How to use the Safari web browser on the Mac

Here is how to use some of the best features packed into Appleā€™s Safari web browser. Become a Safari expert, apply these tips for Safari on the Mac, plus learn about some of the new features coming in Safari with El Capitan.


  • Pin sites in El Cap Pin favourites
  • Mute tabs Safari Mute audio
  • Safari Extensions Ebay Safari Extensions
  • el capitan safari reader Safari Reader
  • airplay youtube 100596235 orig Safari AirPlay integration
  • Show full URL See the whole URL
  • 1 SharedLinks Shared Links sidebar
  • 2 Endless Scrolling Endless Scrolling
  • Recent Shares Recent shares
  • 3 Retweet Retweet from Safari
  • 4 Top Sites Top Sites
  • Favourites view Favourites
  • Safari 8 Tabs New tab view in Safari
  • 9 Close Other Tabs Close Other Tabs
  • 5 Flash Allow Only Flash for YouTube
  • 7 Reopen Sites Reopen all windows
  • 6 Space to Scroll Space to Scroll
  • 8 Private Browsing Private Browsing
  • 3 Duck Duck Search Private Search
  • Clear website history Clear online history
  • 10 Save Image Copy Image
  • Safari Extensions Safari Extensions
  • 11 Shared Link Subs Subscribe to RSS feed
  • 13 AirDrop AirDrop web pages
  • 14 Export as PDF Export a page as PDF
  • 15 Remove Web Page Notifications Remove web notifications
  • More stories
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Coming in El Capitan: How to Pin favourites in Safari

The new version of OS X - El Capitan will arrive on 30 September, read on to find out more about the new features coming to Apple's web browser...

In Safari in El Capitan you will be able to ‘Pin’ favourite sites to the menu bar – a simple way of adding a shortcut to Facebook or YouTube.

Go to Window > Pin Tab.

Read next: Best iPhone web browser appsBest Mac web browsers 2016

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Next Prev Pin sites in El Cap

The new version of OS X - El Capitan will arrive on 30 September, read on to find out more about the new features coming to Apple's web browser...

In Safari in El Capitan you will be able to ‘Pin’ favourite sites to the menu bar – a simple way of adding a shortcut to Facebook or YouTube.

Go to Window > Pin Tab.

Read next: Best iPhone web browser appsBest Mac web browsers 2016


Step 2 of 26: Coming in El Capitan: How to mute audio

In El Capitan Safari will identify which of your open tabs is playing audio.

It is possible to mute the audio with a single click on that tab click and choose Mute this Tab.

If there is more than one audio stream open you can click on the speaker icon in the address bar to see a list of all the tabs playing audio. You’ll be able to shut down the audio on the tabs you wish from this view.


Step 3 of 26: Coming in El Capitan: Safari Extensions Gallery

There will be a new Safari Extensions Gallery in OS X El Capitan, but in order to have an extension included, the developer will have to join Apple’s Developer Program (which will cost $99 a year).

The new strategy should lead to more secure Safari Extensions because Apple will be hosting and signing the extensions. 

Read: The best Extensions for Safari | Plus: How to use Spotlight in Mac OS X El Capitan


Step 4 of 26: Coming in El Capitan: Safari Reader fonts

New to Safari in El Capitan are some new display preferences in the Safari Reader view.

In the Yosemite version of Safari, you could make the text larger or smaller, in El Capitan you will be able to also choose from four colour themes and eight typefaces.


Step 5 of 26: Coming in El Capitan: Better Safari AirPlay integration

Safari in El Capitan will be gaining better AirPlay integration with the Apple TV. 

You will see an AirPlay icon on any video that is compatible for streaming via AirPlay. Just click on this icon to stream the video to your TV via your Apple TV (assuming you have one).

This will send just the video, you won’t need to mirror your whole screen.


Step 6 of 26: Reveal the whole URL

Safari had a big refresh in OS X Yosemite, with a new look that was all about saving space. But to save space Safari now hides the full URL by truncating it to the main website.

This means if you visit Apple you will only see in the Smart Search field - which is not that useful if you were looking for the UK Apple Online Store.

The new URL display takes its cue from iOS (it also truncates the full URL). It is a cleaner system but if you like to see the details of the page you are visiting it can be frustrating.

If you click the URL, the full web address is revealed, however, you can choose to see it all by default.

