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With Chrome and Firefox hogging the limelight, Safari may not be an option at all when you’re choosing a primary browser. And that’s a pity, because it’s a good browser — uncluttered, pleasing, and smart.
Yes, Safari might be missing a few must-have features (did someone say favicons?), but it has several other useful ones that you’ll love. Take the lesser-known features that we’re covering today, for example. Let’s see how they’ll make browsing easier for you.
Forget about generating secure passwords for websites. Delegate that job to Safari by going to Safari > Preferences… > Passwords and checking the box next to AutoFill user names and passwords. After you have made this tweak, when you visit a website that needs password creation, you’ll see a tiny “key” icon in the password field. Click on it and select Suggest New Password… to have Safari come up with a password for you.
With the AutoFill feature enabled, usernames and passwords get stored in the Passwords section of Safari Preferences.
Clear History Without Losing Website Data
Purging your browser history every once in a while is useful. This gets rid of your recent searches, webpages that you have visited, the list of downloaded items, etc., giving you a browser that’s as good as new. The catch is that you also lose site-specific data and preferences in the process. This means that the next time you visit any website, you’ll get prompts asking for permission to send you alerts, track your location, and so on. We know how annoying that can be.
The workaround is simple if you’re using Safari.
First open the History menu and hold down the Option key. You’ll see that the usual Clear History… option in the menu has changed to Clear History and Keep Website Data…. Click on the latter to clean up Safari history while keeping your site-specific settings intact.
Create a Dashboard Widget
If you use the Dashboard on macOS, you might want to know about the Safari feature that allows you to turn any webpage element into a Dashboard widget. To make use of it, first go to a webpage of your choice and click on File > Open in Dashboard. You’ll now be able to select the portion of the page that you’d like to keep handy as a widget. Select it and hit the Add button.
This Safari feature is great for keeping tabs on dynamic webpage elements. Amazon’s Lightning Deals section, for example.
— Gavin Jackson ???????? (@gav_jackson) May 6, 2014
Speaking of Dashboard, did you know that you can turn Dashboard widgets into standalone apps?
Get Safari to Read Aloud for You
Want to get through your daily dose of news without straining your eyes? Let Safari read articles out loud. For this you’ll want to switch to the Reader mode either by clicking on the Reader View icon (four horizontal lines) at the left in the address bar or by clicking on View > Show Reader. It’s to ensure that Safari reads only the primary website content and leaves out irrelevant elements like navigation text.
Now, with Reader View active, click on Edit > Speech > Start Speaking. That’s it. To stop the audio, click on Edit > Speech > Stop Speaking. You can pick a speaking rate and system voice of your choice from System Preferences > Dictation & Speech > Text to Speech. Of course, these choices apply systemwide.
Having to go through the menu to start or stop the text-to-speech conversion every time can be a chore. Work around that by creating keyboard shortcuts for the menu options that activate and cut off the speech feature.
Change How Safari’s Reader View Looks
One of the best features of Safari is its Reader view. It gives you a distraction-free version of online content by stripping everything secondary from the page. Did you know that you can customize how this Reader mode looks? You can change the font type, make it bigger or smaller, and pick a different background color — nothing fancy, but useful all the same.
To access the customization options, when you’re in the Reader view, click on the Show Reader appearance options icon (a pair of “A”s) at the right in the address bar.
Get a Bird’s Eye View of Open Tabs
Clicking through a bunch of tabs to find the right one is time consuming. Try this visual approach instead: click on the Show All Tabs toolbar button, which looks like a pair of overlapping squares. This gives you thumbnail previews of all open tabs in the current window, with tabs from the same domain stacked together — just what you need to find tabs faster. You can switch to specific tabs or even close them from this section.
If you’re logged into the same iCloud account both on your Mac and on an iOS device, in the preview you should be able to see open Safari tabs from the iOS device as well. For this to work, you’ll need to ensure that you have enabled Safari under System Preferences > iCloud on your Mac and under Settings > iCloud on your iOS device. This feature hasn’t worked as expected for me though. I can see my Mac Safari tabs on my iPod, but not my iPod Safari tabs on my Mac.
Note: You can also view open tabs from other iOS devices as lists within a dropdown menu via the iCloud Tabs toolbar button.
Safari tip: “iCloud Tabs” lets you see (and close!) tabs on other devices. Enable via: “View ? Customize Toolbar”. pic.twitter.com/DUmTJXYrZj
— Axel Rauschmayer (@rauschma) August 20, 2015
Close Other Tabs
Want to close all tabs in the current window except the active one? You don’t need to keep hitting cmd+w or clicking on the Close button till you run out of tabs. Simply hit cmd+option+w to get the job done. Wondering why you can’t see this keyboard shortcut in the File menu. It’s another one of those shortcuts that appear only when you hold down the Option key with the menu open.
I'm so happy to have discovered ?+?+W in Safari recently: Close other tabs in this window with a keyboard shortcut.
— Joseph Caudle (@JosephCaudle) June 1, 2015
You’ll also want to keep in mind that you can merge all your Safari windows into a single one via Window > Merge All Windows.
Upload Files Without Using a File Browser
Still using the on-site file browser to upload files to a website, say, to Google Drive? Try this simpler alternative: use Finder to select the set of files that you want to upload and drag and drop them into the Google Drive tab that you have open. The upload process will start immediately. This is one of those tips that you can use in any browser and across various websites.
Zoom Through Text Fields and Popup Menus on Any Page
You can highlight the elements of a webpage in quick succession using the Tab key, and you probably knew that already. Now press Tab and Option. That highlights only the text fields and popup menus on the page. Easier for form filling, right?
If these two Tab key shortcuts aren’t working for you, go to Safari > Preferences… > Advanced and ensure that the checkbox next to Press Tab to highlight each item on a webpage appears selected.
Can’t spot a toolbar button that we have mentioned in the article in your browser? It could be because you have hidden it from the toolbar, or maybe it wasn’t part of the default icon set to begin with. To display that icon, first right-click anywhere on the toolbar and click on Customize Toolbar… from the context menu. Now drag the icon to your toolbar from the fly-out box that appears.
We know that it’s convenient to stick to the few standard browser features that you have always used, but we recommend taking the time to explore some lesser-known ones. They could transform the way you browse!
Are there any Safari features that you’re surprised more people aren’t aware of, but should be? Share them in the comments.