Safari by a nose

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was giving Firefox a try. Before I tell you that I’ve gone back to Safari, I have to mention that I’m not one of these Mac zealots who prostrates himself to Cupertino five times a day, nor do I have a beatific painting of Steve Jobs hanging anywhere in my house. I was, in fact, a heavy user of Firefox when my main computer was running Linux, and I always preferred Firefox to Internet Explorer when I had a Windows laptop.


For the way I browse, the advantages of Firefox—the personalization made possible by XUL and Greasemonkey, for example—are just not great enough on a Mac to choose it over the standard, Safari. If I were a web developer, the various extensions for inspecting the DOM, changing the stylesheet on the fly, etc. would probably give Firefox the edge. And if I needed MathML, Firefox would be the only game in town.

There is a slight clunkiness in Firefox’s user interface. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I think more about the browser when I’m using Firefox, and I don’t really want to think about the browser, I just want to use it. One UI aspect that I definitely find annoying comes up when I type a partial URL: even if there’s only one completion, Firefox makes me choose it (by arrow key or mouse) instead of just making the completion itself. (On the other hand, I really wish Safari treated the Bookmarks Bar like a menubar the way Firefox does. Most of my bookmarks are nested, and if I hit the wrong category by mistake, Safari makes me click off the menu to make the mistaken menu go away, then click again on the correct category button to bring up the right menu; Firefox lets me just sweep across the categories, dropping down each menu in turn.)

Here’s a funny thing: favicons don’t show up consistently in Firefox, and although you might think that’s a really small point, it turns out to be very annoying. Every time I saw the generic icon next to the Amazon entry in my Bookmarks Bar, I stopped to wonder why.

As with my NetNewsWire tryout, I stopped using Firefox after a couple of weeks and have never found myself yearning to go back. So it’s Safari until further notice.