Learn all about the Safari browsing experience in this free lesson.
Browsing in Safari
Safari makes browsing the web quick and simple. In this lesson, we'll talk about navigating to websites in Safari. You'll also learn how use tabs, access your browsing history, and view your downloads.
If you don't have much experience using a web browser, you may want to review our lesson on Using a Web Browser, which covers the basic points of Internet browsing in more detail.
Check out the video below to learn the basics of browsing in Safari.
The Smart Search field
Some browsers use an address bar for navigating the Internet and a separate search bar for conducting searches. Safari combines these features into one bar, which is known as the Smart Search field. The Smart Search field offers suggestions for websites and search terms as you're typing, making surfing online that much easier.
To use the Smart Search field:
- Enter a web address or search term into the Smart Search field.
- Various suggestions will appear below the Smart Search field as you type. Websites will appear under a section named Suggested Websites, while search terms will be listed under Google Search.
- Click a suggestion to navigate to a website or conduct a search. You can also type a full web address and press Enter to navigate to a website, just like a regular address bar.
Navigating in Safari
Safari uses three main buttons for navigation: the Back, Forward, and Refresh buttons.
- The Back and Forward buttons allow you to move through pages you have recently viewed. Click and hold either button to see your recent history.
- The Refresh button will reload the current page. If a website stops working, try using the Refresh button. If a webpage doesn't load correctly, it will temporarily become the Stop button. Click this button to stop a webpage from loading.
Windows and tabs
Like all browsers, Safari allows you to open new windows to view different pages. In addition, Safari allows you to open multiple websites in the same window using tabs. Tabs are usually more convenient than opening several windows at the same time.
To open a new window:
- Click File, then select New Window. You can also press Command+N on your keyboard.
- The new window will appear.
To open a new tab:
- Click the New tab button in the top-right corner. You can also press Command+T on your keyboard.
- The new tab will appear as a Favorites tab by default. Type an address and press Enter to navigate to a new page.
- The page will appear in the new tab.
To switch between tabs:
- Click any tab that is not currently selected.
- The tab will be selected.
To close a tab:
- To close a tab, hover the mouse over any tab and click the Close tab button that appears. You can also press Command+W on your keyboard to close the current tab.
To open a link in a new tab:
Tabs can also make it easier to browse online. If you find a link to a website, you can open that link in a new tab. This allows you to open the site without losing your place on the original page.
- Right-click the link you want to open, then select Open Link in New Tab from the drop-down menu.
- The website will open in a new tab.
- Click the tab to view the website.
Tabs can be moved and pulled in and out of windows.
To move tabs:
- Click and drag the tab you want to move.
- Release the mouse when you have moved the tab to the desired position.
To pull tabs:
If you want to view two tabs at the same time, it's easy to pull a tab to its own window.
- Select the tab you want to pull.
- Click and drag the tab out of the window. A transparent preview of the new window will appear.
- Release the mouse. The tab will now appear in its own window.
To pin tabs:
If there are some pages you use every time you open your browser, like your email or calendar, you might consider pinning the tab. Pinned tabs will open automatically whenever you start Safari, making your favorite pages easy to access.
This feature was introduced in OS X El Capitan, so earlier versions of OS X won't have this feature.
- Right-click the desired tab, then select Pin Tab from the drop-down menu.
- The pinned tab will appear as a smaller tab in the top-left corner of the browser.
- To unpin a tab, right-click it, then select Unpin Tab from the drop-down menu.
Like all browsers, Safari keeps a record of the websites you visit, which is known as your browsing history. Safari allows you to search your history to find a previously viewed page and delete your history for the sake of privacy.
To view your browsing history:
- Click History, then select Show History.
- The History will appear in a tab with your recent browsing history. The history includes every site you've viewed in the past week. The list is sorted by date, so the most recent history appears at the top of the page. If you want to return to a website, simply double-click the link.
- If you can't remember the exact address or name of a webpage you've visited before, you can try searching the history. Enter a search term or website into the search bar. A list of results will appear automatically.
Review our lesson on Privacy and Security in Safari to learn how to delete your browser history.
Safari can display different types of documents, media, and other files, including PDF and MP3 files. But there may be times when you'll want to access a file outside of the browser. To do this, you'll need to download the file directly to your computer.
For example, let's say you need to complete and print a form you find online. You could download it to your computer, then open it with the appropriate program (such as Microsoft Word) to edit it.
To download a file:
If you click a link to a file, it may download automatically. However, depending on the file type, it may just open within the browser. To prevent a file from opening in Safari, you can use Save Link As to download it to your computer.
- Right-click the file you want to download, then select Download Linked File.
- The file will begin downloading, and the download progress will appear in the top-right corner of the browser under the Downloads button. When the download is complete, double-click the file to open it.
For various reasons, many websites do not allow you to download content. For example, YouTube does not offer a way to download its videos.