I’ve been a Chrome browser user for a long time. It’s a great browser, but my love for all things Apple occasionally leads me to attempt the switch to Safari. There’s a lot to like about Safari- it’s fast, and it is deeply implemented in the OS X environment, via Reading List, iCloud, etc.
So recently I gave it another try. I spent some time setting up Safari on my Macs, installing my must-have extensions and getting the very customizable menu bar just the way I like it. And I used it exclusively for a week.
While any new app is a bit of an adjustment, it is now clear that I could easily make the switch to Safari, except for one extremely frustrating, completely unnecessary flaw that makes an otherwise elegant and well-designed piece of software HORRIBLE AND UNUSABLE.
Before we get to that, let’s talk about what this post should be. A generally favorable review of Safari, with a few mild frustrations that, if fixed, would make it perfect. For example, I wish there was a way to make bookmarks and favorites open in new tabs. This should be configurable, on an overall or site-by-site basis. But it’s not. You can force sites that want to open in a new window to open in a new tab, but you can’t set the browser to open your bookmarks, favorites or other links in a new tab. Sure, a setting that caused every single link to open in a new tab would result in tab overkill. But the option to have certain links (perhaps via an option to check a box on the edit bookmark screen) or categories (such as favorites- the ones I most want to open in new tabs) would be simple to implement and would be a great feature for power users. I find the LastPass extension in Safari to be more kludgy than its Chrome counterpart. There are other things that could be a little better.
But I can live with all that.
What I simply cannot, should not and will not live with is THE INABILITY TO SET CUSTOM ZOOM LEVELS FOR THE SITES I VISIT. Safari has native zoom in and zoom out buttons. And they work fine. But I DO NOT WANT to have to click them EVERY SINGLE TIME I VISIT A SITE. A font-size and zoom level that works on a lower resolution or smaller screen is tiny on a 27″ iMac, and I can’t imagine it’s going to be any better on the beautiful new Retina iMacs. Chrome lets you select and retain zoom levels, without doing ANYTHING. Why in the name of Bobby-Elvis and his missing eyeball can’t Safari do this?
Someone is going to point out that you can set minimum font size in Safari, via the preferences. Sure, but have you tried it? Some sites look fine, but many become a jumbled mess. Need to see what I’m talking about? Set a largeish minimum font size and go to Feedly. A horrible, unnecessary mess.
Yes, I looked for an extension. There is one, but it doesn’t work on any of my Macs running the current version of Safari and Yosemite. Yes, there may be complicated workarounds that let you impose custom CSS functions, but those break as many things as they fix.
At the risk of sounding like a baby: I WANT CUSTOM AND STICKY ZOOM LEVELS IN SAFARI AND I WANT THEM NOW!
But since I don’t have them, it’s back to Chrome for me.