We are big keyboard fans here at Macworld. While we like using a Magic Trackpad and the trackpad on an MacBook Air, we do as much work as we can from the keyboard. To that end, we use Objective Development’s LaunchBar
(www.obdev.at) to launch applications, open files, and more, with a few quick keystrokes. We’ve also made a point of learning dozens of shortcuts for each of the programs we use the most.
Safari is no exception. Since it’s easier to use the keyboard – no need to move a hand to the trackpad – we’ve memorised a handful of useful shortcuts for browsing the web. Here are 10 that we think are essential. (These work in both Snow Leopard and Lion as long as you have Safari 5 or later.)
1. Quickly enter URLs
When you want to type a web address, don’t use a mouse or trackpad to click in the address field, clear it, and then type. Instead, press Cmd-L, and all the text in the address field will be selected, so whatever you type replaces it immediately. Start typing a URL for a favourite site, and Safari autocompletes it by looking at your history or bookmarks. If Safari displays a list of sites, you can use the up and down arrow keys to choose the right one, and then press Return to go there.
2. Search in a snap
If you use Google to search the internet, you don’t need to use the mouse to click in the Google search field. Instead, simply press Cmd-Option-F, which moves the cursor straight to the search field. This shortcut works in many other Apple applications, including Mail, iTunes, and Address Book.
3. Hop to your History
If you need to go back to a web page that you’ve recently visited, but have forgotten its address there is a simple solution. You could, of course, open the History menu with the mouse or trackpad, but by pressing Cmd-Option-2 you’ll be taken directly to the History list and the cursor will appear in its search field.
You can then type a word or two and narrow down the list to find the site you want. Double-clicking an entry in the History list will take you to that page; if that’s not the one you want, simply press Cmd-Option-2 again to return to the History list.
4. Scroll with the spacebar
When we get to our favourite web pages, we rarely bother to use scrollbars, or even a trackpad. Instead, we just press the spacebar, and Safari scrolls down one screen. If you need to go back up again, simply press Shift-Spacebar. It’s fast and efficient, and doesn’t make us dizzy watching the page move up and down.
Alternatively, you can use the up and down arrow keys to navigate a page.
5. Manage tabs
Safari’s tabbed browsing is a practical way to have several web pages open at once without getting confused by multiple windows. Not surprisingly, there’s a lot you can do with tabs (and windows) from the keyboard. Go to Safari > Preferences and click on Tabs to see a list of shortcuts you can use.
The one that we use the most is Cmd-Shift-click, which opens a link in a new tab in the background. This can be a real boon if you are doing a lot of research online and want to open several pages from search results without looking at each one right away. To open a tab in the front, use Cmd-click.
These shortcuts are reversed if you don’t select the ‘When a new tab or window opens, make it active’ option in Safari’s Preferences.
6. Navigate your tabs
If you have several tabs open in Safari, pressing Cmd-Shift-Left Arrow or Cmd-Shift-Right Arrow will take you from one tab to the other. Just make sure that your cursor isn’t in a text field on any window displayed in a tab; if so, this shortcut will hit a dead end when it reaches such a window.
7. Email a web page (or URL)
Sometimes, you may want to email a web page to a friend. Pressing Cmd-I does the trick; it takes the content of the page and sends it to the person in a new message in Mail, with the page’s title as the message subject. If you just want to send a link, use Cmd-Shift-I.
8. Save pages for later
New in Safari 5 is the Reading List, a sort of temporary bookmark list that you can use for pages you want to come back to and read later. If you press Cmd-Shift-D, you can add the current page to the Reading List. You’ll see an animation of an icon flying from the page to the little eyeglasses icon on the left side of the Bookmarks toolbar.
9. Save Links for Later
The previous shortcut works with pages you have open in Safari, but you can also add links from search results or other web pages that you haven’t even opened to the Reading List.
To add a linked page to the Reading List, simply hold down the Shift key and then click on the link.
10. View the Reading List
To view the Reading List, you can click on the eyeglasses icon in the Bookmarks toolbar, assuming the icon is visible. However, since we’re discussing keyboard shortcuts, you can press Cmd-Shift-L instead.
Shortcuts like these will make your web browsing faster and easier – and there are plenty we haven’t listed here. If you want to find the keyboard equivalents of the commands you use most often, just look through Safari’s menus. You’ll find that almost every command has a shortcut.