Allow personal home page when using WebKit

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In my recent Macworld video blog, I discussed how to install and use WebKit, which is a version of Safari that includes the latest version of Apple’s open-source web page rendering engine. (Confusingly, the rendering engine is also known as WebKit). As covered in the video, WebKit includes bug fixes and new features for the rendering engine that haven’t yet made it into the released version of Safari. Generally I find the WebKit version of Safari to be just as stable and usable as the full version, and it’s the one I prefer to use.

There is one minor annoyance when using WebKit, however—your default home page (the page you see on launch) is replaced with this one, which thanks you for testing WebKit, and lets you know if there’s a new version to install (WebKit is typically updated every day). This page overrides whatever you have set in Safari/WebKit’s preferences. While it’s important for the WebKit team to know its testers are using the latest version, seeing this page over and over can get annoying after a while—especially if you’re using the excellent NightShift to make sure you’ve always got the latest version of WebKit installed.

Thankfully, Apple has included a somewhat-hidden preference to disable this feature—I say it’s somewhat-hidden because the information on how to override it is included in this link, which is right at the bottom of the page you see each time WebKit launches. However, given that I’d overlooked this link, perhaps others have as well.

As explained on that page, to disable the home page override, quit WebKit, launch Terminal (in Applications -> Utilities), copy and paste this command, then press Return:

defaults write org.webkit.nightly.WebKit StartPageDisabled -bool YES

The next time you launch WebKit, you’ll find that it respects the home page you’ve set in its preferences. To set things back to the way they were, quit WebKit, and repeat the above Terminal command, but change YES to NO.

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