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Safari logoWell, my two week descent into unusability and lack of functionality that is Safari, is finally over.

About two weeks ago I undertook to stick to Safari The two week Safari challenge The two week Safari challenge Read More all the time, 24 hours a day/7 days a week, while at home. Thank goodness I had an oasis of sanity every weekday when I went in to work. As slow as my office computer is (P4 with 384M of ram) it was a relief to be able to drag my mouse backwards to return to the previous page.

As you can probably tell, I was unimpressed with Safari alone. However, when I added the free Safari Stand plugin I was able to… tolerate it.

Sure, Safari Stand added some functionality, but a lot of it was functionality I couldn’t really find a use for. The two extra bits of goodness in Safari Stand that truly stood out and made my day better were:

  • The checkbox that let me “Open Target Link In New Tab.”
  • The Quick Search, which acts similarly to Firefox Quick Search.

Safari Stand Quick Search

As for the rest of it? Not all that impressive.

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Take the sidebar, for instance. What a total waste of space. The single-function sidebar, along the left side of the browser window, allows you to see your tabs vertically.

Hello? I don’t need to see my tabs vertically, I have them running along the top of my window. At the very least, throw a bookmarks or history sidebar in there. Make it something useful.

There are two promising items in the Safari Stand package called the “Stand Bar” and the “Bookmark Shelf.” Problem is, they just float there getting hidden behind any new window you open or call to the front. What’s the point? Now, if there were a way to dock the Stand Bar and Bookmark Shelf to the sidebar, then we’d be in business. While it wouldn’t be revolutionary in terms of browser technology, it would make Safari a little less unpalatable.

Stand Search? Why do the Safari Stand people think we need MORE open windows on our desktops? Again, the Stand Search opens a new little pop-up window. Sure, it’s a cute little live search of your bookmarks and history, but dock the darn thing to the sidebar or the top of the browser. I don’t need a dozen little floaty windows all over the place!

Safari Stand Stand Search

I was also hoping for mouse gestures.

Not there.

There are dozens of other little additions in Safari Stand and I won’t go through them all, but here are a few:

  • A checkbox in the settings allows you to open Safari’s own search, without hitting cmd-f, just start typing your search terms.
  • Move through tabs using the “,” and “.” keys.
  • Site alteration. This settings page allows you to essentially set your own preferences and add a Stylesheet for any web page. It is set per page, so you can have google.com behave differently from makeuseof.com. Several of the items don’t work at this time. I guess they’re still being written.
  • Colorize HTML source makes it easier to find what you’re looking for, if you’re brave enough to View Source.

Safari Stand Colorize HTML

I have just one last thing to say about Safari Stand: installation sucks. It’s not that difficult, but it’s not as easy as it could be. You’re required to first download and install something called SIMBL. Then you download Safari Stand and manually move a file inside the zipped archive into SIMBL’s plugins folder. Oh, and there’s no Windows version now, and the programmers over at hetima.com say they have no plans to make one in the future.

Will I keep using Safari? No. Not until it includes some of the basic functionality built in to the always improving Firefox or until the Safari plug-in designer community starts putting out some good, FREE plugins. When anything worth installing costs $6, $10 and $15 then what’s the point? Firefox will probably have the same thing either built-in or available as a free add-on. And, once you diehard Safari fans get a look at Firefox 3 and use it a bit, you will be very tempted to switch.

I have one piece of advice for Apple’s Safari team: keep up with the times. We’re way past 2003.

Here’s my rating for:

  • Safari alone: 1.5 stars out of 5, solely for its speed. I found no other redeeming value in it.
  • Safari with Safari Stand: 2.5 stars out of 5. As the product improves, so will the rating.
  • For comparison purposes, I would rate Firefox 3 beta 5: 4.5 stars out of 5.

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