If you know your browsers, you’ll know Safari’s playing catch-up
Web designers, quite logically, know their browsers. They know which ones are good and which need a bit of a kick up the bottom. For years, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was the target of most people’s venom, but now plenty of users are starting to call Safari the new IE, mostly because it has a tendency to lag behind the rest of the industry.
You can’t help but feel this way on seeing two of the new Safari features coming in El Capitan: one is ‘pinned sites’, which allows you to permanently position oft-visited sites towards the left of the tab bar, accessing them by way of clicking icons on tiny tabs; the other is tab muting, which turns off the audio on a specific tab that’s blaring out an annoying ad or video you didn’t realise was playing.
To be fair, these are really handy features, but they’re already found in rival browsers. Firefox (firefox.com), Opera (opera.com) and Google Chrome (google.co.uk/chrome) all enable you to pin a tab by ≈- clicking it and selecting Pin Tab. Chrome’s implementation is closest to what you’ll see in Safari, and Google’s browser also has the advantage of optionally sharing bookmarks over the cloud to a very strong iOS browser.
From an audio standpoint, most browsers rely on a plug-in to silence tabs, but Chrome has an experimental built-in feature that seems to work. Enter chrome://flags/#enable-tabaudio-muting in its address bar and click the Enable link. The next time you relaunch Chrome, little speaker icons will appear in tabs that are playing audio. Click them to silence the content within.
If you are resolute in wanting to stick with Safari until it gets upgraded in El Capitan, then you’ll have to make do without pinned tabs, although you can at least pin sites to Top Sites, and use the General preferences to set new windows or tabs to open specific pages. For audio muting, consider ClickToPlugin or ClickToFlash (both free, http://bit. ly/1fhQvru), extensions that nullify the majority of noisy content (typically videos, games and adverts) until you specifically ask it to play.
If you’re not bothered about sticking with Safari, rival browsers tend to get features first.