Safari 5: What’s New in Apple’s Latest Browser?

Apple’s Safari browser remains an incredibly popular choice for Mac users everywhere, and is highly regarded for keeping up to date with the latest advances in web technology. Personally, I use and love it for the simplicity offered – it’s fast, lean, and feels like a clutter-free window to the web.

On the first day of WWDC, Apple announced the release of Safari 5, the latest incarnation of their browser. Today we’ll be taking a quick look at what’s new, and whether it’s worth getting excited about.

Safari 5 Released

Safari 5 Released

Safari Reader

The feature the Apple are giving the most publicity is “Safari Reader”. This simple addition automatically figures out when you’re reading an extended article on the web, and provides a small “Reader” icon in your address bar.

Click it, and you’ll see a simplified version of the page – free from ads, navigation, and other website graphics. It’s great to have this integrated in the browser, but something similar (as it turns out, in fact, the same) has been around for quite some time.

Safari Reader

Safari Reader

Readability is a bookmarklet that does exactly the same thing, with a few more options. Apple actually used this open source code for the feature in Safari, so it’s definitely nothing new! It’s great to have this type of functionality integrated into the browser, but if you’d like a wider choice of options (font style, size etc), definitely take a look at Readability.


A feature that hasn’t received a great deal of publicity as yet is the addition of support for extensions. Similar to Firefox’s Add-Ons, this will allow developers to tweak the Safari browser, and make their own modifications and additions.

Apple will be putting together an official central repository for extensions “later this summer”, but in the mean time you can take a look at what developers are working on over at Safari Extensions on Tumblr.

Easily Enable Extensions

Easily Enable Extensions

Safari doesn’t default to supporting the use of Extensions just yet, but it’s a cinch to enable it. Head into Preferences > Advanced, and check “Show Develop menu in menu bar”. From the “Develop” menu that displays, you can click the line that says “Enable Extensions. Easy!

HTML5 Support

Apple have been really pushing for the adoption and use of HTML5 in recent weeks, with the notable launch of a page showcasing a series of impressive demos using the new technology.

It’s great to see so many new HTML5 features being implemented in Safari 5, but web developers still need to deal with the struggle of these standards not being supported by other major browser releases. Hopefully this release of Safari will see other browser developers push a little harder to catch up.


Performance is always one of the major factors when deciding upon which browser to use, and it seems that every release has a different company touting their software as the “fastest browser in the world”. Apple aren’t pushing that claim so strongly this time, but still share an impressive set of performance charts:

Safari 5's Performance

Safari 5's Performance

These are always somewhat subjective, but you can rest assured that Safari is certainly up there with the best when it comes to a snappy browsing experience.

Search Expansion

A few changes and announcements made by Apple recently have made their competitive stance with Google clear. This has long been the case with iPhone/Android, and increasingly so with Google Chrome and Chrome OS. I’m sure that Apple will keep this competitive rivalry amicable, and we won’t see any negative effects as Mac users.

Bing in Safari 5

Bing in Safari 5

It has shown itself further in the latest release of Safari, with the browser now adding another search tool to the roster of supported engines; Bing. This doesn’t come as a huge surprise, particularly after Apple announced support for it in iOS4 for the iPhone.

Ultimately, it’s a good thing for Mac users. A greater choice of search engines to use is always welcome!

My Favourite Mini Addition: Re-Open Last Tab

I’m perfectly aware that various plugins have been available to help with this for a few years, but it’s about time that this feature was natively supported. It’s incredibly simple, but phenomenally useful.

If you closed a tab accidentally (let’s be honest, it happens all the time), all you need to do is hit Cmd-Z, and it will be re-instated just as it was. Get used to using it, and you’ll be amazed that it wasn’t included sooner!

What Do You Think?

On the whole, I’m really happy with the tweaks and additions present in Safari 5. Apple has solved a few of the niggles I had with previous versions of the browser, and added a handful of great new features. Although the “Safari Reader” feature doesn’t really build anything new on top of the existing functionality in Readability, I can see support for Extensions leading some brilliant new additions to the browser.

What do you think? Is it a worthy upgrade, or are there a few other features that you would have liked to see?


Safari is Apple's web browser, and the latest release brings a handful of new features including support for extensions, and "Safari Reader" for removing the clutter when reading articles.



Add Yours
  • I still don’t see why this needed to be 5, we hadn’t even got to 4.1 yet.

    • Good point – I suppose they had other versions internally, or just liked the sound of announcing Safari 5 with “HTML 5” – All very neat!

      • Nice hehe HTML5, Safari 5, but like the fact that it is much faster

    • Maybe it’s because it is such a big leap from Safari 4, with the new extensions and reader feature. It’s also much faster and snappier, and look they reinstated the Safari 3 progress bar style. Maybe it’s the change in visual aesthetics that deemed it worthy for number 5.

