Apple Safari 5.0 for Mac - Free download and software reviews - CNET Download.com

Apple Safari for Mac

CNET Editors' review

Safari has always felt more finished on its native Mac home than its Windows port, and version 5 is no different. Though the improvements made in Safari 5 lack the visual pop of the biggest changes in Safari 4, such as the Cover Flow-inspired Top Sites and history browsing and the interface refresh, Safari 5 contains just about the same level and quality of changes--with one caveat.

The biggest new feature that comes in Safari 5 hasn't been fully implemented yet. A new add-on network won't be officially available until later this summer according to Apple, but Safari's new Extensions promises to be lightweight and flexible, much like Google Chrome's framework or the in-development Jetpack for Firefox.

Safari 5 continues its push for speed, able to surpass (by some tests) bleeding-edge JavaScript engines from Google and Opera. Besides Extensions, though, Apple continues to place feature development farther down the totem pole of importance. That doesn't mean that new features have been ignored. There's the new Reader option that streamlines how you read articles, broader support for HTML5, default support for searches on Bing, and performance improvements. Depending on what you're looking for in a browser, Safari can be seen as either being a zippy lightweight alternative, or lacking many helpful options that competitors offer.

Safari 5 is here!

Installation and setup
Safari 5 is easy to install and updates via the Apple Software Updater. At the time this review was written, there was a small chorus of complaints stating that Safari 5 would crash on launch or not install at all, but these were a small minority.

Interface
Safari's interface hasn't changed much from Safari 4. Although Apple flirted briefly with tabs on top in the Safari 4 betas, that design remains in the dustbin. Navigation remains on top in this version, with Back and Forward buttons, the location bar, the search box, current page menu, and preferences menu. Whereas both Safari and Chrome are based on WebKit, Safari has opted to keep its tabs below the navigation bar and retain its brushed gray interface.

The bookmarks bar appears by default just below the navigation bar, and on all but significantly older computers users should see links to show all bookmarks and show Top Sites on the left.

The status bar remains hidden by default, but unlike the Windows version of Safari, it will pop up with a URL preview when you mouse over a link. Why Apple makes the Windows version of Safari less safe than the Mac version is a mystery, because seeing where you're going on the Web can be just as important as seeing where you're going while driving.

Go on a tour of Safari 5 (screenshots)

1-2 of 8
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Features and support
Safari 5 comes with a new way to look at paginated stories and galleries, some helpful lesser feature improvements, and the promise of Extensions. As noted earlier, though, Apple has decided to not include many options that Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer, and even Safari's cousin Chrome have.

The official late summer street date for the new Extensions gallery leaves many questions up for debate. Apple has said that the new framework restricts which extensions can be installed to those that have been approved by Apple. It's not clear at this time if or how that system will be different from the add-on networks supported by Google's Chrome and Mozilla's Firefox, but given Apple's heavy hand in content control on the newly renamed iOS, it's not unreasonable to expect the company to take that approach as well with Safari Extensions.

The new Reader feature in Safari streamlines both single and multipage stories into a more legible format.

(Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

Apple has created a Safari Developer Program to guide, and perhaps curate, extension development, and to that end has allowed users to toggle on the Extensions menu from the Advanced tab under Preferences. This will add the Develop menu to the menu bar, from which you'll need to click on Enable Extensions. Extensions can be added from one of the unofficial Safari Extensions collections, and they can be managed from the Extensions tab that should now appear in the Preferences window. At the time this review was written, most available extensions had been ported from Google Chrome since both browsers share the same rendering engine. That should change as more people begin to write Safari-specific add-ons.

The most interesting new feature in Safari that's ready to use is the Reader button. This button appears at the right side of the location bar when you load a site with pagination, such as a multipage article or gallery. Hitting it will open an overlay window that combines all pages into a single, scrollable format and tints out the site beneath, including ads and other distractions. Any embedded pictures or videos remain viewable, although, like the text of the story, they lose their site-specific formatting in favor of the Reader's defaults. Reader also comes with five buttons at the bottom of the frame that appear only when you mouse over them. You can zoom in, zoom out, e-mail the page, or print the page in its Reader format.

Reader is a more limited version of the code used in the Readability bookmarklet. What's innovative about the Safari version is that Apple decided to include it at all, but because it's such an obvious feature to include in a Web browser, it wouldn't be surprising to see others follow suit. Besides reactivating formatting options such as font size, what's keeping this feature from being really impressive is a lack of sharing beyond e-mail. It'd be great if you could use it to immediately share an article on Twitter or Facebook.

