Apple Safari 5.1 - Free download and software reviews - CNET Download.com

Apple Safari

CNET Editors' review

The previous version of Safari for Windows dramatically changed the nature of the browser from something of an unfinished curiosity to an alternative with seriously quick chops. It lacked many of the customization features that define most other browsers, but certain unique default features, such as the visually impressive, Cover Flow-inspired Top Sites and history viewing, made it worth checking out for more users besides just browser enthusiasts and jaded reviewers.

Though Safari 5 continues the push for speed, able to surpass (by some tests) bleeding-edge JavaScript engines from Google and Opera, 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. However, the biggest new feature of them all--Extensions--won't be available until later this summer according to Apple, and depending on what you're looking for in a browser, Safari can be seen as lacking many helpful options.

Installation and setup
Safari 5 is easy to install, although the time it takes to run the installer feels longer than its major alterna-browser competitors of Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. It updates using the Apple Software Updater, which may opt you in to other Windows-based Apple programs when it detects an update. Safari does not come with an uninstaller, and so it must be removed using the default Windows Add/Remove Programs tool or a third-party remover.

Interface
Safari's interface hasn't changed much from Safari 4. 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. It will look the same on Windows XP or Windows 7, since there's no real support for Aero Glass. In many ways, it's not as minimal as Chrome or Opera, and feels a bit older because of it.

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, which would be acceptable if there was another way to view a link's URL before clicking on it. Chrome manages a small pop-up at the bottom of the browser, but since Safari doesn't, we recommend forcing the status bar to appear for safety reasons. It's never a good idea to click blindly on a link, and it's unfortunate that the default Safari encourages this behavior. The status bar can be forced to appear from the View option on the menu bar, which is also hidden by default. You can force show the menu bar at the top of the Preferences menu, or by hitting the Alt key.

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 managed from the Extensions tab that should now appear in the Preferences windows. At the time this review was written, most extensions had been ported from Google Chrome since both browsers share the same rendering engine.

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 a long time.

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 out.

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 Windows, users get the visual indicators for multiple tabs, but there's still no support for jump lists or recently viewed sites.

(Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

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 milliseconds over three cold-boot runs on the SunSpider JavaScript test. The current stable version of Chrome released today, version 5.0.375.70, scored 525.19 ms. The disparity between the Mac versions was far greater. 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 ms. Google Chrome took 498.67 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 trailblazing, 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, but Apple's focus on other user needs remains less than exemplary.

Safari 4 for Windows and Mac:

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All User Reviews
  • All versions:

    3.1 stars

    out of 765 votes

    • 5 star: 199
    • 4 star: 158
    • 3 star: 128
    • 2 star: 96
    • 1 star: 184
  • Current version:

    2.9 stars

    out of 26 votes

    • 5 star: 7
    • 4 star: 4
    • 3 star: 3
    • 2 star: 3
    • 1 star: 9
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1-10 of 26

  • 5.0 stars

    "Absolutely LOVE IT way better then any other browser"

    October 7, 2011  |   By jaymans

    Version: Apple Safari 5.1

    Pros

    It works worry free all other browsers slow or always crash was very annoying was fed up safari's staying here!
    Safari has DEP disruption evolution protection which if sites unsafe it closes without damage to computer like this feature very much :)

    Cons

    NOTHING ONCE SO EVER

    Summary

    Might number 8 for web browsers but it's number 1 here plan on keeping it :) sweet Browsers absolutely love it :) :) why I never got it 3 years ago is beyond me 5 stars firefox crashes way to often google chrome had it for 2 weeks started crashing Opera way to many bugs no thanks !!!!

    Reply to this review Read replies (2)

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Won't load any pages from the internet"

    October 6, 2011  |   By zoomie666

    Version: Apple Safari 5.1

    Pros

    None at this time as it won't load anything.

    Cons

    The browser will just not load any website at all. I see this is not an isolated instance, from reading the Safari official forums.

    Summary

    I will wait for an update on the software and try it again.

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Its alright."

    September 23, 2011  |   By simp2005

    Version: Apple Safari 5.1

    Pros

    You get that nice feel of apples safari browser if you have windows. I like that it has add-on's like a adblock.

