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Safari 4 Beta Is a Fat Hog That Spies on You

May 24, 2009

top_sites

Apple’s Safari 4 browser is a pig. It’s a resource hog that doesn’t clean up after itself — and it remembers every site you visit, even in “porn mode.”

Safari records every site you visit, even if you turn on the “Private Browsing” feature or clear the browser history. And the files it generates can consume gigabytes of disk space.

“This is a huge privacy concern,” writes designer and musician C. Harwick, from Chapel Hill, NC, who did some snooping in Safari’s hidden system folders. “With no good way of getting rid of them except manually (clearing the history doesn’t do it, and I don’t think resetting Safari does either), these hidden files are strewn all over the user’s hard drive unbeknownst to him waiting for snooping relatives (or more pertinently, law enforcement) to dig them up. I really like Safari, but I’m going to have to seriously consider using Firefox now (ack).”

Harwick discovered that the browser — which is in beta — appeared to remember every site he visited in the History folder, regardless of what he put in preferences. In a few months, this folder had grown to 100MB. Likewise, the Top Sites folder had also grown to about 100MB, and appeared to have remember all the sites he visited since he started using the software.

But the worst offender was the Quicklook folder, a Finder feature that gives a sneak peek of unopened files. Safari’s Quicklook folder included thumbnails of all the sites Hardwick had ever visited with the browser — and had grown to a whopping 2GB.

“Safari does not delete the webpage previews it generates for Quicklook. Ever. 2.03 GB of webpage previews (2 per website – a full resolution and a thumbnail), all generated since downloading the Safari 4 beta — hidden away in an obscure folder,” Harwick wrote.

According to MacOSXTips.com, to disable the “Top Sites” feature, fire up Terminal, and type the following command:

defaults write com.apple.Safari DebugSafari4IncludeTopSites -bool FALSE

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