Manage Smart Search in Safari for Mac

Customize searching in Safari on a Mac

The Smart Search field at the top of the Safari browser operates as an address field and a search field. Enter a web page name or URL to go to a web page, or enter a word or phrase to initiate a search.

When you enter text into this field, Safari makes suggestions based on the entry. It modifies recommendations as you continue to type. Each suggestion comes from several sources, including your browsing and search history, favorite websites, and Apple Spotlight. Here's how to manage these sources.

Information is this article applies to macOS Catalina (10.15), macOS Mojave (10.14), macOS High Sierra (10.13), macOS Sierra (10.12), OS X El Capitan (10.11), OS X Yosemite (10.10), OS X Mavericks (10.9), and OS X Mountain Lion (10.8).

Manage the Safari Smart Search Default Search Engine

You can modify the sources Safari uses to make its suggestions as well as the browser's default search engine.

  1. Open the Safari browser by selecting its icon in the Dock.

    The Safari icon on the Mac Dock
  2. Select Safari in the menu bar at the top of the screen. When the drop-down menu appears, select Preferences.

    Path to Safari preferences on a Mac
  3. Select the Search tab at the top of the screen that opens to show Safari's Search preferences in two sections: Search engine and Smart Search Field.

    Safari Search preferences on a Mac
  4. Select the Search engine drop-down menu and choose from Google, Bing, Yahoo, or DuckDuckGo to specify your preferred search engine. The default option is Google.

    A menu showing the search engines for use with Safari
  5. If you aren't interested in the default search engine offering suggestions, which Safari includes in the Smart Search field results, disable this feature by clearing the Include search engine suggestions check box.

    Option to include Safari Suggestions in Preferences

    Manage Safari Smart Search Field Preferences

    The Smart Search Field section provides the opportunity to specify which data components the browser uses when making suggestions. Each of the four suggestion sources is enabled by default. To disable one, remove the check mark in the box next to it by clicking it once.

    The suggestion sources are:

    • Include Safari Suggestions: The operating system's built-in search service, Spotlight, explores several areas, including the files on your hard drive, apps, and music files, along with Wikipedia content and more.
    • Enable Quick Website Search: Many websites offer an integrated search engine that allows you to search for content within that site. Safari provides shortcuts to these searches in some cases, allowing you to search sites from the Smart Search field. To see which sites your Safari installation currently supports with this feature, select Manage Websites.
    • Preload Top Hit in the Background: Safari can silently load the top result in the browser's default search engine for the search terms that you enter. Users browsing on limited data connections usually disable this function.
    • Show Favorites: Your stored Favorites, formerly known as Bookmarks, can be included as a Smart Search field suggestion source.

    Show Full Website Address

    Safari only displays the domain name of a website in the Smart Search field. Previous versions showed the full URL. If you want to revert to the old setting and view complete web addresses, take the following steps.

  6. Open the Safari Preferences dialog.

  7. Go to the Advanced tab.

    The Safari preferences showing the Advanced tab
  8. Select the Show full website address check box.

    Safari Advanced preferences screen on a Mac
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