Design & Development

Camino Web Browser is Best in Mac Universe

Camino Logo is a blue global with white compass points
The Camino Project released its newest version for Mac OS-X in September 2008. Version 1.6.4 of this union of Mozilla and Macintosh offers a solid, Mac-compatible browsing experience with quick load times and crystal-clear renderings using the Gecko engine.

For the past several weeks, Practical eCommerce has been reviewing the leading web browsers, pointing out each one’s strengths and weaknesses. The Apple minority is a vocal one, so when Google upped the ante in browser performance with the release of its powerful and clean Chrome browser—a PC only tool so far—Mac users called for a better browser too. Mike Pinkerton and the rest of the Camino Project heard their cry, and released the newest version of its open source, Mac-centric browser.

Default Settings

Although Mac-native Cocoa APIs allow for open source customization, the browser’s default settings let users handle the web without crushing it with an overabundance of features. The default is somewhere between Opera and Safari in terms of user interface. Browsers can choose the standard toolbar or make limited customizations like adding download and form-fill icons.

New to version 1.6 is the customized toolbar search field. Users can download search engine plug-ins from Camino’s site, as well as WordPress, The New York Times Online, Amazon, and others. These can then be deleted, renamed or reordered. A new scrolling tab bar, an updated page search toolbar and auto-updates also were also released with the 1.6 version.

Camino Web Browser Screen Shot

Secure Surfing

If we had published this Camino review last week, we would have also told you how Camino’s built in security features make it a much safer choice than Apple’s proprietary Safari browser for general web browsing. But that changed on Thursday of last week, when Apple released a new version of Safari that can now match Camino in terms of phishing protection. The Safari update was over due, but it did finally come.

Open Source Development

The customization gets more interesting with, a site run by self-titled print and new-fangled media designers Jon Hick and David Feare. It offers developer tools like AppleScript, different builds and plug-ins, themes and toolbar scripts. And just as add-ons and plug-ins improve PC-friendly browsers, these plug-ins for Camino help it out perform Apple’s Safari.

Camino can be set to alert users when they are navigated between encrypted and unencrypted pages. It allows easy access to a user’s digital certificates to help ensure transactions with banking and shopping sites, and it can integrate with the Keychain Access application to allow users the ability to save usernames and passwords.

Camino Features

  • Toolbar Search Improvements. Camino 1.6 now “includes an editor that allows deleting, renaming, and reordering search engines. Camino also supports OpenSearch search engine plug-ins.”

  • Streamlined Fine Interface. “Camino 1.6 removes the Find panel and replaces it with a simple, unobtrusive Find toolbar that appears near the bottom of the browser window. With back and forward buttons at your fingertips and incremental find, the Find toolbar makes finding words on a page easier.”

  • Scrolling Tab Bar. Like in Mozilla’s other browser, Firefox, “when more tabs are open than can be displayed in the tab bar, arrows appear at the right and left edges to allow scrolling the bar. As part of this change, the tab overflow menu has been replaced by a menu displaying all open tabs in the current window.”

  • AppleScript Support. “AppleScripts can now refer to individual tabs and windows, add, open, and delete bookmarks, and even have custom toolbar icons.”

  • Keychain Support. “In addition to saving logins and passwords in the Mac OS X Keychain, Camino 1.6 can now store information for multiple accounts in the Keychain. Camino also maintains compatibility with Safari Keychain entries, allowing easier switching between web browsers.”

  • Annoyance Blocking. ” Camino includes an elegant built-in pop-up blocker as well as built-in adblocking, which keeps even the busiest Web sites free of advertisements. Camino’s pop-up blocker gives you the option to show the pop-up, whitelist the site, or never get prompted again. Additionally, Camino includes the ability to keep Flash animation from loading until you’re ready (Flashblock) as well as the ability to disable Java.”


Camino is filling the gap Safari left in reliable Mac-specialized browsers with speedy load times and reliable rendering. The open-source Camino also has an active community of developers who create powerful and useful add-ons. These add-ons are what really make Camino magic, and make it a great choice for Apple users.

Brendan Gibbons
Brendan Gibbons
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