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Internet has become an inseparable part of our daily lives and the web browsers are the gates to enter that virtual world.

And speaking of browsers, most Mac users rely on Safari and Firefox as their two main browsers. But those are not the only options. There are other browsers, such as: Opera, Flock, Shiira, Stainless Stainless - Google Chrome's Mac Twin [Mac Only] Stainless - Google Chrome's Mac Twin [Mac Only] Read More , Camino and Sunrise Three Alternative Mac OS X Browsers Worth A Try Three Alternative Mac OS X Browsers Worth A Try Read More . You can even try Chrome on your Mac if you really want to. Yet, there’s one great free browser that not many Mac users talk about: OmniWeb.

This browser – developed by The Omni Group (creator of many well-known Mac apps) – used to be a commercial application. Maybe that’s why OmniWeb is not popular among freeware seekers. The developer decided to make it available for free earlier this year – around February 2009. Due to the unbelievable number of free, great web browsers out there, I think it was a wise (and unavoidable) decision for the developers to make.

Why OmniWeb and why not?
Let’s start with the “why not” part first. There’s a catch behind the whole “free” statement: Omni Group have decided not to put this browser under active development anymore, although it is not discontinued. This might discourage some people to even try to use it. But still, it’s a good application and the latest available version (5.9.2) is two updates since becoming free.
If you are willing to try, OmniWeb is available as 23.3 Mb download for the International version or around 14 Mb if you prefer the English-only version.


As for the reasons to use OmniWeb, there are a lot goodies that users might find useful. A few of my favorites are:

  • Thumbnail Tab Drawer –> All modern browsers have tabs but OmniWeb tried a different approach on utilizing this feature. Instead of placing the tabs above the browsing window like every other browser, OmniWeb’s tabs are located at the side, inside a drawer. The larger drawer space makes it possible to show thumbnails of the opened web pages. The thumbnails are arranged vertically. To move between tabs, users can use the shortcut Command + Up/Down Arrow.
It’s nice feature but the drawer will take up some browsing space which is considered precious for users with smaller displays and have gotten accustomed to full screen browsing.
  • Multiple Workspaces –> Tabbed browsing cultivated a new habit for web surfers: opening many of web pages at once. When the number of tabs (and windows) increase to chaotic level, organizing them is a must. OmniWeb comes with a feature called Workspace (Command + Control + 0) where users can group tabs into different categories like: work, personal, fun, entertainment, or any category according to user’s preference.


  • Customizable Search Box –> “Google” has become a new verb in the English language. It shows how often web users perform searches using Google. But there are other search engines that users may want to use/search on. OmniWeb lets users add/delete sites to the search box and also define the shortcut keys for different search functions. This process has a relatively simple learning curve.

04-new-search-shortcut05-shortcut-preferencesThere are many other features that you can read on the site or you can just download the manual if you would like to learn more.

OmniWeb will work with Mac OS X 10.4.8 or higher and is Universal Binary.

So, why not try this browser out and share your opinions in the comments below. Or if you are a part of the OmniWeb cult since the beginning, please share some experience below.

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  1. Darren Doyle
    June 8, 2009 at 8:36 am

    I love Omniweb! The single most powerful time-saving thing about it is the custom search shortcuts. I have been using it so long now that I get angry at other browsers for making me actually load a web page to perform a search - I make a shortcut out of EVERYTHING! ...brilliant! ... One other feature that you didn't mention that is very helpful (and was the other major selling point for me - back when it wasn't free) is site-specific preferences. Once again - brilliant! Why don't other browsers do this - it makes so much sense! One particular website got so much flash and javascript garbage that it's slowing the loading of the actual content? Just turn it off for that site - and don't worry about having to turn it back on when you want to browse other sites normally. Change your security preferences for more, or less, trusted websites... This is just a great browser!

  2. Stanton E Collins
    May 20, 2009 at 5:11 am

    OmniWeb is great for all the reasons listed above, and one more. I just downloaded the 5.9.2 update and it is BLAZING fast!

  3. OJB
    May 19, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    I have used OmniWeb from the beginning on the Mac (and a bit on NeXT as well). I still use it as my main browser (I use Safari for testing my web sites, databases, and other programming work). The extra features are worth having: room for 30 tabs down the side, site specific preferences, customised searches, shortcut keys, workspaces. These are features I use all the time. I recommend OmniWeb for all power users!

  4. Ken Case
    May 19, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Thanks for spreading the word about OmniWeb!

    In addition to the 5.9.x releases you mention above, we've released over a dozen "sneaky peek" releases of OmniWeb 5.10, which integrates the updated WebKit engine from the Safari 4 beta (among other things). For more information on what changes we've been making in OmniWeb 5.10, check out the release notes on the OmniWeb sneaky peek page.

    For those who would prefer for the tab drawer to take up less space: you can drag its outside edge to reduce its size (shrinking the thumbnails).

    Oh, and since you've mentioned search shortcuts, I should point out that the easiest way to add a new search shortcut is to Right-Click on any text field on any web page and choose "Add Search Shortcut…". (That's much simpler than trying to figure out all the right details to do the same thing in OmniWeb's Shortcut Preferences!)

    I hope this is useful, and thanks again for the mention!

    • Jeffry Thurana
      May 19, 2009 at 7:14 pm

      Thanks for the tips. Right clicking is surely easier than going through Preferences.

      And please keep those updates coming! :-)