Browsers Mac

9 Safari Settings You Should Change for a Better Browsing Experience

Abhishek Kurve 14-12-2017

A lot of Mac enthusiasts prefer using Safari over Chrome Safari vs. Chrome for Mac: 9 Reasons You Shouldn't Use Chrome Between Safari and Chrome on Mac, Safari is the clear winner. Here's why you should avoid using Google Chrome on Mac. Read More , thanks to its low battery consumption. With macOS High Sierra, Safari is better than ever before, but as with all browsers there are quirks that need fixing.


Fortunately enough, most of the browser’s annoying quirks can be fixed by making a quick visit to Safari’s settings. Others need a little more work, but we’ll cover those step by step.

Ready to upgrade your Safari browsing experience on your Mac? Let’s begin with fixing Safari’s default preferences first.

1. Enable Link Preview in the Status Bar

When browsing through websites, you come across all sorts of hyperlinks. Some links take you exactly where you wanted, while other links can redirect you to phishing websites What Exactly Is Phishing & What Techniques Are Scammers Using? I’ve never been a fan of fishing, myself. This is mostly because of an early expedition where my cousin managed to catch two fish while I caught zip. Similar to real-life fishing, phishing scams aren’t... Read More that could steal your personal information 10 Pieces of Information That Are Used to Steal Your Identity Identity theft can be costly. Here are the 10 pieces of information you need to protect so your identity isn't stolen. Read More . Therefore, it’s a good idea to preview links before actually going to the website.

Showing the status bar in Safari via the View menu

Safari doesn’t show link previews by default, but you can enable it with just a couple of clicks. Click on View in the menu-bar and select Show status bar.

Once enabled, you should see link previews at the bottom-left of the screen.

The Safari status bar at the bottom of the Safari window

2. Show the Entire URL in the Address Bar

By default, Safari shows only the main domain name in the address bar. It probably makes Safari look a little more minimalistic, but it hides useful information including your exact location on a website.

The Advanced tab of Safari's Preferences

To revert to the good old behavior, open Safari > Preferences. Switch to the Advanced tab. Check the Show full website address box. Safari should display the full URL now, just like any other browser out there.

Showing the full URL in Safari

3. Use Reader View Automatically for All Websites

A website displayed in Safari's Reader view

Whenever you come across a cluttered webpage in Safari, you can simply click on the Reader view icon to declutter the webpage 5 Ways To Make Websites Easier To Read Reading websites can be bliss, but it isn't always comfortable. Noisy webpages assail your eyes and after a while, the almighty LCD takes its toll. With bleary eyes, it's time to call it a day.... Read More and view it in an easy-to-read format. What if you’re spoiled with the simplicity of Reader view and want to use it everywhere, across all the websites automatically?

Safari's Reader settings window

Well, that’s possible. Open Safari > Preferences. Switch to the Websites tab. Select General from the left-hand pane. Here, you can configure the currently open websites to use Reader view automatically. For all other websites, select On from the drop-down menu beside When visiting other websites.

Once enabled, all the supported websites will load in Reader view automatically.

4. Stop Plugins to Save Power

Browser plugins such as Flash and Java provide a rich multimedia experience, but at the cost of security, battery power, and, browser stability. Fortunately, with Safari, you can use plugins only when you need them.

Stopping plug-ins with Safari preferences

To do so, open Safari > Preferences. Switch to the Advanced tab. Check the Stop plugins to save power box.

5. Block All Auto-Playing Videos

Don’t you hate it when you’re browsing a website and a video starts playing automatically without your consent? You fumble around open tabs to find the particular website and close it down. You could mute that tab How to Mute Sites With Autoplaying Videos If you find yourself visiting a lot of pages with intrusive autoplaying videos and simply want to put a stop to it, these tools can lend a helping hand. Read More , but the video still keeps playing, thus eating away your precious data. Which Apps Are Using Your Internet Connection? Find Out With Little Snitch [Mac OS X] We've shown you how to enable the included firewall in OS X, but it's quite limited. It allows you to block traffic on a per-app basis, but beyond that there's not a lot of configuration... Read More

Auto-play settings in Safari's preferences

Safari lets you block all auto-playing videos. To do so, open Safari > Preferences. Switch to the Websites tab. Click Auto-Play. Here, you can configure websites to either Stop videos with sound or Never auto-play videos.

