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OmniWeb 5.6 under Mac OS X 10.5.0
Developer(s) The Omni Group
Initial release March 17, 1995; 20 years ago (1995-03-17)
Stable release 5.11.2 (July 23, 2012; 2 years ago (2012-07-23)) [±]
Preview release 6-r202077 (Jan 16, 2013) [±]
Operating system Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later
Available in English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Swedish,
Type Web browser
License Proprietary (browser), LGPL (WebKit)

OmniWeb is a proprietary Internet web browser developed and marketed by The Omni Group. It is available exclusively for Apple Inc.'s Mac OS X operating system. Although it is not open source, like many of its competitors in the Macintosh alternative browser market—Mozilla's Firefox and Camino, for instance—OmniWeb is available as a free download.


OmniWeb was originally developed by Omni Group for the NextStep platform, and was released by Lighthouse Design on 17 March 1995[1] after only one month's development time.[2] As NextStep evolved into OpenStep and then Mac OS X, OmniWeb was updated to run on these platforms. OmniWeb also was able to run on Microsoft Windows through the Yellow Box or the OpenStep frameworks. After Lighthouse Design was bought by Sun Microsystems, the Omni Group released the product themselves, from version 2.5 onwards. From version 4.0 onwards, OmniWeb has been developed solely for the Mac OS X platform.

OmniWeb is developed using the Cocoa API which allows it to take full advantage of Mac OS X features. It uses Quartz to render images and smooth text. it will use multiple processors if available, and features an interface that makes use of Aqua UI features such as drawers, sheets and customizable toolbars.

OmniWeb originally employed its own proprietary HTML layout engine that used standard API NSText components.[3] However, this engine was very slow, particularly when scrolling, and was not fully compatible with all of the most recent web standards, such as Cascading Style Sheets. In OmniWeb version 4.5, the Omni Group adopted Apple's KHTML-based WebCore rendering engine,[4][5][6] which was created by Apple for its Safari browser.

On August 11, 2004, the Omni Group released version 5.0 of OmniWeb which included a number of new features. The most notable feature was an unusual implementation of tabbed browsing, in which the tabs were displayed vertically in a drawer on the side of the window (including optional thumbnail pictures of the pages.) Despite a certain amount of controversy over the merits of a tab drawer over a tab toolbar, the feature has persisted through the current version.

On September 6, 2006, version 5.5 was released. Major new features include the use of a custom version of WebKit instead of WebCore,[7] universal binary support, saving to web archive, support for user defined style sheets, a "Select Next Link" feature, FTP folder display, ad-blocking improvements, updated localizations, many other small changes and bug fixes.[8]

OmniWeb's price was successively lowered, first to $39.95, then on February 24, 2009, Omni Group announced that OmniWeb would be made available for free, a change from its previous price of $14.95.[9]


  • Separate window form editing: Click the square in the upper right corner of multi line form fields to open it in a separate window. This helps when you wish to add lots of text to an area which is very small and you want to see all of it at once. This feature also allows you to enter tab characters.
  • Workspaces: groups of web browser windows and tabs in them. A user can have multiple workspaces for different web research topics and quickly switch between them with a key shortcut or menu choice.
  • View Links: By clicking on this button in the toolbar, one can quickly view all the links contained in the page.
  • Ad blocking: OmniWeb uses a powerful pattern match ad blocking feature to stop images from loading from servers matching the pattern. It is also possible to block images that don't originate from the current server you are browsing and to block images that match common advertisement sizes.
  • Shortcuts: allows one to type a key word or phrase to open a certain web site or begin a specific web search.
  • Site preferences: OmniWeb allows you to specify preferences that apply to specific websites. For example, if you adjust the font size on a given web page, the adjusted font size will be used on all other pages of the same site. Preferences are saved automatically and retained between browsing sessions.


OmniWeb was most popular in the early 2000s when the OmniGroup's experience developing for OPENSTEP (which became the foundation for Mac OS X) gave them an edge over other developers. John Siracusa, a technology journalist and critic for Ars Technica, said, "Finding [this level of functionality] in a proper Mac OS X application from a respected developer with a proven track record is like finding a perfect 1/10,000th scale replica of the Eiffel Tower in a box of crackerjacks. Then the tower transforms into a tiny robot and makes you lunch." [1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sendall, Mike (29 March 1995). "World Wide Web Clients". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 10 August 2010. 
  2. ^ Berners-Lee, Tim (ca. 1993/1994). "A Brief History of the Web". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 18 August 2010.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ "OmniWeb Release Notes". Text is now displayed in our own custom view instead of a modified NSTextView. 
  4. ^ "MacEdition Guide to CSS2 Support in Mac-only Browsers: Notes on Pre-WebCore OmniWeb". 
  5. ^ "OmniWeb 4.5 Beta 2 Released". 
  6. ^ John Gruber (2 February 2004). "OmniWeb 5 Public Beta". Daring Fireball. Retrieved 2008-01-19. 
  7. ^ Jon Hicks (April 27, 2006). "A quick guide to Omniweb 5.5 sp6". Hicksdesign. Retrieved 2008-01-19. 
  8. ^ The Omni Group - OmniWeb - Historical Release Notes
  9. ^ "OmniWeb, OmniDazzle, OmniDiskSweeper, and OmniObjectMeter now freeware". The Omni Group. 2009-02-25. Retrieved 2009-02-25. 

External links[edit]