Become a Safari power user
I spend a lot of time in Safari which is my browser of choice. I would like to share the resources I've come across to improve the Safari browsing experience. Even though I've talked about a couple of these in bits and pieces before I wanted to create a single comprehensive post that covers Safari across the board; tips, helpful sites and some usage techniques.
Setting up Safari
Before we begin there are some settings that you should check. Open the preferences (Command-,) within Safari. In the General section I have my browser set to open links from applications in a new tab in the current window. Though I do occasionally use multiple Safari windows it's pretty rare - I much prefer to keep it all in one window and leverage the tabs. Under the Tabs section I also have Command-Click open a link in a new tab and do not select tabs and windows as they are created.
Even with these options set, some web applications—Gmail in particular—manage to open links in a new window. Apple added a terminal command into Safari 3.1 that addresses that issue. Open a terminal session and enter the following command:
defaults write com.apple.Safari TargetedClicksCreateTabs -bool true
Once that's done you must close down Safari and restart it in order for this to take effect.
Another thing I always turn on is the Status Bar (Command-/). When I hover over most links it will show me where the link leads and I get an idea of what's going on as pages load up their contents.
If you are a technical user or developer you may want to turn on the Develop menu, located under the Advanced section. This will add a Develop pull down menu between Bookmarks and Window in the menu bar. It gives you some access to a couple of cool features I discuss below.
Finally, I have have my middle mouse button set to open a link in a new tab in the current window, similar to Command-click. This is usually controlled by your Keyboard and Mouse settings under the system Preferences. Since I use a Logitech mouse and USB Overdrive I change the setting from that screen.
Making the most of tabs
I love tabs in browsers. It is far and away the best thing that's been added to the browsing experience since web browsers were initially introduced. I rarely have multiple browser windows open, preferring instead to use as many tabs as I can. If I conduct a search or am on a link rich web page I will often just use the middle mouse button—or Command-Click—and open every link that looks interesting. They populate in the background while I continue reading what's in front of me. Only after I'm done with the page I'm reading will I start to explore the subsequent tabs that were created.
As with many people in the internet age I have developed a mild form of attention deficit disorder, popping from topic to topic without focusing on content. This model of using tabs has helped me become a bit more focused.
Key Keyboard Shortcuts
Lately I've been trying to use the keyboard more in Safari, especially when I have the MacBook balanced on my lap. Safari supports a number of handy shortcuts, though the ones that I've found valuable are the following:
|Command-L||Jump to the address bar|
|Command-T||Create a new, blank tab|
|Command-Option-F||Jump to the Google search box|
|Command-F||Open the find utility for the current web page|
|Command-W||Close current tab|
|Command-Up Arrow||Top of page|
|Command-Down Arrow||Bottom of page|
|Option-Up Arrow||Scroll up one screen|
|Option-Down Arrow||Scroll down one screen|
|Control-Command-D||Load the live dictionary on any word under the mouse*|
*Yes, I know it's not a Safari thing; works in any Cocoa application as well. I just use it most often in Safari.
There are other shortcuts listed in Help but these are the ones I've found the most helpful.
I use the Bookmark bar, which is just above the tab line, for my most common destinations. I always rename items after I've dragged them there to keep it as short and sweet as possible. I also create pull down folders on the Bookmark bar for each of the key areas I focus on: Technical resources, Mac Stuff, Family, Work and Development. In many cases I'll add sub folders under these as well.
For some reason I have not found much value in the Bookmarks menu bar. I think this is a function of having multiple monitors and sometimes my Safari window is on my second monitor while my menu bar is permanently fixed to my primary monitor. This way my browser list is always close at hand.
Using the Develop Resources
If you turned on the Develop menu in the menu bar there are a couple of interesting things you can do. I mentioned before that you can fake some web sites into thinking you are running a different browser. But if you are a web developer or interested in what's really happening behind the scenes of a web page you can access some powerful inspectors through the Develop menu.
Loading up the Web Inspector will give you a highly structured view of the underlying HTML that makes the web site work. Here is an example of what my main page looks like:
In addition you can load a Network Timeline that displays all of the elements on the current page and how long they took to load:
If you are building a web site or helping someone troubleshoot a problem area the Network Timeline is a great resource for figuring out where the bottlenecks are.
