Safari 4: Not as big on privacy as you might think

Sun, May 24, 2009


Web designer Chris Harwick writes about Safari not taking care of business when it comes to keeping your web browsing habits private:

The most outrageous thing I found, and it took drinking from Spotlight’s firehose of filesystem changes with FSEventer to find it, was that 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, residing – not in the user library, not even in the root library – in /private/var/folders/et/etuAKaR1GTeV9DVeRGfst++++TI/-Caches-/ Previews/, a hidden folder far away from the mouseclicks of all but the most relentless tinkerers.

This is completely unacceptable, for two reasons: The first is that there is no reason for Safari not to clean up after itself and let these folders get this big. If it grew to over 2Gb in just a few months, was it just going to grow until I ran out of disk space next year? What of the users who don’t know to delete it?…

Secondly, this is a huge privacy concern. With no good way of getting rid of them except manually (clearing the history doesn’t do it) 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.

If you want to get rid of the Top Sites feature, in spite of its coolness (and what are you trying to hide by the way?), MacOSXTips suggests typing the following command in Terminal:

defaults write DebugSafari4IncludeTopSites -bool FALSE

To restore the Top Sites feature, simply type in the same command, but replace “False” with “True”.


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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Adam Says:

    Just because you don’t have something to hide doesn’t give Apple the right to treat your privacy as an afterthought.

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