3 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Switching To Safari

Dan Price 27-02-2015

The choice of web browsers Comparison of Third Party Browsers for iPad In today's video, we'll be talking about third party browsers for the iPad. Read More is overwhelming. Chrome is the most popular in the world at the moment, but Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, Opera, and many other less well-known products are all trying their hardest to eat away at its dominance. It’s not easy to decide which one to use; look at any tech site and you’ll get totally different perspectives, with innumerable pros and cons, claims and counter-claims, and tips and hints.


At this point I should say that I am a Windows user. I’ve always been a Windows user. I’ve dabbled with a Chromebook in recent years, but Windows is my go-to OS for any kind of serious productivity. My ability with a Mac is almost non-existent. With the exception of an almost unused company-provided iPad Mini 2 (given to me so I could use one specific app that’s not available on Android), I haven’t owned an Apple product since an old iPod got stolen from my car in about 2007. You can imagine my horror, therefore, when my significant other came home a few weeks ago with a shiny new MacBook Air – the reason? – she “just wanted to try it”.

It’s not easy to switch browsers Faster, Sleeker, Better: How To Switch From Chrome/Firefox To Safari Thinking about using Safari on your Mac, but worried you might lose features and bookmarks? Here's a quick guide to comfortably moving to Apple's web browser, without missing out. Read More , but unperturbed, I launched myself into the world of Steve Jobs – iTunes, iWork, iCloud, and, significantly – Safari. On the whole, the experience has been a very positive one. I’m definitely still in the learning phase, but I thought I’d share three things I wish I’d known sooner 10 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With iOS Safari Even if you're already familiar with Safari's basic features, there are bound to be things you haven't yet realised the iOS browser can do. Read More about Apple’s Safari browser:

1) Reading List

We recently published an article discussing the various workstations Who We Are: An Inside Look at Our Writers and Their Workstations We all have a wide variety of computer setups and each of us has a unique workflow that keeps us productive. Join us as we bare our most sacred spaces for you to see! Read More , apps, and software programs used by our members of staff. I was part of the article, but I need to confess that I lied a little – I didn’t mention my heavy reliance on Pocket.


There are lots of reasons why you might use Pocket, for example; if you do a lot of online work, if you’re an avid reader, if you want to save videos to watch later, if you want a different way of saving bookmarks, or you simply want a way to track cool stuff that doesn’t warrant its own bookmark. I fall into a few of those groups, but my main reliance on it is for work. If I see something online that I think could become a good article I instinctively save it, reviewing my list of saves once a week to decide which items to carry forward.


It’s a workflow process that I’ve used for years… that is, until Safari and its “Reading List” feature came into my life.

The principle of Reading List is similar to that of Pocket or Instapaper Become an Instapaper Power User With These 6 Cool Features Despite an impressive adoption rate, a plethora of Instapaper features often remain unexplored. Let’s take a look at a few of them. Read More , in that it saves webpages for viewing later. The difference is that it’s a) a native program, b) extremely lightweight in terms of resource use, and c) can pull links from Twitter to save you monitoring it constantly for exciting information.


It’s incredibly simple to add items to your list (either by using Shift + Command + D, or clicking Share > Add to Reading List), and the beauty is that it automatically syncs into the mobile Safari browser on that unused iPad. Suddenly, I find myself using the iPad rather than my Android phone when I’m browsing the Internet in front of the TV at night, and the only time I’ve travelled since I starting using the MacBook, the iPad was the first thing in my suitcase. Previously, I wouldn’t have even considered taking it.


In short, Reading List has transformed my appreciation of Apple’s other hardware and how well it all works when put together. I have no doubt this is just the tip of the iceberg and there are lots more services I can take advantage of – next on my list of “thing to try” is iCloud. I have high hopes.

2) Push Notifications

The notification system in Safari is awesome. Although Chrome offers updates from apps, thus letting you know when you get an email, when you have a reminder on Keep, or when a calendar appointment is due, the notifications in Safari go much further.

Safari allows websites to push updates directly to you – meaning you get updates via the Notification Centre whenever a website which you are interested in posts new content or information.



Originally I made the mistake of accepting notifications from every website that I frequented which offered them to me. It was a big mistake, with some high-volume sites sending me alerts several times per hour. Once I had tweaked my setup in Safari’s preferences to only allow a select group of sites contact me, the system worked perfectly.

No doubt Apple will continue to develop the feature further. At the moment it’s not perfect, persistently being asked whether or not I want notifications from every new site I visit quickly becomes tiresome, and there is an element of distraction when I’m working on another task.

Nonetheless, it’s easy to see how a system like this could be the final nail in the coffin of RSS, as the way people consume their online content evolves over time. Chrome needs to start catching up.

