Being in the midst of several projects which require my only Mountain Lion compatible computer in my possession to remain stable — which means not taking a chance that Mountain Lion might break something in a bad way — I am sadly not upgrading to Mountain Lion right away. But I didn’t want to feel completely left out, so I upgraded to Safari 6 in Lion.
I actually ran the beta for about a week some time back but wound up rolling back due to serious and quite nearly show stopping bugs and crashes. The release version of Safari 6 feels better but there are still some disappointments. But there are also some things I like.
I do not use Google’s Chrome as my primary browser, but I do keep it around. One of the things I really admired about Chrome is it’s omnibar. Why is it, I asked Safari one day, that we have to have two boxes up there, one for typing in URLs and one for typing in Google Searches. Safari explained to me some gobbledygook about user confusion. I told Safari I had never once been confused by Chrome’s omnibar. Safari mumbled incoherently and shuffled off. But here we are in Safari 6, sporting this quite borrowed feature. And it’s great. I am still re-training my muscle memory not to tab over to the Google Search field, but it really is great.
When Safari 6 is working properly (we’ll get to that in a minute), it seems to be faster than Safari 5. Noticeably so.
As a web developer, I often times need to view the source of a web page. Chrome was again ahead of Safari in this way and often times I would use Chrome to view source. The primary reason for Chrome’s superiority was because Chrome provided code coloring that made sifting and sorting through the code much easier for my brain to decipher.
Safari 6 leap-frogs Chrome. Right-clicking and selecting “Show Page Source” brings up the web inspector in code view with one click. Code is colorized, and you get a few more goodies too, such as a sidebar to show resources and frames for instance.
Safari for Mac has always been able to prompt you to save passwords you just entered for when you visit the site again, and made use of the Mac OS system Keychain. Which, really is great. I love Keychain. There is, so far as I know, no direct equivalent for Windows, certainly not first party, and I know of no good third party equivalent quite like Keychain. I have never had to worry about forgetting a password if I saved it in Safari (or any other password that gets saved in Keychain for that matter). With a couple clicks, and my computer local account password, I can get any username and password I need.
Safari 6 still makes use of the Keychain, but it also now has an interface in the Safari Preferences for managing the usernames and passwords right in Safari.
I was one of those people who loved tabs on top in Safari 4 Beta. But I never loved that the tabs changed size, with one tab taking up the entire tab bar, and shrinking with each new tab. It breaks muscle memory very badly, not to mention it looks stupid. Safari 6 takes us back to changing tab sizes. But the tab bar remains, stubbornly, at the bottom of the tool/address bar. So Safari 6 has none of the upsides of the tab bar from Safari 4 Beta, and all the down sides. Not to mention it makes one of my favorite use cases unavailable. It was my habit to double click the tab bar to create a new tab. Since the entire tab bar is taken up with the tab(s) now, there is obviously no way to do this anymore.
Seriously, I hate the tab bar so much in Safari 6 that I’m still considering researching the option of downgrading back to Safari 5. It probably won’t happen, but my loathing for the tab bar cannot be explained with any known words in the english language.
I don’t remember anymore which version of Safari it was, Safari 2 perhaps? But early on, RSS was touted as a big feature of one of the upgrades. And RSS is such an integral part of the web experience I can’t imagine anymore an internet without it. Even users who know nothing of RSS and have no idea what it is benefit from it. Many people use Twitter in place of RSS, but often, even the sites they follow make use of RSS to populate their Twitter feed.
RSS support in Safari has always been minimal and feature lacking, but it was my first RSS client and introduced me to the world. And I know the same is true for many others. It brought awareness and understanding to the world of RSS.
Well, Safari 6 has no RSS support. Or I should say, no user-facing RSS support. If you enter a URL to an RSS feed, or click on a link to an RSS feed, you are given the option of adding the RSS feed to Mail, 1 and even that has cryptic language so that a typical user probably won’t even understand what they are seeing. What’s worse, there is still no way to view the source of an RSS feed so I’m still forced to use Chrome for that. I’ve dinged Chrome before for not supporting RSS feeds except to show you the XML source, and now Safari has sinned far worse. I make no excuses for Apple, this is simply very poorly done.
The option to “Open “safe” files after downloading” is still in the preferences. Since I upgraded my installation, and the first thing I do to Safari is turn that egregious option off, I can’t say for sure if the default is for that to be on, but the very fact that this is even an option tells me Apple is still not taking this area of security very seriously. And this is not good. NOT GOOD. I cannot tell you how dangerous having this setting turned on is for the security of OS X. Sure Apple keeps a list of safe files updated, but that does nothing to stop a new threat for the first few hours. This setting should not even be available. This is a MAJOR problem that Apple should remove.
Stops Loading Sites - Restart Required
Occasionally, Safari 6 just stops loading sites. I thought it was my internet connection at first, so I grabbed my iPhone, and it was loading sites on my network just fine. So I restarted Safari and amazingly, sites were loading again. This has happened to me about 3 times so far and I haven’t even been using Safari 6 for twenty four hours yet. This was one of the problems in the beta that made me go back to Safari 5. Admittedly the problem was much more frequent in the beta, but I’m disappointed that Apple did not really fix this problem in the final release.
Quibbles and Annoyances
I have not been a big fan of the downloads popover window, and it is still here in Safari 6. Admittedly it is better than the separate window we had in days of yore, but bringing popover windows to OS X from iOS for iPad is not ideal. This UI mode simply does not work well in a desktop OS environment with a mouse. It is, I think, better than a separate window. But what I wish they would do is make it a sidebar (like reading list). But, I suppose I’ll live.
That’s about all I have for now. Suffice it to say that I have pretty mixed feelings about this update to my beloved Safari.
- At least this is the behavior in Lion. Since RSS support in Mail for Mountain Lion is MIA, I have no idea what this behavior will be like. ↩