OS X 10.8.2, released last Wednesday, updated Apple’s Safari Web browser to version 6.0.1 and fixed an annoying issue introduced in the first version of Safari 6. Apple’s new unified search and address bar now allows users to access and copy the link of a Web search, giving users the option to save and share searches. We’ll show you what changed and how to use it.
In versions of Safari before version 6, the browser had separate address and search bars.
The separate search and address bars in Safari 5.
Typing a search into the search bar took the user to the search results page for their search engine of choice. The direct link to the search was visible and accessible in the address bar. If a user wished to save the link of a particular search, or share it with others, the user needed to only copy the address from the address bar.
Search results from Safari 5, with the search link accessible in the address bar.
Starting with Safari 6 in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion (and also available in OS X 10.7.4 Lion), Apple merged the address and search bars, following the trend set by Google’s Chrome several years ago. The single entry field provides a simple and clean interface but Apple hid search addresses from the user.
The combined Search and Address bar in Safari 6. There is no easy way to
access the search-specific link to the Google search.
After a user typed a search query into the bar and pressed Return, the search query would remain and the link to the specific search was hidden. For most users, this was hardly noticed. But for users who rely on saving and sharing searches, it made using Safari 6 a frustrating experience.
Compare Safari 6’s implementation of address bar search with that Chrome. In Chrome, the user enters the search query into the address bar in the same manner as Safari.
The combined Search and Address Bar in Google Chrome.
When the user presses Return, however, the Chrome address bar replaces the search query with the search-specific link. Users can still see and modify their query from the Google search box at the top of the results, but easy access to the search link is preserved, unlike Safari 6.
The search-specific address is easily accessible after a Google search using Chrome.
Thankfully, Safari 6.0.1, released as part of the OS X 10.8.2 update (and as part of 10.7.5 in OS X Lion), restores some functionality. Apple still hides the specific search address, but if a user copies the search query text out of the address bar, it will paste the full link to the search.
An example to further illustrate the problem: A user searches for “The Mac Observer” using the combined search and address bars in Safari 6. After the search is complete, the user copies the query “The Mac Observer” from the address bar and pastes it into another program. The result would be the plain text of their search query:
The Mac Observer
With Safari 6.0.1, the user conducts the same search, copies “The Mac Observer” query text out of the address bar, and pastes it. The result is the search-specific link:
We still don’t know why Apple felt compelled to hide the actual search link from the address bar, but at least they’ve restored the ability for users to easily access it for purposes of sharing or archiving.