Google reforms Chrome for Snow Leopard

The Mac version still lags its Windows sibling, but it's getting more mature. My favorite new feature that arrived: tab-to-search.

Google released an update for Chrome to fix compatibility problems with Snow Leopard on Monday, which along with other fixes shows the gradually maturing state of the Mac OS X version of the browser.

Chrome 4.0.203.4 for the Mac is only a couple notches up the version ladder than the version 4.0.203.2 it replaces, but there are some significant changes in the developer-preview software. For Snow Leopard compatibility, programmers fixed a garbled text bug, said Jonathan Conradt, a Chrome engineering program manager, in a blog post Monday.

Google began Chrome on Windows but has been gradually moving it to Linux and Mac OS X. Those versions so far are still only developer-preview incarnations not ready for prime time yet, though I find myself gradually slipping over to Chrome on my Mac system now that it's getting mature enough for me. I suspect a beta version isn't far off.

Google is fleshing out some basic features, though. One user-interface tweak enables support for command- and shift-clicking.

Another feature coming to the Mac is support for the tab-to-search feature in the omnibox. That lets you perform a site search directly from the address bar by typing a URL, for example news.cnet.com, then the tab key, then search terms.

Tab-to-search also works with Amazon, Google, Google News, and Yahoo, The New York Times, but not Bing yet. I search a lot, and this saves me one step and waiting for a page to load just so I can click in its search bar.

The tab-to-search feature has arrived on Chrome for Mac OS X, too.
The tab-to-search feature has arrived on Chrome for Mac OS X, too. Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

The most annoying issue I've found--and let me know if I'm missing something obvious here--is that I lose the file-upload dialog box while using Gmail with Chrome on Mac OS X if I switch away from the application while halfway through. If I don't attach a file immediately, that tab's instance of Gmail becomes useless because I can't get back to it.

Performance still is an issue with the Mac version, though. I was pleased to see some work on new-tab creation speed, with programmer Mark Mentovai using various changes to work the time from 1-3 seconds down to a fifth of a second.

Google is working hard to spread Chrome, though it has small market share at present. It's now installed as the default browser on some Sony laptops, as Endgadget noticed in July with the Vaio NW , and I heard about earlier in August.

Google has been advertising the browser as well and is at work making it the foundation of its Chrome OS .

About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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