As a browser, Safari doesn’t get enough credit. On the surface, it seems underpowered. It wasn’t until my third attempt that I embraced Safari as the default browser. And it wasn’t the speed or the battery life gains that persuaded me — it was the general niceness of it all. The simple user interface, the smooth transitions.
But there was also something else. It wasn’t until I understood Safari in its entirety before I could wave goodbye to Chrome. And this is where Safari’s simple interface becomes a double-edged sword.
But that’s why we’re here today. To look beyond the obvious and unearth the usefulness lying beneath the simplicity.
1. Picture-in-Picture for Every Site
Picture-in-Picture is one of the best new things in Safari. Being able to watch a YouTube video that’s floating over everything else, is really useful. It works on a lot of popular video streaming sites. On sites like Vimeo, you’ll find the Picture-in-Picture button in the bottom toolbar.
But on YouTube you need to right-click twice on the video to reveal the contextual menu. From here click on Enter Picture-in-Picture. The video will pop right out. You can then drag it on any corner of the screen.
2. Customize the Toolbar
I’ve embraced Safari’s minimalist approach completely. So I don’t like it when an extension adds an ugly icon to the toolbar. Thankfully you can customize the toolbar to remove such icons, and also remove default buttons like downloads and tab switcher.
Right-click on the toolbar and select Customize Toolbar. Then drag things in or out as you please.
3. Search Between Tabs
It’s no secret that we open a lot of tabs when browsing. Safari helps manage this tab overload by neatly stacking related tabs in the tab switcher page. When you’re on this page, press the Ctrl + F shortcut and you’ll be able to quickly search between all your tabs.
4. Turn Off Notification Popups
As a news junkie, I like visiting blogs a lot. What I don’t like of late is how every single one of these news site wants me to subscribe to new posts by enabling push notifications. Rather than denying the request every single time, let’s just disable this feature altogether.
From the Settings page in Safari, click on Notifications. On the bottom, uncheck the option that says Allow websites to ask for permission to send push notifications.
5. Pin Tabs
An instant cure to “where’s the damn tab” is to just pin it. Then it stays docked in the left edge of the tab row (across multiple windows) and you can get to it just by using the Command + 1 or Command + 2 shortcut, depending on its place.
To pin a tab, just right-click on the tab and select Pin tab.
6. Mute Tabs
Sadly, autoplay videos are rampant on the web. You’re never quite too sure where exactly that audio is coming from. Safari now tags a tab that’s playing audio with a little speaker icon.
What’s better is that no matter where the audio is playing, you’ll see a speaker icon in the URL bar as well. And clicking it will show an option to mute all tabs at once.
7. Enable URL Previews in Status Bar
I’m the kind of person who likes to see a link to the page before opening it. Seeing the URL of a link in the status bar while hovering over it was really useful. Safari, being its simple self, disabled this feature by default a while back. Thankfully, if you click on View from the menu bar and select Show Status Bar, you’ll get the feature back.
8. Customize the Favorites Screen
The Favourites screen is what shows up when you open a new tab and when you click the URL bar. This then is your welcome mat for the web. You should customize the screen to add shortcuts to your most frequently used websites.
Visit a site and then click the Plus “+” button at the right of the URL bar. From the drop-down select Favorites. From the Favorites screen, you can drag icons to rearrange them.
9. Save Pages as PDFs
Exporting a web page as a PDF doesn’t require a special extension. Visit the page and from the File menu, select Export as PDF. Choose where you want to save the page, and hit Save to export.
10. Share Pages Using AirDrop
AirDrop is a great way to share not just files but also web pages between all your Apple devices. Say you’re on a page you want to open on your iPad instead. Click on the Share button and select AirDrop. Then select your device.
11. Enable Handoff to Make Browsing Better
Handoff and Continuity are two really cool technologies that let you seamlessly switch between macOS and iOS. Say you have a page open in Safari on your iPhone you want to open on your Mac.
If the feature is enabled, you’ll see a Safari shortcut at the left edge of the Dock, clicking it will open the page in Safari. No need to copy and paste links or use a third party tool.
12. Reader View
Click the Reader Mode button that’s at the left edge of the URL bar after loading an article to enable Reader view. All the web page’s formatting, ads and distractions vanish in favor of a minimal, beautiful, easy to read layout. You can then change the fonts or the text size.
13. Use iCloud Tabs
iCloud Tabs is a genius feature that lets you access and control tabs that are open in Safari on your other Apple devices. After you click on the tab switcher, look at the bottom to see your other devices and the tabs that are open there.
From here you can either close the tabs on those devices or open a tab from another device right on your Mac. Neat, right?
14. Quickly Search Within Different Sites
Using the Safari Keyword Search extension you can quickly search sites like Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube and more just by using a keyword.
So you can search in YouTube by writing yt and then the search term. For example yt nerdwriter loads up the YouTube search page for the relevant videos. You’ll find a list of all keywords at the download page for the extension.
15. Block Unwanted Scripts With Ghostery
Safari is a simple and fast browser and you don’t really have to worry about Flash. But if you’re the kind of person who wants to take control of their privacy and stop cookies from following you around everywhere, or you want to disable tracking scripts for sites you visit, just install Ghostery.
Ghostery gives you information about which scripts are running and lets you disable them one by one.
Make Safari Better With Extensions
One of many reasons why I love Safari is because it’s so simple. But sometimes you just need a bit more firepower. And in times like these extensions come in handy.
While Safari’s extensions support is nowhere near is expansive as Chrome’s, you’ll still find the important extensions for popular services like Evernote and Pocket without any issues. Also, learning the keyboard shortcuts always helps.
How do you use Safari? How do you have it set up? Share with us in the comments below.