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A few months back, we polled a group of Macworld readers to find out which Mac programs they used on a regular basis. I was shocked at the results: while old standby Microsoft Word came in third, the top two spots were taken by Apple’s iTunes and Safari.

In hindsight, I suppose that this makes sense. Lots of us keep iTunes open in the background all the time, playing music while we do something else. Ditto for Safari, which Iuse constantly (although I admit I’ve enjoyed using Mozilla’s Firefox and The Omni Group’s OmniWeb, too). Seeing Safari place so high on the list of favored apps reminded us that we shouldn’t underestimate the power of the Web just because it’s so familiar.

It also started an interesting conversation among the editors here. We all surf the Web, but it’s not always as easy to use as we’d like. Steve Jobs may claim that finding pages on the Web is easier than finding files on your hard drive, but it’s still not easy to wade through all those search results to find what you really want.

That’s what we were thinking as we developed our story “Untangle the Web”. Our goal is to help you quickly find what you need on the Web. We’ve also put together a bunch of Safari tips and a list of add-ons that will help you get more out of Apple’s streamlined Web browser. And we’ve rounded up and compared the leading Safari alternatives. If you use the Web, I think you’ll find that the results are worth more than a casual browse.

Gadgets and Gear

One of the first stories I worked on upon arriving at Macworld in 1997 was a showcase of cutting-edge gadgets, from brightly colored cordless phones to the original PalmPilot. I realized then, and still believe now, that Mac users have a taste for the finer things in life—in fact, that’s a big reason we’re Mac users in the first place. We aren’t spendthrifts, but we know and appreciate clever bits of technology when we see them.

That’s why we’re once again showcasing more than 30 of the newest, niftiest gadgets we could find ( Macworld ’s Gear Guide,” ). Some of them are directly Mac related, accessories that’ll make your Mac more useful or capable. Others are slightly further afield—but they should still appeal to the, ahem , refined tech sensibilities of Mac users.

As we approach the holiday season, we hope you gift givers out there will find that this story is a useful starting point for your gift-list brainstorming. If you’re on the receiving end, you’ll see some cool items to put on your wish list. And if you’re not the gifting type, fear not: once you see the products we’ve singled out, you’ll probably find at least one that you’ll want to get for yourself.

Online Expansion

If you haven’t visited or its sister site,, lately, you should. We recently completed a redesign of the two sites that unifies them under a single look. We’ve also introduced several new features. I’m excited about our Apple Hardware Guide, which puts all the information about currently shipping Mac hardware—including Macworld mouse ratings, Speedmark test scores, and constantly updated pricing—on one page.

In the coming months, you’ll find even more on, as we expand our online coverage and add special features for magazine subscribers. You’ll start finding more links in our pages pointing to extra resources, deeper information, and up-to-the-minute online coverage that just couldn’t make it into print. I hope you’ll come to rely on our Web site as an excellent complement to Macworld in print.

Sidebar: About This Mac

If you regularly use Microsoft Office 2004, you may have noticed some funny behavior. We certainly did. So we sent Contributing Editor (and our resident Office guru) Rob Griffiths on a search for answers. In this month’s Working Mac, Rob reveals solutions and workarounds for 14 of the suite’s most annoying quirks, bugs, and pitfalls—from unexpected quits to trouble copying and pasting text between Word 2004 and Apple’s iChat.

Apparently, Microsoft has been listening. As this issue was going to press, Microsoft released the Mac Service Pack 1, a collection of bug fixes and performance improvements for Office 2004. You can download the free update from Microsoft’s Web site. This update fixes problems with stability, security, and more—including a few of the glitches that Rob mentions in his column. But it doesn’t solve them all. So Rob revisited his Working Mac column to look at which glitches weren’t addressed by Microsoft’s update.

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