How Many Caminos Must a Man Walk Down?

Sometimes trying a new web browser feels like trying 42 different browsers. If you’re anything like me, you don’t just quit a browser cold turkey and open up a new one thinking, “This will do.” No, you try to tweak the new program until it does the new things you need while keeping what you liked about the other one in the first place, one tweak at a time.

As for me, I finally got fed up using Safari for my web browser after it crashed for about the hundredth time this month while trying to use Gmail. Never mind that I have 44 tabs open right now—Safari is a hungry, CPU-eating, memory-devouring monster.

So, I have started the slow migration to Camino. It’s not perfect, but:

  • It doesn’t crash as much as Safari
  • It loads RSS really, really fast
  • It’s easier to selectively choose which animated objects to view or keep blocked
  • It automatically remembers which tabs you had open before quitting or crashing (I had to pay $15 for a program to do this on Safari, called Saft)
  • You can easily change the visual appearance using “themes” from Caminicon (available at Pimp My Camino)
  • It gives you little text formatting buttons in blogging interfaces and in Gmail which area lacking in Safari (not a big problem in WordPress, where I just type in HTML tags, but a big plus in Gmail, which can see bold text in emails but can’t always make it

Still, I have my Camino wish list:

  • I appreciate that you can unblock popups on sites using the little icon in the status bar, but it would be nice if you could just turn off popup blocking with a keystroke (cmd-K in Safari).
  • The folder icons in the bookmark bar are kind of ugly and pointless. I know that there’s a way to make them invisible, which I had done, but then I lost that when I installed the new 1.1 beta.
  • It would be helpful if the text in the bookmark bar were larger and/or bolder.
  • And while I’m on that subject, it would be awfully nice if the items in the bookmark bar had some reaction during mouse hover (like darkening, like in Safari) to give you an idea of whether you’re actually about to click in the right spot.
  • It really, really helps to be able to drag and rearrange tabs in the tab bar (again, like in Safari with Saft add-on). Seriously. Especially when you have 44 open at a time.

Overall, though, Camino has been loading pages for me way, way faster than Safari or Firefox, especially pages like Facebook and MySpace (the latter of which practically won’t load at all on Safari for me). Safari also has issues accessing PDFs from some of the academic databases in my university’s library, and one of my credit cards’ sites won’t recognize it. Why bother anymore? I was happy enough to give up Microsoft’s built-in browser at work, and now I’m getting pretty comfortable with giving up Apple’s built-in browser at home.

(Updated for completeness and accuracy. Take THAT, Safari.)

Just one point: draggable tags are standard in Safari either—that’s a Saft improvement (I believe draggable tags are coming Leopard though).

I tried to switch to Camino, but I just can’t do it. Then again, I only have about a dozen tabs open in Safari, and by the end of today, my computer should be upped to 2GB of RAM. Huzzah!

For the record, I was having these problems with my computer already at 2 GB of RAM (this is my desktop). You can’t escape!

Dammit, and then I get rejected from viewing the Games and Culture editorial board because I’m not running Firefox r IE … but it lets me view it in Safari just fine. Maybe I just can’t escape.

Suggestion: do not use Safari as an RSS reader. I can only infer that you’re doing so, but, for the record, it’s really bad at that and will eat your cycles like a ravenous beast.

I run Safari + Saft + PithHelmet and it’s fine, even with many a tab open. It’s been unstable at times, but that’s usually PithHelmet’s fault. I use NewsFire for RSS duties, which keeps the load off Safari. Everything’s hunky-dory.

I don’t like Safari as an RSS reader, but I do need to check feeds from multiple different locations, so I use Bloglines to keep track of what feeds I’ve already read. I’ve tried Google Reader, which seems to do the same thing, but I find the interface somewhat annoying (e.g., you have to click extra buttons to mark things as read). Anyway, Bloglines runs like a dream in Camino, but chugs in Safari. Ditto for Gmail, I’m finding, too.

Since I wrote this post about switching to Camino over a year ago, some things have changed, and some things have not.

I can sync RSS reading over multiple computers thanks to Newsgator/NetNewsWire. Safari now displays text editing tools in gmail and blogging applications. I visit sites requiring Flash much more than I used to, making it beneficial to just selectively block out ad servers and run the rest of the Flash and plugins on the page. And Camino has not added tab dragging, which I still really like.

So, I switched back to Safari. It is still an awful memory hog (I notice now that it’s taking up over 400 MB of RAM because I forgot to close before bed last night), but for whatever reason, Camino got worse in that department as well. If I’m going to need to close both every night, I might as well use the browser that reloads tabs faster on restart, which is Safari.

Just wanted to share.