orion always blocks all trackers by default. We combined WebKit's Intelligent Tracking Protection with "Easy Privacy" and other lists, providing double protection.

We use WebKit's content-blocking functionality and an optimized content-blocking database to maximize speed and minimize latency as well. Orion successfully blocks 99.9% of all ads, including YouTube ads, both on desktop and mobile.



How does Orion support extensions?

Early in development, we decided to natively support the Web Extensions API, the same API that Chrome and Firefox use to make their extension ecosystems so powerful. We had to port in hundreds of APIs, one by one, that were never meant to work with WebKit. Took us a few years, but here we are!

Orion currently supports about 70% of Web Extensions APIs, and we add more every day. On top of that, we built advanced security features that give our users granular control beyond what Chrome and Firefox offer. For example, you can choose to allow an extension to run only on certain websites.



Wait, are you saying I can run uBlock Origin and other Chrome/Firefox extensions in Orion?!

Yes, Orion makes it possible! Please be aware that crying while experiencing this for the first time has happened (our users assured us that they were happy tears), so you may want tissues nearby.

Orion Extensions



How does Orion handle uBlock Origin in tandem with its native content blocker? What should I use?

Orion's built-in blocker is about 90% as efficient as uBlock Origin on default settings but faster. We designed it to be a great choice for most users, and this is what Orion ships with.

For power users who want that last 10%, we recommend disabling Orion's content blocker globally (in Preferences->Website Settings->Content Blocker), as the two may interfere with each other. We also recommend leaving Orion's tracking protection on, because it uses WebKit's machine-learning-based technology and complements uBlock Origin to provide the best overall protection.



I’m having problems with the auto-fill on my 1Password desktop extension. What can I do?

You’ll have to email support@1password.com and ask for Orion browser support on their desktop app. If enough paying customers request it, it’ll happen. In the meantime, you can still use 1Password by installing the web extension.



Should I use the Chrome or Firefox version of an extension in Orion?

Orion supports both Chrome and Firefox extensions. Usually they’re similar, but sometimes the extension developer puts extra effort in one version, maybe because they prefer that browser.

Now you can try both and use the one that works best for you. Orion is the only browser in the world that makes this choice possible!



What Web Extensions APIs are currently supported by Orion?

Orion support for Web Extensions API is still experimental. You can find a link of currently supported APIs here.



Does Orion have unique features?

Yes! Modern browsers have so many untapped opportunities for innovation that we had to dig in and explore. We’re excited with the results, so here are a few examples.

- Focus Mode allows the user to completely remove toolbars. Browse the web distraction-free!
- Low Power Mode extends your battery life by reducing Orion's power consumption up to 90%.
- Orion also features native vertical/tree-style tabs, if you prefer this alignment.

And we have so much more...



What’s the default search engine in Orion?

Our commitment to your privacy means that Orion will ask you to set your favorite search engine on your first use of the address bar. Otherwise, the moment you start typing in the address bar, it would leak your IP address and browser fingerprint to a search engine that you may prefer to avoid.



How can I set a quick search engine with an invocation keyword?

You can customize search results in Orion with bookmark invocation keywords. For example, to add a YouTube search, bookmark this page:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=steve

Then edit the bookmark by replacing “steve” with “%s” and add “yt'' as an invocation keyword. Now typing “yt steve” in Orion's address bar will send you into a search for “steve” on YouTube.

You can repeat this process with search-results pages anywhere to add more quick searches.



Why is the ad-blocker turned on by default in Orion?

Over 700 million devices block online ads, creating the largest silent protest in human history. We too believe in a cleaner, more humane web.

Orion blocks ads, trackers and other annoyances by default to make your online adventures more enjoyable and more private. It also saves you time, battery and data. Yes, it may occasionally break a site, but in most cases the benefit outweighs the risk, and you can disable the blocker for that site in the settings menu (gear icon on the browser toolbar).



Can I transfer my Safari passwords to Orion?

Yes, Orion will import your Safari passwords from Safari 15, which ships with macOS Monterey. You can also get it on macOS Big Sur through Safari Technology Preview.

Once you have Safari 15, you can export passwords and import them into Orion. Use the File -> Import From feature in Orion and select Safari. To make the transition as comfortable as possible, Orion can also import your Safari open tabs and even cookies.



How does Orion store my passwords?

