How to Use the Safari Web Browser on iPhone

Get online wherever you are

The web browser that comes with every iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad is called Safari. While you can install third-party web browsers from the App Store, Safari is a great option for most users.

Apple adapted the iOS version of Safari from the desktop version that has come with Macs for many years. However, the mobile version of Safari is different in many ways.

These instructions apply to devices with iOS 12 or later.

How to Use Safari in iPhone and iOS Devices

To control Safari, you use the same gestures as found elsewhere on the iPhone. Swipe to scroll web pages and tap links to open web pages. But Safari also has some special features that might not have counterparts in other apps you use. Here are some tricks that will help you get the most out of your internet browsing.

Zoom in and Out in iPhone Safari

To zoom in on a particular section of a web page—for example, to enlarge the text on the page you're reading—tap twice on that part of the screen. This gesture enlarges that section of the page. The same double-tap zooms out again.

To have more control over what you're zooming in on, use the iPhone multitouch pinch feature:

  • Put your index finger together with your thumb and place both fingers on the part of the iPhone screen that you want to zoom in on.
  • Then, drag your fingers apart to zoom in on the page.
  • To zoom out and make things smaller, put your fingers at opposite ends of the screen and drag your fingers together in a pinching motion.

Jump to the Top of a Page

To scroll down the page, drag a finger down the screen. On a long, scrolling page, jump back to the top quickly with a single tap. Tap the top center of the screen. The first tap reveals the address bar in Safari, and the second immediately jumps to the top of the web page.

The second tap should be near the top of the screen, on the clock. Otherwise, Safari opens the address field for you to type a search or website address.

Move Back and Forth Through Your History

Safari keeps track of the sites you visit. Use the Back and Forward buttons and gestures to move through the sites and pages you've been to recently. There are two ways to access this feature:

  • Arrow buttons at the lower-left corner of the screen are the Forward and Back buttons.
  • Swipe to go back or forward. Swipe the left edge of the screen to go back and the right edge to go forward.

Open a New Safari Tab

Opening a new tab in Safari lets you visit another website without closing the one you're on currently. Here's how to use this feature.

These instructions use Safari with the phone in portrait mode. The features work the same in landscape mode, but the buttons may be in different places.

Tap the Tabs icon in the lower-right corner of the screen. The page you're on gets smaller. Tap the plus icon to open a new, blank tab.

Opening a new tab in Safari

You can also open a link on a web page in a new tab. Find the link you want to open in a new window. Tap and hold the link on the screen to open the menu. Tap Open in New Tab. The link opens in a new tab.

If your device supports 3D Touch, long-press down to open this menu.

Opening a website in a new tab in Safari for iOS

Find the Action Menu in Safari

The icon at the lower-center of Safari that looks like a box with an arrow coming out of it is called the Action menu. Tapping it reveals features to bookmark a site, add it to your favorites or reading list, make a shortcut for it on your device's home screen, print the page, share a page, and more.

The Action menu in Safari for iOS

Use Private Browsing in iPhone Safari

Use the Private Browsing mode to browse websites without Safari keeping a browser history, search history, or AutoFill information after you close a tab. To enable it, tap the​ Tabs button to open your browser tabs. Tap Private in the lower-left corner to open a private browsing section. Here, you can press the plus button at the bottom to open a private browsing tab and start surfing the web.

To turn Private Browsing Mode off, tap the Private button again in the lower-left corner of the window.

Opening a Private Browsing window in Safari for iOS

Search for Content in Safari

Have you browsed to a web page that's full of text and want to find a specific word or phrase? The Safari Find on Page feature can help.