Current Version: 1.0.3 (August 16, 2004) / 1.3.2 (January 12, 2006) / 3.2.1 (November 25, 2008) / 5.0 (June 15, 2010)
Safari is a browser developed by Apple, and is the default browser for Mac OS X. It is based upon the KHTML rendering engine used in the Konqueror web browser for UNIX systems.
Safari is simple but stable, and its speed and simplicity make it fun to use. Like other modern browsers, it is capable of blocking popup advertisements and it supports "tabbed" browsing that allows you to neatly organize multiple open pages in a single browser window. Apple has created a page of useful AppleScripts that demonstrate the care that Apple is putting into this browser's design.
Safari's interface is not terribly attractive, but it is functional. My biggest gripe about the user interface still involves tabbed browsing: prior to version 1.2, when closing the last browser tab, the window would shrink in height; all other browsers with tabbed browsing typically increase the page viewing area (back to its prior state) in this instance. In 1.2 and later, while this quirk has been fixed, a new annoyance has cropped up: when you open your first tab, Safari increases the height of your browser window if there is room below it. It's (still) an unpleasant thing to have to keep resizing a browser all day, and I wish Apple would control the window sizing behavior once and for all for everyday browsing.
While power users will still probably prefer Firefox for their browsing needs because of its extensibility, Safari is more than good enough for the average user, easily meriting a "Drew's Pick" rating in the Mac web browser category.
See the development group's weblog for more information.
Safari 5 introduces the following new features:
- Safari Reader - Safari Reader removes annoying ads and other visual distractions from online articles. So you get the whole story and nothing but the story. It works like this: As you browse the web, Safari detects if you're on a web page with an article. Click the Reader icon in the Smart Address Field, and the article appears instantly in one continuous, clutter-free view. You see every page of the article - whether two or twenty. Onscreen controls let you email, print, and zoom. Change the size of the text, and Safari remembers it the next time you view an article in Safari Reader.
- Even Greater HTML5 Support - Web standards are the future of the Internet. The world's most innovative browser, Safari continues to lead the way in support for HTML5. Safari 5 supports over a dozen new HTML5 features that allow developers to create interactive content and media experiences that work right in the browser - without the need for third-party plug-ins.
- Full-screen view and closed captions for HTML5 video - In Safari 5, HTML5 video can deliver an even richer, more accessible experience. Watch video embedded with the HTML5 video tag in full screen. If the video includes closed captions, simply click the closed-captions button in the controls to display them.
- Location services - Find businesses near you and get directions even faster. With support for the HTML5 geolocation standard in Safari 5, you can choose to share your location with websites that use it to give you helpful location information - like showing you the nearest post office or ATM. Rest assured, you're always in control of how your information is shared. When you visit a geolocation-enabled website, Safari asks you before sharing your location. And you can turn off location services all together.
- DNS prefetching and improved caching - Behind the scenes, Safari employs a technique called Domain Name System (DNS) prefetching. If you're on a web page with links, Safari finds the links and looks up the addresses. Click one of the links, and Safari quickly loads the web page for you. And improved page caching means more of the pages you viewed in the past load faster than before.
- Bing Search - Safari gives you even more search options with built-in Bing search, in addition to Google and Yahoo! Search. Just choose Bing in the Smart Search Field, start typing, and get search suggestions that help you find what you're looking for fast.
- Smarter Address Field - Can't remember the exact address for that website you visited the other day? Safari can. In the Smart Address Field, just type what you do remember, and Safari matches the text against the titles of web pages in your history and bookmarks. Safari also offers suggestions when you type any part of the address.
- Tabs Setting - Safari 5 helps you clean up your desktop. A simple setting lets you open new web pages in tabs - instead of separate windows. No more screen clutter, and no more clicking across multiple browser windows to find what you want.
Version 3.2.1 (available for Mac OS 10.4 Tiger and Mac OS 10.5 Leopard) features protection from fraudulent phishing websites and better identification of online businesses, and includes security updates and stability improvements.
Version 1.3.2 (for Panther) "improves website compatibility, application stability and support for 3rd party web applications," according to Apple. This version is available through the Software Update feature.
Version 1.0.3 (for Jaguar) "improves the Safari rendering engine to expand third party application support and includes the latest security enhancements." This version is available through the Software Update feature.
(Version 1.3.2) "Sadly Safari's usefulness is hampered by updates being tied to Mac OS X updates (i.e., you can't get a newer version of Safari without purchasing the next major version of Mac OS X). As I run a lot of older Macs with Panther (I typically stay a version behind with my main OS) Safari will never be as current as Camino or iCab for me. Regardless, iCab has far more functionality and Camino is faster. Still, Safari isn't a bad browser. It's just a bit limited and the Panther version is buggy by comparison, IME."
—Jamie Kahn Genet
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