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Apple has changed the way browser history and bookmarks are displayed.

Apple has changed the way browser history and bookmarks are displayed.

Ironically, the new approach to tabs runs counter to much of Apple's general trend for user interfaces. Title bars typically contain just that: a title, along with buttons for closing, minimizing and zooming windows. Whether this is a UI trick that Apple settled on specifically for Safari or it's a sign of interface designs to come is unclear. No doubt, we'll know more with the release later this year of Apple's next operating system, Mac OS X 10.6, a.k.a. Snow Leopard.

The new address and search bar

In looking to minimize interface elements and focus more on the browser, Apple has trimmed the standard address bar a bit. The most notable change is that there's no obvious Reload button and no blue progress bar. (The blue bar used to indicate a page was loading, and showed behind the URL in the address bar.) Instead, Safari borrows an interface tweak from its mobile cousin on the iPhone and iPod Touch: the Reload button is now built into the right side of the address bar. And the Add Bookmark button has been added to the left edge of the address bar.

Another notable change involves autocompletion in both the address bar and the search bar. The autocomplete feature in the address bar no longer relies solely on the URLs from your bookmarks and history; It's also based on the titles of pages and common phrases they include. Autocompleted results are now grouped together based on whether they're bookmarks or history results -- and they include both the URL and the page title, with the title getting top billing and bolder text.

The search bar still searches Google, but it also now offers autocompletion. This is a new and useful feature for Safari, though it has been available in other browsers and on Google's homepage for a while now. Still, it's nice to see Apple add it to Safari.

Full history searching and Cover Flow

Continuing with the search theme, there's a new way to search your browser history. This may not sound like a big deal at first -- until you consider that it means you can search the text of any page you've visited in the past week, or however long you choose to maintain a history of your surfing. This means that if you read a number of articles on one or more sites while researching a topic -- say, early American history -- and are looking to find out where you read about Aaron Burr's duel with Alexander Hamilton, you can now search your history for items related to Aaron Burr or duels fought in Weehawken. Safari will display only those pages that actually contain the words or phrases you're looking for. It's like bringing the power of Apple's Spotlight search tool to the Web.

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