Apple Safari for Mac

Apple Safari for Mac

Editors' Rating:
4.5
Outstanding
Average User Rating:
3.9
out of 834 votes
See all user reviews

Quick Specs

Version:
5.1
File Size:
44.79MB
Date Added:
July 20, 2011
Price:
Free
Operating Systems:
Mac/OS X 10.6
Total Downloads:
250,684
Downloads Last Week:
252
Product ranking:
#6 in Web Browsers
Additional Requirements:
Not available

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
Scroll Left Scroll Right

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.

Publisher's Description

More Products to Consider

All User Reviews
  • All Versions:

    3.9

    out of 834 votes

    • 5 star: 351
    • 4 star: 237
    • 3 star: 117
    • 2 star: 58
    • 1 star: 71
  • Current Version:

    2.6

    out of 13 votes

    • 5 star: 1
    • 4 star: 2
    • 3 star: 5
    • 2 star: 1
    • 1 star: 4
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

Add Your Review

Quickly sign in with: or Login or create an account to post a review.
You are logged in as . Please submit your review for Apple Safari
Add Your Review

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited.
Click here to review our site terms of use.

Update your review

Since you've already submitted a review for this product, this submission will be added as an update to your original review.
Submit

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited.
Click here to review our site terms of use.

Previous Versions:

Close[x]

Submit a problem report for Apple Safari

Please describe the problem you have with this software. This information will be sent to our editors for review.

Problem:

The Download.com Installer isn't working as expected

The download link does not work

The software has a newer version

The product contains malicious software

Other

Description:

Please select a feedback type.

Please enter a description.

Submit Problem Report

Close[x]

Problem Report submitted

Thank you for submitting a problem report! The Download team is committed to providing you with accurate software information.

OK