Reading is easier on Safari with Lion – here’s why

Reading is easier on Safari with Lion — here’s why
Mac Tip #496, 27 July 2011

Lion’s new — it pays to do some careful checking before you upgrade. But once you do, there are many great new features. In this Tip I mention a couple that help with reading, especially on the web.

The new Mac OS X, Lion, was released the other day. At the moment it’s only available as a paid download from the App Store for US $29.99. In August, Apple will also start selling Lion on a USB thumb drive through the Apple Store for US$69.

OS X Lion.

OS X Lion.

At 3.8 Gb or so beware how long Lion may take to download and what effect it may have on any bandwidth cap that applies to your Internet account.

Lion will also be already installed on any Macs you buy new from now on.

Check before you upgrade

Lion brings many many changes to your Mac.

Before you upgrade your existing Mac, or think about replacing your current Mac you absolutely must check out a couple of things. Check whether your Mac is physically capable of running Lion. Also check whether your current software will work with Lion. That includes things like the software that runs your printer or scanner, or any other devices that use ‘drivers’.

The best thing you can possibly do is invest a few dollars in the ebook Take Control of Upgrading to Lion which takes you through everything you need to know.

I’ve been running Lion for almost a week now, and will be writing detailed Tips in the weeks and months to come. For this week though I have a few handy observations to offer about Safari 5.1.

Safari helps those who like to read

  • Reader (actually not new with Lion) lets you view websites as text-only at a legible size and without colours, designy stuff, ads, navigation menus, and other distractions. I’ve been using this routinely for a year now. Read more at Use Safari 5′s Reader for easier reading on the web.

  • Before zoom.

    Before zoom.

    Lion has a new double-tap to zoom feature. This is taken directly from the iOS (iPhone, iPad) so you may already be familiar with it. Double tap the trackpad with 2 fingers on part of a web page and that part of the page zooms to fit the window.

    This is handy for reading article text at a decent size while leaving ads out of sight. Double tap again to zoom out.

    Zoomed in on a web page.

    Zoomed in on a web page.

    For me this may replace Reader, as it’s so easy and useful and it zooms to a really nice size.

  • Many Lion apps, including Safari, have a new full-screen feature. Click the double-headed arrow in the top right corner of a window and the window zooms to take over the entire screen, including the menu bar.

    Move the mouse to the top of the screen to get the Menu Bar back. At the right end is an un-fullscreen arrow.

    The Full screen arrows.

    The Full screen arrows.

    Or just press Escape to go back to a normal view.

  • Lion now brings us Windows-style resize of windows. Previously Mac users had to either use the green zoom button or the single resize control at bottom right of a window. Now when you hover over any window edge a double-headed arrow cursor appears and you can drag to resize. Shift (⇧) drag and Option (⌥) drag modify the behaviour. This now means anyone can accidentally resize their window. Personally I don’t find this an improvement…

  • Reading List is a special kind of bookmark. If you don’t have time to read a web page now and want to come back to it later choose Add to reading List from the Bookmarks menu. A link to the page is stored.

    A tiny pair of spectacles icon is at the extreme left of the Bookmarks Bar. Click it to reveal the Reading List. Or choose Show Reading List from the View Menu. Choose between All and Unread for list display. Click an item to load that page. This keeps temporary items from cluttering and getting lost in the mass of bookmarks.

Zoom in window view as I hover over some text. Note the normal sized text in the background.

Zoom in window isn’t specific to Safari, but I want to mention it here as it’s a great new accessibility feature for anyone who ends up squinting to see small items on screen. For me that often means tiny text on web pages.

Go to the System Preferences and choose the Accessibility pane. Under the Seeing tab set Zoom to On and then check Zoom in window. Click the Options… button to set preferences. In particular check the box beside Enable temporary zoom, and note that the keys to make this work are Control (⌃) and Option (⌥). Click Done when you’ve finished.

To use Zoom in window put your cursor over anything that’s too small to see and press Control (⌃) and Option (⌥). A ‘magnifying glass’ effect appears over the cursor, zooming in so you can see what’s on screen. Move the cursor to move the magnifier.

Zoom in window has more settings that I’ll come back to another day.

Lion’s new features make my Mac feel faster

Lion itself has hundreds of new features, some quite disconcerting, such as ‘Natural’ Scrolling. I’m loving it — my Mac feels faster, the screen feels bigger, and there are lovely improvements all over the place.

I’m looking forward to writing many more Tips to help you use it.

Tell us about your experiences with Safari on Lion in the Comments at Could you write a guest MacTip? If so, contact Miraz.

Credit where it’s due

This Tip was written by Miraz Jordan,, and is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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