3) New Tab Page

I like design. To me, it is just as important for an app to look good as it is to work well. If a program was the most full-featured thing on the planet I still wouldn’t use it if it looked like a 5-year-old had designed it. Sleek but simplistic is the way to go.


Chrome is not badly designed, and at one stage (when I first made the switch from Internet Explorer) it was probably the most visually pleasing browser on offer. However, using Safari made me realise just how much Chrome has slipped (or was always lacking?).


Nowhere is this more evident than when opening a new tab. Google used to give you the option of a blank screen or seeing your Chrome apps but that’s now gone, and unless you use a 3rd party app to customise your screen 9 Ways to Customise the New Tab Page in Chrome Chrome's new tab page is serviceable, but a bit boring. Whether you're looking for a nice background for your new tab page or want to easily create your own visual bookmarks, add custom widgets, and... Read More , you’re stuck with being shown their ugly main screen, replete with the ill-thought-out, rarely relevant, and poorly designed eight top sites. The only way to access entirely more useful Chrome apps is via a button in the top right or by using the Chrome App Launcher from the taskbar.


In this regard, using Safari is like going from a Volvo to a Ferrari; both function in more or less the same way, both get you from A to B, but one of them is so much more streamlined and pleasing on the eye.

Set a new tab to open with ‘Favourites’ from the preferences menu and you’ll be presented with your bookmarks (organised by folder) and your frequently visited sites, or alternatively, your “Top Sites” – a customisable screen of titles which display snapshots of sites you use on a regular basis. All three of these groups are much more beneficial from a user experience perspective, and they look far better than Chrome’s list of eight sites (which look like they were an afterthought).


After years of everyone telling me, I finally realised that it’s true – Apple are good at designing things!

What Don’t I Like?

It would be remiss to suggest Safari is suddenly the greatest browser in the world. There are still things are frustrating, both to a new Chrome convert and, I presume, to long-time users.

Favicons: Why hasn’t Apple included Favicons in Safari’s tabs? One assumes it’s probably nothing more than a style issue as they try and keep their toolbars sleek and free of clutter. In reality, it harms the user experience as it’s easy to get lost when you’ve got lots of tabs open at once.

Tabs below the address bar: Another decision that appears to have been taken merely for sake of style over substance. How often do you use the address bar? If you’re anything like me, a lot less than you click on tabs. Chrome’s placement of tabs above the address bar makes far more sense – you can shove your mouse to the top of your screen and you’re there; it requires less precision and it’s faster.

What do you Wish You’d Known About Safari?

What browsers do you use? Have you tried Safari recently? What did you like and dislike about it? Perhaps you’re a long-time Safari user who can give far more insight into the nitty-gritty of using it compared to a relative newbie like me.

Whatever your situation, we’d love to hear from you – just let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Oh, and sorry dear, no you can’t have your MacBook back…

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  1. Tony
    November 16, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    One significant flaw I have found with Safari is that it is often not compatible with certain apps features or websites that you may need to access your account. Ex: Metro PCS- You cannot use Safari to log into your account. You will only get errors. You need to use a browser like Google Chrome or I.E., Certain features in the Marriot Hotel app require a I.E. browser. Certain Bank Website features are not compatible with Safari but are with I.E. Overall, I find it convenient to use Safari but have to keep in mind that some apps require a different browser so I have two browsers loaded on my Iphone and IPAD.

  2. Dan Price
    March 2, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    Tinkicker - Interesting opinion. As I say in the piece, I'm an extreme newbie on all things Apple. I found the customisation options sufficient at present, but I suspect that's because they're *different* rather than *better*: as I use Safari more and look to get it set up the way I want, I might run into the issues you mention. That said, I think it's pointless trying to get all browsers to look and act the same way, IMO you should use each individually for different tasks, depending on its strengths/weaknesses.


  3. Tinkicker
    February 28, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    My biggest peeve here (and let me say that I rank with you almost exactly on Windows /Android /Apple usage) is the lack of customization ability with Apple. A big plus would be to be able to move those tabs up above the address bar.
    Chrome is meh with this too, Firefox is pretty dang good, but as in many things in recent years, my favorite browser Opera has fallen off the wagon.
    Maybe my aesthetics will never be as "enlightened" as Apple's, but they aren't driving my bus. I've tried Safari on Windows and Linux systems, but the lack of customization choices is what primarily keeps me away.

    • Ron White
      February 28, 2015 at 8:39 pm

      If you want customization and a wealth of optional features, try Maxthon Cloud Browser.

    • Tinkicker
      February 28, 2015 at 9:13 pm

      Thanks Ron. I've used Maxthon in the past but it's been a while. I guess I should look at it again.

  4. likefunbutnot
    February 27, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Safari's addon ecosystem is much too thinly supported for me to take it seriously. It's in the same general category as IE; it's the browser that is used to download a better browser.