A surprising number of useful actions in Safari on iOS are hidden behind long presses, gestures, and 3D Touch. The browser’s UI is simple, clean and sharp and while I do appreciate that, it comes at the cost of reduced discoverability.
Whether you’re new to the iPhone or iPad or you’ve been using Safari for years, I’m sure you’ll find something new and useful on this list.
1. Long Press Buttons
Almost the entire bottom toolbar, except the Share button, has some kind of long press option.
Long pressing the Bookmark icon will give you options to quickly add the current page as a bookmark, send it to the Reading List or to Shared Links (if you’ve enabled the feature).
The tab switcher actions are even more useful, giving you a super-fast way to create a new tab or to close all currently open tabs.
Long press the back or forward buttons to get a list of the pages you can go back/forward to.
2. 3D Touch App Icon
If you’re using an iPhone 6s or higher, start using Quick Actions as your gateway to Safari. When you 3D Touch the app icon, you’ll find options to open a new tab, a private tab or to get to your reading list.
Most of the time I go to Safari, it’s because I’m looking to do something new, like a new Google search. The 3D Touch option lets me jump directly to the search bar, with the keyboard already to go.
3. Search for Tabs
Safari in iOS 10 lets you open unlimited tabs. This means I have around 100+ tabs open in Safari. But this makes finding old Safari tabs harder. Of course, there a way to search through all your open tabs, but again, it’s hidden.
Tap the tab switcher button, this is where you’ll see a list of all your tabs. Then turn your phone landscape (you’ll need to turn off Portrait Lock in Control Center if you’ve enabled it), and you’ll spot the Search bar in the top-left.
On the iPad, you’ll find the search bar right at the top of the tab switcher (just like in Safari on the Mac).
4. Use and Customize Reader Mode
I don’t use Reading List as much better options exist (Pocket and Instapaper), but Safari’s Reader mode is a whole different beast. Just tapping one button on the leftmost edge of the URL bar turns a chaotic page into an organized, minimal, formatted page.
The Aa button lets you choose between different fonts, text size and night mode. This is a great way to read web content, especially at night.
5. Use 3D Touch to Peek Into Pages
If your iPhone supports 3D Touch, you can squeeze harder on a link to get a popup view of the page. This is a great way to preview a link before deciding to go in. Want to read it? Press deeper again and it will open. Or just lift your finger to back off.
6. Share Links Without Opening Them
I randomly stumbled on this feature and I’m really glad I did. If you’re running iOS 10, you can long press a link anywhere in Safari and choose Share from the menu to bring up the native Share sheet.
This means I can do interesting things like send a link to a note in Apple Notes or to Pocket, without ever opening the page.
7. Tap and Hold to Paste and Go
If you’ve got a link in the clipboard you want to open in Safari, or you’ve got some text you want to search in Google, tap and hold in the URL bar next time (instead of tapping it to bring up the keyboard).
You’ll get a Paste and Go or Paste and Search option depending on what you have in the clipboard. It’s a real time saver.
8. Request Desktop Site
If you’ve got an iPad Pro, especially the big one, you’ll end up doing this quite often. To request a desktop site for the page you’re visiting, just tap and hold the Reload button. You’ll get a Request Desktop Site option in the options menu.
If you’re using a content blocker, this is also where you’ll find the option to reload the site without content blockers. You can also find the option to request desktop site via the actions bar under the regular Share menu.
9. Find Text in Page
When you’re reading a long article or looking something up in Wikipedia, you’ll need to do the ol’ Ctrl + F dance. Safari also has this feature, and there are a few ways to access it.
The easiest is to tap on the URL bar and type what you’re looking for — beneath your history and suggested websites you’ll find an option for On This Page. Alternatively, you can tap the Share button and select Find in Page from the bottom row.
10. Turn Safari Into a Feed Reader
Safari has a feature called Shared Links that’s basically a feed reader. You can add a feed from a page and new articles will show up here. Or connect with your Twitter account to see all the links shared by people you follow.
On the iPhone or iPad, tap the Bookmarks icon. and then select the tab with the @ symbol to get started.
11. Go Split Screen on iPad
In iOS 10, Safari lets you browse two pages side-by-side. You can get started in a couple of ways.
Tap and hold a tab and drag it to the right or left edge till a black bar appears. Then drop the tab there and it will open in Split View.
You can also long press on a link and tap on Open in Split View.
You can start split screen by tapping and holding the Reload button and selecting Open Split View.
12. Save a Page as PDF
Sometimes you need an offline copy of a web page and one of the easiest ways to do that is to create a PDF of the page, right from Safari.
Tap on the Share button, scroll in the middle row and find Save PDF to iBooks. The page will be stored as a PDF in the iBooks app. But once the PDF is in iBooks, it’s not easy to share it with other apps.
In iOS 10, there’s another way to export the page as PDF.
From the bottom row of the Share sheet, select Print. You’ll see a preview of the page here. 3D Touch once for the floating Peek view and 3D Touch once again to Pop into the entire PDF view (if your device doesn’t have 3D Touch, swipe in with two fingers).
Now, from here, tap on the Share button. You’ll see a list of apps that support PDF import. And you’ll also find the option to add the PDF to Dropbox or iCloud Drive (if enabled).
13. Open or Close a Tab Remotely
If you use multiple Apple devices and your default browser is Safari, you’ll find that you can access tabs from all of your machines in Safari. iCloud Tabs are really useful when switching between devices.
You can also use this feature to remotely close a tab, on another machine. In the tab switcher, scroll down till you find iCloud Tabs, swipe left on a tab and select Delete.
14. Open a Recently Closed Tab
Your fingers are slippery and it’s far too easy to swipe away a tab. And you won’t find an obvious way to bring it back.
Tap on the tab switcher button in the bottom right and tap and hold the plus “+” button. This will bring a list of recently closed tabs.
15. Play YouTube Videos in Background
While you can get third party apps for doing this, Safari offers a simple low-tech way of listening to just the audio from YouTube, in the background.
Open a YouTube video in Safari and start playback. Then press the home button and go to the Home screen. Swipe up to bring up the Control Center and from the Now Playing pane, tap the Play button. The audio playback will now start.
Use Extensions in Safari to Get More Done
Unlike Safari on the Mac, the iOS counterpart doesn’t support browser extensions. But since iOS 8, apps gained the ability to bundle their own extensions that can plug into the Share sheet system wide.
What are some of your favorite tips and tricks for Safari? Share with us in the comments below.