The iOS version of Safari might lack features compared to third-party iOS web browser apps, but you’re still going to come into contact with it as the default browser on your iPhone or iPad.
Even if you’re already familiar with the browser’s basic features, there are bound to be things you haven’t yet realised Safari can do. Here are some of the lesser known tips for getting the most out of Apple’s mobile browser.
Change Your Search Engine & More
As with most apps, the settings (Settings > Safari) is a good place to look for additional features and controls. In settings you can change the default search engine for Safari, from Google to either Bing or Yahoo. In iOS 8, expect to see Google alternative Duck Duck Go on this list too.
You can also set to have Safari open links in a new page or in the background, and most importantly clear your browser history. Settings is also where you can disable the search suggestions feature in Safari if you find it annoying when trying to enter a search term.
Customise Your New Tabs
Another hidden setting (Settings > Safari > Favorites) allows you to dictate which folder of bookmarks appears when you create a new blank tab in Safari, or when you tap inside the URL/search field. By default, the Favorites folder is selected, but you can change this to directly access to another folder.
Unfortunately there’s no great preview of bookmarked pages or sites, but this little feature can save you a few taps for getting at your most used bookmarks.
Securely Store Payment Details
One feature that’s not enabled by default is the setting for filling out your credit card info when you’re doing online shopping (Settings > Safari > Passwords & AutoFill > Credit Cards).
Once enabled you will be asked to fill in your credit card data for one or more cards, which are then stored in your iCloud keychain. On your iOS device, you can set a passcode lock that will be required before the credit information is used in a web form. I suggest only using this feature if you make regular online purchases using your iOS device.
Restrict Certain Websites
While we’re in the Settings app, let’s also check out the restriction settings for Safari. If you share your iOS device with your children or other people, you can change restrictions for the type of websites that can be accessed on your device. To make the change, tap on Settings > General > Restrictions, and enable restrictions, which will ask you to create a password.
Now scroll down the page of restricted enabled apps and tap on “Websites.” From there you can restrict sites with adult content, only allow sites like Discovery Kids, PBS Kids, or manually add custom sites.
Access Tabs Open Elsewhere
If you’re a fairly new user of an iOS device, you might not know that iCloud syncs all of your bookmarks and opened tabs between your Mac and iOS devices for the Safari browser. To make it work you need to enable Safari under iCloud settings on your various devices. This is done in the Settings > iCloud on iOS, and under System Preferences > iCloud on the Mac.
To view the shared tabs on the iPhone, tap the Tabs button on the button-right, and then scroll pass the open tabs in Safari until you see the list of synced tabs shared to your iCloud account. Your Mac computer or other iOS devices don’t have to be on in order to see the last synced tabs.
On the iPad version of Safari, tap on the cloud icon in the top right and your list of synced tabs will appear.
Listen To Video In Background
If you’ve ever been annoyed that you can’t continue to listen to a downloaded video in Safari after you close the app, there’s actually a cheeky workaround you need to know about. Start playing the video and then minimise (home button) Safari. Now open Control Center (by swiping up from the bottom of the screen) and hit play to resume the video.
To get this to work for YouTube videos or music, you will need to open and play YouTube videos in the Safari app, instead of the iOS app for YouTube (which used to work but not any more).
Quickly Access Your Tab History
On both the iPhone and iPad versions of Safari, you probably know that the bookmarks button is also where you go to access your history of visited pages.
But if you want to just view your current tab’s full history, tap and hold the “back” button of the browser. This also works for the “forward” button if you’ve hit back a few times.
Search Within a Webpage
Safari uses a combined search and URL field for inputting searches and addresses, but you may not know that the same box is used to initiate search within a webpage. To do this, tap inside the URL field and then type your search term (the webpage will be hidden) and wait.
Instead of tapping the Go button, scroll down until you see “On This Page” and tap on the search result. Your page will pop back up with the search term highlighted in yellow on the page, with controls for quickly moving to other instances on the page.
Make Text More Readable
Safari for the iPad includes the Reader feature found in the Mac version of Safari. If the webpage is Reader friendly, the Reader icon consisting of four horizontal lines, will appear on the left side of the URL/search field. Tap on the icon and the downloaded article will be stripped of ads and other surrounding data, leaving you with the text and some images for a more pleasant reading experience.
Add to Home Screen
In addition to your bookmarks, you can also save a webpage to your to your device’s home screen. To do this, open the website you want to save, tap on the share button (a square with an arrow pointing up) then tap Add to Home. A shortcut to the webpage will be added to your home screen, where it can be quickly tapped opened again in Safari.
The iPad makes browsing the web feel like reading a paper magazine. When you make use of all included features, you can get even more out of the mobile web browser. Let us know what you think of the above highlighted features, and please share with us your suggestions and tips for using Safari.
Do you use Safari on your iPhone or iPad? Add your own tips to the comments, below.