Switching back to Safari

Posted by Thoughts and Ramblings on Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A while ago, I switched to Firefox since it supported several features I liked, the most notable being an ad blocker.  I knew that there were ad blockers for Safari, but none of them were very good.  All required manually managing the block list, which is just painful.Yesterday, I found out about Safari Adblock, which has support for the ad block lists, like Adblock Plus in Firefox.  So, I decided to install it, and finally opened Safari to try it out.  No adblock; nothing.  It didn’t do anything.  I then tried another account on my computer and it worked there, so it was something specific to my account.  I finally noticed that the adblocker was an Input Manager, so I researched reasons why one wouldn’t load.  I finally ran across this post, which described some of the problems.  Mine was simply that my user belonged to the wheel group.The solution seemed to be simply remove my user from the wheel group.  It wasn’t so easy in practice.  Since leopard, NetInfo is gone, and so it the nice tool used to edit the group associations.  I had to find out how to use the new tool on the command line, and then remove the group that way.  Then, it turns out you have to reboot for it to fully take effect (which is ridiculous).  Finally, I was able to test out Safari, at the cost of no longer being able to su to root (my account is not an administrator account for good reason).The Good:

  • Safari is faster than Firefox, both in loading pages and launching.  Can’t judge the stability yet, but so far so good.  I have also gained the ability to view inline PDFs again (something that even the new Firefox beta still can’t do!).  For someone doing research and reading a lot of papers, inline PDF reading is a lot more than a convenience.  Having to read PDFs in other means is nothing short of a nuisance.  
  • I now have Mac OS X’s spell checker back.  The spell checker in Firefox can catch misspellings, but is horrid at correcting them.  I have found several cases where it fails to provide a suggestion, even when only a single letter is missing.
  • Safari’s DOM inspector is wonderful.  It is a much better way to view the webpage source than seeing just raw HTML.
  • Keychain support.  Firefox cannot use the keychain (again, true of the new beta as well).  At least 1Passwd can get around this severe deficiency.

The Bad

  •  I miss being able to switch to a particular tab via the command key.  In Firefox, command-1 goes to the first tab, 2 goes to the second, etc…  In Safari, those go to bookmarks, which I find worse than useless.
  • No Mouse Gestures.  I use mouse gestures to direct the browser.  Hold the right mouse button, and drag to issue a command.  In particular, dragging to the left goes back; right, forward; down then right, close the window.  Those are the ones I miss the most.
  • The adblocker is using a now unsupported method.  This means Apple can, and most likely will, break it very soon.  I also doubt that they will even think twice about adding support for this functionality back in once they kill it.

So, for now, the experiment continues.  Thankfully I used 1Passwd to store all my passwords in the keychain so the transition between the browsers is seamless.

Legacy Comments:

Ilgaz - Feb 7, 2008

CocoaSuite(.com) offers system wide or browser wide gestures. While getting around the Leopard input managers change, they made a clever enhancement. Selective input manager loading per application. So, you can load Cocoasuite only per application such as Safari and won’t have input manager loaded to memory on other apps. It is commercial but cheap. As developer you could be interested in that new SDK for Leopard. No more getting blamed just because some input manager showed up in your crashing application trace. I used the application since 10.3.x to 10.5.1 , never seen any instability or anything resulting from it.

Graham Booker - Feb 7, 2008

Yeah, I saw those tools as well. To be honest, I only use the gestures when I am in my office where I have a real mouse. They just aren’t practical on a trackpad.

Jeff Geerling - May 3, 2008

You do know, though, that you can switch tabs via Shift+Command+Arrow Key, right? As long as you’re not entering text in the tab or in the address bar, at least.

Graham Booker - May 3, 2008

Jeff, Yes, I do, but as you pointed out, it doesn’t work when you are entering text. In addition, the cmd-shft-arrow or cmd-shft-[ or ] (which does work when you are entering text BTW), requires a lot more hand contortions than just holding down the right mouse button, and moving up then left or right.