One of Safari 5's new features that Apple is touting is the "Safari Reader," which allows you to focus on the content of an article and leave out flashing advertisements, links, and polls, and other sidebar information that accompany most Web content these days. The feature is welcome, but some people are having a confusing time figuring out exactly how it works and when it will work.
The process is simple:
- Go to a Web site
- Click on an article so it is the only loaded article
- Click the "Reader" button in the address bar when it appears (or use the "View" menu or Shift-Command-R)
That's it! Safari will load the reader viewer and fade out the actual Web page to the background, allowing you to scroll through the article contents (including relevant images) without all the clutter of links and ads. The reader is a separate window entity that, like a print dialogue box, travels with the window itself and just overlays the current window contents.
This feature is very similar to the "RSS" function where available feeds for a site can be accessed by clicking the "RSS" button that will appear in the same location. In addition to reducing clutter, the reader is particularly useful for getting rid of those in-line advertisement links that will activate and show pop-up windows when you mouse over them.
Despite the simplicity of the reader, it will not work in some cases:
One article at a time
The primary reason for the reader not being available is if you are viewing a page that has more than one article on it. For instance, here at MacFixIt (or any other CNET site) if you are on the main page you will see multiple articles listed and the reader will not be available. In this case, the "RSS" option is shown since the articles are listed in series and we have an RSS feed available for our site.
To see the reader, click on any article and wait for it to fully load. The reader button should appear and allow you to view the text with minimal formatting and styling.
It appears the reader targets the main page content, and therefore will not work (or at least not work well) on Web sites where the article content is being displayed in a frame. Unfortunately most people will not be able to tell which sites have this; however, you can look in the page's source code (right-click and choose "view source") and search for the <frame> or <iframe> tags.
Flash or other media delivery
A number of sites use alternative methods than straight HTML to format their content, Flash being a prominent one. If a Web site is using Flash or another plug-in for displaying its content, then the reader will not be available, or if it is, will not show the flash-based content in the article.
Addendum: To a few readers who e-mailed me about this feature, I stand corrected that this does not require specific HTML5 code. It will or should work on most Web sites that are coded with standard div tags to separate the main content of a single article from the rest of the page.