      It could also be that it goes with HTML5, and even maybe it’s because Chrome is already at version 5 as well. Just my 2¢

  • Still no option to open your previous tab session, come on Apple other browser have had this for years!

    Glims supposedly adds it but it’s broken in Safari 5 :(

    • “Reopen all windows from last session” has been in Safari for quite some time! It’s under “History” in the menu.

      • I can’t believe I never knew this feature existed! I owe you one. I have done without this since I stopped using Saft.

    • Listen to Joshua, dude. You should do a little research before saying such untrue things about our beloved Safari! :D

      • I still can’t find the option to do that automatically :(

  • I cant understand why they havent yet implementet “remember tabs” when you close down safari..

  • You can do do this with “open all windows of last session” somewhat.

  • I’d love to see in a next release of Safari something like Firefox’s smart keywords:

  • The blue loading bar is back from Safari 3 and earlier. I hated the dumb pinwheel indicator they had in Safari 4 so much. This change alone makes it worth the upgrade for me.

    Also, the new address bar is really snappy once you get used to that.

  • Well never too late for the re-open tabs…
    It’s available a long time ago for other browser :)

    What’s the most interesting thing is the safari reader !
    Hope to see this in other browser too ^^

    About performance yea it’s very subjective… there are always saying that’s they are the fastest.
    Opera is fast, chrome as well and safari certainly but i don’t use this browser that much.
    Firefox was my favorite but well time to change. He’s ressource hog and that get on my nerves.

    For now i’m using Chrome & Opera on my macbook pro and Firefox on my PC (much power on my computer so can use firefox ^^)

  • I’ve been using Readability for a while, so I’m glad to see that incorporated. I also love the edition of CMD-Z to reopen an accidentally closed tab (I do that all the freakin’ time).

    I can’t wait to see what extensions developers come up with.

  • Still no Middle click to close tabs… lame

  • Well…. at one point, when I was using Safari 3, it kept crashing on me. I upgraded to 4, and that problem disappeared. It was great! Guess what came back with 5? I hope it’s just my computer, and that it’s not really that unstable. I’m going to start using Chrome for now….

  • Is there any way (like editing a config file) to change font-style, font-family, etc in Safari Reader? Cause I really don’t like how it looks by default

    Thank u for the CMD-Z shortcut hint.

  • Great, Safari now has ‘open last closed tab’. Still not quite as useful as Firefox’s ‘open recently closed tabs’ (plural), but it’s a noticeable improvement. The no middle click to close tabs is still quite lame though.

    Now these features are a welcome improvement, and I’ll probably switch Safari back to my secondary browser after the upgrade (Yes, I’m a Mac user), but I think I’ll still stick with Firefox for the time being.

    • Firefox is great, but it looks uglier and is very slow.

  • Love that the status/loading indicator bar is back. I missed that since the Safari 4 beta. I’d like to see tabs pointing up, like in a real file drawer, but that’s a minor quibble. Finally, I think that Apple improved on Readability, as Safari Reader shows images, where Readability did not. From the Safari Reader screen, you can zoom, print, and email. I wish they had also included going full screen. My aging eyes would love that. In the meantime, I just click on Safari Reader and zoom in my screen.

  • I am sure that all these new features are great – but it seems slower to me and some of the secure sites I use say that they don’t support it. So it’s back to Firefox for a while for me. : (

  • For those of you who are happy that Apple brought back the old loading bar in Safari 5, just so you know, they had also added it back to Safari 4.x a little while before.

  • An official API to build extensions, finally! Thank you for that. Just in time with the retirement of Input Managers.

  • It’s really too bad that Apple went with a keyboard combination different from the other browsers for “Re-open last closed tab”. Most browsers use Cmd-Shift-T.

  • I really like the improvements in Safari 5, but I think that the implementation of “undo close tab” could be better. It seems that “undo typing” and “undo close tab” are treated in the same way. So, if you close a tab and start typing on a text box (in another tab), pressing cmd+Z will delete text. Only after that you will be able to reopen the tab.

    In my opinion, these two functions (“undo close tab” and “undo typing”) should have different shortcuts in order to avoid this behavior. What do you think about this?

  • [email protected]@ the blue progress bar is back

  • Short command for reader is; cmd+shift+R which could be good to know :)

  • I’ll be very happy with the Re-Open Last Tab function indeed! Finally!

  • I like the new browser. Restoring the accidentally closed tab with cmd+z was great, although I wish Apple added restoring all tabs (with their history) when the browser starts up..

    or is that feature the cause of slowing the launch time of the browser?

  • You know the animation zoom on the iPhone?? That is really neat. It is just eye-candy, but is there a plug-in to get that?

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  • Nice nice and btw. Firefox hast the “re-open last closed tab” feature since 3.*, you can use it with “CMD + Shift + T”.

  • Men, Just marveled at everything. courage to the high tech guys out there who are not sleeping. Chao

  • I think it’s a great browser!