HTML5 gets a lot of love in Safari 5, pushing the browser to the top of the list of HTML5 browser versions that aren't in beta or development. Safari now supports HTML5-based full-screen video playback, video closed captioning, geolocation, drag and drop, forms validation, HTML5 Ruby, EventSource, and WebSocket. But in an odd turn from Apple, the HTML5 demo Web site is restricted to Safari browsers only.

Apple hasn't activated extensions in Safari officially, but it has provided you with a workaround.

(Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

Safari now comes with local searches enabled from the location bar, so as you type your query you can see how it relates to your history and bookmarks. However, there's still no location-bar-based Web search, something that Firefox, Chrome, and Opera have had for varying but lengthy amounts of time. Safari has also added Bing search to its default search engine options, but again, its competitors have allowed full search engine customization for ages.

Although its search abilities may not be up to par with the competition, Safari has begun to introduce a modicum of tab customization. The Tab window in Preferences gives you far more customizations than before, including opening into a new tab, some control over the tab focus on new tabs, and confirmation before closing multiple tabs. Safari 5 does not offer a session manager. It also doesn't natively respect your default browser for opening links. To change this, you'll need to go to the General tab under Preferences and change the default Web browser setting.

These deficiencies certainly won't kill Safari, but they're odd ones to leave unaddressed.

Performance
Safari's performance has definitely been improved, and it remains the browser's strongest selling point, in part because of the hardware acceleration (only in the Windows version, read more about hardware acceleration here) and DNS prefetching. Part of that is because of the improvements made to the Nitro JavaScript engine.

On a Mac OS X 10.6.3, running on the same Intel chip as the Windows 7 computer but with 4GB of RAM, Safari 5 completed the SunSpider tests in 351.7 milliseconds. Google Chrome took 498.67 ms. The disparity between the Windows versions was far smaller. On a Windows 7 x86, running on an Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 at 2.53GHz, with 3GB of RAM, Safari notched an average of 465.5 ms over three cold-boot runs on the SunSpider JavaScript test. The current stable version of Chrome, version 5.0.375.70, scored 525.19 ms. Though the developer's version of Chrome comes in at 356.9 ms on the Windows 7 computer, indicating that Safari's benchmarks can be not only achieved but surpassed, Safari's the only stable public version with these numbers.

Conclusion
Speed is important, but it's not the only judge of a good browser. With the exception of the unique Reader feature, Safari 5 does more to bring Apple's browser into line with other browsers than actually breaking any new ground, and even with the improvements made to this version, Safari still lacks many of the small but useful features competitors offer. For raw JavaScript speed, Safari is at the head of the pack for now, and Apple's default browser is light-years ahead of Microsoft's. When it comes to features, though, Safari runs a serious risk of being left behind.

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All User Reviews
  • All versions:

    3.9 stars

    out of 830 votes

    • 5 star: 348
    • 4 star: 236
    • 3 star: 117
    • 2 star: 58
    • 1 star: 71
  • Current version:

    2.5 stars

    out of 8 votes

    • 5 star: 7
    • 4 star: 0
    • 3 star: 2
    • 2 star: 0
    • 1 star: 11
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1-10 of 20

  • 1.0 stars

    "Want Safari 4 back!!"

    July 10, 2010  |   By LisaS1164

    Version: Apple Safari 5.0

    Pros

    Nothing to like about this browser that I can see.

    Cons

    Has done nothing but slow my computer up, and repeatedly crashes and has error messages. My Top Sites are unstable, and when I try to pop up another tab everything goes nuts. I want Safari 4 back!!!

    Summary

    I cannot get anything done with Safari 5. It crashes repeatedly, or just sits with the Beach Ball of Doom swirling in between clicks. I try to read posts in my online classroom and some of them are blank. I have to open everything in Chrome to see it. It is, overall, the biggest mess of a browser I have ever had, it even makes me miss IE, which sucked. I find myself actually getting on my old pc to work because it has not been updated and doesn't CRASH EVERY TWO MINUTES!!!

