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July 2012 - Safari Customization

Safari has come a long way over the years. I now use it as my primary browser. While Safari as shipped by Apple is useful, many things can be done to make Safari a much better tool to browse with. Here are some of those customizations:

  • Preferences
    • General
      • You can easily choose Google, Yahoo or Bing as your default search engine. If you want more choices, see this Mac OS X Hints article.
      • You can choose what should display in new windows and new tabs.
      • You can set your default Home Page.
      • You can set how long items remain in browser history.
      • You can change where downloads go by default.
      • You can set how items are removed from the download list.
      • You can tell Safari to open "safe" files after downloading.
    • Appearance
      • Set font defaults
      • Select if images display while page loads
    • Bookmarks - The various check boxes allow you to customize bookmarks, regain some screen space and take advantage of Address Book and Bonjour.
    • Tabs - determine where new pages open (window or tabs), what to do with focus, and wha tkeyboard shortcuts exist.
    • RSS - You can customize how RSS feeds are handled or turn off support to save a little memory and cpu.
    • AutoFill - enable/disable automatic filling of forms on the web.
    • Security - a few settings here that might improve your safety and that might also remove functionality (do you want Java? JavaScript?)
    • Privacy - Control cookies and location services. Do you know how many cookies you have? (my desktop has 3176 -- wonder if that impacts performance?)
    • Extensions - you can enable or disable extensions here along with control the various extenstions you have. More to come on extensions later.
    • Advanced - Funny that Apple used the title Advanced for the things they could not decide where to put.
  • View - The View Menu has a lot of features that I think should be in the Preferences Appearances Pane. Among other things, here is where you enable the status line (that will show you where a link points). Spend some time in the View menu.
  • BookMarks menu also does some customization of display.
  • Extensions - Safari allows you to install extensions that add functionality. Apple has a part of their web site dedicated to these extensions and making it easy for you to install them. You can also install extensions from other places if you choose to. Below I am going to mention a number of the neat extensions I have found (and sometimes use).
    • Places to get extensions:
    • Clicktoflash (essential) - replaces all flash with a box that says click to flash. If you click it, the flash will then download and play. Saves page load time and allows control over Flash (saving, cpu, memory, memory leaks, ...)
    • Ultimate Status Bar (essential) - instead of dedicating part of your browser window to display the value a link (at the bottom of the page in tiny font), this puts a little balloon at the bottom of the page in bigger print only when you hover over a link -- otherwise oyu have full screen.
    • Autocomplete (essential) - prevents a web form from disabling autocomplete
    • InvisibleHand (cool) - when you look at a product, it searches for other places to buy that product at a better price.
    • BetterSource (great) - syntax highlighting of HTML source via color. If you look at the web source on a page much, this makes life so much better.
    • hoverZoom (neat) - if you hover over a thumbnail, it automatically pulls down the image and displays it in a pop up that goes away when you move the mouse. Works really great when looking at picture collections.
    • Defacer - removes Facebook buttons from web sites

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