The Encyclopedia
of Differences

Difference Between Browser And Search Engine

Table of Contents

The main difference between a web browser and a search engine is their functionality. A web browser is intended to render any webpage on your device’s screen, while a search engine can list down valid URLs based on your search query.

Browsers are better known as web browsers that run on a device such as a mobile phone, smartphone, or computer. A search engine is a mere website, which offers the functionality of looking for possible websites on the internet related to your search intent.

It’d be wrong to assume a web browser similar to a search engine. However, some modern web browsers have now started offering built-in search engine-like feature that mimics a search engine.

What Is a Browser?

web browsers
The most popular Web Browsers: Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Opera & Safari

A web browser is a software or a computer program. Some examples include Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, etc. It’s a client-side tool that runs on a client’s machine and utilizes its resources such as hard disk (for cache, installation, and files storage) and RAM. A web browser is although a lightweight tool, but increased functionalities and features have now made them a heavy tool.

A web browser is responsible for properly rendering any web page comprising CSS, markup, javascript codes, and other technologies. It stores cookies on the client-end for the websites and dispatches them to their corresponding websites. For instance, cookies are required to store the username and password for automatic login. Similarly, storing passwords is now possible on the user-end by a web browser. A web browser allows massive customizations in terms of appearance and ease of access.

Moreover, it can discourage websites from tracking your web surfing activities. Web browsers require regular updates for general bug fixes and new feature releases to take effect. Google Chrome is one such browser that facilitates creating multiple profiles on the same computer to enable users to separate their work and personal browsing activities.

Developers working on web development projects can debug their applications on runtime through a web browser through developer options (shortcut key F12 in most cases). It allows using a built-in developer console and debugging their apps.

What Is a Search Engine?

search engines
Most used Search Engines

A search engine remains restricted to a website, allowing inputting a search query and getting a list of possible websites with the relevant information. For example, if a user searches for a certain disease, a search engine would show up a list of websites with the content related to that disease.

Search engines use artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict the users’ search intents. They also try to predict the next possible search queries related to the previous searches. For instance, if a user searches for a disease, it’ll next search for the symptoms. And if the symptoms match the user, it’ll search for the treatments. Search engine predicts all that.

Search engines can be tricky sometimes. Getting to the right result demands an understanding of how they work.

Search engines feed on the keywords and try to look for matching keywords on various URLs in their database. A search engine is connected to a database with trillions of URLs active on the internet. Once the user enters a set of keywords, the crawler of the search engine quickly crawls through all the URLs and returns the relevant choices. It takes less than a second for the crawler to go through all the URLs and their content to return the relevant results.

Differences Between a Browser and a Search Engine


The nature of a web browser is software or a tool that runs on a local machine. However, a search engine is a website that runs on a cloud server.


A web browser is responsible for rendering web pages, running javascript, storing cookies and passwords, and executing client-side code properly. However, a search engine just crawls through all the URLs in the database and returns the most appropriate results matching the search query.


Web browsers are free to use, and some are open source. However, search engines are never open source, and the user never knows about the exact process running in the background.


Web browsers are compatible with most operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Android, and Ubuntu. However, some web browsers may have lacking compatibility with the less popular OS like Ubuntu and Android.

The compatibility of search engines with the hardware is out of the question since they run on the client-end, eliminating the need for any specific operating system. They’re compatible with all types of OS.


Web browsers store data locally in cache (stored in the hard disk). However, the software loads in the RAM. Search engines rely on cloud databases for storing all the URLs and other metadata. They have nothing to do with the user’s local storage.

Running Environment

Web browsers run locally, while search engines run on the server. A web browser needs a favorable environment to run on a PC, such as a specific OS build version. Lacking resources in the local environment can force the app to shut down or lead to unwanted termination. Search engines need a cloud server as their running environment.

Comparison Chart: Browser Vs Search Engine

AreasBrowserSearch Engine
PrivacyA browser can track the websites you visited if allowed in the settingsSearch engines don’t track your website activity other than your search queries
User InterfaceOffers graphical user interfaceJust a simple webpage made of plain markup language, preferable HTML with little to no CSS and Javascript
Resource ConsumptionUses local resources. The consumption is high due to added featuresUses server resources. Demands high-end processor, RAM, and storage
UpdatesMay update frequentlyUpdates but never bother users
Content FilterCertain settings allow filtering of explicit data. Can turn off image display to save data consumption on a metered networkFilters and warns about excluding explicit content results


Both web browsers and search engines are intended to browse the internet. Some tech giants such as Google own both web browsers and search engines. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I install and run two web browsers at once?

It’s totally safe to do so. There’s no limit on how many web browsers you can install and run simultaneously. You’re all good to go until your hardware can bear the load.

How can I stop websites from tracking me?

You need to turn off the “let websites track me” setting in your web browser if it offers. This will force the web browser to restrict your location data from getting shared with the websites you visit.

What’s an incognito mode or private browsing?

Private browsing is a technical term used to describe any web browsing session that doesn’t get stored or tracked. Browsing history is not created. Moreover, a private session gets destroyed after closing all the private browsing windows. It offers a separate cookie jar to the users.

Incognito mode is the name given by Google to any private browsing carried out on their web browsers.


By the end of this article, it’s safe to conclude that a web browser has a lot to offer in terms of features to make your web browsing session secure and enjoyable. Different browsers operate at different speeds, subject to the number of background processes. On the other hand, search engines can help you explore the internet by revealing the possible paths based on what you intend to search.

Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.
Share our Article on:

Table of Contents

About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
All Posts Written By Tom Vincent

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

magnifiercrosschevron-downarrow-right linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram