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Fastest Browser - SafariSo something that came as a bit of a surprise to me was that on certain sites, Safari is 4-5x faster than Firefox on page rendering.  Recently I’ve been doing lots of work on SalesForce.com and I was thinking: “Man, their site is hella slow”.

 After talking with a friend in Paris accessing the same site, but without all the slow loading issues I decided to give Safari on Leopard a try. The exact same pages, the exact same actions produced very different results.  Safari is by far the “fast browser” and Firefox, the slow browser, at least on OS X.  Pages that I would have to wait between 6-7 seconds to finish loading in Firefox would come up around the 1 second mark (or less) in Safari.  This is an enormous difference when you’re talking about browsing as 5-10 seconds is an eternity to wait for something to load, but too short of a time to do anything meaningful besides becoming frustrated.

Now if only Safari could navigate links using the keyboard only like it’s possible in Firefox.  In Firefox you can simply Ctrl + F to do a word search on the page (which is part of a link), when the partial word/link is highlighted, hit Esc to clear the search highlighting and you’re left with a cursor focused link that will respond to an Enter button press with opening the link.  Brilliantly fast, much faster than finding links through the mouse. Somehow we need to generate enough noise so that the Webkit (which is the basis of Safari) developers to take note and build this into the next release of their software. 

Quicksilver from Blacktree Software is a free Mac OS X program loader / launcher / starter. By launcher, I mean, it’s a way to start or run a program on your computer without using the mouse or trackpad. By setting up your favorites within Firefox or Safari or Camino in a certain way, you can make it extra easy and extremely fast to open your most visited sites.

Why would this be interesting or useful? Why wouldn’t I just click on the site’s bookmark or favorites entry and load the website that way?

Because moving the mouse pointer over the Bookmarks menu and clicking through various Bookmarked sites folders to find the name of the site you want to load is simply slow.

With Quicksilver for Mac, if you know the name of the site you want to visit, you can load it almost instantaneously, not with telepathy, but it feels like it.

This is how it works (full setup instructions for Quicksilver are below):

  1. Add a favorite to your browser’s bookmarks toolbar (the bookmarks that you see near the top of your browser on a toolbar), but name it like an acronym. Example: GMail? Name this favorite “G”. Google Finance? Make this favorite “GF”.
  2. Now restart or reload Quicksilver and test the new favorites shortcut. Hit your Quicksilver hotkey, Ctrl + Spacebar by default, then type the letter or letters of the new favorite you just made, for example: “GF” for Google Finance. The Quicksilver launcher window should now show the favorite you just made and to launch this site, just hit Enter. Once you get used to launching web pages this way, it takes less than a second to hit any of your favorite sites.

Full Instructions

Key to making keyboard shortcuts really fast is using Quicksilver, a launcher application for Mac. To load up my favourite web sites I use Ctrl + Spacebar, then one or two typed letters, then Enter. Firefox will then load the page in a new tab or a new window if it’s not already running. If you’re doing development and constantly loading up reference docs or checking your mail often, checking stock prices every 30 min., checking your Google analytics, then this system makes hitting your favourite pages a lot faster than hunting around with a mouse or trackpad for bookmarks.

Quicksilver - Blacktree Software


Step 1: Get Quicksilver launcher

Install it.

Step 2: Install the Firefox/Mozilla or Safari Plugin Module

Firefox Module - Quicksilver

This allows Quicksilver to scan through your bookmarks to create catalog entries which will create launch items for each bookmark. This is the key to having one or two letter web browser bookmarks available through Quicksilver.

Step 1337: Bezel Interface

Bezel Interface - Quicksilver

To get the Bezel Interface with Quicksilver, go to the Quicksilver Menu -> Preferences -> Appearance and choose: Bezel from the Command Interface and click on Superfluous visual effects and Load Icons for all results (if not already set). Why do this? Cause it looks “leet”.

Step 3: One or two letter bookmarks.

Personal Booksmarks Toolbar - Firefox

By one or two letter bookmarks I mean name your bookmarks with the initials of a website’s name, rather than the entire name of the website which is provided by default. For example, hit Command + D which is the make a bookmark shortcut in Firefox. The name that comes up is super long: Mac OS X Leopard & Tiger blah blah blah. You don’t need all that. Change the name to LT and save it in your Personal Bookmarks Toolbar, which is just enough letters to help you remember what this shortcut is for. More examples: Gmail.com I use the letter ‘G’. For Google Analytics I use ‘GA’.

Step 4: Rescan your bookmarks in Quicksilver.

From the Quicksilver menu, choose Rescan Catalog or hit Command + R if you have the Quicksilver application open and running in front of you. This will pick up any changes you’ve made to Firefox / Safari bookmarks.

To test out your shortcut, hit your Quicksilver activation hotkey (for me it’s Ctrl + Spacebar), then type the initials of your new bookmark. Within Quicksilver you should see an Earth graphic + Open URL (if you got leet in Step 1337).

Keyboard Shortcuts Launcher - Quicksilver

Smack enter and Firefox will load up that web page in a new tab or a new window if it’s not already running.

Rinse and Repeat with more web pages that you constantly hit and leave behind your mouse jockeying ways.

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