    Cons

    There is some cons like security and performance. I am not a big fan of the performance its slow it crashes. The security is not so fantastic and apple is not great with updates to their browser to.

    Summary

    Its alright for those who wanna make their windows computer look like mac with just Safari and iTunes and quicktime but still not recommended to use. They need to provide better performance and security updates so that their browser is stable enough to use for windows and mac users. I would think it is a great alternative to the slow Firefox and the heavy memory resourced chrome. That would be able to happen like I said if they provide security updates so their users can feel more secure. What ever happened to Safari 6? They said oh yea what to expect in Safari 6 and what not and they never released it. Safari is a cool alternative if you don't like adobe flash player and flash players crashes.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "excellent program , works well"

    September 15, 2011  |   By mrbill101

    Version: Apple Safari 5.1

    Pros

    works very well

    Cons

    none i can think of

    Reply to this review

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  • 3.0 stars

    "Good but one big problem: can't organize downloads"

    September 7, 2011  |   By vleesbouillon

    Version: Apple Safari 5.1

    Pros

    The Top Sites (you see all your most visited sites when you open Safari) is very useful. The history as well: you can see pictures of every site you visited.

    Cons

    It has a feature to always ask where you want to download a file to, but it doesn't work. It always downloads to the folder Downloads, which ends up in one big mess.

    Summary

    The design is a bit outdated, you can not search from the address box, you have no button to add a new tab: you always have to pass the menu.

    If the download problem was solved, I'd use it, now I prefer Firefox.

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  • 2.0 stars

    "Didn't notice any dramatic changes"

    September 6, 2011  |   By saniam

    Version: Apple Safari 5.1

    Pros

    No dramatic changes, at least that I could see, which is one thing I like about Apple. 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it!'

    Cons

    An application called "WebKit2WebProcess.exe" launched in background sucking up 100% of my CPU. Don't have a clue what this is or if I can get rid of it.

    Summary

    This new version of Safari is in keeping with most Apple applications ... few updates, few bugs and nothing so dramatic you need to learn the app as if it were new. The biggest downside for me is the app mentioned in "Cons" that is self-launching and a CPU sucker. I haven't checked Apple's site yet, but crossed fingers I can get rid of this, whatever it is!

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  • 1.0 stars

    "This DOESN'T WORK!!! Beware!!"

    August 23, 2011  |   By algeescabsky

    Version: Apple Safari 5.1

    Pros

    I updated or upgraded Safari 5.1, only to lose this browser. I am now shifting to IE8 for good.

    Cons

    My AVG 2011 anti-virus detected a MalwareTHREAT and blocked installation process, Beware.

    Summary

    Donnot upgrade to this version if you don't want to lose your Safari browser. I am now looking for a site where I can download for the older version.

    Reply to this review

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  • 3.0 stars

    "Some nice features but below par performance."

    August 13, 2011  |   By Reesho

    Version: Apple Safari 5.1

    Pros

    Safari has some nice features like the Top Site page. It's a low profile/conservative CPU slim browser and has a nice logical user friendly feature set.

    Cons

    Surprisingly has some problems with certain web pages and sometimes runs slowly. Doesn't work as well or as universally as Firefox or Google Chrome. Safari could also use a facelift option.

    Summary

    It's certainly an oddity that Apple's own browser is not keeping pace with it's competitors. If it wasn't for Cocoamug's Cosmopod I wouldn't use it at all!

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Safari 5.1 pile of poop"

    August 10, 2011  |   By StompinBabe

    Version: Apple Safari 5.1

    Pros

    Erm none that found

    Cons

    Everything so far, nothing good i can say about it

    Summary

    Wouldnt waste your time or energy seriously alot of work still needed

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  • 3.0 stars

    "nice browser but suffers from low page compatibility."

    August 10, 2011  |   By big-bang-man

    Version: Apple Safari 5.1

    Pros

    this browser has a nice presentation,reasonable speeds,a nice mac touch,dosent use much ram.

    Cons

    the setup file is way too big compared to other browsers,most common websites like hotmail has serious issues, webkit2 wrecks the browser,extensions are lacking which is the most important part, lacks tools which others offer.

    Summary

    the browser is okay but improvements are needed.Worth a shot!

    Reply to this review

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Results 1-10 of 26

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