11 Essential Safari Settings Tweaks to Improve Your Browsing Experience on Mac

Essential tweaks to improve Safari for Mac

by: - Last updated on: July 13th, 2020

One of the most-used applications on a computer, especially if your work involves using web apps and services, is the browser. Depending on what operating system you use, your browser choice may/may note differ — even though a lot of the options out there work on different machines irrespective of the operating system. When it comes to macOS, the default offering is Apple’s very own Safari, which is available across its entire portfolio of devices, and at large, manages to provide a smooth browsing experience thanks to better optimization and low power consumption. So if you happen to use Safari on your Mac/MacBook as the default browser, you must tweak the following Safari settings to have a better browsing experience.

Essential Safari settings to tweak

Essential Safari settings for Mac

1. View entire URL for a website

View full website address

The address bar on Safari, by default, shows only the primary domain name of a website. While this reduces clutter and gives the browser a clean look, those who need to view their exact location on a website, have to tap on the address bar every time to reveal the entire URL. To avoid this, Safari gives the ability to view the entire URL of a website inside the address bar. For this, go to Safari Preferences [shortcut: command + ,], and select the Advanced tab. Here, you need to check the checkbox that says Show full website address. And that’s it. The address bar should now display the entire URL for the websites you visit.

2. Enable link preview to view destination URL for hyperlinks

Enable link preview for hyperlinks

Another link-related tweak that you need to know and enable right-away is the option to preview a link before clicking on it. Essentially, the links you see on a webpage are mostly hyperlinked over some text. So at times, when you visit an unfamiliar website or stumble onto some phishy content on a webpage (with a link), having the ability to preview a link before you click on it is a useful functionality to have. And thankfully, with Safari, you get this ability by enabling Status Bar. To enable Status Bar, open Safari, tap on View > Show Status Bar. Alternatively, you can also hit the command + / combination to show/hide the Status Bar. Once done, every time you hover over a link, you will see the full address of the link in the bottom-left part of the browser.

3. Get reader view across all websites automatically

Automatic reader view

Reader View is one of the best features that a lot of browsers offer. It is a clean, bare-bone style view of a webpage you visit, with the sole purpose of putting emphasis on text, rather than images and other distractions like ads, usually found on websites. Similar to iPhones, where you can enable the Reader View by default across all/selected websites on Safari, you can do the same for the Mac version as well. For this, open Safari Preferences [shortcut: command + ,], and go to the Websites tab. From here, tap on the Reader option from the General pane on the left, and hit the dropdown button next to When visiting other websites, and turn it On. You can also manually select the websites that you always want to view in the Reader View from the list above.

4. Disable auto-playing of videos

Disable auto-playing videos

One of the most annoying experiences while surfing the web, irrespective of the browser, is when the videos start playing automatically. And this gets particularly disturbing when the volume levels on your machine are set high. Thankfully, Safari gives the option to disable videos from auto-playing on a website. So if you are annoyed and tired of such issues, go to Safari Preferences [shortcut: command + ,], and select Auto-Play from the General tab to the left. On the right-hand pane, tap on the dropdown button next to When visiting other websites and select Never Auto-Play from the available options.

5. Disable website notifications

Disable website notifications

A lot of the websites these days offer notifications for a bunch of different things. While, to a certain extent, these notifications help users get important information at a glance, the same does not hold true for the unsolicited and obtrusive notifications. With Safari, however, Apple provides an option to disable website notification, which you can use to either disable notifications for certain websites or can require the websites to explicitly ask you for permission before serving notifications. To disable website notifications, open Safari Preferences [command + ,], and head over to the Websites section. In here, select Notifications from the General tab on the left, and check the checkbox that says Allow websites to ask for permissions to send permissions. Alternatively, you can also deny certain websites from serving notifications by tapping the dropdown button next to the website and selecting Deny from the options.

6. Stop internet plugins to save power

Stop internet plugins to save power

A lot of the content across various websites, these days, is heavily-reliant on plug-ins to serve ads or showcase videos, which hogs a large part of your machine’s resources perennially. As a reason, it is always working in the background to keep the content on the website loaded and updated for the user to resume browsing. And that can lead to a lot of unnecessary power consumption. With Safari, however, you do get an option to stop plug-ins from consuming power after a certain time. To do this, head over to Safari Preferences [command + ,], and tap on Advanced. From here, check the checkbox next to Stop plug-ins to save power.

7. Set the default search engine

Set default search engine

Like most web browsers, which allow you to set the default search engine of your liking, Safari also provides the same functionality. So if you are someone who uses some other search engine, aside from Google that comes set by default, you can change it to your preferred search engine. For this, open Safari Preferences [command + ,], and go to the Search section. And from here, tap the dropdown button next to Search engine and choose your search engine from the list.

8. Customize toolbar to your liking

Customize toolbar

The toolbar that you get on Safari offers a bunch of useful functionalities for quick-and-easy access to different functions/features to improve your browsing experience. However, of the different options, it presents you with, some get redundant for certain functionalities and end up adding clutter to the toolbar. To deal with this, you can customize the toolbar and make sure it only provides those functionalities that you need. For this, open Safari and tap on View > Customize Toolbar. In the new window that pops-up, select the items you want to add and drag them to the toolbar. Once you have arranged the buttons in the toolbar, hit Done.

9. Enable favicons in tabs

Enable favicons

In case you are unaware, favicons are small image icons used to represent your website. They are either located on the address bar or the tab bar and offer a glance of what page/website is open in a tab, with multiple tabs open at once. By default, Safari does not show favicons for various websites. However, you can enable them by, first, going into Safari Preferences [command + ,], and selecting the Tabs section. And then, on the tabs page, checking the checkbox next to Show website icons in tabs.

10. Open Safari with previous session tabs

Open Safari with tabs from previous session

A lot of the web browsers allow you to customize the home page and the start-up page on their browsers per your preference. But sadly, not a lot of them allow you to open the browser with the previous session tabs — except for browsers like Brave. Interestingly, Apple does give you an option for the same functionality on Safari, using which you can open the tabs you opened in the previous session every time you open Safari and continue where you left off. To enable it, head over to Safari Preferences [command + ,], and go to the General section. Here, hit the dropdown menu next to Safari opens with and choose All windows from last session.

11. Prevent cross-site tracking

Prevent cross-site tracking

A lot of the websites on the internet, these days, use different services to track your activity and gather data while you visit various websites to create what is called browsing fingerprint. To keep this under check, Safari comes with an option that allows you to limit websites from fingerprinting your presence on the internet. For this, head over to Safari Preferences [command + ,], and tap on the Privacy tab. Here, check the checkbox that says Prevent cross-site tracking.

By tweaking the settings mentioned above, you can expect a better browsing experience with Safari. While some of these settings provide an improved user experience across different websites, others bring-in more functionality to make certain operations on the browser quick and convenient.

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