Thursday 25 June 2009

Make opening new windows and tabs in Safari faster

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed the fact that opening new tabs and windows in Safari takes way longer that it used to? Especially when you are running a lot of other applications on your mac, or are using battery power? I for one think that Safari is not the fastest browser, to open or to use anymore, and sometimes FireFox even seems faster than it. I remember using the older version of Safari (version 3) and remarking how fast it opened on a Mac compared to Firefox. However, the newer version just seems a whole lot slower.

I think I have stumbled upon the main culprit – Top Sites. It seems as though Apple has tried to imitate the look and feel of Google Chrome and/or Opera. In fact, the beta versions of Safari 4 reminded me of Google Chrome, given the tabs at the top and the top sites feature that popped up when you opened a new window. Unfortunately, in imitating the most visited websites (or as Opera calls it... Speed dial) Apple has slowed down the speed of Safari. Of course, copying ideas is always good, because that means more competition. However, Apple has sacrificed speed for aesthetics, and turned the browser into a resource hog with its almost useless zooming effects and reflections. What I do find cool is the coverflow history pane. Now that is something beautiful and efficient.

However, luckily, there is a way to get rid of the beach ball of death that comes up whenever you open a new window or tab... disable Top Sites. I for one have found that Safari's speed has improved tenfold, and opening a million new tabs doesn't slow it down anymore. Of course, if you don't feel like disabling Top Sites has caused an improvement in speed, you can always switch it back. What I plan to do, as soon as I get some more time is to create a HTML page which you can use as the 'top sites' features. However, you'll have to pick and choose your 15 - 20 sites before hand and hard code it into the html. Nevertheless, that way you can have the top sites feature, and make sure that you wont be getting the spinning rainbow coloured ball as your cursor.

How to disable Top Sites in Safari for new windows and new tabs

Thankfully, disabling this feature is really simple.

  1. Open Safari and Click on Safari in the menubar
  2. Then click on Preferences...
  3. Under the General tab, change 'New windows open with:' to Empty Pages using the drop down menu and do the same for 'New tabs open with:'
  4. Close the Preferences window

That's all there is to it. Plus, if you still want to use top sites,you can! All you need to do is click on the top sites button in the bookmark toolbar (shown below in the red box with the arrow pointing to it), and top sites will open up in the current tab.

Now Safari should run faster and you'll still be able to use top sites!

Got a question, tip or comment? Send them to and we'll try to answer it in a blog post!


  1. looks like Apple isn't even REMOTELY as smart as Firefox !

    Firefox has gone from being a total nobody with absolutely zero name recognition and no money to the market share it has today by having a basic platform that the individual easily modify with add-ons, and totally delete them if they so choose.

    A brief web search quickly turned up many people asking how to remove the "Top Sites", and many expressed true hatred of this stupid thing !

    I haven't used IE since the early betas of Firefox, which I have happily used until a MacBook owner friend who finally got me to try it.

    I thought SAFARI was very basic, but figured it would improve with time.

    I really liked the Bookmarks and the one click increase/decrease type size buttons.

    I highlight, copy & paste to the search bar many times a day, and then I have to take my hand off the mouse and hit enter instead of having a "Go" button that I can click.

    The absence of a "Go" button is irritating until I have to perform this function 50 or a hundred times in a day. At that point it becomes totally infuriating !

    I really like my friend's MacBook, but I "Ain't" going to buy something from a company that dumps this kind of crap on me without any way for me to totally delete unwanted trash.

    The "Top Sites" intrusion is totally resented, and having this show as a huge obnoxious black thing take up half of the bookmarks is stupid, and qualifies as the worst advertisement Apple could have come up with, and it makes me angry every time I try to use the bookmarks page.

    I had made up my mind to get a MacBook for my next computer, but I "Ain't" going to buy an expensive laptop from a company that might dump some kind of crap like this onto my operating system and give me no option to remove it.

    Hey, Apple! Thanks a lot for this obnoxious "New Fangled Modern In-Convenience."

  2. @Anonymous: Yeah, sometimes Apple has a tendancy to get things wrong, but I suppose all companies go through such problems sometimes. I fact, the battery on my macbook doesn't even hold half its charge anymore and I'm sure I'm going to have to get it replaced... and I can only wonder what will happen to the people who buy a laptop (the newer macbooks that is) where they can't even replace the battery.

  3. Hope it is safe to use this old blog address without picking up more spam- surely anonymous is safer but it is also anonymous!

    That said. Thank you for this information to stop top sites- it is an unnecessary feature for me and definitely slowed down Safari. Although I don't think I will reinstall it on Tiger it is nice to know there is an option when I hopefully upgrade to a macbook.

    Of interest, the manual download only mentions Leopard- yet auto download recommends installing it.

    renae_ at mac address

  4. Brilliant. Ball of death gone, everything fast again.


  5. I'm pretty sure it was Chrome that copied Safari and Opera with 'top sites'.

  6. Apple was widely criticized when it originally launched a very buggy and unstable version of safari for windows.