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A good alternative browser to Safari on Mac OS X Leopard is Camino. Camino is based on Mozilla’s Gecko engine, so it operates much like Firefox on Mac, but a hell of a lot quicker.

Camino just released version 1.6.1 (May 20, 2008), which fixed stability and security issues from their last major release, 1.6, which was made available a month before that, so the latest release should be pretty solid.

Having offered Camino as an alternative to Safari, I actually not only still use Safari, but I also use Firefox, basically the three major browsers on Mac. Why the heck would I do this? Each browser has its benefits.

Camino

Best mix of speed, features, and compatibility. I still find certain javascript/ajax issues such as with Google Documents drop down menus, but not much beyond that. Did I mention blocking of all Flash Ads and Pop-ups, with exceptions or white-lists available for both? Hot.

Firefox

Best overall website compatibility. Lets face it, Apple still has a ways to go before Mac penetration gets beyond even 15% of the user base that Windows has. As such, most websites are optimized or tested for “Internet Explorer” and none other. This can lead to rendering issues on Mac browsers such as Safari and Camino. Firefox is the least susceptible to these compatibility issues, which are generally due to Internet Explorer not being standards compliant. But, that’s another story for another time, by another blogger.

Safari

Fastest browser. Faster than both Camino and Firefox. Safari is what I think of as a “light browser”: a lean, mean, browsing machine. This was the first browser for Mac and it’s the most “integrated” with the operating system. But, it lacks some “power-user” features that I can’t live without on a day to day basis. For example: text or link searching using “forward slash” or “single quote”. In Camino simply hit the “forward slash” key, start typing, and Camino will move to the next word containing the string of characters you are typing. Hitting Ctrl + G will move to the next match. The same works with “single quote” link searching. Once the link you’re searching for is found and highlighted, simply press Enter/Return and the link is opened. This is seriously efficient and fast browsing, much much faster than messing around with a mouse or trackpad and hovering the mouse pointer over the correct few centimeters of display in order to open links. Try this inline search feature on Camino and I bet you will love it.

Safari has its own search/find feature that’s pretty tight as well, highlighting the word you’re searching for and darkening the rest of the page. This is great for serious text reading on big documents, but for navigating and general surfing, I’d much rather have Camino’s inline search with keyboard navigation.

Blocked Flash AdBlocking Flash in Camino has been an On/Off affair until recently. Camino browser had implemented the FlashBlock software directly into its browser, but unfortunately, it didn’t have a whitelist where you can specify sites to allow Flash to run. So you either blocked Flash from all sites or no sites.

Although this is still the case, there is a hack that allows you to create a whitelist of sites where Flash should still be enabled. The hack is reproduced here:

Create a userContent.css file within the Camino Application Support “chrome” directory. Open up a Terminal window (found under Applications/Utilities) and enter:

cd ~/Library/Application Support/Camino/chrome
touch userContent.css

If you’ve got Textmate

mate userContent.css

If not, go into Finder, find the above “chrome” directory underneath your “Home” directory (usually your login name) and open the userContent.css file by Cmd-Clicking or two finger tap “right clicking”, Open With > Other > TextEdit.

Paste in the following code:

@-moz-document domain(youtube.com), domain(google.com)
{
object[classid*=":D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000"],
object[codebase*="swflash.cab"],
object[data*=".swf"],
embed[type="application/x-shockwave-flash"],
embed[src*=".swf"],
object[type="application/x-shockwave-flash"],
object[src*=".swf"]
{ -moz-binding: none !important; }
}

Notice the YouTube.com and Google.com domains within “domain()”. Add more of those with the domain of sites you want to allow Flash to run. This is your whitelist of sites where Flash is permitted to run.

After this, save the userContent.css file and shut down Camino completely (Cmd-Q) and restart it. Then go into Camino Preferences > Web Features > Block Flash animations, check this tick box.

Now try opening up YouTube.com and you should see the page working as normal. All Flash based videos should still work. Now try out a site with an obscene amount of Flash Advertisements like http://bloomberg.com. Where the Flash ads would be normally you should see the Adobe “f” instead.

If this doesn’t work for you, make sure you named the file correctly “userContent.css”, put it in the right directory “~/Library/Application Support/Camino/chrome”, and have completely shut down Camino (not just its windows, but truly Quit the program), and restarted, and that you’ve turned on the Block Flash animations option under Web Features in Preferences.

The above hack was kindly provided by Camino at http://caminobrowser.org/documentation/annoyances/