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Thursday, October 05, 2006, 08:00 am PT (11:00 am ET)

Apple's Safari to gain new tab, search and form features

In addition to some of the larger features such as "Web Clip," which was demonstrated at Apple Computer's recent developer's conference, the next-generation of the company's Safari web browser will also deliver several other incremental innovations that aim to improve the overall web browsing experience.

According to a Musings from Mars post, three of these more subtle advancements stand out in the recent developer preview of Leopard, the next major overhaul to the Mac OS X operating system. They include manipulatable tabs, in-page searching and resizable text areas.

Manipulatable browser tabs

Beginning with Safari 3.0 — which will ship as part of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard — Apple will offer users more flexibility in the way they manage the numerous browser tabs that too often seem to multiply exponentially during a lengthy web surfing session.

In addition to being able to reorder tabs through drag-and-drop, Apple in Safari 3.0 is adding the ability to drag individual tabs off an existing browser window, thus creating a fresh browser window with the contents of that tab.

Users will also be able to drag tabbed windows from one Safari window to another, or ask the browser to consolidate all open windows into one, making tabs for each existing page in a single Safari browser window.

Safari 3

Screenshot credit: Musings from Mars


In-page lightbox searching

Safari 3.0 will dip further into Apple's Spotlight toolkit, offering in-page searching that allows users search "live" for specific search terms on any web page.

Unlike the existing version of the browser, which highlights only the first instance of a text match on a page, Safari 3.0 will find all instances of the search term right off the bat.

Instead of identifying matches with a semi-translucent blue or yellow background highlight — which is sometimes difficult to discern — Apple is implementing the "lightbox" technique it invented for Dashboard, dimming the web page background and shinning a spotlight on the text matches.

Safari 3

Screenshot credit: Musings from Mars


Resizable text areas

Finally, Web designers developing pages for Safari will no longer have to fiddle with TEXTAREA form elements in order to satisfy user requirements, while at the same time maintaining some semblence of good page design.

The version of Safari 3.0 shipping as part of Leopard Preview enables a "resize" corner that allows users to resize text fields on a web page in real time, to suit their text-editing needs.

Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, along with Safari 3.0, remains on track for a release during the first half of 2007.