Safari is Apple’s default web browser on Mac, iPhone, and iPad, which means you may take it for granted. But have you delved into all of Safari’s features and settings? Standard options like Private browsing, Reader view, and downloading files are part of the package, but there are many more things you can do.
Upgrading to iOS 16 or iPadOS 16 gives you a few new tricks, including shared tab groups, pinned tabs in groups, extension syncing, website settings syncing, and the ability to edit suggested website passwords. To install the latest OS version on your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > General > Software Update. You’ll be told that the OS is up to date or asked to download and install the latest update.
Here are 25 tricks to help you have a better experience when working with Safari.
1. Manage Tab Bar Location
The jump to iOS 15 moved Safari’s address bar to the bottom of the screen, which can make it easier to access your open tabs. To navigate these open tabs, simply swipe left and right on the tab bar to cycle through them. Creatures of habit, however, can set the tabs to appear at the top of the iPhone screen when in Landscape mode. Go to Settings > Safari and turn on Landscape Tab Bar. When you position your iPhone in Landscape mode, the tabs all appear at the top.
If you prefer to keep the address bar in its traditional location all the time, select the Single Tab option. You can also tap the AA icon in the address bar and select Show Top Address Bar or Show Bottom Tab Bar to switch back and forth.
You can also alter how tabs are displayed on an iPad. Go to Settings > Safari and click Compact Tab Bar to shrink the amount of space your tabs take up at the top of the screen.
2. Sort Open Tabs
Sort multiple tab windows by tapping the Tabs icon on the tabs bar, which will let you see all your open tabs. Long-press on one of the tab thumbnails and select Arrange Tabs By, then choose to sort them by title or website.
iPad users can view open tabs from the Sidebar icon. Tap the Tabs icon, then press down on any thumbnail and choose Arrange Tabs By to sort by title or website.
3. Organize Tabs Into Groups
Feel like you have too many tabs? Organize them into groups. The process is slightly different depending on your device of choice. On an iPhone, tap the Tabs icon, then select the X Tabs entry at the bottom. Tap New Empty Tab Group to create a new group or New Tab Group from X Tabs to create a group out of all your existing tabs. Name your new group and tap Save. The group will now be selectable from the Tabs screen.
On an iPad, tap the Sidebar icon and then select the Tabs icon. Tap New Empty Tab Group to create a new group or New Tab Group from X Tabs to create a group out of all your existing tabs, then name the group.
You can also press down directly on a thumbnail and tap Move to Tab Group to create a new group for it or move it to an existing group. An even easier method is to long-press on the Tabs icon and tap Move to Tab Group to access your tab group options.
4. Share a Tab Group
With iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 or higher, you can share an entire tab group with someone else as long as that person is syncing Safari via iCloud. To do this, tap the Tabs icon and open the tab group you wish to share. Tap the Share icon at the top and select the person or app with whom you want to share the group. A link is then sent to the recipient over email or text. Upon opening the link, that person is then able to view the tab group in Safari on their iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
5. Pin a Tab
Pinning a tab lets you save a page on the Tabs screen so you can easily open it again. To pin a tab, tap the Tabs icon. Press down on the page you want to pin and select Pin Tab from the menu. The next time you want to access that page, tap the Tabs icon and then tap the pinned tab to open it.
6. Save Open Tabs as Bookmarks
Instead of saving every individual open tab as a bookmark, save them all at once. Press down on the Bookmark icon at the top or bottom of your screen. From the menu, tap Add Bookmarks for X Tabs, name the folder to house the bookmarked tabs, and tap Save.
7. Auto Close Open Tabs
The pages you open in Safari have a way of growing and growing until the browser gets cluttered with dozens of open tabs. To prevent this, set a certain amount of time before tabs are automatically closed. Go to Settings > Safari > Close Tabs and you can set tabs to close after one day, one week, or one month.
8. Customize the Start Page
You can tweak Safari’s Start Page by adding, removing, or moving certain sections and choosing a background image. Swipe to the bottom of the Start page (the screen your browser starts on when you open a new tab) and click the Edit button.
Disable any sections you don’t want to see or drag and drop sections to rearrange them on the page. Under the Background Image section, select a background or upload your own, then tap the X button to see your new Start page.
9. Try Some Extensions
Safari added support for extensions on mobile with iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. Try some out by going to Settings > Safari > Extensions, then click the More Extensions link to see additional options. Tap the Get button (or the price button if it’s paid) for any extensions you want to install.
You can then view installed extensions from the Extensions setting screen and enable or disable the ones you want to use. You can also now sync extensions across multiple Apple devices by enabling the Share Across Devices option on this page.
10. Sync Website Settings Across Devices
You can sync other settings in Safari across different devices. Go to Settings > Safari. Swipe down to the section called Settings for Websites and turn on the switch for Share Across Devices.
11. Browse Privately
If you don’t want Safari to keep track of the sites you visit or the AutoFill information you enter, Private Browsing mode will keep this information hidden (although you won’t be completely anonymous).
On an iPhone, tap the Tabs icon, then select Start Page/X Tabs at the bottom and select Private. You can also long-press the Tabs icon and choose Private. On an iPad, open the Sidebar and select Private. Now any page you launch opens in Private mode. Exit Private mode by returning to the Tabs screen and selecting your previous tabs or page.
12. Check a Privacy Report
Cross-site trackers monitor your web-based activities as you move from one site to another. If you’re concerned for your online privacy, Safari blocks these trackers by default. You can also see which sites and trackers have been blocked through Apple’s Privacy Report.
