Safari 5 and other browsers like Opera, Internet Explorer, FireFox and Chrome allows users to set a user stylesheet preference. This enables a user to take control over their experience—styling the site the way they want it to be displayed, overriding the author styles.

Safari 5, like most other browsers, provides you with the option of specifying your own style sheets. I hadn’t noticed before, as I don’t use Safari often, but you can easily set a stylesheet in your preferences or choose from a list of previously applied user styles.

To add your own user style go to Preferences > Advanced > Style Sheet and select a CSS file (locally stored or on the network) to use that style sheet.

Safari Preferences: Advanced Pane
Screenshot: Safari 5 Preferences Advanced dialog showing a drop down box for specifying a user style sheet.

If you’re unfamiliar with user styles, here is the scoop:

  • You have specific text and background colour combinations that work best for you.
  • You have a particular font and font-size that work best for you.
  • You choose not to display images by default.
  • You decide that you want all your form fields to be twice as big as they are normally.
  • You want a certain outline around each paragraph so that you can more easily digest a page chunk by chunk.

Whatever the reason, you create a set of styles that make things look the way you want them to. Through the browser itself, or through a browser extension, you tell the browser to use your new stylesheet, and it overrides what the author suggested.

Make sense? This use of technology is exactly why we use progressive enhancement and why we must always remember that other people may not see a web page the same way we do.