Saving Safari tabs

technology

Before I start this mini-rant (rantette?), I should say that I love Apple's Safari; it's a quick, elegant and–most importantly–standards-compliant browser, and since they introduced tabbed browsing I have used it as my default browser for all but the most non-IE-phobic of sites. However, there are two (related) flies in the ointment. First, I hate the fact that there's no easy way of saving all of the tabs in an open window manually (or even better, automatically). Second, I wish Safari would warn me when I'm about to close a tab-laden window or quit. Even though I generally sneer at dialogues that ask me if I'm sure I want to do X, in this case it would be invaluable. When I've been a complete muppet and hit quit, I would really love it if some kindly dialogue box came up and said:

Hi there! You seem to have quite a lot of tabs open, but you're asking me to quit. Now, I'm sure that you know what you're doing, but I thought I'd just ask you if you really want to lose all those links you've been patiently accumulating over the past few hours. We can just forget all about the whole "Quit" thing, or I could save those tabs for you and go for it. Anyway, it's up to you. Sorry to have bugged you, dude.

For some reason, I always imagine my Mac to have a friendly–but ultimately very laid back–attitude, possibly as a result of illegal substances; a bit like Dylan the rabbit in The Magic Roundabout.

You might wonder how I can hit quit accidentally. Well, it is possible to absent-mindedly hit Cmd-Q when you meant Cmd-W (close a tab), particularly as they are so close together on the keyboard. But I now have another way to mess up; there are some very neat gestures for closing a window (or tab) and for quitting an application on the MacNTouch, but they are reasonably similar to each other. Both use the right hand twisting to the right, but 'close' uses the thumb and first three fingers, and 'quit' uses the thumb and last three fingers. Usually it doesn't matter too much, as you'll get a warning if you try to quit an application with unsaved changes.

I know that technically you're not working with documents as such in a browser, but if you're anything like me, you can spend ages carefully accumulating a load of pages to read later — something that Safari makes laughably easy and convenient. If you're reading a page in a tab, you can command-click a link in an article to open it behind the tabbed page you're reading. It doesn't come to the front, so you can just go on like that, building up a little stock-pile of pages to go back to later, but that you don't want to actually bookmark. This makes it all the more crazy that there isn't a way to save your current set of tabs.

I've come across a number of work-arounds for this problem. Inspired by a script that John Gruber wrote to save the current set of windows, mazatty wrote one to save the current set of tabs (it needs GUI scripting installed to work). These work nicely, but they are no use at all when you quit accidentally, or Safari crashes on you. Pith does something similar automatically, but it doesn't work with tabs. I suppose it might be time to send some feedback to Apple, and carry on hoping.

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