Orion uses native macOS Keychain integration, same as Safari.



What macOS versions are supported by Orion?

We currently support macOS 10.14, 10.15, 11 and 12. We plan to add 10.13 in the future. Intel and Arm64 optimizations automatically activate on your first run of Orion.



Does Orion have a mobile app?

Our iOS app is in beta now. You can sign up by following a link in the #welcome channel on our beta Discord. Our iPadOS app is coming soon.



Will Orion for iOS also support web extensions?

Yes, we have preliminary support for some web extensions on iOS.



Wait, are you sure? No browser on iOS can use Chrome/Firefox extensions!

Orion makes it possible! We ported hundreds of web extension APIs to run on top of WebKit, which also runs on iOS.

We’re limited in the scope of APIs we can support, but those that we do have will work out of the box, same as on desktop. And you can one-click install them from Chrome or Firefox websites.

Here’s a screenshot of "Dark Reader" (a popular web extension) running in Orion on iOS.

Orion iOS Extensions



Is Orion open-source?

We’re working on it! We’ve begun with some of our components and intend to open more in the future.

Forking WebKit, porting hundreds of APIs and writing a browser app from scratch has been challenging for our small team. Properly maintaining an open-source project takes time and resources we’re short on at the moment, so if you want to contribute at this time, please consider becoming a beta tester.



Is Orion truly safe if it’s not open-source?

The idea that "open-source = trustworthy" only goes so far. For example, the same tech company that offers a popular open-source browser also has the largest ad/tracking network in history, with that browser playing a significant role in it. Another company with a closed-source browser (using WebKit like Orion) is on the forefront of privacy awareness and technologies in its products.

To properly protect your data, you need good answers to two questions:

  1. Does this browser collect and send data anywhere?
  2. How does this browser make money?

For the first question, what happens to your collected data is always closed-source, even on open-source browsers. Unlike Orion, most modern browsers send hundreds of data packets out, and each contains private information like your IP address and browser fingerprint, in addition to any other data they send. No open-source browser vendor has opened the code that processes this collected data.

Find out whether your browser respects your privacy by launching a network proxy (Proxyman, mitmproxy and Charles are good options on macOS). With Orion, you’ll see zero unexpected requests in your network traffic log by default. You’ll see something very different with nearly every other browser.

For the second question, companies that produce popular, free, open-source browsers also generate a lot of revenue. How does that happen? Knowing where their browsers sit in that chain of revenue can tell you whether you can trust that browser with your private information.



How will Orion make money?

Our Pro version will allow users to support Orion’s development. Will it generate revenue? That’s up to you. Regardless, all funding for Orion will come from its users rather than ads, tracking, data monetization or any other indirect way.

We want Orion to be the number one Mac browser because it uses engineering craftsmanship and attention to detail to provide a superior product experience and unmatched features that work for everyone, from power users to grandmas.

We believe this project will deliver an experience that its users value enough to support. We believe that enough to promise that we’ll never resort to ads or other such funding methods. Orion makes it possible, and you make Orion possible.

Orion is
           great



What does Orion Pro offer?

Orion Pro allows users to fund the project and our mission. For a small fee ($5/mo, $50/year), you’ll get –

  1. Direct communication with the development team
  2. The ability to influence the browser’s development
  3. Access to nightly builds, bleeding-edge WebKit (faster than stable) and experimental features
  4. The satisfaction of supporting an ad-free, unmonetized browser
  5. An Orion Pro icon to represent that support

Your small financial contribution would help us stay independent and deliver on our promise of becoming the best browser for Mac users. You can also help us by spreading the word about Orion everywhere you go, from social media to the dinner table.



Why does Orion look very similar to Safari (and not Chrome or Firefox)?

We see Safari as the "reference" implementation from the OS manufacturer itself, Apple. So using Safari as our reference ensures that Orion follows best practices in design, engineering, interactions, and more. We respect the decisions that Apple made and abide by them at every point where they serve our users’ interests.



Any "pro tips" for Orion users?

Blocking web fonts can have a profound effect on news sites. On cnn.com, the average page size dropped from ~7MB to ~2MB, eliminating more than 70% of unnecessary data transfer. Those sites will load faster, use less bandwidth, and often look more readable too!

