August 18, 2012, 7:55 AM — Safari 5.1 didnt age gracefully on my older hardware. While Apples Web browser still posted fast benchmarks, it grew teeth-grindingly sluggish when loading or navigating multiple tabs. Under Lion, Safari 6 similarly left me more aggravated than appreciative.
But under Mountain Lion, the new Safari became a whole different animal.
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The king is dead
Safari 6 packs relatively few new features for a major browser update, and most of its shiny new bells and whistles need Mountain Lion to run properly.
But even under Lion, youll see one of Safari 6s biggest changes immediately. Like Firefox ( Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice ), Safari has consolidated URLs and searches in a single bar at the top of the screen. You search with Google by default, but can specify Yahoo! or Bing in preferences. Unlike Firefox, Safari doesnt keep a vestigial search box hanging out next to its all-in-one window for no apparent reason. I liked Safaris useful, unobtrusive implementation of this idea.
Hail to the king
Under Mountain Lion, Safari 6 attains striking poise. The blue progress bar once stuttered across the URL bar; now it glides. Pages slide even more smoothly as you swipe (on a trackpad) to navigate. And the contents of a page seem to pour into place as it loads.
Aside from an odd habit of a split-second fade-out and fade-in while the browser reloads a page youve just moved forward or back to, everything feels fast and fluid, even on a 2008 laptop. Apple has made Safari 6 on Mountain Lion the Macs most visually polished browser.