Manage Smart Search in Safari for OS X and macOS Sierra

Safari browser Smart Search field

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This tutorial is only intended for users running the Safari Web browser on OS X and macOS Sierra operating systems.

Apple's Safari browser features a slimmed-down interface when compared to earlier versions of the application. The section of this new-look GUI that is used the most often is the Smart Search field, which combines the address and search bars and is located at the top of Safari's main window. Once you begin entering text into this field, the reasons its name contains the word 'smart' become evident. As you type, Safari will dynamically display suggestions based on your entry, each derived from a number of sources including your browsing and search historyfavorite websites as well as Apple's own Spotlight feature. The Smart Search field also utilizes Quick Website Search within its suggestions, explained later in this tutorial.

You can modify which of the above sources Safari utilizes to create its suggestions, along with the browser's default search engine itself. This tutorial explains each in further detail and shows you how to modify them to your liking.

First, open your Safari browser. Click on Safari, located in the browser's main menu at the top of your screen. When the drop-down menu appears, select Preferences.... You can also utilize the following keyboard shortcut in lieu of the previous two steps: COMMAND + COMMA (,)

Default Search Engine

Safari's Preferences interface should now be displayed. First, select the Search icon. Safari's Search preferences should now be visible, containing two sections.

The first, labeled Search engine, allows you to specify which engine Safari utilizes whenever keywords are submitted via the Smart Search field. The default option is Google. To change this setting, click on the drop-down menu and select from either Bing, Yahoo or DuckDuckGo.

Most search engines offer their own suggestions based on the characters and keywords that you enter. You have most likely noticed this when using a search engine directly from its native site, as opposed to through a browser interface. Safari, by default, will include these suggestions in the Smart Search field in addition to the other sources mentioned above. To disable this particular feature, remove the check mark (by clicking on it) accompanying the Include search engine suggestions option.

Smart Search Field

The second section in Safari's Search preferences, labeled Smart Search Field, provides the ability to specify exactly what data components the browser utilizes when making suggestions as you type. Each of the following four suggestion sources is enabled by default, signified by an accompanying check mark. To disable one, simply remove its check mark by clicking on it once.

  • Include Safari Suggestions: The operating system's native search service, Spotlight explores a number of areas including the files on your hard drive, the App, and iTunes stores, Wikipedia content, and much more.
  • Enable Quick Website Search: Many websites offer their own integrated engine that allows you to search content within the site itself. Safari provides shortcuts to these searches in some cases, allowing you to search said sites directly from the Smart Search Field. To see which sites your Safari installation currently supports this feature, click on the Manage Websites button.
  • Preload Top Hit in the Background: Safari can silently load the top result in the browser's default search engine for the search term(s) that you enter. Users browsing on limited data connections usually choose to disable this functionality.
  • Show Favorites: Your stored Favorites, formerly known as Bookmarks, can also be included as a Smart Search Field suggestion source.

Show Full Website Address

You may have already noticed that Safari only displays the domain name of a website in the Smart Search Field, as opposed to previous versions which displayed the full URL. If you'd like to revert to the old setting and view full Web addresses, take the following steps.

  1. First, return to Safari's Preferences dialog.

  2. Next, click on the Advanced icon.

  3. Finally, place a ​checkmark next to the Show full website address option found at the top of this section.