27 February 2009

Safari 4 Beta - Nice and Speedy

I've been a dedicated Firefox user for years now, but I tend to open many, many tabs at once causing it to push the CPU quite a lot. This isn't a big deal when my MacBook Pro is plugged in but when running on battery it means that the battery life can take a serious hit - down to less than two hours at times. So over the last few months I have tended to dance back and forth between FireFox and Safari even more.

Although there are some FireFox plugins I use fairly regularly, I've been living OK without them in Safar. The biggest discovery I made in Safari a couple months ago was the restoration of tabs and windows after quitting Safari. Firefox handles this automatically. After poking around under the History menu I found an option named 'Reopen All Windows From Last Session' and another option named 'Reopen Last Closed Window'. These two options in Safari are the equivalent of two options I use in Firefox all the time. The difference with Firefox is that it will prompt you when it opens asking if you'd like to restore the tabs and windows from the last session. Then this week I saw some folks talking about upgrading to Safari 4, so I took the plunge and it was well worth it.

  1. Safari 4 is simply much faster. GMail is incredibly fast (not a huge surprise since it has always been faster than Firefox) - even faster than Safari 3.

  2. The new visual history feature named Top Sites is nice eye candy but not earth-shattering as Opera already has similar features.

  3. Top Sites also offers a nice search feature. It's really no different from standard history searching but it uses Top Sites so it shows the visual preview of the pages in your history.

  4. Tabs have been moved to the very top of the overall window which is a little goofy looking at first, but they can be dragged around and even dragged off the current window to make a new window or even dragged onto an existing window to form a tab.

  5. Autocomplete on the browser command line with a suggestion about what you're typing is pretty cool.

  6. The reload button has been moved to the end of the browser command line (like the iPhone).

  7. Safari 4 upgraded and didn't break the DeliciousSafari plugin I use. Very nice considering that many Firefox plugins need to be upgraded after a FireFox upgrade.

I'm sure there's much more to the Safari 4 upgrade, but these are the items I noticed right away. Here's a list of 150 features in Safari 4 from Apple with the new features flagged.

One thing I found odd was that the upgrade required MacOS X to be rebooted. I'm sure there's good reason, but what a PITA. Oh well, small pain for big gains in speed.

UPDATE: Well, what I said about the DeliciousSafari seems to only apply to it. It looks like 1Password is not working at all so I need to look into reinstalling it.


  1. The Safari update also updates the WebKit framework which is a system framework made available to any OS X app. If there were other applications running that were using WebKit they may be very surprised to find it suddenly updated. While in theory you could detect these and just tell the user to restart those, the simplest and most effective option is to ask the user to restart.

    If you don't want to do the restart you can just force quit the installer at the end, but then any side effects are of course your own fault.

  2. Hi Bruce,

    Just like you, I've just been switching, once again, back to Safari (from Firefox).

    This speedy feeling was too tempting...

    There's one other cool feature (among the 150 ones) I really like, it's the "Full History Search" which indexes the whole content of the pages you visit (and not only the title and the url like it is in other browsers).
    Pretty neat...

    See you soon at ApacheCon!

  3. Hi Pierre-Arnaud, good to hear from you. Unfortunately I will not be at ApacheCon EU this Spring. The move of the date clashes with my oldest daughter's Spring break from school so I can't make it. The good news is we'll probably be going skiing here in Colorado ;-).


  4. Oh ok, too bad... Maybe next time...

    Enjoy your skiing vacation. ;)

    PS: There's an update available for 1Password which fixes the issues with Safari 4 ß.

  5. Safari looks sleek and simple, but I still think Google Chrome is quite the next best thing to Mozilla.