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Factotum is a “search assistant” for Safari. It opens a small window next to your active Safari window and loads a search page in it. So far, that’s nothing you couldn’t do by yourself. The unique feature of Factotum is that when you click a link in the little search window, the link opens in your main window—not the search window.

Factotum uses the mobile versions of several popular search and reference sites, because they are designed to fit in small windows. You can choose one of the included sites using the icons at the bottom of Factotum’s window. Currently, these websites are included:

  • Bing
  • DuckDuckGo
  • Google
  • Twitter
  • Wikipedia
  • Yahoo!

To open Factotum’s window, just click the Factotum button on Safari’s toolbar or type its configurable hotkey, which defaults to Command-Shift-F. If you select some text in the current window first, Factotum will immediately perform a search on that text in your default search engine. If not, it will open your default search engine’s home page.

Note: Factotum works best if Safari’s popup blocking is turned off. If you want to keep popup blocking, there is an option in Factotum’s settings to use an alternate window opening method, but it’s not as nice as the standard method.

Factotum tries to be smart about which links open in the main window and which open in its own window. Links to other parts of the same site will open in place, while links to other web sites will open in the main window. (At least, that’s the idea. If you find that a link that should open in the main window doesn’t, you can force it to do so by holding down the Command key while clicking it.)

There are a few options for where to open links from Factotum’s window. You can have all of them open in a single tab of the original window or a single tab of a new window; or you can have each link open in its own tab in the original window or a new window. You’ll find these options in the Factotum area of the Extensions pane of Safari’s preferences window.

You can actually open any web page in Factotum’s window, if you want—you’re not limited to the included sites. But if you open an unsupported site, Factotum will not be able to distinguish between links that should open in the main window and links that should not. It will just open every link in the main window. To force a link to open in Factotum’s window, you can hold down the Shift key while clicking it.

NRFAQ (Not Really Frequently Asked Questions)

How do I make it so the target window gets focus when I click a link in Factotum?
Click the little pin button on the bottom bar of the Factotum window. It toggles the always-in-front setting.

Why doesn’t Factotum show up when I type the default hotkey, Command-F?
Because the default hotkey is actually Command-Shift-F. If there is an uppercase letter in the hotkey field in Factotum’s preferences, you have to hold down both Command and Shift when typing the hotkey. If the letter is lowercase, just use the Command key.

Why do some of the included sites look so plain and ugly in Factotum? The same sites look really nice on my iPhone!
Yes. The reason mobile sites look nice on your phone is because they detect which device you are using and then apply a stylesheet that is custom tailored for that device. In Factotum’s case, the mobile sites don’t recognize the device, because it’s just a Mac. As a result, they apply a stylesheet that will work on any device—so basically what you get is a lowest-common-denominator look. I wish I could make Factotum masquerade as an iPhone so it would get the nice stylesheet, but I can’t.

I opened an unsupported site in Factotum, and every link opens in the main window, whether it should or not. What’s up?
This behavior is by design. The thinking is, if Factotum doesn’t know what to do with a link (which will be the case for any unsupported site), then opening it in the main window is preferable to opening it in Factotum’s window. To force a link to open in Factotum’s window, just Shift-click it.

Sometimes, when I go back a page in Factotum, why does the loading spinner keep spinning endlessly?
Sorry—it’s a problem related to a bug in Safari that causes problems for extensions when a page is reloaded entirely from Safari’s cache. I haven’t found a suitable workaround, but I’ll keep trying. If the spinning spinner bothers you, please reload the page by clicking the spinner.

Why doesn’t this NRFAQ answer my question?
Because I didn’t anticipate it. Please post your question on the support forum.

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