If browsing the web is one of the top three things you do on your computer everyday, you owe it to yourself to become familiar with as many time saving and clutter free features as you can. While there are several features I would like to see added to Safari, it’s still my default web browser of choice because of its speed and connectivity to my other Apple devices.
Safari is part of my daily productivity workflow, and so I’m constantly trying to find ways to maximize its use—from managing tabs, using trackpad navigation gestures, to maintaining and accessing bookmarks. In this article I’ll start off with a few beginner features, and then add a few advanced but easy to remember tips for getting more done faster in Safari 6. I do assume you already know how to save bookmarks and create bookmark folders.
The bookmarks bar is probably the fastest way to access your most regularly visited websites. Any site you visit on daily basis should be bookmarked directly only on the Bookmarks Bar or it should be in a Bookmarks folder.
For example, I keep a Pinterest extension link in my bar, so that pinning stuff to the site is a simple two-click process. I also, for example, keep a folder of Notebook sites in my bar for easy access. I have similar folders for MUO pages, my financial accounts, and my regularly used bookmarklets. And in case you didn’t know, you can abbreviate the names of bookmarks so that more of them can be fit in the bar. If you want to quickly rename and shorten the name of a bookmark or bookmarks folder in the bar, just right- or Control-click the item in the bar and select the Rename option.
Open Last Session
Whenever you need to get back to all the previous collection of your opened webpages, select History > Reopen All Windows from Last Session. This feature is very useful when Safari crashes, or when you re-start your Mac.
Open In Tabs
One of the problems with Safari is that if you’re doing a lot of browsing, it can get very cluttered with opened webpages and windows. If this is a problem for you, open Safari Preferences, and select the Tabs section. From there you get some options for how you want tabs to open. You can for example have all linked webpages open in tabs instead of a new Safari window. This could help reduce clutter.
Viewing Opened Tabs
Speaking of tabs, you can now view all your opened tabs by clicking the “Show all tabs” button on the top-right under the bookmarks bar in Safari 6, or you can press Shift+Command+ \ keys to view all your open tabs.
Save All Open Tabs
If you have been conducting some research in Safari and you want to save all your related opened webpages into a folder for later review, click on Bookmarks > “Add Bookmarks for These X Tabs…”
Notice you can save opened tabs in other places as well, such as adding a folder of bookmarks to the Reading List, which I will describe next.
The still fairly new Reading List feature in Safari is just another way to quickly bookmark pages, but this time without having to create a special folder for them. You can quickly save a webpage to the Reading List by using the Option+Command+B shortcut. If there’s a link on a webpage that you want to save to your List, put your cursor on the link, and click the Shift key, and that link will be bookmarked to your Reading List without you having to open it.
If you have iOS 6 installed on your iOS devices, all your Reading List bookmarks will also sync to and appear in the iOS version of Safari, and visa versa.
Similar to the Reading List, a new feature in Safari 6 automatically syncs all your open tabs on your Mac version of Safari to the iOS version of Safari, and visa versa. However, this feature only shows your current or last opened pages. The next section will point a few other ways to share and access bookmarks and links.
Reading Later Tools
To make sure selected bookmarks reach my iOS devices—where I do most of my webpage reading—I use two tools: a Safari extension called Handoff, and another one called Save to Pocket. When you click the installed Handoff button in your Safari toolbar, it will send the current page to the Handoff app ($1.99) on your iOS device.
The same goes for the Read Later Pocket (Free) app for the Mac and iOS devices.
Another useful set of Mountain Lion features you want to learn for Safari are hand gestures for navigating web pages. Open System Preferences > Trackpad or Mouse and click on “More Gestures.” There you will find the available hand gestures that you can use to quickly navigate between tabs and open windows. The built-in video will explain how to use the hand gestures.
For example, you can move back and forth between pages you’ve viewed in one tab by moving your two fingers right or left on your mouse or trackpad.
Right-Control Click Pages
When you right- or Control-click on an empty space on an open webpage, you get a drop-down list of items to choose from, most of which are also in your toolbar of Safari. So for instance, I can quickly save pages to Handoff or Pocket, or I can activate my 1Password log-ins without having to go to the Safari toolbar.
Now when you open a PDF document in Safari, you can quickly download and save it by putting your cursor near the end of the Safari window until a black window pops up. From there you can click the downloads button.
Notice you can also increase and decrease the font size of PDFs using the same tool.
Increasing Font Size
If you’re like me, the default font size of most webpages is just not big enough for extended reading. If you need to, you can quickly zoom in on an article by double-tapping on the articles with two fingers.
You can also use the Command-+ shortcut, and/or you can add the Zoom button from the Custom Toolbar (click on View > Custom Toolbar.)
Custom Toolbar Items
Speaking of the Custom Toolbar, open it up and see what other items you might find handy for getting better use of Safari. There are several items such as the New Tab and History buttons which might not be there by default.
The Home button, for instance, will take you to the homepage you have selected for Safari. If you haven’t selected a homepage, open Safari Preferences > General to add the page you want Safari to download when it opens or when you select the Homepage button.
If you want to max out your use of Safari, check out the dozens of Safari Extensions available to users. Click on Safari > Safari Extensions and you will be taken to an extensive category of tools, including RSS and Search tools, social networking extensions; and more bookmarking and entertainment related extensions.
Check out our directory of articles for reviews of other useful Safari extensions.
Okay, this is not really a Safari tool tip, but if you happen to do a lot of web browsing for research and writing, you owe it to yourself to get a second computer monitor. It doesn’t have to be a fancy, expensive Mac monitor. You can get a Dell or HP monitor for under $150. With a second monitor you can park webpages on it, and view them as as you type and do work on the main screen. Over time you will find this setup a huge time saver.
That’s it for my list of Safari recommendations. Let us know what features and extensions you find handy. And for other Safari related articles, check our directory here.