To see the full URL you need to go to Safari > Preferences and choose Advanced. Now make sure that Show full website address is selected in Smart Search Field.


Step 7 of 26: See what your friends are sharing on Twitter in Safari

Click on Control + Command + 3 to open Shared Links in the sidebar. (Or click the square icon next to the arrow icons and choose the @ tab).

This shows you all the links that have been shared by people you follow on social media.

Scroll up to reveal a Search field. You can use this to discover what your social network is saying about a subject.

If you haven't entered your Twitter or Linked In details you need to go to System Preferences > Internet Accounts, click on Twitter and add your ID and password.


Step 8 of 26: Endless Scrolling on Reading List and Shared Links

Open Reading List (Control + Command + 2, or click the open book icon in the left hand column) to view any pages you’ve added to your Reading List.

If you want to add an article to your Reading List, open the page you want to add, and hover the mouse over the Smart Search Field. An Add ('+') icon appears to the left, click it to add the page to the Reading List.

This allows you to read the article later, but it also means that you will be able to read it offline, so it's perfect if you are going to be somewhere with no signal, eg the Tube.

If you are using the trackpad on a laptop, scrolling down to the end of an article Safari will jump straight to the next articlen in your Reading List or Shared Links so you can keep on reading. It will mark the original article as Read.

Find out What's the best internet browser for Mac 


Step 9 of 26: See recent shares in Safari

When you click the new Share button (the square with the arrow), you will see the people you share with most often in the Share menu.

You can just select that person from the list and click them to share the web page with them either by Messages or by Mail with just one click.


Step 10 of 26: Retweet directly from inside Safari

You can retweet directly from inside Safari using the Retweet button at the top of the page.

This only appears if you have accessed a page from the Shared Links sidebar, though.

Click on the Twitter profile picture to head directly to that user’s page.

To share a page that you have found yourself on Twitter, click on the Share icon (the box with an arrow coming out of it) and select Twitter.


Step 11 of 26: Adjusting Top Sites

When you first open Safari, or if you open a new tab you can see a page of your Favourites (select the star icon), or a page of your Top Sites (select the grid of dots icon). 

You can adjust the Top Sites to show 6, 12 or 24 sites. To add and remove Top Sites hover over the preview until you see an X and a pin icon. Pin those sites you wish to keep, and click X on those you don't image you will want to find again. The sites that appear in Top Sites tend to be those you visit most frequently.





Step 12 of 26: Adding and adjusting Favourites

We like the new Favourites view that you can choose to see by default when you open a Safari window or a new tab.

You can add any site to your Favourites view by clicking command D when you are on that page.

The best thing about the Favourites view is that you can also see it everytime you click on the URL bar (presuming you aren't on the Favourites or Top Sites view to start with).

You can also change the order of your Favourites, and remove those that are no longer Favourite sites just by clicking and dragging in a way that reminds us of iOS.


Step 13 of 26: Safari 8 tab view stacks pages

The new Safari Tab view is one of the most visually striking new features.

Tab view takes its cue from Safari on iOS. When you click on the tab icon (it looks like two squares over lapping), you can see all the tabs that are open as small preview windows.

If you have multiple tabs open from a single website they are stacked above one another (you can click on any of the pages in a stack to go directly to that page).

This makes finding the tabs you have open much easier, especially if you have a lot open as Apple now concertinas the tab bar at the sides making it very difficult to open those tabs.  


Step 14 of 26: Close Other Tabs by holding down Option

You can hold down the Option (Alt) key and choose File > Close Other tabs to get rid of all the tabs in Safari except for the page you are looking at.


Step 15 of 26: Turn Flash on for YouTube only

Click on Safari > Preferences > Security  and Website Settings (next to Internet plug-ins) to view the Flash plug-in change the When Visiting Other Websites setting to Ask.

Now visit YouTube and click Allow to allow Flash from that Website.

You can click Block to other websites (or go back to Manage Website Settings and change the default to Block).

In related news,  HTML5 premium video is now supported. This brings digital rights management to Safari in HTML5.


Step 16 of 26: Reopen all windows from last session

Click History > Reopen All Windows from Last Session to quickly recover all the windows you were recently looking at.

