Beginners Guide to Safari on Mac
If you are reading this article, then most probably you are a new user to Mac and must be looking for tips and tricks for using Safari. We have consolidated this article for you as it covers from the very basics of Safari to its different versatile features. Let’s have a look!
Related: Firefox guide for beginners.
1. What is Safari?
On Windows 10 based computers, Microsoft supplies Internet Explorer and Edge browsers and set Edge as a default browser. Similarly, Apple supplies macOS with Safari as a default web browser. Though Safari is similar to other web browsers like Chrome and Firefox you can’t uninstall from your Mac.
Apple claims Safari is the fastest browser and supports longer browsing time. It also highly recommends using Safari for the following reasons:
- Reader view to remove the clutter from the webpages.
- Better privacy features and protection from tracking.
- Better password management by storing in iCloud Keychain.
- You can view suggestions from Safari in Spotlight search box. This will help you to quickly access the pages related to your search query.
- Default browser works seamlessly on Mac and you don’t need additional app for browsing.
- You can use continuity features with iOS and Mac Safari.
- Secure payment through Apple Pay.
2. How to Access Safari in Mac?
Safari can be found in the Dock either at the bottom or at the side of your Mac’s screen, depending on your Dock setting. The icon will be blue in color and appears like a compass.
If you don’t find Safari on your dock, go to Finder and look for Safari app under “Applications” folder. Simply drag and drop the app to dock to add a shortcut on the dock for quick access.
3. How Can I Browse in Safari?
Once you click on Safari icon, the layout will look something like below.
You can use the address bar to open any webpage or search queries using default search engine. Apple calls this address bar as Smart Search field. The new tab page may show top site or home page or blank page depending upon the settings.
Click on the “Show sidebar” icon looking like a book on left side of the address bar. This will reveal the sidebar showing favorites and reading list.
Related: An ultimate guide to Google Chrome.
4. Customizing Safari Layout
Safari allows you to customize the layout as per your preference. Go to “View” menu and choose what you want to view on the layout. For example, you can show or hide tab bar, status bar, favorites bar, bookmarks bar and sidebar. You can also enable or disable reader mode icon on the address bar.
If you want to rearrange the tools on the layout, then go to “View > Customize Toolbar…” menu. Drag and drop icons and adjust the layout view as per your convenient.
5. Safari Preferences
Before we further explore, you can customize the look and behavior of Safari by going to “Safari > Preferences…” menu. Alternatively you can press “Command + ,” shortcut keys to open Safari preferences.
You can customize tabs, passwords, privacy, extensions and many other settings in preferences.
Remember, unlike Microsoft Edge, Safari does not offer dark mode or light mode. However, you can change the mode on your Mac’s preferences to change the Safari mode also.
6. Manage Tabs and Windows in Safari
Click on the + icon on the top right corner to open a new tab in Safari. Alternatively, you can press “Command + T” keys to open a new tab. Similarly, press “Command + N” to open a new window and “Command + Shift + N” to open a private window.
When you have multiple tabs opened, click on the “Show tab overview” icon that will look like a double square icon in the right of the menu bar. This will give you a thumbnail view of all the pages that you have opened. You can preview the pages and go to the desired page quickly.
If you want to close the tab, click on x icon that is appearing on the right corner of the tab. Check out separate article on how to manage tabs in Safari browser to learn pinning tabs, re-open accidentally closed tabs and manage auto-playing videos.
6.5. Using Private Browsing
Safari by default stores all your browsing history to speed up when you access the same pages next time. It also shows the frequently accessed sites on the top sites list of new tab page. However, if you don’t want Safari to record your browsing history then use private browsing mode. You can open private window by pressing “Command + Shift + N” keys or choosing the option from the “File” menu.
In private mode, Safari will automatically delete the search as well as browsing history at the end of each session. You will also see a notification when you open private session.
7. Bookmark and View Favorite Sites
Open any website that you want to bookmark and go to the menu “Bookmarks > Add Bookmark…” or press “Command + D” keys. A pop-up will appear where you can enter a description for the site and add to bookmarks, top sites or favorites.
Now click on the “Show sidebar” icon and view the bookmarks in sidebar. Otherwise, go to “Bookmarks” menu to view the bookmarked website, top sites and frequently visited favourite sites.
Related: Safari tips for iOS.
8. Manage Notifications in Safari
You can enable and disable the push notifications in Safari very conveniently. In order to do that go to Safari menu and click on preferences. Under “Websites” tab go to “Notifications” section on the left sidebar. Here you can view the list of sites that you have enabled notifications. Select the site and change the permission to allow or deny sending notification on the browser.
Also ensure to check the option “Allow websites to ask for permission to send push notifications”. Similarly, you can use reader mode, block pop-ups and block advertisements to have distraction free reading.
9. Manage History in Safari?
Go to “History” menu and click on “Show All History” option to view you browser history. Safari will show your browsing activities date wise. You can view, search and delete history records.
You can use private mode to prevent Safari from recording your activities. In case you have not turned to the private browsing option, you still have the option to delete the history. When you view all history records, you can right click and delete specific history record. If you want to delete all history at once then click on the “Clear History…” button.
Alternatively, you can go to “History” menu bar and choose “Clear History…” option.
10. Change Download Location
Whenever you download file in Safari, it will automatically send the files to your “Downloads” folder. If you want to change the download location, simply go to preferences and select “General” tab. Find the “File download location” option. You can either choose a folder or set to ask each time when downloading a file so that you can select different folders each time.
Similarly you can also choose what needs to be done with your download list. You can set time regarding removal of download list. For example, choose “When Safari quits” to delete the download history when you close the browser. Remember, closing all open windows will not quit the browser. In order to close the browser, you need to press “Command + Q” or select “Quit Safari” option from “Safari” menu.
11. Safari Extensions
Extensions are add-ons that will help you to enhance the browser’s functionalities. For example, you can install ad blocker to completely block advertisements on the webpages. However, Safari does not allow extensions from third party developers. You can check the limited extensions available on App Store by going to “Safari > Safari Extensions” menu.
After installing extensions, you can go to “Extensions” section of the preferences to manage them.
Related: Safari tips for developers.
12. Additional Features
In addition to the above listed features, Safari has many other useful features. Here are some important things to mention:
- Show website icons in tabs so that you can easily remember a specific tab when working with multiple tabs.
- Safari will automatically offers to save your login passwords and you can choose to fill whenever logging to the site.
- Change the default search engine under “Search” section of the preferences.
- You can enable “Develop” menu and use the options for web designing. You can empty caches, check responsiveness of the site and inspect any element on the page.
- Show the full website address on the address bar or only show the domain name.
Wrapping it Up
Safari is bundled with bunch of amazing features that can make your surfing easy and convenient. It is the safe and secure browser that can provide you better browsing experience on Mac. However, one of the big challenges with Safari is the slow loading webpages. Though Apple claims it is a fastest browser, we have noticed the page get struck many times without any valid reason. While we can access the same pages on Chrome instantly indicating it is a Safari browser issue.
Also, Safari works only on Mac and you have no app for Windows or any other operating systems. This will greatly impact when you have to work across multiple devices.
We hope Apple can address such issues to make Safari a better option for all.