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OS X El Capitan review: Mac upgrade that's as solid as a rock

Jason Snell | Oct. 1, 2015
Lots of new features in Apple latest version of OS X. Upgrade and get an improved Mac. It’s really that simple.

Safari pins its favorite sites

With El Capitan comes a new version of Safari, version 9, and it’s got some clever new features. I have to admit that I still use bookmarks (and don’t use RSS), and I really enjoy the new Pinned Sites feature in Safari 9. Pinned Sites are like mega-bookmarks—or if you prefer, they’re a simpler, more visual version of the Favorites Bar. Drag a tab into the left corner of Safari’s title bar and it will stay there permanently, with a little icon (or letter if the site in question hasn’t built a special custom icon for use with Pinned Sites) to distinguish it.

Pinned Sites are kept refreshed, so with one click you can see what’s new on your favorite site. Clicks that lead to other pages on the site are loaded in the pinned site’s tab, but external links all open in separate tabs, keeping your pinned site right where it is. As someone who likes to bookmark a few very-favorite sites and visit them regularly, this has the makings of a cool feature.

safari pinned
Pinned Sites are represented by icons on the left side of the Tab bar.

This feature does change Safari’s keyboard shortcuts and tab behavior, however. Since Pinned Sites are always open, if you try to close a Safari window when viewing a Pinned Site, it will switch you to a new tab instead. If you have a single tab open that’s not a Pinned Site, it will close the entire window. But if you open a new window and navigate back to the Pinned Site, you’ll find that it’s still on the page of the Pinned Site that you last visited.

If you’re used to navigating the first item in the Bookmarks Bar by typing Command-1, you’ll also have to get used to a change. Command-number shortcuts are now reserved for navigating Pinned Sites and browser tabs, moving from left to right. I used to have my personal weather station page as my first Bookmarks Bar item; now I’ve made it my first Pinned Site, so I can keep the same shortcut. You can also access all the Bookmarks Bar items by adding in the Option key, in the format Command-Option-[number].

Nobody likes blaring audio from pages that automatically play videos when the page loads, and if you’re someone who likes to open articles in multiple tabs, you can very quickly have several different videos playing in different tabs. In Safari 9, you have much more control over where audio plays in your browser. With one click on the speaker icon in Safari’s Smart Search bar, you can mute the audio in the current tab. Or click and hold on that icon, and you’ll see a list of all tabs that are playing audio—with the option to mute the sound from the currently open tab or from all the non-visible tabs. You’ll also see a list of all tabs that are playing audio in that list. Tabs playing audio are also indicated by a speaker icon in the tab itself. This is a really great feature that I look forward to using when I’m browsing ESPN, Macworld, and many other of my favorite sites, which I generally visit only to read the articles.

 

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