Safari’s Hidden Powers

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Plug-ins and bookmarklets are a great way to extend Safari’s powers. But to truly get the most out of your browser, first make sure you’re putting to use everything Safari has the offer.

Tabbed Browsing I’m constantly surprised by how few Safari users take advantage of the program’s Tab feature. If you ever find yourself switching back and forth between multiple browser windows, or constantly hitting the back button to return to a page of links, you need tabs. Tabs let you open multiple Web pages in a single browser window. Each page is marked by a small gray box at the top of the window and contains a close button and the page title. You can open as many tabs as you want and then quickly move between them with a click of the mouse.

To start using tabs, open Safari’s Tabs preferences and turn on the Enable Tabbed Browsing option. Now whenever you Command-click on a new link, Safari will open that page in a new tab. This is a great way to peruse online news sites, for example. Simply Command-click on every headline you’re interested in reading, and when you’re done, you’ll have all the stories lined up—no more clicking back to the Web site’s front page to find the next story.

Tabs can also simplify your morning routine. If there’s a group of Web sites you visit every morning, bookmark each page and save them in a new bookmark folder. In the morning, simply click on the folder and choose Open In Tabs from the bottom of the menu (see screenshot).

If you don’t mind losing quick access to individual bookmarks in the folder, go to Bookmarks: Show All Bookmarks and select the Auto-Tab option next to the folder. Now you can open all the sites inside a folder by clicking it on your Bookmarks Bar.

The Debug Menu Ever come across a Web site that told you to get another browser or get lost? Some Web developers—such as the one responsible for—choose to simply block Safari users rather than optimize their HTML code for the relatively new browser. But that doesn’t always mean Safari can’t render the page.

Safari’s Debug menu can help you work around these roadblocks. Turned off by default, the Debug menu mainly specializes in geeky tasks, such as logging JavaScript exceptions. However, you can also use it to easily change Safari’s user agent—thereby tricking stingy Web sites into thinking you’re using a more acceptable browser.

There are a number of ways to turn on Safari’s Debug menu; the simplest is via a downloadable plug-in such as Saft or application such as Safari Enhancer. Once you’ve activated the Debug menu, you can use it to sneak past Web site barriers by going to Debug: User Agent and selecting the browser you’d like to masquerade as. Then, simply reload the problematic Web page. Keep in mind that Safari can’t actually render pages as though it were a different browser. So this trick won’t help you sidestep incompatible JavaScript or similar problems. But it will at least get you in the door.

Simplify your morning routine by opening an entire folder of bookmarks into separate tabs (located underneath the Bookmarks bar). When you’re done with a page, just click on the tab’s close button.
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