How to Customize Safari Browser Layout in Mac?

Safari is the default browser in macOS to open webpages. If you are bored with the look and feel of the Safari browser, it is easy to customize the layout. This helps you to rearrange the icons and quickly access your favorite websites.

Related: 10 Safari tips to improve productivity.

Opening Safari Browser

Be default, you can find Safari 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.

Open Safari from Dock
Open Safari from Dock

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. After adding in dock, right click on the Safari icon and choose “Options > Keep in Dock” to permanently keep the shortcut in Dock.

Default Safari Layout

Once you click on Safari icon, it will open the home page with the favorites or top sites you have previously visited. The layout will look something like below when you enable the sidebar.

Safari Browser Layout
Safari Browser Layout
  • Main layout will show the current active tab.
  • 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.

Customizing New Tab and Home Page

You can use the address bar to open any webpage or search queries using default search engine. The new tab page may show top site or home page or blank page depending upon the settings. You can customize this by going to “Safari > Preferences…” menu.

On the pop-up window, go to “General” tabs which should look like below:

Safari General Preferences
Safari General Preferences

You have the following options to make the browser launch as per your convenient:

  • Safari opens with – Open the browser with a new window, a new private window, all windows from last session and all non-private windows from last session.
  • New window opens with – choose to open a new window with your favorites, top sites, homepage, empty page or the same current active page.
  • New tabs open with – choose one of the similar options like new window.
  • Homepage – type the webpage URL to set it as your homepage. You can also set the current webpage as homepage by clicking on the “Set to Current Page” button.

By selecting different options, you can easily setup the browser like the way you want. For example, you may open a particular news website every day as a first site in Safari. In such a case, you can setup to launch that website every time you launch Safari.

  • Type the website URL as your homepage.
  • Choose “Homepage” for “New windows open with” option.
  • Set “A new window” for “Safari opens with” option.

Related: How to manage tabs in Safari?

Show or Hide Tab Overview

When you are working with multiple tabs, the tab overview option will allow you to see the preview of all windows in a single tab. You can access tab overview in one of the following ways:

  • Click on the “Show tab overview” icon on the top right corner.
  • Go to “View > Show Tab Overview” menu.
  • Press “Shift + Command + \” shortcut keys.

You can use the same method to hide tab overview and go back to the active tab.

Customizing Top Sites and Favorites

The top sites view in Safari will show top six sites that you have previously visited on the browser. You can customize the number previews to show 6, 12 or 24.

  • Go to “General” tab of the Safari preferences section.
  • Select the number from the dropdown against the option “Top Sites shows”.

It is also possible to remove or pin individual top sites by hovering over the top site’s preview.

Customize Safari Layout Options

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.

Customize Safari on Mac
Customize Safari on Mac

Full Screen Mode

You can click on the green button on the top left corner to make Safari full screen. You can also hover over or click and hold on the green button on the browser to view full screen options (this is a default option in Mac on supported applications).

Make Safari Full Screen
Make Safari Full Screen

Choose “Enter Full Screen” to make the browser to a full screen mode. Again, press escape key to quit full screen. Or hove the mouse on top of the screen and again click on the green button to go back to normal view. You can also tile Safari window to left or right and choose another application on the side to do multitasking.

Rearranging Toolbar Icons

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. For example, you can add iCloud tabs, add flexible space, quick shortcut to website preferences, home, zoom, email or print buttons.

Customize Toolbar in Safari
Customize Toolbar in Safari

Safari Website Specific Preferences

You can customize website specific settings of Safari by going to “Safari > Preferences…” menu. Navigate to “Websites” tab and add your websites in the preferred section. For example, you can add a website under “Reader” section to always open the site in reader mode layout. Similarly, you can setup the default zoom, setup auto-play option and do may other things for specific websites.

Safari Preferences on Mac
Safari Preferences on Mac

Missing Layout Options in Safari

If you are familiar with Chrome or Edge browsers then you will find some options are missing in Safari layout. Though this cause inconvenient, Apple always design apps in that manner.

  • You can easily view the developer tools or test responsive modes in other browsers. However, you should enable “Develop” menu in Safari to use all developer related options.
  • You also need to manually enable website icons option to show favicons of the websites on the tabs.
  • Safari does not offer dark mode or light mode in the browser. However, you can change the mode on your Mac’s preferences to change the Safari mode also.
  • There will be no bookmark star icon on the address bar. You have to use “Command + D” shortcut or use the menu item to bookmark a page.
  • Safari does not have a bookmark bar on top of the tab.
  • You can show or hide the top tab bar in Safari when you have a single tab.
  • You can’t close all tabs and view a browser screen. When you view a single tab, there will be no close button. You have to close the browser  or minimize.

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