Tab saver, too

Tabbed browsing —which lets you open multiple Web sites in a single browser window—is a handy feature. It’s been available in some Web browsers as far back as the mid-1990s; Safari finally added it in 2003 (in Safari 2.0). However, tabbed browsing introduces a potential issue not found in one-page-per-window browsers: the risk of accidentally closing a window with multiple tabs when you really just wanted to close a particular tab—or accidentally quitting the browser when you meant to simply close a tab or window. If you’ve got ten Web sites open in a single window, and you accidentally click on the window’s red “close” button, or press Command+Q instead of Command+W, you’ll lose all those tabs, with no way—short of racking your brain or weeding through your browser's history—of getting them back.

Now, many browsers include features to help prevent such a scenario. For example, some automatically save open tabs when you quit; some just warn you before closing a window with multiple tabs. Unfortunately, Safari currently offers no such feature. You close it, you lose it.

Back in May of 2005, I wrote about Taboo, a SIMBL plug-in that modifies Safari so that whenever you try to close a Safari window, or quit Safari altogether, with multiple tabs open, a dialog pops up alerting you to this fact and asking if you’re sure you really want to perform the action. But Jim Fowler’s free ForgetMeNot 2.0 (   ) does Taboo one better. Also a SIMBL plug-in, ForgetMeNot actually remembers the tabs in a window: If you quit Safari with multiple tabs open, the next time you launch Safari, ForgetMeNot will automatically restore those tabs. And if you quit Safari with multiple windows open, each with multiple tabs, the next time you launch Safari, ForgetMeNot will actuallly re-open each window, restoring each window’s tabs.

What if you accidentally close a window with multiple tabs? ForgetMeNot adds an Unclose Window item to Safari’s File menu—choosing this item opens a new window and restores all the tabs in the window you just closed.

Unfortunately, ForgetMeNot can’t save you from Safari crashes ; in these cases, the next time you launch Safari, ForgetMeNot loads the tabs that were open the last time you closed a Safari window or quit Safari normally.

I also have the same complaint about ForgetMeNot that I had about Taboo, relating to the software’s installer. The SIMBL system, used by many Safari plug-ins, works via Mac OS X’s InputManager system. This means that you should be able to install SIMBL and its plug-ins in either /Library (which would make its functionality available to all users on your Mac) or ~/Library (which would restrict it to your own account). However, the ForgetMetNot installer package doesn’t give you this option—it simply installs the software in /Library. As I mentioned in my review of Taboo:

Why does this matter? For one thing, it’s always safer to install software like this—stuff that modifies the OS or applications—in individual user accounts, rather that at the system level. That way, if the software ever causes problems, you can log into a “clean” account to fix things. But more specifically, sometimes new versions of Safari conflict with the underlying SIMBL software; if you install a Mac OS X or Safari update, and it doesn’t work with SIMBL, Safari won’t work until you either remove SIMBL or download an updated version; you can’t do the latter if you can’t launch Safari in any account.

As a result, I recommend that after installing ForgetMeNot, you move its software from /Library (the Library folder at the root level of your hard drive) to ~/Library (the Library folder in your home folder). First, move the SIMBL folder from /Library/InputManagers to ~/Library/InputManagers. Second, move the ForgetMeNot.bundle file from /Library/Application Support/SIMBL/Plugins to ~/Library/Application Support/SIMBL/Plugins. (If either of these folders doesn’t exist, you can create it yourself.) Note that if you want to use ForgetMeNot in multiple accounts, you’ll need to copy these folders to the appropriate locations in each user’s home folder. Also note that if you’re using any other SIMBL plug-ins (iCar, PathFinderHack, PithHelmet, TerminalColors, etc.), you may want to make the same changes for them. I realize this is a hassle, but at least it’s a one-time hassle.

Sure, you could get functionality similar to ForgetMeNot by switching to a browser such as Camino or Firefox, but some people prefer Safari—for those people, ForgetMeNot is a welcome add-on.

ForgetMeNot works with Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger).

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