How many web browsers do you use on your Mac? Too many? Not enough? I’m being serious.
As if there is a browser shortage, AOL released Netscape Navigator, now at version 9.x. Guess what” It’s not too bad but I’m not sure why.
Maybe it’s just the familiarity of the teal color scheme from Netscapes glory days. Maybe it’s just the wistful and nostalgic feeling I get watching a Microsoft competitor carry the torch.
Whatever it is, if you like collecting web browsers, and who among us doesn’t have half a dozen or so, Netscape Navigator is a pleasant surprise.
The real surprise is figuring out a good reason to use yet another browser beyond Safari or Firefox. I don’t want to come across as elitist, because then I’d have to pay the monthly dues. But I had to search for a reason to use Netscape. Again.
Not surprisingly, Netscape looks like a hybrid browser—kind of a cross between Firefox, Camino, OmniWeb, and Safari, provided you’re using UNO for your OS X skin.
Netscape makes life easy for you browser addicts and imports Safari’s bookmarks and other details to get you started. Navigation gets you the standard tool bars which look like Safari, tabs that look like Firefox, teal colored and neatly spaced toolbar icons which look like, well, Netscape. But there’s much more.
This mostly new browser comes with a number of features unique to Netscape. URL correction automatically corrects common typos when you insert a URL. We all make common mistakes when entering URL’s, and Netscape makes the adjustment for us.
Why don’t other browsers do that? After all, when I type “microsoft.comm” shouldn’t the browser know that I really meant to type .com instead? Yes.
Taking the tab cues from OmniWeb, Netscape has a news menu and sidebar built into the browser which contains news you’d like to monitor while you’re browsing. It’s odd, sitting out there like it does, but it’s highly effective and saves clicks.
Bookmarks? Yes, Netscape does bookmarks, but the new Link Pad helps browser users with an addiction, and if you have half a dozen browsers then you’re addicted, keep track of links without cluttering up the formal bookmark control. I like that.
Link Pad is a sidebar feature that saves links for later use but doesn’t stick them into the bookmarks. I like that, too—and not just because I have 5,000 bookmarks in Safari—most of which I’m afraid to throw away.
The geekier browser collectors among us love Firefox for the extensions—plug in utilities which add functionality. Netscape Navigator 9 is mostly compatible with Mozilla browser technology and lets you use Firefox 2.x extensions. See? Another reason to collect browsers. And extensions.
Have you ever run into a text field that just wasn’t large enough to fill in all you wanted to write? Netscape has resizeable textareas. Drag the bottom-right corner to add more space.
There’s a bunch of other Netscape only features which tie in to Netscape.com. There’s news. A friends’ activity sidebar. Netscape mail notification. The once popular Netscape throbber is back. Click and go to Netscape.com.
What it looks like is this—Netscape decided to stop doing their own browser,
obtain the basics from Mozilla’s Firefox, then add some valuable and unique features to differentiate the browser from other browsers.
The end result isn’t bad at all. It’s not great. But it’s not bad. The new Netscape Navigator is a browser. There’s not built-in email, or newsreader, or web page composer. It’s a browser.
I would have liked to see more web site filtering features so Netscape could be assigned to underaged, and less experienced browser users. There’s also a version of Navigator for Windows Vista users.
Besides email, a browser may be the single most used application for most Mac users. How many browsers do you have on your Mac? Which ones do you use the most? Share your experience in the Comment section below.