    Reply to this review

    Was this review helpful? (0) (0)

  • 3.0 stars

    "FAST, But unstable that's why I switched to Firefox"

    July 6, 2010  |   By mrhy88

    Version: Apple Safari 5.0

    Pros

    Reader is awesome ^^, a bit faster :)

    Cons

    drag and drop Yahoo! attachment feature does not work as will instability since I updated my browser (crashes and freezes often) mainly when using Youtube, Facebook, Yahoo! mail...

    Summary

    It seems like the support of scripts in this version is a bit jerky which I'm disappointed of. And about the Yahoo! attachments I hoped that they will support it but they didn't.
    I Have no idea why did it start to freeze and crash!
    But still I want to use the safari :'( it is neat in display and usage

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  • 5.0 stars

    "It's simple, fast, and has friendly user interface"

    July 4, 2010  |   By piusag

    Version: Apple Safari 5.0

    Pros

    fast, simple, and the interface is very clear, it doesn't have many toolbars, so we won't be disturbed when viewing web pages. Oh, and it also supports 64-bit processing on Macbook.

    Cons

    it doesn't support many plugins and add ons like Firefox, but we don't really need those things actually because Safari comes with a lot of essential plugins.

    Summary

    This native web browser on Apple computers really fits everyone.

    Reply to this review

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  • 3.0 stars

    "Good enhancements over 4.0, still not Firefox"

    June 28, 2010  |   By gbaxtin

    Version: Apple Safari 5.0

    Pros

    Smooth
    Quick
    Secure

    Cons

    No tabs!!!!!
    More plugins needed

    Summary

    Overall I like this browser but I just don't think that Apple has put enough umph into it. Need more usability like Firefox, which seems to be taking over IE quickly.

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Prefer Chrome or Firefox"

    June 26, 2010  |   By IAMJLOPEZ

    Version: Apple Safari 5.0

    Pros

    a bit fast

    Cons

    it stalls having to wait like 30 sec or it just freezes everything and have to end process just to get things back

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Finally as fast as Chrome in image motion rendering."

    June 25, 2010  |   By Fred E--2008

    Version: Apple Safari 5.0

    Pros

    Speed. The Reader. Return of the progress bar within the URL window. Improved URL referencing to bookmarks.

    Cons

    Would like the option of limiting history to the current session. Maybe in forthcoming extensions?

    Summary

    Forthcoming extensions will be nice, but not critical, since I like a fast minimalist experience. Navigating to page content FAST is the important thing, which Safari 5 does.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Safari 5.0 has caused nothing but problems."

    June 15, 2010  |   By sbass7767

    Version: Apple Safari 5.0

    Pros

    Supposedly, Safari is faster. However, it "cannot find the page" so often who would be able to judge.

    Cons

    I can no longer access my att.yahoo.com email because Safari "cannot find page," for that matter, it cannot find a damn thing. Everything loads slowly and I have had to go between FireFox and Safari to get anything done. Forget using the back button.

    Summary

    My largest complaint is that Safari is constantly throwing up "cannot find page" for common sites like my att.Yahoo.net email account. The back button does not work (has never worked) correctly and either requires me to click on it numerous times, or it knocks me out of a website like g-mail.com email, altogether. Safari 5.0 is more aggravation than it is worth.

    Updated on Jun 22, 2010

    As soon as I downloaded Safari 5.0, an eruption of "cannot find this page" began coming up. It cannot even 'find' my email AT&T (sbcglobal.net) account and alternative methods must be used. Programs load slower, email loads slower, and it is a generally disruptive piece of software. Read that to mean a piece of junk..

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Firefox and Chrome all the way"

    June 11, 2010  |   By Robert G K

    Version: Apple Safari 5.0

    Pros

    Its a web browser

    Cons

    It an Apple product.

    Summary

    YAK

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  • 1.0 stars

    "KEEP AWAY !"

    June 10, 2010  |   By shirland

    Version: Apple Safari 5.0

    Summary

    This review was originally posted on VersionTracker.com.
    Have been using safari without too many problems forever.

    Yesterday I upgraded to version 5 and now it is slower, hangs all the time, crashes and frankly is absolute cr*p.

    I have now switched to Google Chrome until apple get their act together.

    I have had enough of force quitting every hour

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  • 1.0 stars

    "worse than version 4"

    June 9, 2010  |   By ennui1ross

    Version: Apple Safari 5.0

    Summary

    This review was originally posted on VersionTracker.com.
    will not load anything in 10.5.8

    10.5.8
    PPC G4 1.0ghz dual
    2g memory

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Results 1-10 of 20

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