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Apple Mac OS X tips and tweaks

New features in Safari 5 you rmay not have noticed

There have been some well publicised new features and improvements in the Safari 5 web browser for the Apple Mac, such as the controversial Reader mode, support for lots of great HTML 5 functions, a faster page engine powering the browser, DNS prefetching and caching, Bing search and more. This article takes a look as some less obvious features - changes to the menus and preferences. Safari 5 isn't hugely different and some new items aren't obvious. Looking through the menus you might think that nothing has changed, but they are easy to see when you compare them side by side.

The new Edit menu

Snow Leopard introduced many new features and these are reflected in the additions to the Edit menu (you probably won't see them in earlier versions of OS X). Below Spelling and Grammar there is now Substitutions, Transformations and Speech. Select Edit, Substitutions, Show Substitutions and a small dialog will be displayed with several options. One of these is Smart Quotes, which replaces " " with proper quotes (like 66 and 99). There's an option to turn on text replacement. What's this? Click Text Preferences and you'll see the System Preferences window open, with Language and Text selected. You'll see the substitutions and you can replace (c) with the proper copyright symbol, (r) with the registered trademark symbol and so on.

None of these features are useful for web browsing, but they are very useful when you enter information into text boxes such as in a form or when you are writing a blog. Similarly, the Edit, Transformations menu is only useful when you are typing into web pages. You can make selected text all uppercase or lowercase, or capitalise first letters.

Speech enables you to speak the text on a web page. Select it and choose it from the Edit menu. Sometimes you get tiny text on web pages and it could be useful for speaking it if you're eyesight isn't good enough to read it.

Safari 4
Safari 5

        

Safari 5
Safari 5

The Develop menu

The Develop menu is not visible by default and it's initially hidden. Go to the Safari menu and click Preferences then click the Advanced icon and tick the option labelled Show Develop menu in menu bar. Close the Preferences dialog and click the Develop menu to see the new items.

There are two new menu options and the first is Enable Extensions. When this is ticked, you can download and install Safari extensions. This is something new for Safari, but it has been around for a long time with Firefox. There are thousands of Firefox add-ons and plug-ins that add extra features and functions to the web browser and they are one reason for its popularity. Google has added extensions to Chrome too, and now Safari has them. Apple is late in adding this capability and it's hidden quite well, but at last it's here.

Right now (about a week after Safari was released), there aren't many extensions, but this situation will quick change and developers will soon get to grips with the new browser and they'll add lots of cool new features. Keep you eye on websites like Pimp My Safari, Safari Extensions, and others that are likely to spring up very quickly.

The second new item on the Develop menu is show Extension Builder. Click it and a blank window opens. It looks weird because there are no menus, icons or toolbars, but there's a single button in the bottom left corner. Click it and a little menu pops up that enables you to load an extension that's been saved to disk, or create a new one of your own. This is really only for experienced developers and this isn't the place to discuss extension development techniques. A search at Google should help you to get started if you are interested.

Safari 4
Safari 5

    

Safari 5
Safari 5

General preferences

Go to the Safari menu and select Preferences to see a slightly different dialog in version 5 of the web browser. On the General tab there is now an option to set the default search engine - the one used when you enter something into the search box in the top right corner of the browser window. It's not really need because you can click the down arrow in the search box and choose either Google, Bing or Yahoo! anyway.

One other change on the General tab is the removal of the option to open links from applications either in a new window or a new tab. This doesn't appear to be in the program any more.

Safari 5
Safari 5

Extensions

One of the main new features of Safari is extensions and if you go to the Safari menu, then Preferences, Extensions, you will see any extensions that you have installed. You can turn extensions on and off here and uninstall individual extensions. At the time of writing, there are only a handful to choose from, but there will soon be lots to choose from, so keep searching at Google.

Safari 5
Safari 5

 

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