Making Safari Usable

One of the things that Activity Monitor’s “Energy Impact” fields have made obvious is that Safari 7.0 is significantly more energy efficient than both Chrome 30.0 or Firefox 27a1.

After regular usage, Safari has an Average Energy Impact of about 4-5 5-6 vs Chrome and Firefox hovering at about 8-9. For comparison: Airmail averages about 3, Spotlight is about 2, and Dropbox 0.75. Playing a 720p H.264 MOV in Quicktime Player is about a 9, and playing a 720 H.264 MKV in VLC is 20+.

Recently I’ve been migrating away from Chrome and back to Firefox, as the former has gotten more sluggish, and the latter has gotten a lot faster (Chrome is still my preferred browser for dev and the only option for SSBs), which actually has left me in a good place to try switching to Safari, as I’ve pared down my “necessary” plugins:

  • 1Password 4 – 1Password 4 is a huge improvement and the new way it works w/ browsers (as a simple frontend that interacts w/ a menubar app) makes all the browsers extensions work equally well (previously, the Firefox plugin would constantly freak out). With all the recent hacks, having unique passwords is more important than ever and I can wholeheartedly recommend 1Password.
  • Adblock – Safari only supports Adblock, not Adblock Plus but they both work well enough
  • Lazarus – if you’ve ever lost something you typed into a text box due to a browser close/crash you’ll want this. Available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari
  • Evernote Clipper – I use Evernote for storing everything. Chrome’s extension is newer/fancier (and has some unique features) while Safari and Firefox are both an older version (but serviceable). I sort of like how the older version works so I’m not really complaining, although it is a bit curious.
  • Pocket – I’ve been using ReadItLater/Pocket for years. All the plugins add a “save to pocket” to the context menu, which is pretty much all I want. The Chrome version is a bit nicer since it has a colored icon in the context menu that actually makes it noticeably easier to us.

I also am using QuickStyle for Safari, which is like Stylish for Firefox or Stylebot for Chrome, but that’s more of a nice-to-have.

The most annoying thing I’ve found so far with using Safari, and probably the biggest reason I’ve never stuck with it, is that CMD 1-9 are mapped to the bookmarks bar and not switching tabs. It’s confounding (especially as I hide and don’t even use the bookmarks bar).

The solution for this is a SIMBL plugin called SafariTabSwitching – there is an installer on the Github page so installing is a snap, and the latest version is updated for Mavericks and is working great.

There are still a couple other niggles (only a single tab unclose), tab-close focusing is different, both Chrome and Firefox have a very useful contextual status bar (ie, when you mouseover a link, the URL shows up in the bottom left), so we’ll have to see if switching to Safari gives enough battery life to make it worth it. I’ll probably be updating this in a week or two w/ how it turns out.