Developer(s)The Omni Group
Initial releaseMarch 17, 1995; 29 years ago (1995-03-17)
Stable release
5.11.2[1] Edit this on Wikidata / 20 July 2012
Preview release
6.0 test (v633.0.13)[2] Edit this on Wikidata
Operating systemMac OS X 10.4.8 or later
Available inEnglish, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Swedish
TypeWeb browser
LicenseProprietary (browser), LGPL (WebKit) Edit this on Wikidata

OmniWeb is a discontinued web browser developed and marketed by The Omni Group exclusively for Apple's macOS operating system. Though a stable version is no longer maintained, it is still available as a free download, and unstable versions are still being released.


OmniWeb was originally developed by Omni Group for the NeXTSTEP platform and was released by Lighthouse Design on March 17, 1995,[3] after only one month's development.[4] As NeXTSTEP evolved into OPENSTEP and then Mac OS X, OmniWeb was updated to run on these platforms. These early versions of OmniWeb also run on Microsoft Windows through the Yellow Box or the OpenStep frameworks. After Sun Microsystems bought Lighthouse Design, the Omni Group released the product from version 2.5 onwards. From version 4.0 onwards, OmniWeb was developed solely for the OS X platform.

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

The Omni Group originally employed its proprietary HTML layout engine that uses standard API NSText components.[5] However, this engine was very slow, particularly when scrolling, and was not fully compatible with 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,[6][7][8] which was created by Apple for its Safari browser.

On August 11, 2004, the Omni Group released version 5.0 of OmniWeb, which added several new features. The most notable addition was an unusual implementation of tabbed browsing, in which the tabs are displayed vertically in a drawer on the side of the window (including optional thumbnail pictures of the pages.) Despite controversy over the merits of a tab drawer over a tab toolbar, the feature persists through the final version.

On September 7, 2006, version 5.5 was released. Major new features include the use of a custom version of WebKit instead of WebCore,[9] universal binary support, saving to the web archive, support for user-defined style sheets, a "Select Next Link" feature, FTP folder display, ad-blocking improvements, updated localizations, and many other small changes and bug fixes.[10]

OmniWeb was Omni Group's flagship app, but as OS X web browsers improved—Apple eventually bundled Safari into OS X— and Omni successfully introduced other products such as OmniGraffle and OmniOutliner, OmniWeb's importance diminished.[11][12] 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.[13] The Omni Group official website now states that the browser is no longer under active development.



OmniWeb was popular in the early 2000s when OmniGroup's experience developing for OpenStep (which became the foundation for Mac OS X) gave them an edge over other developers. Until Apple's Safari, the Omni Group had the best support for Mac OS X technologies among its competition (chiefly Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer for Mac). John Siracusa, a technology journalist and critic writing 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."[14]

See also


  1. ^ "Index of software/MacOSX10.4".
  2. ^ Error: Unable to display the reference properly. See the documentation for details.
  3. ^ Sendall, Mike (March 29, 1995). "World Wide Web Clients". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  4. ^ Berners-Lee, Tim (1993). "A Brief History of the Web". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  5. ^ "OmniWeb Release Notes". Retrieved December 8, 2018. Text is now displayed in our own custom view instead of a modified NSTextView.
  6. ^ De Chant, Tim (13 September 2022). "Safari 16 finally adds a feature I've been missing since OmniWeb went defunct". TechCrunch. Retrieved 11 January 2024.
  7. ^ "MacEdition Guide to CSS2 Support in Mac-only Browsers: Notes on Pre-WebCore OmniWeb". May 17, 2003. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  8. ^ "OmniWeb 4.5 Beta 2 Released". July 7, 2003. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  9. ^ Hicks, Jon (April 27, 2006). "A quick guide to Omniweb 5.5 sp6". Hicksdesign. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  10. ^ Sharps, Linda (September 7, 2006). "OmniWeb 5.5 released". Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  11. ^ Bailey, Jonathan. "Why OmniWeb Failed". Archived from the original on June 25, 2016. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  12. ^ NickM (November 25, 2008). "Will there ever be an Omniweb 6?". Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  13. ^ Sharps, Linda (February 24, 2009). "OmniWeb, OmniDazzle, OmniDiskSweeper, and OmniObjectMeter now freeware". Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  14. ^ Siracusa, John (February 4, 2004). "OmniWeb 5.0 Beta". Ars Technica. p. 6. Retrieved December 8, 2018.