8 Tips for Using Safari With macOS

Helpful hints to get more from your browsing experience

Safari is the default web browser for macOS and iOS devices. It's a full-featured, secure browser that has exploded in popularity with both desktop and mobile users. If you're just getting started with Safari, here are eight tips that will improve your online experience and help you get the most out of your web browser.

This article's information applies to versions 13 through 11 of the Safari web browser on macOS.

Safari logo

Use Safari's Smart Search Field

Safari's Smart Search field is an address field and a search field, with features that make it easy to customize your web browsing. In the Smart Search field, enter the URL of a web page you want to visit, or enter a keyword or phrase to launch a search. If you're entering a search, Safari will offer up suggestions that you can select by scrolling down and pressing Return.

Select the magnifying glass in the Smart Search field to launch a search using a search engine that isn't your default, or to select from a list of previous searches.

Safari's Smart Search field, letting users choose an alternate search engine or repeat an old search

For convenience and clarity, Safari's Smart Search field shows a shortened version of a website's URL. If you prefer to see the full URL, go to Safari > Preferences > Advanced and place a check in the box next to Show full website address.

Access Your Favorite Websites

Safari makes it easy to get to your favorite and most-used websites quickly and easily. When you open a new tab in Safari, you'll see sites you've designated as favorites under the Favorites heading. Below that, you'll see icons for sites you visit often under Frequently Visited.

To add a website as a favorite:

  1. Navigate to the website.

    Navigate to the website.
  2. Move your cursor over the Smart Search field. A plus sign will appear on the left.

    Move your cursor over the Smart Search field
  3. Select and hold the plus sign (+).

  4. Select Favorites from the drop-down menu.

    Select Favorites from the drop-down menu
  5. The site's icon is added to your Favorites, and you'll see it on a new tab under the Favorites heading.

  6. Alternatively, select the website name from the Smart Search bar and drag it down to your Favorites section.

    Drag the URL to the Favorites area.

    Another quick way to add to Favorites: Select View > Show Favorites Bar to make the Favorites bar visible, and then drag the URL of your current web page to the bar.

Show the Web Page's Title

Safari has a clean, streamlined look, and by default doesn't show the title of the web page you're visiting. If you want to see the title of the web page:

  1. Open the web page in Safari.

    Open a web page in Safari
  2. Select View > Show Tab Bar.

    Select View > Show Tab Bar.
  3. You'll see the website's title below the Smart Search bar.

    You'll see the website's title below the Smart Search bar.

Avoid Duplicate Tabs to Reduce Screen Clutter

Many users end up opening a lot of tabs when they're writing, researching, shopping, or browsing on the web. Safari has a handy feature to keep you from opening the same tab multiple times in a browsing session.

Here's how to direct Safari to send you to the existing open tab instead of opening a new tab:

  1. In Safari, open at least two website tabs.

  2. Open a new tab.

  3. Start typing the name of one of the websites you already have open.

  4. If there's already a tab open for that site, you'll see it under Switch to Tab.

  5. Select that URL to go to the original tab.

    Select that URL to go to the original tab

    To open a tab you recently closed, go to History > Recently Closed, and select the URL you want to revisit.

Watch Videos in a Floating Window

If you'd like to watch a video while you're working, browsing, or doing something else online, Safari's Picture in Picture feature makes it possible.

  1. In Safari, navigate to a video you want to watch.

    Navigate to a video you want to watch
  2. In the Smart Search bar, select and hold the blue audio button, then select Enter Picture in Picture.

    In the Smart Search bar, select and hold the blue audio button, then select Enter Picture in Picture.
  3. The video will appear as a floating window. Go back to any website tab and enjoy your video in the top right corner of your screen.

    The video will appear as a floating window in any tab.

Use Safari Reader View for Distraction-Free Reading

Safari has a quick and handy feature called Reader View that lets you strip away ads and formatting, leaving only a clean text interface to read. To get to Reader View:

  1. Go to an article on the web you'd like to read.

  2. If the site supports Reader View, you'll see an icon in the Smart Search bar that looks like four stacked lines. Press this icon to toggle to Reader View.

    An article in Safari before Reader View
  3. You'll see a clean text interface.

    An article in Safari after Reader View
  4. Select the Reader View icon again to return to the regular view.

Learn as You Go With Safari's Look Up Feature

If you're confused about something as you're browsing online, Safari is there to help you find a definition, get Wikipedia information, or see news stories about a topic. To use Look Up:

  1. In Safari, navigate to a website or online article.

  2. Highlight the word or phrase you want to learn more about.

    Highlight the word or phrase you want to learn more about.
  3. Right-click or Control+click the text you selected and select Look Up.

    Right-click or Control+click the text you selected and select Look Up.
  4. Safari will deliver more information about the topic you selected.

    Safari will deliver more information about the topic you selected.

Go Back to Your Previous Safari Workspace

Like most browsers, when you close out for the day and open up the next morning, you'll get a clean browsing slate. But if you have tabs you use every day, save time by automatically opening up to your previous tab situation so you can start right from where you left off.

  1. Select Safari > Preferences.

    Select Safari > Preferences
  2. Go to the General tab.

  3. Next to Safari opens with, select All windows from last session from the drop-down menu.

    Next to Safari opens with, select All windows from last session from the drop-down menu.
  4. The next time you open Safari, you'll pick up right where you left off with your previous session.