How many ways can you browse the web on your Mac? There’s Safari and Firefox for most of us.
There’s Opera, Chrome, SeaMonkey, Camino and a few other browsers for those who hate popular browsers. Then there’s the truly think different crowd. For them, we dug up five really different ways to use a Mac browser—from social network apps built in, to browsing the web via text or kiosk.
#5: Text Browsing Is So 1992ish
Lynx lives in the 21st century as a minimalist browser used mostly by the visually impaired.
A free text browser? Yep. That’s Lynx. It’s an entirely different way to browse web pages. It’s anything but WYSIWYG. Lynx simply displays the text of a web site, numbers the links, stacks tabular data (no tables).
Because Lynx displays only text that makes it very fast to load pages, and very easy to use text-to-speech technology to read web page content to visually impaired users (though screen readers have become more popular.
To use Lynx even for an hour is to appreciate every other Mac browser, good, bad, or ugly.
#4: The Full Screen Mac Browser
Amazingly, not all browsers are created equal. Some browsers toil away in obscurity in a Mac-powered kiosk, usually with a full screen browser window and a touch screen (but not always).
wKiosk is a kiosk browser for the Mac. It uses the same WebKit engine as Safari so it’s fast, stable, and relatively secure.
The claim to fame is restricted access. wKiosk only displays specific web pages and restricts access to anything else, including settings, or downloading files or apps. Users cannot dig into Mac OS X from wKiosk. Only specific web page URLs can be viewed.
A virtual keyboard is available for touch screens. Pages can be set up to function in loop mode (preventing any other pages from being viewed). Using the same controls as found in the popular Giddy Up browser for kids, wKiosk gives plenty of granular control.
wKiosk has options to deactivate specific keys and keystroke combinations. User data can be deleted after each session. It’s fast. It’s simple up front, more complex with plenty of controls on the back side.
#3: The Hobbyist Browser
If you were allowed to play with Safari, dink around under the hood, make customized changes to the user interface to call it your own, the end result would be Shiira.
This is yet another example of think different browsing. Shiira has tabs and can share bookmarks with Safari. There’s a nice pop out side drawer which displays bookmarks and browsing history. Choose your own search engine. Change the look of Shiira from aqua to metallic.
There are lots of little interface tweaks that set Shiira apart from Safari, though both do pretty much the say way—display web pages. Shiira is built on the same WebKit engine as Safari and Google’s Chrome, so it’s fast and stable.
It’s the perfect web browser for hobbyists who like to tinker.
#2: The Developer’s Browser
Yet another Mac browser built upon the WebKit engine, Sunrise is aimed at developers. I use Firefox from time to time because there are plenty of web tool extensions. Sunrise builds in many of those functions.
A single Sunrise window displays the browser page, bookmarks, downloaded files, and source code.
Sunrise will look similar to Safari, but has extra features appropriate for web designers and coders.
For example, a page’s source code is available in every tab. Useful. Easy to find.
Many of these functions are also built-in to newer versions of Safari, but require setting up Preferences to make them available.
#1: The Social Network Browser
The 21st century has gone all crazy social on us—from Twitter to Facebook, from FourSquare to MySpace, from Facetime to Ping. If you took Mozilla’s Firefox browser and bolted on a bunch of social network functions, you’d have Flock.
Flock is Mac, PC, and Linux, and available in a bunch of major languages. It’s also built on the aforementioned Firefox engine, so it has a solid pedigree.
Features? The People Sidebar is a good place to track your friends on their social networks. There’s a built-in blog editor? Why? Because they can. Webmail? Got it. Flock can check your webmail accounts and let you view and send email from within a Flock window.
The Flock Media Bar is where you can find and browse photos and movies. The built-in Photo Uploader makes it easier to upload and share your photos on various social network sites. There’s even a built-in Web Clipboard which stores snippets, URLs, text, images which you can use later.
Flock can be customized with one of many themes, too. Do you name drop? Try these on for size: Facebook, Gmail, YouTube, MySpace, Flickr, Twitter, WordPress, Yahoo! Mail, Digg, and many others.
The whole idea behind Flock is to integrate a bunch of different online services so you can consolidate your social skills and functions to the keyboard. Instead of having five or six different apps for different online services, use Flock instead. You can use Flock to track and contact friends online. It’s the new way to interact with people.
And you thought browsing the web was so 1999.