Features Safari needs to have to be considered as an everyday browser

I’ve recently switched to Safari over Firefox to see how Safari has caught up using my Macbook Pro 13″ Retina. It came with OSX 10.8 and Safari 6, and I didn’t even bother trying out Safari, and Firefox was one of the first things I installed.

It does do many thing better than Firefox:

  • It renders text much better than Firefox on a Retina display. They’re different but neither is outright better on a non-Retina display. I’m pretty sure Firefox on OSX supports Retina, so I don’t know why the text rendering is inferior.
  • It uses less memory loading the same pages (Gmail, G+, HN, Reddit, Feedly, which comprise my daily viewing experience).
  • It supports ICCv4 color profiles, and supports per-monitor color profiles. Firefox only supports ICCv2 (most color profiling tools output either ICCv4 only, or ICCv4 by default and the option is hidden in the preferences), and it only uses the primary monitor profile instead of the profile for the monitor the window is currently on. Firefox really needs to fix this.
  • It does seem to increase my battery life over Firefox.

It does things better than it used to:

  • It’s a lot faster than it used to be, especially with Javascript. Apple says it is faster than Firefox stable, but I can’t tell if it is faster than Firefox nightly (what I usually run) without benchmarking it. Firefox and Safari are now both fast enough with Javascript execution that I can’t tell the difference between the two.
  • It now supports session restore. I think this was added in Safari 6, but it was a long time sore point for Safari users and one of the reasons I never used Safari.

What it doesn’t do and shouldn’t leave up to extensions:

  • Lack of useful undo history. Safari 5 introduced undo close tab, but it still doesn’t have undo close window, or selectively undoing close tab/window out of your history. Plus, undo closed tab is bound to ctrl-z instead of ctrl-shift-t. There is no extension to fix this.
  • Does not pop up the URL at the bottom of the screen when hovering a link. I installed Ultimate Status Bar to add this
  • Keyword Search. Safari still lacks this, and I added Safari Omnikey to fill in the gap, however the Omnikey button must remain in the toolbar or it won’t function, cluttering your toolbar up.
    • Does not display Favicon on tab label.
    • Cannot position new tabs flexibly (such as at the end of the tab bar).
    • Does not focus last selected tab when closing a tab.
    • Minimum tab size is far too large.
    • Cannot maximize Safari

    These can be fixed by installing Glims, but I recommend if you use Glims on Safari 7 disable everything in Glims (in the Glims->General preferences panel) except “Other Tabs Improvements” and “Add Max Window Size Menu Option”, everything else conflicts with Safari 7’s built in functionality (but is still useful for earlier versions of Safari); look in the Glims->Tabs Misc preferences panel to enable Favicons, smaller tab sizes, focus last selected, and new tab position, and remember to turn off Glims’ ads in the Glims->Ads/Shopping preferences panel.

Apple could catch up to Firefox as a modern browser by implementing these features.

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Published November 7th, 2013


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