Apple’s Safari for iOS is an incredibly capable web browser. Years of improvements have resulted in advanced features throughout, some of which you may not know. We’ve uncovered 8 things you can do to master Safari on iPhone and iPad. Don’t just browse the web, take control of it with these tips.
1. Change Safari’s Default Search Engine
If you had a list of the most often used features on a smartphone, searching the web would probably rank near the top of that list. As recent as iOS 8, Apple sets the default search engine to Google. You can make a radical change to your web searching experience by changing it and when you do, there are a number of options.
1. Navigate to Settings > Safari > Search Search Engine
2. Tap on Yahoo, Bing or DuckDuckGo to change the default engine
Changing your search engine isn’t as crazy as one might think. Did you know that when Siri searches the web, he/she uses Bing. While Yahoo and Bing are familiar to most, the last option might take you by surprise. DuckDuckGo is a search engine with a focus on respecting user privacy. It’s built using OpenSource tools and built by a small company located in Pennsylvania. They promise a better search experience, without tracking you.
2. Request Desktop Site
On various outskirts of the web, there are sites that force feed mobile versions of their websites. That in of itself wouldn’t be a problem. The trouble lies when these sites limit the content and functionality found on their desktop counterparts. Mobile sites can often dumb down the features of website. Over the years, things have improved greatly as sites move to responsive design. These designs serve the same content, but resize automatically to the size of your browser. Conversely, I’m sure there are still some pushing WAP sites.
For sites that are forcing you to awful mobile versions, there is hope. You can bypass this by using the little known request desktop site feature in Safari.
1. Enter the URL of the website you’d like to visit and allow the page to load fully.
2. There’s a line that separates your bookmarks from the URL bar. Using a gesture swipe down from just below the line.
3. Tap on ‘Request Desktop Site’. Safari will now request and reload the website, showing the full desktop version.
3. Access Recently Closed Tabs
When you tap on the page icon (far right), you’ll see a 3-D view of all open tabs. You can swipe up or down to move within them. There’s an easter egg hidden in this view that allows you to access recently closed tabs. Tap and hold the ‘+’ in tabs and you’ll gain access to a list of Recently Closed Tabs.
4. Searching Within A Website
One hidden gem is the ability to search content within a webpage. In this example, I browsed to a guide on using a smart thermostat to save money.
Here’s how the feature works:
1. Browse to the page.
2. In the URL search bar, enter the text you would like to find.
3. Safari will categorize three options for your search results: Google Search, Bookmarks and History and On This Page.
4. Tap ‘On This Page’.
5. It will display and highlight the first instance of the word. Using the arrows, you can jump to each instance. Safari provides the number of results or times a word or phrase appears within a page. In this example, it found Nest 18 times.
Let’s say you’ve wandered upon a long article on a Steve Jobs, but you want to find his quote regarding ‘Lisa’. You could use this tip to isolate and find relevant content.
5. Setup Quick Website Search
Safari has what I like to call a speed pass to searching your favorite sites. Let’s say that you’ve got a favorite site called EverythingiCafe, where you find awesome how-to guides and a great forum community. If you are looking for a specific tutorial or forum topic, you might search Google for ‘everythingicafe + topic’. While that might yield fairly good results, there is an easier way. Safari can be setup so that when you enter your favorite site + keyword phrase, it will only search and provide results from that site. It’s a bit tricky, but here’s how it’s done.
1. You need to first enable Quick Website Search. Navigate to Settings > Safari > Quick Website Search. Toggle to ‘On’.
2. You’ll see a list of sites that are enabled. You cannot edit this list directly. That’s the twist.
3. Visit a site that you’d like to add. For example, visit our site and use our search box. You can search for anything. What this does is flags this website and enables it for Quick Website Search.
4. Go back to Settings > Safari > Quick Website Search. everythingiCafe will now be listed among the options.
Once enabled, here’s how it works. Tap in the URL bar and search ‘everythingicafe + keyword’. Safari will present you with an option to tap on ‘Search everythingiCafe.com’. It will generate a list of results directly within everythingiCafe’s internal search function.
6. Delete Individual Sites From Web Browsing History
If you visit a website that you’d like removed from your history, you no longer have to delete your entire history and website data. There is a more granular option that allows you to select and delete individual sites.
1. Navigate to Settings > Safari > History > Advanced.
2. Tap on Website Data.
3. You’ll see a list of recently visited websites. Swipe from left to right to reveal an option to delete. Optionally, you can tap on the edit button and select the minus sign. Either option will remove them from your history.
This is particularly helpful if you’re syncing bookmarks to a shared iPad and don’t want family members seeing that you’ve been visiting a particular website or group of websites. Maybe you’ve been shopping for a gift for your significant other and would like to expunge the evidence.
7. Use Gestures To Move Back and Forward
Gestures in Safari are guaranteed to help you get around much quicker. This tip is particularly helpful given the recent move to bigger phones with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. When browsing, swipe from the left edge, completely across the screen to go back a page. Now, reverse and go the opposite direction. Swiping from the right edge will allow you to go forward a page.
8. View Your Twitter Feed In Safari
You don’t need a third party app, nor do you have to visit Twitter.com to view your feed. Safari lets you view your feed from right within the browser.
1. Navigate to Settings > Twitter.
2. Enter your Twitter account username and password. Note: You do not need to install the app.
3. Open Safari and tap on the bookmarks icon.
4. Tap on the @ symbol. You’ll see an up to date view of your Twitter feed. This can be disabled by tapping on ‘Subscription’ and toggling your account to off.
Safari is a fantastic web browser. Over time, it’s seen the addition of some great features. I hope that you’ve found this list to be helpful and allow you to master Safari on your iPhone or iPad. And when you’ve mastered these, be sure to check out even more tips for Safari.
Have a killer tips that’s not listed? Share it in the comments below or in our forums!