in Geekiness, Rants and Raves

Safari: A Love/Hate Relationship

The default Macintosh browser is Safari. It’s a lovely piece of work. It’s by far my favorite browser to work with on a daily browser. But it has a problem. It’s woefully unstable. It crashes all the time, on every Mac I own. (And I have four of them.) It’s been like this since day one. This is a Bad, Bad Thing.

Because of what I do — maintain an infinite number of weblogs — I keep approximately 10-20 browser tabs open at all times. These are things about which I am currently writing, or hope to write soon. When Safari crashes, it takes those tabs with it, and there’s little hope of recovering them. (In extreme cases, I do sort through the hundreds of pages of browser history in search of a particularly important page, but mostly I just give the sites up as lost.)

For a long time, I switched to Firefox. Firefox crashes, too. But when Firefox crashes, recovery is easy. Firefox saves your “session”. That is, it remembers which tabs you had opened at crash. There is no excuse for Safari not to incorporate saved sessions. This is an easy thing to program. I could program it. Seriously. It’s basic.

There are other reasons to prefer Firefox, too, of course: extensibility, speed, etc. The thing is: Safari offers a better user experience. It’s more pleasant to use. Sites look much better in Safari. I prefer Safari to Firefox. Except…

At this point, I really have little choice but to move to Firefox. I simply cannot continue to work like this. It sucks to have a dozen prime page get flushed down the drain.

Write a Comment



  1. You do have a choice. Purchase OmniWeb for $29.95. It’s built off of WebKit, stores sessions after crashes (including form data!! I’ve had many a blog entry restored after a browser crash or accidental quitting), visual tabs, and workspaces. I’ve been using it since 2001 and it is the best browser out there bar none. It’s got a 30-day free trial so you can get your feet wet.

    It’s also absolutely beautiful.

  2. I’ve had the same experience with Firefox and thanked God for the session restore feature. Of course, I wish it wouldn’t crash, but I never get that sinking feeling I used to whenever it would go poof.

  3. This is an easy thing to program. I could program it. Seriously.

    Too late. It’s already been done with a relatively seamless plugin.

    Auto save and restore opened browser windows at quitting and start, including after a crash. Saft saves tab history and downloads entries, and allows you to choose which tabs to load after a crash.

    Adds many other features that I’ve grown accustomed to in firefox. Sometimes Apple puts too much of a premium on simplicity and cleanliness. I guess it’s an opportunity for third party developers.

  4. Thanks, Bill, for pointing to Omniweb. I’ll check it out. And especially thanks to Alex for pointing me to Saft. You can bet I’m downloading that!

  5. do i get shot for asking if it crashes not because it’s firefox but because it’s mac? i don’t have any problems with firefox crashing on my 3 laptops / 2 desktops / computers at the computer lab — with a dozen or more tabs open. not trying to add to the mac/pc cold war — i was a long-time mac user and don’t have any probs with macs. it’s just that i hear the word “crashed” a LOT from friends/family who own macs and wonder why.

  6. pdx,

    I think you’d have to have a specific geek job to be sure on the PC vs. mac question.

    I experience crashes with safari twice a month or so but I am known to be pretty hard on my computer with 10+ applications and 100+ windows open at a time (Do you know the maximum number of pdf files adobe acrobat reader can have open at once?). I haven’t rebooted my computer in a couple months and safari is the only program that I remember having isolated crashes. Some crashes are clearly linked to particular sites. Now that JD brings it up, maybe I should look into seeing if there is a remedy out there (problems with particular versions of the software?).

    I do suspect firefox on PC’s has more people tweaking it for bugs and more people test driving their websites on it than safari on mac or firefox on mac.

    When I hear about particularly bad experiences with macs I generally suspect a missing knowledge base. They don’t know what normal is and/or they don’t know how to do things efficiently. Many people live with problems that either don’t exist (upside down mice?) or that have known fixes.

    The more annoying problems on a mac are those related to microsoft. Try surfing MSNBC from a mac or transferring files back and forth between mac and pc versions of Office. There are fixes, but they aren’t easy and 95% of people don’t figure it out.

  7. I’ve used them all, and right now Camino is… the least onerous. There’s no substitute for Firefox feature-wise, but it’s starting to feel clunky and bloated. Gotta have FF for web development, though, with all the nice extensions.

    Camino is fast, shares the same render engine as Firefox, and a bit more Mac-friendly. The new betas include session-state saving.

    Safari’s nice, but the InputManager plug-ins can lead to system instability.

    I find myself just jumping into whatever browser I feel like. Since my bookmarks are in now, my investment in any one browser grows less.