Read: How to export bookmarks from Chrome to Safari


Step 17 of 26: Press Space to scroll down a page

It’s a basic tip but most people forget it. You can tap Space to scroll down a page while reading.

It’s often quicker and easier than reaching for the mouse or finding the Page Down button.


Step 18 of 26: Private Browsing

To open a Private Browsing window click shift, command and N. You can tell it's a private window because the URL field will be grayed out.

Hold down Option (Alt) while picking Private Browsing to quickly switch it on and bypass the 'Do you want to switch on Private Browsing?' alert window if you happen to see it frequently.

Read more: How to keep your browsing history secret with Private Browsing on iPad, iPhone and Mac


Step 19 of 26: Search privately in Safari

Privacy advocates will welcome the addition of DuckDuckGo as an option for the default search engine. DuckDuckGo doesn’t track you, like Google, and doesn’t remember your personal information. It doesn’t offer all the functionality of Google, but is a more private system.

You can switch to Duck Duck Go as your default browser in Safari. Go to Safari > Preferrences > Search and switch the search engine to Duck Duck Go.

If you are wishing to search privately, you may find it troubling that even with all possible privacy options enabled, and with analytics disabled, your Safari web browser results are still sent to Apple. Even if you choose to switch your default browser to Duck Duck Go. While DuckDuckGo’s privacy statement makes it clear that it doesn’t spy on you ('DuckDuckGo does not collect or share personal information. That is our privacy policy in a nutshell') Apple's shortcut to DuckDuckGo within the combined URL address and search bar makes sure that your search queries are being collected and shared with another party – Apple itself.

See: Why Google is a threat to your privacy and: New security features in El Capitan & iOS 9


Step 20 of 26: Clear online history for the past couple of hours

Speaking of privacy, if you were web browsing and want to clear the last hour’s surfing from your history then you can clear just a period of that history.

Being able to wipe just an hour, or a couple of days from your search is great because you still get all your useful history (but get rid of those days when you want to forget your browsing history).

Go to Safari > History and scroll down to Clear History and Website Data.

See: How to clear Safari history and cookies


Step 21 of 26: Copy an Image straight from Safari

If you work with images online you’ll appreciate this time-saver.

Instead of dragging an image from Safari to the Desktop, you can Control+Click it and choose Copy Image to send it to the clipboard.

Now open a photo editor (like Photoshop or Pixelmator) and create a new document (it will automatically have the same proportions as the image in the Clipboard.)

Press Command + V to paste the image straight from the Clipboard into the image editing application.

Read more about Tips for using Photos on the Mac here.


Step 22 of 26: Safari Extensions

There are dozens of extensions available for Safari. Read more about the Extensions for Safari here. 

Plus: Here's how to use OS X Extensions and The top 10 Yosemite Extensions


Step 23 of 26: Subscribe to RSS links in Shared Links

RSS (Rich Site Summary) makes a welcome return in Safari for Yosemite. RSS Subscriptions are now added to the Shared Links field.

Go to a page of your favourite site, such as the News or Reviews pages on Macworld, press Control+ Command+ 4 to open Shared Links and click on the Subscriptions button.

Click Add Field > Add Field. New items from that website will now appear in your Share Links window.


Step 24 of 26: Quickly share pages using AirDrop

AirDrop is the quickest and easiest way to share a Safari web page with somebody in the same location as you. Click Share > AirDrop and pick the person you want to share the page with.

They can then open it on their Mac or iOS device.

Read more about getting AirDrop to work on your Mac and iPhone here.


Step 25 of 26: Save a page from Safari by exporting it as a PDF

If a page you read has lots of good information you can consider exporting it as a PDF. Click File > Export as PDF.

It's a good way to archive important information and also enables you to read the information when you're not connected to the internet.

You can open and read the web page in Preview.

Read our Mac email tips, using Mail in Yosemite


Step 26 of 26: Manage and remove web notifications

Many websites you visit ask if you want notifications for new stories. This is great, at first, but can soon become a bit overwhelming.

Remove website notifications by clicking Safari > Preferences > Notifications and setting items in the list of websites from Allow to Deny. You can also highlight a website and clicking Remove or Remove All.

Read: Tips for Safari in iOS | Plus: Improve Safari on the Mac with these extensions | Alternative browsers for iPhone | How to use the Safari web browser on the Mac | How to clear website history and cookies in Safari

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