Omnibar / Awesomebar / What-have-you in Safari

As it did for many Apple ners, the upgrade to Lion prompted me to reconsider my use of Google Chrome. Chrome’s a great browser. But Safari 5.1 is also a great browser, and, at least for now, is a much better fit with Lion’s gesturing scheme. This is not a knock on Chrome, by any means. Apple switched up their OS and had the luxury of switching up their browser at the same time. Google is a third-party. It would be silly to expect them to stay lock-step with Apple on features like this.

And Chrome is far from broken in Lion. It works just fine.

But the gestures are frustrating. They’re inconsistent with the rest of the experience.

And Safari 5.1 did add some new sexy. Just look at what happens when you use the back gesture:

But, if you’ve been using Chrome for any amount of time there’s one feature that will be very difficult to live without: Omnibar. If you’re not familiar, it sounds trivial. But oh man is it the best.

I believe the latest FireFox has the same feature (called “Awesomebar” in their world), and it consists of this:… wait. Let me tell you what you’re used to first, if you’ve never used one of these [useful]bars.

Up there at the top of Safar you have your address input toward the center of the screen (or at least to the right of the back/forward buttons). To the right of that you have your search box. Merge those. The end.

Like I said, sounds trivial. But if you’re a keyboard-driven person like me it’s huge. The old way meant that I had to hit CMD-L to put my cursor in the address input, then figure out whether what I wanted to do was enter a URL or a search term and if it was the latter I had to remember to hit tab first. In the new world I hit CMD-L, type whatever is on my mind (URL or search terms) and hit ENTER. No thinking.

Turns out you can get an Omnibar for Safari. I love plugins. Once installed you have to restart Safari, and, strangely, it doesn’t show up in your list of extensions. It works just fine, though, in Safari 5.1 on Lion. Thanks, rs!