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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

Safari 3 on Leopard is almost as good as Camino

October 31, 2007

While I await a new build of Camino that works a little better on Leopard I thought it a good opportunity to take Safari 3 for a spin. After using it since my upgrade from Tiger to Leopard I’ve found that Safari 3 is almost as good as Camino and in some ways even better.

Screenshot: Safari on Leopard.

Safari on Leopard. Screenshot by Skitch.

When I jotted down my wishes for Safari in Leopard I quickly mentioned the things I’d like to see changed and/or added in Safari to become my default browser full time.

That was then, this is now

Several of my opinions have changed a little since then, so I’ll go through those really quick first.

My stance has change completely regarding Apple’s decision to place the “Default Browser” preference within Safari’s preference panels. I wrote:

“This “feature” definitely gets on the nerves of many and really I can’t figure out why this resides in here. […] …but this does not mean that this is the proper location for this preference. What if I uninstalled Safari?”

I now feel this is the best possible place for this preference and I couldn’t see it residing anywhere else. In fact, I think that all applications which rely on being a “default” for any protocols should handle these preferences the same way applications do with regards to filetypes. Photoshop has a preference setting for being the default application for opening JPG files as does Apple’s Preview application. Firefox, Safari, Camino and their ilk should do the very same when it comes to handling the various hypertext protocols that browsers typically utilize. Not only do I now feel that Safari should have this preference built-in, I believe all other browsers should do the same.

Just quickly; Me wanting multiple feed detection might be against spec. I have to do some research on this (not that I wouldn’t mind having the option still) but I’ll report on this in the future. (please see Update #2 below)

Onto features.

One of the things I wanted most was a searchable history. I’m a bit of a pack rat when it comes to my browser’s history (I keep about 120 days worth, see: my history in Camino) and so I like being able to quickly search it based on not just the URL but also the page’s title.

This is something that has been available in Camino for quite some time and I found myself using it a lot.

I’m happy to say that this is built into Safari and works as well, if not better, than it does in the latest Camino build that I was using. I had some people ask me if Camino slowed down the more history items were in it and the answer is yes. Browsing doesn’t slow down but URL lookup does. In Safari I’ve yet to see the lookup slowing down at all.

The other feature, which sadly did not make the cut in Safari on Leopard, that I wanted to see was bookmark keywords. Sure, I could use Spotlight to search my bookmarks but I liked having short words that I could type into the location field without using my mouse to find the bookmark in the menu or typing in the entire URL. For instance: ‘mysql’ was one of my keywords for a bookmark that took me to my phpMyAdmin installation on one of my servers, the URL of which spanned some 75 characters and the bookmark relating to it lies nested about four steps down. This is the thing I miss most when using Safari in Camino’s stead.

I’m not going to do a feature-by-feature review of Safari on Leopard because so many have done it better than I ever could. But I will say this: during my short stint with Safari so far, the only thing I’m now missing is bookmark keywords. I recommend giving it a spin.

Update: Something that I forgot to mention but was just reminded of while I was using Google Reader; clicking on a link from iChat, for instance, which is not currently loaded in Safari will result in a new tab with that URL. Perfect. However, as my friend Kyle Neath said to me last night:

“1. Can’t force target=blank to open in a new tab for some reason”

I never really had much issue with this because I can just “command” click on a link and it will open in a new tab. Bad part is, this doesn’t work when using Google Reader’s default keyboard shortcuts. So I’m presented with a new window everytime I hit ‘V’ to view the original post.

Does anyone have a workaround for this?

Update #2: November 12th, 2007 – Another thing I had wanted was for Safari to handle multiple feed URLs and I thought this was against spec. I was wrong. And boy am I happy to say that I was wrong and it turns out that Safari does indeed handle this just fine out of the box. My friend Josh Pigford has more on theappleblog.com about this.