Five tips for better browsing

Use Predictive Searching

In Firefox 2 or Safari, when you begin typing a URL into the location bar, the browser shows any matching URLs from your bookmark list or browsing history. This lets you navigate to one of the suggested links with the keyboard or mouse.

Firefox 3 takes this autocompletion feature to a new level. It recognizes not only portions of URLs, but also words from the titles of Web pages and tags that you’ve added to your bookmarks. (To append tags to bookmarks, choose Bookmarks: Bookmark This Page, or double-click on the blue star at the right side of the location bar; enter keywords in the Tags field.) You can also type search terms directly into the location bar. Firefox performs a Google search and either brings up a results page or takes you straight to the top Web page when it finds a clear match.

Inquisitor
David Watanabe's Inquisitor utility can help you speed up your Safari searches, by adding intelligent autocompletion.
Although Safari lacks these sophisticated autocompletion features, you can enhance its search field using David Watanabe’s free Inquisitor 3 add-on. Inquisitor provides intelligent autocompletion—for example, type macw and it suggests "macworld" as a match. Enter lord of and Inquisitor suggests "lord of the rings online" among other matches. Inquisitor also displays pages that would appear in a search for those terms. Type diskw, for instance, and you’ll see a list of sites about Alsoft’s DiskWarrior utility ( ). Use the arrow keys to jump directly to the result you want—all without having to display a page of Google search results.

Improve Site Support

Once in a while, you might encounter a site that refuses to display properly or that generates an error message telling you your browser’s not supported. However, you can sometimes outsmart such sites by switching the user agent setting, a trick that lets one browser masquerade as another. For instance, a site that doesn’t work in Safari might work if you change the setting to Firefox.

User Agent
If you're trying to log into a site that doesn't like Firefox, the User Agent add-on will let you pose as another browser.
In Safari 3.1.1, you must first enable the normally hidden Develop menu. Choose Safari: Preferences, click on Advanced, and select the Show Develop Menu In Menu Bar option. If you encounter an unsupported site, select Develop: User Agent, and choose one of the browsers listed. Then, in the same tab, reenter the URL you originally tried to visit. If you use Firefox, download the free User Agent Switcher add-on. This appends the User Agent Switcher submenu to the Tools menu; from here you can select a different browser.

Unfortunately, this trick doesn’t always work, since some sites rely on features built into Windows, such as ActiveX controls or a PC-only plug-in. The only way to view these sites is by running Windows through Boot Camp or in a virtualization program such as Parallels’ $80 Parallels Desktop 3 for Mac ( ) or VMware’s $80 VMware Fusion 1.1.2 ( ).

[Joe Kissell is the senior editor of TidBits and the author of numerous e-books about Mac OS X.]

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