Manage Smart Search in Safari for Mac

Customize searching in Safari on a Mac

Safari browser Smart Search field

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The Smart Search field at the top of the Safari browser operates as an address field and a search field. When you begin entering text into this field, the "smart" part of its name becomes evident. As you type, Safari dynamically displays suggestions based on your entry and modifies its suggestions as you continue to type. Each suggestion is derived from a number of sources, which you can customize, including your browsing and search historyfavorite websites and Apple's own Spotlight feature.

Information is this article applies to the following operating systems: 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).

Use the smart search field to:

  • Enter a web page name or URL to go to a web page.
  • Enter a word or phrase to initiate a search.
  • Tap the magnifying glass in the smart search field to change search engines on the fly or go to a recent web page.

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

Managing Safari Smart Search Default Search Engine

  1. Open your Safari browser by clicking its icon in the Dock.

    The Safari icon on the Mac Dock
  2. Click 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. Click 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. In the first section, labeled Search engine, click the drop-down menu and select from Google, Bing, Yahoo or DuckDuckGo to specify your preferred search engine. The default option is Google.

    Selecting a default search engine for Safari in Mac preferences
  5. If you aren't interested in the default search engine offering its own suggestions, which Safari includes in the Smart Search field results, disable this particular feature by removing the check mark next to Include search engine suggestions.

    Search preferences screen on a Mac

Managing Safari Smart Search Field Preferences

The second section in Safari's Search preferences screen, labeled Smart Search Field, provides the opportunity to specify exactly which data components the browser uses when it makes suggestions as you type. 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 on it once.

Smart Search field options screen

The suggestion sources are:

  • Include Safari Suggestions: The operating system's native search service, Spotlight, explores a number of areas including the files on your hard drive, apps, and music files, along with Wikipedia content and much more.
  • Enable Quick Website Search: Many websites offer their own integrated search 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 with this feature, click 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 want to revert to the old setting and view full web addresses, take the following steps.

  1. Return to Safari's Preferences dialog.

  2. Click the Advanced tab.

  3. Place a ​check mark next to the Show full website address option at the top of this section.

    Safari Advanced preferences screen on a Mac