Blocking web fonts
Also, on any sites that don’t require logging in, disabling cookies is a great way to boost your speed and privacy. Blocking web fonts



What does "Orion is open to the web and all its standards and protocols" mean?

Your browser acts like your 'user agent', making the web accessible to you. It should be as unobtrusive and as capable as possible in the process, because we understand that you’re more interested in the web than the browser.

For example, you’ll find many protocols online besides “http” and “https.” We want to support as many as we can, including FTP, which is being phased out in many browsers, and the new Gemini protocol.

Why? Because your browser should make accessing the web easy in the way that works best for you.



What are some of the known issues?

As with any beta product, we still have a few things to fix. Here are the biggest:

  • - A large number of tabs can make the browser a bit slow, so we’re further optimizing resource usage.
  • - Some animations need more polish.
  • - Some extensions may break sites or even the browser itself. We’re building our extension support gradually. Use "Compatibility mode" when you encounter weird behavior.
  • - A lot of familiar features have yet to make it in. We'll get there eventually, and your feedback helps us prioritize.
  • - Currently we’re tracking around 200 reported bugs. We'll definitely fix them all, so please try to be patient until then.

You can help by submitting bug reports and feature suggestions to our public issue tracker.



Help! A site isn’t working!

Orion has a "Compatibility mode" in the settings menu. Turning it on will suspend your currently running extensions (the most common cause of problems) and record the setting for this website so it works when you visit it again.

If the site still fails, you may want to test it in Safari. If it works there, please report the problem to us via our beta Discord.



Is there a public issue tracker?

Yes. Please use orionfeedback.org (requires registration) to submit bug reports and feature requests as well as to upvote existing posts.



How do I join Orion beta Discord server?

The Orion beta Discord server is a great way to provide feedback and have direct communication with our team. You can join this server here.



What is Orion based on?

Orion shares much of the same technology as Safari, such as the WebKit rendering engine. We’re grateful for all the performance and privacy features that Apple and its contributors built into this tech.



Do you have technical documentation?

We’re still working on our official documentation, but here are a few points of interest if you’d like to get your hands dirty.

Location of Open Tabs
~/Library/Application\ Support/Orion/Defaults/browser_state.plist

Location of Bookmarks
~/Library/Application\ Support/Orion/Defaults/favourites.plist

Location of History
~/Library/Application\ Support/Orion/Defaults/history

Installed Extensions
cd ~/Library/Application\ Support/Orion/Defaults/Extensions

Orion's WebKit Cache
cd ~/Library/WebKit/com.kagi.kagimacOS

Orion's App Cache
cd ~/Library/Caches/com.kagi.kagimacOS

Delete Single Preferences
defaults delete com.kagi.kagimacOS NewTabOpensTo
defaults delete com.kagi.kagimacOS NewWindowOpensTo
defaults delete com.kagi.kagimacOS HomePageURL


Reset Orion Preferences/Bookmarks/History/Extensions
rm -rf ~/Library/Application\ Support/Orion
defaults delete com.kagi.kagimacOS


Remove Cookies
rm -rf ~/Library/HTTPStorages/com.kagi.kagimacOS.binarycookies



Are you affiliated with the old Kagi shareware platform?

No. That Kagi went bankrupt in an unfortunate turn of events. We liked the name and acquired it when we got the chance.



How big is your team?

Small, like “feed with two pizzas” small. Of course, it’d be tricky to deliver those slices across 16 timezones, because our team is that remote.



Are you hiring?

It depends. Do you have advanced Swift and Javascript knowledge? Can you solve difficult problems and code exceptionally well? (We’ll send a test project.) Any C++ experience for WebKit would be great, and remote is totally OK. Send your CV to vprelovac@kagi.com.



About

Orion is founded by Vladimir Prelovac: "With Kagi and Orion, we’re striving to build better ways to experience the web, ways that are safe yet fun for everyone, including my own kids." Orion was created in 2019, is bootstrapped by the founder and is being built by a world-wide passionate team.

We are also building Kagi, a privacy-respecting alternative to Google search, currently in private beta.

If you'd like to know more or get involved, please feel free to send questions or comments to vprelovac@kagi.com.

We hope that our work impacts people's lives in some small way for the better. Thank you very much for being a part of this.<



© 2021 Kagi - More Humane Web. All Rights Reserved. WebKit and the WebKit logo are trademarks of Apple Inc.