It's happened to me a thousand times. I'll need to visit a web page, but all I can remember is the gist of what it's about. When this occurs, I rack my brain for a quote from the page, and then head to Google. If I'm lucky, the quote is unique or nearly so, and I quickly find the page I'm looking for. More often, I end up having to add aditional quotes and keywords to the search in an attempt to narrow down the results.

Joakim Nygård has written Memento, a freeware application that aids the forgetful. Memento presents a list of all the pages in Safari's cache and allows the user to search them. Google's cache contains over eight billion pages. My Safari cache contains 287. Suddenly, searching for common words and phrases becomes a lot more practical. A common phrase on Google is very likely unique in my Safari cache.

But how far back can you go? How many days is 287 pages? For me, a mere fourteen hours, it turns out and over half of those 287 pages were loaded in the last three hours. Making matters worse, each iframe is considred its own page. Many advertisements, such as Google Adwords use iframes, and therefore are counted as separate pages. This alone can inflate the page-count to nearly double it's actual number.

Numbers can very drastically, however. When I ran Memento yesterday, I had 426 pages in my cache. This large variation occurs because the cache is based not on page count but file size. Safari's limit is 20 MB. If you use a lot of graphic-intensive web sites, you'll have a lot fewer pages stored in cache than somebody who browses with images turned off entirely.

I'm sure there's a hack to increase the size of Safari's cache and I hope somebody will post it in the comments. At a mere 20 MB, Memento's usefulness is severely limited.

There is, however, one very specific area in which Memento shines: browsing pages that are no longer available. In the image below, I have an Applefritter Preview page loaded. I can also load Applefritter Edit pages from the cache, where they contain the pre-edited forms of the pages that have since been overwritten.

Safari's cache is not large enough to make Memento terribly useful in the manner that it was intended. However, its ability to recover cached web pages that no longer exist elsewhere makes Memento a valuable tool in an emergency.


Developer's website: Joakim Nygård
Applefritter Archive: [node:6143]

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Sounds like a good program to have

It would be even nicer if it can work with the cache from other browsers, like Mozilla or Firefox. With those you can adjust the cache size.