There are really only two add-in resources for Safari that I've found really helpful. By far the most helpful is 1Password. You can read my original blog post about it but I will say again it's a fantastic utility and I highly recommend it.
In addition I also use Inquisitor, which adds some enhanced searching functionality, essentially making the Google search box perform much like the in-site searching features on Apple.com. I also have more on Inquisitor in a recent blog post.
There is also a collection point on the web for Safari plugins called PimpMySafari.com. Inside of that site you will find a number of add-ons for Safari with nice little summaries and feature lists.
Wrapping it up
While I covered all of the things I've learned about making the most out of Safari over the last four months I'm sure I missed something. If you have a specific tip that you think would help folks please add it in the comments below. I mentioned at the beginning that this would be a comprehensive list and I'm pretty confident that if I missed anything one of the many people that have been helping me will chime in and fill in the blanks.
Two more tricks.
1) Command + 1 = First bookmark in bookmark bar (excluding folders), Command + 2 = 2nd, etc.
2) If you want a bit more complex "Develop" menu, those features used to be in a Debug menu, which had quite a few other things you could do. To enable it, type
defaults write com.apple.Safari IncludeDebugMenu 1
in Terminal and relaunch Safari.
And what problem downloading files?
If the problem is that .doc, .xls, and .ppt files appear as text instead of downloading, it's because Safari listens to the MIME type before it listens to the file extension. If the website sends the file with a MIME type of text/plain rather than application/xls, application/excel, etc., Safari will render it as text. This isn't a problem with Safari, this is a problem with the website, which tells Safari that it is a text file, rather than an application document.
In any case, if you try downloading from another website that has .ppt or .xls files, that has the MIME type properly setup, it should properly download the files.
If you enjoy playing around with browsers, you might want to check out Shiira at:
Like Safari, it's based on WebKit and has some cool effects of its own. There's also a neat widget version.
I doubt you'd want to make it your primary browser, but it's worth a look just to see what's out there.
Here are a couple more keyboard shortcuts I use and did not see mentioned.
Page Down --> Space Bar
Page Up ----> Space Bar + Shift
Control Click a word and you get a small pop-up menu. Scroll (?) down to 'Look Up in Dictionary' and release. A small window will appear bearing the definition along with some options for further information.
Keep up the good work.
It also uses WebKit and thus "inherits" its features (such as resizable input fields) and its speed. But as nice as Safari is, it offers next to no opportunities for customization.
That is where iCab really excels. Among (many!) other things, it brings with it a user-configurable Filter Manager which lets you fine-tune its considerable range of settings to each individual site (or a range of sites) if you want.
But for my general browsing needs iCab is far more convenient and far more practical for me.
As always, it's a compromise between convenience for me, convenience for the web designer and security. And everybody will have different priorities in this matter.
Yes, I'm a paranoid control freak in these matters, but with the right tools it's still convenient for me and avoids quite a bit of aggravation. :-)
I do use Terminal for maintenance as I turn my two Macs off in the evening, thus the built-in maintenance routines never get run otherwise. Open terminal, type in "sudo periodic daily weekly monthly" (w/o quotes), press return, enter admin password and press return (nothing seems to happen, but look at the CPU activity going on). When processes have finished and terminal prompt is displayed, type "exit" (w/o quotes) and press return to logout of Terminal. I do this routine about once each month.
Thanks for your blog, and all the helpful tips you and other readers list in it. A great read, and I've learned a lot about the Mac from reading it...SlimJim
I just put up a post this morning about the impact of putting your Mac into sleep mode rather than powering it down. I've noticed that when my Macs wake from sleep they execute the automated maintenance scripts that normally would have run had they not been in sleep mode.
Glad you are getting value from the blog!
You might love this; you can use multi-touch pad of Mac Book Pro.
I setup Rotate as Back/Forward, Swipe up as New Tab, Swipe down as Hide, Swipe right/left as tab movement.
Shortcut is great, but less than touch!