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Mountain Lion 101: Safari

Apple's venerable Mac Web browser, Safari, was updated to version 6.0 yesterday with the release of OS X Mountain Lion with many new features and one glaring omission. Safari 6 is also available for Lion users.

First, let's talk about the omission -- while earlier versions of Safari offered an RSS button in the address bar that allowed a one-click way to subscribe to RSS or Atom feeds for sites that provided them, Safari 6 did away with this feature. Fortunately, Daniel Jalkut has already stepped up and written a Safari extension to add the button back.

Many of the changes to Safari 6 are subtle. For example, for many Safari users searching for Web content, it's second nature to click in the "search" field. When they move to Safari 6, they'll be surprised to find that the search field is now gone, replaced by one field for both searching and typing addresses.

When you start typing in the field, Safari immediately tries to match your entry to a previously visited site. You can see this in the image below, where typing "macst" brought up a "Top Hit" of the MacStories.net website. This behavior will be familiar to users of Firefox's Awesome Bar or Chrome's unified search/address field, but it's new for Safari.

Mountain Lion 101 Safari

Next, Safari 6 now supports the "Do Not Track" privacy standard. Either turning on Private Browsing (under the Safari menu) or selecting "Ask websites not to track me" from the Privacy pane of Safari preferences keeps your Web browsing private.

Performance of Safari has apparently improved, with smoother scrolling, faster text and graphics rendering. JavaScript performance is claimed to be up to 6 percent faster than Safari 5.1.

One of my favorite features -- something that has been in Google Chrome Sync for a while -- is called "iCloud Tabs." This feature stores all of your open Safari tabs and makes them available on your other Macs so you can move between computers and still have access to all of your recent websites. Once iOS 6 is available this fall, you'll see iCloud Tabs moving to iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch as well. The image below shows the two windows, one with four open tabs, that I have open on my MacBook Air. I'm viewing this on my iMac.

Mountain Lion 101 Safari

There's a new Share button just to the left of the address bar, that makes it a snap to share web pages. At the present time, you can share addresses using Mail, Messages, and Twitter -- when Facebook support is added to OS X Mountain Lion this fall, you'll be able to post to that social network with a few clicks.

Multi-touch navigation of tabs has been added to Safari 6 as well. On a trackpad, a "pinch" shows open tabs as separate windows that can be navigated to with a click. In tab view, a two-finger swipe moves between the tabs.

Safari offers to save passwords for you for AutoFill, which might keep you from having to type in a lot of passwords on your favorite sites. If you need to see those passwords, there's a Passwords pane in Safari preferences -- enter your system password, and you'll be able to see what's saved.

Finally, there's one little item that I found extremely handy during the pre-release betas -- renaming bookmarks in the bookmarks bar. No longer do you need to go into the bookmarks editor to rename a bookmark. Now, clicking and holding on a bookmark or folder name makes it editable. Unfortunately, this doesn't extend to bookmarks inside folders.

What's your favorite feature or pet peeve when it comes to Safari 6? Let us know in the comments.

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