I am BARRY HESS > Blog

OS X and Web Browsing

I’ve really enjoyed my first Mac experience in eight years. I jumped into the Mac world late in January, ready to be enlightened by it’s “better way.” For the most part that has been true. Lots of things I wasted my time on with my Windows PC, like wireless networking, just work. I like that.

One thing has kept me from pulling out of the Windows world entirely: Web browsing. Today, much more than even a year ago, I depend on my web browser as an application gateway. Gmail is my hub for personal and business email. Google Documents has my frequent attention as a good enough alternative to Microsoft Word and Excel. Google Calendar is referenced throughout the day.

Safari, the native browser of OS X, is astounding in its speed of rendering. Unfortunately, it does not garner the best support across the web. Visiting Gmail, I find several toolbar items missing and shortcut keys hardly work at all. (Note to you. If you use Gmail, turn on and learn keyboard shortcuts. Amazing.)

So my big problem is Firefox. I used to have issues with Firefox slowly consuming the entire memory footprint of my Windows machine. This occurred when I left the browser open for more than a day. All activities before the hijacking would work like a dream, though. Sometime in the past I tweaked the browser so it would no longer run away with my RAM. Firefox has hummed since that time, even if I leave it up and running for days on end.

Can’t figure out the solution to the similar problems I’m seeing in OS X. There is a difference between Firefox annoyances on my Mac and those I saw on my Windows machine. On OS X, I have issues interacting with the browser right from the first moment I open it. Gmail toolbar items eventually show up, but it takes minutes. Frequently my Google Document toolbar items never work, even though they are visible. Often times the simplest of activities lead to 10-15 seconds of spinning beach ball joy.

I’ve tried Bon Echo, the Firefox version supposedly tuned for OS X, but it seems to “work” in about the same manner as the base Firefox. I know I’ve done some other config tweaks in Firefox with no luck. Looking for solutions on the web finds me at a dead end. I’m not seeing anyone else out there complaining.

Hopefully this post will be found by some other soul who has dealt with these issues and, with any luck, solved them. Until that time, you’ll find me checking Gmail on my 3-year-old Windows PC.

Now I’m off to download Camino