Idea: Coverflow for Safari

Safari + Cover Flow = Pretty Cool Huh

Update (25th February 2009)

Looks like Apple had a read of our post! It’s great to see the new Safari 4 implementing a feature we wanted. It’s even better to say “Hey Apple, we beat you to it!” But we don’t like to gloat. It was a fairly obvious decision for Apple to put such a great looking visualisation tool into an application that arguably needed it more than the Finder. I think people will quickly forget just how difficult searching their history was when all they had was a long list of URLs and page names.

The Idea (before Apple implemented it)

A lot of people [including me] would like a better way of browsing their vast arrays of bookmarks and visited sites.

A lot of people have suggested that Safari had some way of visually doing this, just like a lot of plug ins can for Firefox and other browsers.

But, it occurred to me recently – wouldn’t it be cool if Safari had Coverflow? Whenever you go to a page, Safari could capture a small thumbnail and save it in a directory for fast viewing much like iTunes does with cover art, and the Finder will with images and other documents in Leopard.

It would make so much sense – iTunes for Mac and Windows already has Coverflow, so surely it wouldn’t be such a mammoth task to get Coverflow in Safari for Windows as well.

I know it would save me a ton of time – much more than just eye candy – websites are, just like documents, not the easiest thing to distinguish when jumbled up in lists of 100s if not 1000s of similar items.

Also, with an almost identical version of Safari on the iPhone, browsing your history would become much the same, and just as easy as browsing your music collection.

Safari 3 with CoverFlow

All in all, Steve and co, if you’re listening, this one’s a no-brainer 😉

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  • To answer the question in the title, it’s maybe because Safari is already a pretty sluggish browser right now, adding this kind of extra would make it a hell of a lot slower 🙂

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  • I really think that this would be a useful idea, especially if it could update the screen shots overnight ready for browsing the next morning. But, some of the most gorgeous sites are built with Flash and how would such an addition be able ro handle them?

  • Hi Mike, that’s a very good point and to be honest I’m not sure…

    There are many tools out there already, though, that manage to capture screenshots of web pages, like Snap Shots that gives an image of a web page before you click an outgoing link. I’m not sure if Snap Shots works with Flash sites though.

    Oh, and thanks for the post on tuaw, really appreciate it 😉

  • Mike Eggleston

    Well, I can think of how Cover Flow would work, even with Flash content. The visible one (the one in the middle) would act just like a normal web page (obviously scaled down and what not). This is done through the WebKit API. All of the others are snapshots of the page. If the page hasn’t been “CoverFlow”ed, then it grabs the content once. Once the content is grabbed it saves it as a snap shot to save on bandwidth.

  • Mo

    If can manage to capture screenshots, I’m sure Apple can manage to convince Safari to do it—it is responsible for rendering the view, after all.

    There are probably some kludges that would need to happen for plug-ins to be dealt with properly, but I can’t envisage it being hugely insurmountable. Capturing a screenshot of a site when you bookmark would probably be one of the easier aspects of BookFlow to implement.

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  • I wonder if instead of tabs, we could use a coverflow…

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  • The idea is pretty obvious, see my post on Shiira forums on July 24.

    I e-mailed the suggestion to Apple a couple of years ago, and I’m sure I was not alone with these kind of ideas, i hope they’re aware.

  • fudge

    This function is already exist in the new Nokia N90.

    When i saw this i thought why Safari 3 is missing this feature.

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  • tms

    cool idea!

  • mephister

    The idea is wonderfull, but only make sens on tuch oriented devices, like iPhon or TabletPCs.

  • The basic concept is already out there.

    Opera + Speed Dial

    Yet the problem with Opera’s speed dial is that it can only handle 9 websites. An interface based upon cover flow should be able to handle many more websites and establish a “iSafari” type of browsing interface that would be much more attractive to the mac crowd.

    I highly support your idea.

  • fudge

    Sorry it’s in N95.

  • What a great and simple idea!! I know I would use it!!

  • Tim

    I think this is a fantastic idea, and I’ve been thinking along the same lines now for several months.

    My idea to solve the flash problem or add more value/useability would be –

    instead of clicking ‘add bookmark’ – users would use a keyboard shortcut that would function similar to cmd+apple+4, allowing them to drag a (fixed width height ratio) box around the aspect of the page that they want to use as the screenshot/bookmark.

    this would make this even more relevant for smaller screen devices, allowing the user to not only highlight the page, but the specific area of the page they are interested in.

    Further development could use social bookmarking sites (delicous etc) API and dynamically visually display users bookmarks ..

    If I had the time to develop this as a web app or firefox extension I would! however I am too deeply involved in a plethora of other projects to physically code/develop it. I would be happy to be part of a team and offer my expertise if anyone wanted to move forward on this! I think if apple saw a working prototype, whether web based or firefox extension they would go for it!


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  • trendsettr

    They have to do this now, because they just released leopard with cover flow for documents. It shouldn’t be too hard. Opera has a feature that takes screenshots of web pages(speed dial), so why can’t Safari?

  • Gregg

    I kept looking for the cover flow function in Safari & assumed it did it.
    I looked & looked, but couldn’t find it.
    Then I searched & saw this site.

    I would be happy if I could just cover flow through open tabs in Safari.
    I don’t need each tab update automatically.
    I don’t need an updated page on each tab, just a better way to browse through open tabs.

    I thought I was missing something, because it would be much better for me to browse Safari tabs by cover flow & browse directories by name.

    This, and horizontal 2 column Mail apps make me think Apple is holding out on us for marketing & financial purposes.

    It would be so simple.
    Have any of them seen Letterbox for Mail?
    It’s on the Apple website.

    Am I the only one using Mail?
    Is everyone using (Office) Eudora?

  • Gregg

    Are we going to have to wait Two years & cough up another $120 to be able to browse tabs in Safari by cover flow?

  • Gregg

    How about just a New Tab toolbar button in Safari?

  • Dan

    That is a very good idea. This Makes Tabs Look More Fun And Stylish !

  • Tim Herrick

    This is a great idea, Opera already has something similar called speed dial. If Apple could take the same principals and improve the UI by using Coverflow I’m sure the safari browser would be more popular.

    Also why do people care if there is a new tab button? Is it so hard to do CTRL T? I find it easier myself.

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  • Brett

    This was just made available as a plugin for the browser called Fluid. Try Search engines are also starting to implement this. Try searchme or searchmash. But, I agree that I would like to see it in safari.

  • G

    Hi Brett, yeah I saw this on fluid yesterday – works well.

    I think it could still be integrated into Safari for a great browsing experience. On the “Dream Browser” project, we came up with a few more ideas like this. That browser is now in development, but these things take time 😀

  • Please look at SpaceTime which allows you to Search Google, Yahoo! eBay, YouTube, RSS and your Favorites using a novel 3D Interface. Right now it’s a download for PC (No need to say it, I know), but we’re working very hard on the Mac version that will actually work in any browser. It’s actually almost done.


  • Alemizu

    check this out ! !

    browse your safari history with coverflow… activate with a button click !

    can download from:

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