Shortly after the release of the Safari 4 beta, I (and apparently thousands of others across the net) extracted the text strings from the binary, looking for hidden preferences to tweak the latest version of the flagship OS X browser. One of the first tweaks to be discovered was the command to move the tab bar back underneath the bookmarks bar. Since then, others have been discovered (by many people), so I thought it might be useful to cover all of these hidden preferences in one consolidated hint.
I’m going to explain each hidden preference in a bit of detail and show you exactly how to implement each one using Terminal. If you’d rather just implement a given setting without having to know the command and use Terminal, you could use Secrets, a free OS X System Preferences panel that makes it easy to implement hidden preferences in many different applications. Note, however, that not all of these may be there, and that documentation may be sparse (or in some cases, incorrect). Still, Secrets is a simple way to implement many of the following Safari 4 beta modifications.
For those still reading, the following hidden preferences affect features that are all enabled by default in the Safari 4 beta. These preferences are also stored as boolean (TRUE or FALSE) values–so to disable a given preference, we’ll change it’s value to FALSE. Before changing any of these hidden preferences, make sure Safari 4 isn’t running–if it’s still running when you make a change, that change will not take effect.
The basic command in Terminal (in Applications -> Utilities) to implement each hidden preference is identical, varying only in the name of the preference being modified. This is the command you’ll use to disable a given hidden preference:
Replace pref_name with the name of the hidden preference as shown below, press Return, and you’re done. The next time you launch Safari 4 Beta, the preference you modified will be disabled. So to move the tab bar, as covered in the previous article, you’d type:
Press Return after pasting that in Terminal, launch Safari 4 Beta again, and enjoy your relocated tab bar. Here are seven other hidden Safari 4 Beta preferences and a brief explanation of what feature(s) they affect. To implement any of them, just replace pref_name in the above Terminal command with the DebugSafari4… name shown below, and paste into Terminal.
DebugSafari4IncludeGoogleSuggest: Disable the drop-down menu in the search box that shows Google search suggestions, your recent search history, and the ‘find this text on this page’ feature.
DebugSafari4LoadProgressStyle: This preference only works if you also set the DebugSafari4IncludeToolbarRedesign preference as well. When both are set, this one gives you the old-style blue progress indicator behind the URL bar.
DebugSafari4IncludeToolbarRedesign: Set this preference to remove the Refresh/Stop icon, and the Bookmark icon, from the new Address/URL input box. Once removed, you can add them to the toolbar via the View -> Customize Toolbar dialog box, as you could in Safari 3. Required to be set if you want the old-style progress indicator.
DebugSafari4IncludeFlowViewInBookmarksView: Disables Cover Flow view when using the Bookmarks -> Show All Bookmarks page. Once disabled, you’ll see a Bookmarks page that looks basically identical to the Bookmarks page in Safari 3.
DebugSafari4TopSitesZoomToPageAnimationDimsSnapshot: When set, the browser window isn’t dimmed when zooming to a given site from the Top Sites page.
DebugSafari4IncludeTopSites: Completely disables the Top Sites feature, removing its icon from the toolbar and preventing the Top Sites page from loading.
DebugSafari4IncludeFancyURLCompletionList:Eliminates the three-section drop-down menu that appears when entering a URL. Instead, behavior reverts to that of Safari 3, where you’ll see previously-entered URLs as you type.
Remember to set these when Safari 4 Beta isn’t running. If you try one and decide you prefer the default behavior, you can re-run the Terminal command, replacing FALSE with TRUE, or you can just delete the preference entirely:
Again, this must be done when Safari 4 Beta isn’t running. Keep in mind that the Safari 4 beta is just that–a beta–and that these tweaks may or may not work in the final version of the browser. For now, though, these tweaks can help you customize the beta to best suit your own personal preferences.