If you know your browsers, you’ll know Sa­fari’s play­ing catch-up

Mac Format - - IMPROVE -

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 (fire­, Opera ( and Google 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.

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