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Hands-on with Safari 9 in El Capitan: Little changes make a big difference

Roman Loyola | July 15, 2015
The browser in the public beta of OS X 10.11 El Capitan has new features that you'll use right away.


With Google's Chromecast, you can stream web video in Chrome on a Mac to a Chromecast-equipped TV. It works easily.

AirPlay support in Safari 9 brings this features to the Apple TV. Compatible videos will show an AirPlay icon; click on it, select an Apple TV, and the video in Safari will play on the TV, without your having to mirror your Mac's entire screen.

In the Safari 9 beta, YouTube videos showed the AirPlay icon next to the Full Screen icon. I was able to set it all up in the browser, but Macworld's Apple TV displayed an error every time I tried this features.

Say it with me: This is beta software and some features may not work properly. I'll take a look at AirPlay in Safari 9 again when beta updates are released.

Responsive Design Mode and other Develop tools

Most people don't activate Safari's Develop menu. It's for web developers, so it would only confuse most users. It does offer interesting and useful tools, and you can activate it in Safari's preferences; there's a checkbox to show the Develop menu in Preferences > Advanced.

The Develop menu in Safari 9 has a new selection called Responsive Design Mode that web developers and designers will love. When you activate it, you can use it to see how a site will look on different iOS devices and screen resolutions. Click on one of the settings at the top, and you see a preview of the site below.

The Develop menu has two other new selections: Disable Cross-Origin Restrictions and Treat SHA-1 Certificates as Insecure.

Remapped keyboard shortcuts

Pressing Command-1, Command-2, Command-3, etc., on the keyboard now corresponds to the tabs in the Tab bar instead of the bookmarks in the Favorites Bar--this includes any Pinned Sites. For example, if you have two Pinned Sites and one other webpage open, pressing Command-1 opens the first Pinned Site, Command-2 opens the second Pinned Site, and Command-3 navigates to that open webpage.

The keyboard shortcuts for the Favorites Bar are still available, but now it's Command-Option-1, Command-Option-2, Command-Option-3, etc.

Remember, this is beta software so there's always a possibility that Apple changes this. To me, it makes more sense to leave the Favorites Bar keyboard shortcuts as they are in Safari 8, and then implement the Command-Option-number combination for the tabs, since it's new. But if this change remains in the final version, you'll be in for a relearning period.

Other changes

Apple made a change to the way you turn on auto update for installed extensions. In Preferences > Extensions there is now a checkbox for automatically updating extensions from the Safari Extensions Gallery. The previous way involved an Updates button at the bottom of the list of extensions. When you clicked the button, a checkbox appeared to let you activate auto update.

Lastly, the View menu in the first version of the public beta has a new Show Sidebar selection.

We'll update this article when Apple releases beta updates and the final version of OS X El Capitan.


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