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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.
There’s a lot to love about Safari – it’s lightweight, fast, and integrates well with your Mac. It’s also not the underpowered browser of yesteryear: there are quite a few features offered in Safari not found in Firefox or Chrome.
- Complete syncing with Safari on iOS devices.
- A built-in reading list and RSS reader in the sidebar.
- Native Mac notifications from a wide variety of sites.
- Built-in Reader mode, for clutter-free reading.
- Toolbar and tabs optimized to use as little vertical space as possible.
I could go on, but my colleague James already outlined his reasons to switch to Safari. I’m going to assume that, if you’re reading this, you want to switch to Safari but aren’t sure how to make it comfortable. Here’s how to make sure nothing is missing as you make the switch.
Get Your Bookmarks Synced
Everyone’s got a collection of bookmarks on their browser, and no one wants to leave them behind. Safari offers a quick import tool for just this reason. With Safari open, click “Safari” in the menubar and you’ll find this option:
Some people might want to try Safari out, but keep using Chrome or Firefox as they test things. If you’re not completely converting to Safari, you’re going to want to keep your bookmarks synced up – XMarks is the easiest way to sync bookmarks across browsers, so be sure to look into it. With it installed in all browsers you can switch from Safari to Chrome to Firefox without losing any of your bookmarks.
Get Your Extensions
The lack of extensions was long Safari’s single biggest weak point, and in terms of the total numbers Apple’s browser doesn’t come close to Chrome or Firefox. It’s worth stating, though, that many of the most popular browser extensions out there – from Evernote to Adblock, from Amazon to Facebook Purity – are now all offered for Safari.
If you’re not one to use a ton of extensions, there’s a good chance most of what you need is offered. Power users may be less pleased, but there are still a number of extensions worth checking out – and there is, refreshingly, not a lot of crap to filter through.
Explore Safari’s extension market to find out. My collegue Bakari outlined a few Safari extensions to increase your productivity, if you want some ideas.
If you’re a big fan of userscripts, you should check out NinjaKit. It hasn’t been updated in a few years, but it’s the best way to run userscripts in Safari.
Missing Keyboard Shortcuts And Features
Take a look at our Safari keyboard shortcut cheat sheet and you’ll notice a few things. For me, one thing stood out: the keyboard shortcut for Next Tab is completely different in Safari than other programs.
Happily, on your Mac, it’s possible to create a keyboard shortcut for any menu item. Head to your Mac’s System Preferences, then Keyboard. Click “Shortcuts” and you can add anything.
Just make sure you use the exact wording found in Safari’s menubar, then set your alternate keyboard shortcuts. You can do this to change any keyboard shortcut found in your Mac’s menubar.
There’s one more keyboard shortcut I used regularly that I just couldn’t find: restoring a lost tab. On this, I must declare defeat. If you’re quick, you can use CMD+Z (undo) to quickly open a tab you just closed, but once you open another tab it no longer works. There are some extensions with similar features, though:
- TabBack: Assigns Option-Shift-T to open the recently closed tab. Doesn’t work as well as in other browsers – shortcut seems to simply not work in many situations – but it’s better than nothing.
- Recent Tab List: Shows a list of recently closed tabs. Sadly, cannot be triggered with a keyboard shortcut.
While you’re restoring features, you might notice that you miss the statusbar – the indicator at the bottom of the screen that shows you where a particular URL will bring you. You could enable Safari’s old, permanent statusbar if you want, but if you prefer Chrome’s statusbar – which is only there when you need it – I recommend you install Ultimate Status Bar.
What Did I Miss?
Some of the best Mac software comes pre-installed, and recent updates mean Safari is right up there with them. There’s a lot more you can make Safari do, from controlling your streaming services using your media keys to using any website as your new tab page, but I want to learn from you guys.
If you’ve recently switched from Chrome or Firefox to Safari, what changes helped make the transition more comfortable? Let me know, and also feel free to ask about any feature you wish you could get working! I’m here to help.