6. Disable Website Push Notifications Altogether

Website push notifications in Safari

Sometimes, browser notifications can be useful. For instance, when you’ve Gmail opened, it can send you a push notification to alert you of any new emails you might have. But some publishers and advertisers abuse this feature to deliver advertisements. If you feel bombarded with unnecessary notifications from websites, Safari provides an easy way to get rid of them.

Editing notification settings in Safari's settings

Open Safari > Preferences. Switch to the Websites tab. Click Notifications. Here, you can check out all the websites that have asked for permission to show alerts in the Notification Center.

You can choose to Allow or Deny permission for these existing websites. If you’d like to disallow all websites from sending you push notifications, uncheck the Allow websites to ask for permission to send push notifications box.

7. Picture-in-Picture for YouTube, Netflix, and More

Picture-in-picture video in Safari

Safari on macOS Sierra and newer versions lets you pop put videos and watch them while you multi-task. The only problem with it is that it doesn’t work with all online video services. You can get PiP working on YouTube How to Pop Out and View YouTube Videos on macOS Sierra macOS Sierra has a new feature that lets you pop out and view YouTube videos in "picture-in-picture" mode on your desktop using the Safari browser. Read More easily, but others like Netflix and Hulu require a little work.

Adding PiPifier to Safari

PiPifier is a native Safari extension that lets you use PiP mode on almost any HTML5 video. Once you download it from the App Store, open Safari > Preferences > Extensions. Find and check PiPifier button. If you cannot find it, you need to allow unsigned extensions in Safari.

To do so, open Safari > Preferences > Advanced. Check Show develop menu in menu bar. You should find a new Develop item in the menu-bar. Click Develop > Allow Unsigned extensions. Head back to the Extensions tab and you should now be able to find the PiPifier button.

Once enabled, you should see a popout button in your toolbar. Whenever you’re playing any HTML5 video, just click on this button to play it in PiP mode. Make sure to play/pause a video once before you click on the pop-out button.

It seems to work like a charm with Netflix, but had occasional hiccups while using Hulu.

8. Enable Favicons in Tab Bar

Let’s get something straight: it’s far easier to identify tabs graphically by their favicons instead of just their page title, especially when you’ve lots of tabs open. For some weird reason, Safari doesn’t support it, making it difficult to navigate to the correct tab quickly.

Safari tabs with favicons displayed

This seemingly trivial problem has gotten so worse that developers have taken the matter into their own hands. Enter Faviconographer. This nifty third-party app displays favicons for all the open tabs. The developer says that the app uses a clever combination of the Accessibility API and AppleScript How to Use Applescript's UI Scripting on Mac Read More to identify and draw the favicons over the open tabs.

To get started, download and open it. Follow the on-screen instructions to grant Accessibility permissions. Once enabled, you should instantly see favicons across all the open Safari tabs. Given that it’s a hack, it comes with a long list of known issues. For instance, the favicons lag when you move or resize the window. It’s not perfect, but it gets the job done nonetheless.

9. Utilize Quick Website Search

Quick website search in Safari

Using this tip, you can search across different websites directly from Safari’s address bar. For instance, you can search Wikipedia directly by typing “ xyz” in the address bar. Perhaps the best thing it that it supports almost any website you visit.

Enabling quick website search in Safari's settings

To check out a list of all the supported sites, open Safari > Preferences > Search. Click on Manage Websites. This helps you save a few clicks, and helps you navigate faster.

More Safari Tips to Improve Your Browsing Experience

Do you use Safari as your primary browser on your Mac? If you know of some other Safari settings tips that help you boost your browsing experience, let us know about it in the comments below.

Explore more about: Mac Tricks, Safari Browser.

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  1. Gabriel Goldberg
    February 27, 2018 at 10:39 pm

    This article covers Safari on Mac only; Safari on iPad/iPhone is different. Either be clear in title you're only covering Mac or include other Safari versions; don't waste people's time with misleading titles.

    • Abhishek Kurve
      March 1, 2018 at 6:48 am

      Hey Gabriel,
      It's mentioned in the introduction part that this article covers Safari on Mac only. You're right though -- including it in the main title would have been even better.