Tap the AA icon on an iPhone (ellipsis icon on an iPad) and select Privacy Report. The window reveals how many trackers were prevented from profiling you and how many sites contacted such trackers. Under the Websites tab, you can see a breakdown of which websites contacted trackers. Tap Trackers to see what specific trackers were blocked.
13. Translate Websites
Safari is able to translate websites displayed in a foreign language. The feature supports English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Russian, Korean, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, Arabic, and Simplified Chinese.
Open a website in one of these languages. On an iPad, tap the ellipsis icon at the right of the address bar, and select Translator in the menu. On an iPhone, tap the AA icon and select Translate to [your language]. The site will then automatically be translated.
14. View Compromised or Reused Passwords
All the passwords you use in Safari are stored in your iCloud Keychain. Your device will let you know if any of them have been compromised in a breach or are reused elsewhere. Go to Settings > Passwords > Security Recommendations and make sure Detect Compromised Passwords is enabled. Select any password that has been leaked, reused for multiple websites, or is considered weak and either delete to password or change it to something more secure.
15. Edit Suggested Website Passwords
If you use iCloud Keychain to manage your website passwords, there’s an option whereby Safari will suggest a strong password to use when you create a new account at a site. Just tap the password field, and a potential password appears. But that password may not always meet the guidelines for that particular website. With iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 or higher, you can now edit the suggested password to match the site guidelines.
After tapping the password field and seeing the suggested password, tap Other Options below the Use Strong Password button. You can select Edit Strong Password to change what Apple offered or generate a password with no special characters or that is easy to type.
16. Copy Subject from an Image
In iOS 16 and iPadOS 16, Apple’s Live Text feature has expanded to let you isolate and extract a foreground subject from a photo or other image. That capability extends to the websites you visit with Safari.
Find an image with a subject that you want to copy. Press down on it and select Copy Subject from the menu. Open an app into which you can insert the image, such as Mail or iMessage, and then use the Paste function to add the subject.
17. Watch Picture-in-Picture Videos
Similar to the way many streaming video apps let you watch their videos in a smaller window while you take care of other tasks, Safari fully supports picture-in-picture video. If you’re watching a video on YouTube or Vimeo, you can start playing a video in full screen, then select the Picture-in-Picture icon. The video shrinks to a smaller window that you can move to any corner of the screen. To see the video in full-screen mode again, tap the small window and select the Picture-in-Picture icon once more.
18. Read Offline
Want to savor that 5,000-word long-read for a plane ride, or a lazy day on the lake where cell service is spotty? Save it to read offline. At the page you want to save, tap the Share icon, then tap Add to Reading List.To access pages in your reading list, online or off, tap the Bookmarks icon, select the Eyeglasses icon, and tap the page you want to read.
By default, the page disappears from the reading list after you’ve read it. To see all pages, including ones you’ve already read, tap Show All at the bottom of the menu. Select Show Unread to go back to a list of unread items.
19. Use Reader Mode
Reader Mode, as its name indicates, makes a web page easier to read. Tap the AA icon and choose Show Reader (iPhone) or tap the ellipsis icon and choose Reader (iPad) to strip out distracting elements like ads and excessive formatting. Tap the icon again to change the text size or exit to normal view.
20. View Two Pages Side by Side
Do more in Safari with the iPad’s multitasking features, which supports viewing two web pages side by side. Open the first page, then tap the ellipsis icon at the top to access the multitasking toolbar and select Split View. You can then open a second instance of Safari and navigate to a different site. Reposition the second window so both pages are in Split View and use the vertical bar to change the width of each window.
21. View Quick Access Settings
On an iPhone, certain settings are tucked away under the AA icon next to the address bar, while an iPad hides those settings behind the ellipsis icon. Tap the icon to open a menu that offers commands to change the zoom level, show the current page in Reader View, request the desktop or mobile version of the site, view the Privacy Report, and access even more settings.
22. Access Sharing Options
By tapping the Share icon, you can send a link for the current web page to another app via text message, email, reminder, or apps like Facebook and Twitter. From here, you can even add the page to your home screen or print it. The Share icon will also display an Options link. Tap it to send the page as a PDF, Reader PDF, or Web Archive.
23. Manage Downloads
Safari’s download manager lets you more easily manage files you download from the web. Download a file by long-pressing on the item and tapping Download Linked File from the pop-up menu. To view all your downloaded files, tap the down arrow button at the top and then select Downloads. You can also access downloaded files from the Files app by selecting the location for your iPhone or iPad and then navigating to the Downloads folder.
Safari saves files to the Downloads folder on iCloud, but you can change the location. Go to Settings > Safari > Downloads and send them to your iPhone, iPad, or another location. Here, you can also opt to remove downloaded items after one day, after a successful download, or manually.
24. Take a Screenshot of an Entire Web Page
Older versions of Safari only allowed the screenshot feature on your mobile device to snap an image of the visible portion of a web page, but now you can capture the entire page. Take a screenshot as you normally would, then open the preview thumbnail of the shot. Tap the Full Page tab at the top of the preview to see the entire web page, even if it wasn’t visible in the initial shot.
25. Change Core Safari Settings
To change some of Safari’s core settings, go to Settings > Safari. Here, you can change your default search engine and choose what information is automatically filled in at websites. Safari’s AutoFill feature allows your contact info to be filled in at an online form but not names, passwords, or credit card details.
You can also tell Safari to keep track of frequently visited sites, allow your Favorites to be accessed when you run a search or create a new tab, open new tabs in the background, show the Favorites bar, show the tab bar, and block pop-ups.
Scroll down to the Privacy & Security section where the browser’s collected cookies can be deleted and any future data collection can be blocked.