Browsers are less than a dime a dozen. Nearly so. Browsers are free and they’re the gateway to the internet.
So, why would Alexis recommend a browser you have to pay for? It’s all about value, expectations, needs, and affordability. As the designated Mac360 Queen of Cheap and Freebie Fanatic is it sacrilege to even look at a Mac browser with a price tag?
No. Why? Because everything has an exception, an Exceptions Law of sorts, and, because I can. What got me to thinking about the state of Mac browsers was Jack’s recent review of a Mac browser for children.
The browser in question was BumperCar. For $30 you get a decent, stable browser, with plenty of features, and a comprehensive set of filters to keep kids off bad web sites.
That’s it. Is that worth $30? For some, yes. For others, certainly—whatever keeps crappy site content away from teens and pre-teens is worth that kind of money.
The other browsers on the Mac range from great to very, very good. Safari, Camino, Firefox, Opera, iCab. I don’t think there’s a crummy browser left.
Of course, you know I’m not talking about Microsoft’s defunct Internet Explorer for Mac, right?
Another great Mac browser is OmniWeb. At $14.95 you better get something worthwhile; something that sets OmniWeb off and ahead of the pack of free browsers.
Why? Because the free browsers are awfully good, so why pay money?
Free browsers are fast, stable, have plenty of features, and are different enough to find room in any Mac users heart.
Unless, of course, Bill Gates just happens to use a Mac. In that case there’s not enough room in his so-called heart. I digress.
OmniWeb is at version 5.5.x, so it’s mature, stable, dependable, and based on Apple’s WebKit so it’s as fast as anything else out there.
How can it be worth $14.95? Is it making enough money for Omni to keep up development? Even if you’re satisfied with Firefox, once you’ve tried OmniWeb, you have to answer yes to both.
OmniWeb is a bit different, and loaded with many features. Mac-like features. Yet, it’s not so different as to be formidable and disappointing. I reserve that for Opera and Firefox, respectively.
What OmniWeb has going for it is that big stack of features that will make your browsing experience fun again.
First on my list of surprises in Tabs. All browsers have tabs. OmniWeb’s tabs reside in a tab drawer that draws an image of the page in the tab. Think different.
With Safari and company, tabs show up as just a tab with a name attached. There’s no graphical representation of the page.
OmniWeb ends that with drag and drop visual comfort for tabs. It’s cool.
Next on my list of Different for OmniWeb is Shortcuts. These little beasts do the heavy lifting, uh, rather, heavy searching on searchable web sites like Google, Yahoo, Ask, and others.
Display the shortcut field in the toolbar, enter a key search word or two, save the shortcut for later use.
One of my favorite features in Safari is Pop Up Ad Blocking. The only problem is that Safari sometimes blocks that which should not be blocked.
OmniWeb has a preferences section for Ad Blocking which gives you more flexibility. It even traps the blocked pop up window so you can check it later.
Workspaces is another nifty feature not found in the free browsers but mimics the way we use a browser. Save collections of related windows by clicking Auto-save, and OmniWeb saves everything about those pages and their tabs.
You can even share WorkSpaces with other OmniWeb users. Therein is the rub. I only know a few other OmniWeb users.
One problem I have with other browsers has to do with “save state.” There isn’t any. If I accidentally close an open window in Safari and it has six tabs open to different web sites, I’m hosed.
All the tabbed windows (sites) just disappeared. The same happens with a crash. Poof.
OmniWeb trumps that problem with Auto-saved Browsing Sessions.
Select a Workspace, select Auto-save, and all the tabs and pages will be there next time you open OmniWeb. That’s cool, too.
But what of BookMarks? I must have a thousand different bookmarks in dozens of categories in Safari. I used Bookit to sync with OmniWeb. No problem.
But what of RSS feeds? Safari does a decent job taking RSS technology to the mainstream of users. Click the Subscribe button and you’re done (the button is hard to find at the bottom of OmniWeb).
One thing you’ll notice right away with OmniWeb is preferences. There’s many more preferences than Safari or Camino. That’s both good and bad.
It’s good if you want more control over your browsing experience. Bad if you like simplicity and few choices. And choice is really what it’s all about.
Camino is great and very Mac like but thin on options and features. As I spend more time browsing, I also look for ways to do more, improve the process. Nothing improves without change, right?
I’ve been using OmniWeb regularly since back when it cost $30. It began to be a joyful experience after a week of use.
Is it a perfect experience? Gawd no. The tab graphics are too big, almost cartoonish. Too many preferences mean a little more confusion and trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t.
But OmniWeb is obviously a work of love and passion for the Mac style of building an application, so it’s worth some time and effort.