Mac 101: Safari 4

Safari 4 is a high performance, modern Internet web browser for Mac OS X and Windows.  It supports the latest standards in HTML 5 and CSS 3, and includes the Nitro Javascript Engine. Safari 4 includes features to help maximize your online experience.

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You can use tabbed browsing to reduce browser window clutter; see your favorite web sites at a glance in Top Sites; perform full history search to find a website you visited in the past; and use Cover Flow for history and bookmarked sites. You can also block pop-up windows, make Dashboard widgets from websites, and use powerful built-in development tools.

This guide will help you familiarize yourself with the look and feel of Safari 4, as well as a few customizations that help you personalize your browsing experience.

Although most of this information applies to all versions of Safari, some applies to Safari 4.x only. For more information about other Safari versions, see Mac 101: Safari 3.

Note: This article is designed primarily for Mac users. Windows users should read Safari 4 for Windows.

The Safari 4 web browser window

This is a typical Safari 4 window with a sample Apple webpage shown. Some of the window elements can be customized, as described below.

  1. Back / Forward button *
  2. Add Bookmark button *
  3. Bookmarks Bar
  4. Smart Address (URL) field *
  5. RSS feed button (becomes loading indicator when webpage is loading)
  6. Reload/Stop button (becomes stop button when a webpage is loading)
  7. Recent searches tool 
  8. Smart search field *
  9. Search field SnapBack
  10. Tabbed browsing bar
  11. Scrollbar
  12. Webpage content
  13. Resize control

* Collectively, these elements make up the Safari 4 "toolbar."  You can customize your Safari toolbar if you wish, as described below.

Adjusting the size of the Safari Window

If you want to make your Safari window larger or smaller, drag the resize control icon in the bottom right corner (as shown above item 13) until the window is the size you want. Reducing the size of the window may cause scrollbars to appear. After resizing a Safari window, new windows will be this new size.

Set a home page

In most cases, a home page is the webpage that your browser starts on when you open a new window. To set your Safari 4 home page:

  1. Navigate the webpage you would like to set as your home page (for example, ).
  2. Choose Safari > Preferences. Or press Command-, (the Command key and the comma key).
  3. Click the General icon.
  4. Click "Set to Current Page."
  5. Close the preferences window.


Smart Address (URL) field

You can type or paste web addresses quickly and easily here. As you begin to type an address in the address field, Safari automatically completes it with the most likely match--called the Top Hit--and highlights it. Simply press the Enter key to connect to the highlighted site.

If the Top Hit is not the site you intended to visit, check the list of relevant suggestions, drawn from your bookmarks and browsing history, that Safari displays. Click to select the site you want to visit or use the arrow keys to highlight the site you want to visit, then press Enter.

Or, you can type the full web address if you wish.

Smart Search field

This field lets you find what you’re looking for instantly. As you enter text in this search field, Safari recommends relevant searches via Google Suggest, lists your most recent searches, and helps you find what you are searching for on the page.

Customize the toolbar

If you want to change the items that are on your Safari 4 toolbar:

  1. Choose Safari > View > Customize Toolbar...
  2. The sheet shown below will appear, allowing you to add and arrange items on the Toolbar by click and dragging them.

    For example, you can add items like the "Open in Dashboard" tool, used to create your own Dashboard widgets, by dragging them from the customize Toolbar sheet to the Safari 4 Toolbar.
    Or, you can drag the default set to your toolbar if you want to restore the default toolbar for Safari 4.
  3. Click Done when finished.

Top Sites

Top Sites lets you enjoy an at-a-glance preview of your favorite websites. Safari 4 tracks the sites you browse and ranks your favorites, presenting up to 24 thumbnails on a single page. You can even customize the display by pinning a favorite site to a specific location in the grid. That locks it into position, so you know just where to find it every time you open Top Sites.

Ever wonder which sites have changed since your last visit? Sites with a star icon in the upper-right corner have new content. A single click opens the page and updates its thumbnail. Whenever you want to return to your Top Sites page, click the new Top Sites button in the bookmarks bar.

To manually add a webpage to Top Sites:

  1. Load the page in Safari 4.
  2. Drag the web site icon (for example, ) located in the left side of the Address (URL) field (Safari window elements number 4 above), on to the Top Sites bookmark bar item (). This will add the website to the upper-left position in Top Sites.

To customize Top Sites, click the Edit button.  

To see 24 top sites click the Small tab.  To see 12 top sites click the Medium tab.  To see 6 top sites click the Large tab.

To arrange the order of your top sites, click and drag a top site to the location on the Top Sites grid where you would like it to appear.

To remove a top site, click the X icon connected to the top site you wish to remove.

To lock a top site, click the "Push Pin" icon connected to the top site you wish to pin.

Full History Search

With Full History Search and Cover Flow, what you see is where you went. Safari introduces a dramatic new way to revisit sites, letting you flip through full-page previews of the sites you visited before. Safari automatically stores all the text and a thumbnail of every page in your history. That makes it easy for Safari to get results even if you don't remember much about the site you’re searching for.

Just type a word or phrase in the History Search field in Top Sites, and Safari quickly presents you with a list of possibilities. In fact, you can search for anything that was on a page you visited, including photo captions. Safari presents the sites it finds in Cover Flow, giving you the opportunity to spot the desired site on sight.

Cover Flow

Cover Flow offers a highly visual way of reviewing your site history and bookmarked sites, presenting full-page previews of the websites that look as they did when you last visited them.

One look is all you need to recognize the site you want to visit. Simply flip through website previews in Cover Flow the same way you flip through album art in iTunes. Directional arrows let you browse forward and back. Or you can quickly flip through multiple sites using the slider. And when you find the site you want, simply click to open it.


Full-page zoom to change the size of webpage text and graphics

Zoom in or out on web content using keyboard shortcuts, Multi-touch trackpad gestures, or the Zoom toolbar button for more comfortable reading. Images and graphics scale up while your text remains razor sharp, keeping the webpage layout consistent as you zoom in and out. 

Use keyboard shortcuts Command-plus (+) to zoom in and Command-minus (-) to zoom out.

On a Multi-touch trackpad you can pinch out to zoom in and pinch in to zoom out.

To add the Zoom button to your toolbar, simply choose "Customize Toolbar..." from the "View" menu and drag the Zoom button onto your toolbar.

At any time you can also press Command-0 (zero), or choose View > Actual Size to return the webpage contents to the default size.

Private Browsing

For privacy, you can choose Safari > Private Browsing. When private browsing is enabled, webpages are not added to the history, items are automatically removed from the Downloads window, information isn't saved for AutoFill (including names and passwords), cookies are not retained, cache files are not retained, and searches are not added to the pop-up menu in the Google search box. 

Clearing history

Safari keep tracks of webpages you've recently visited. If you want to manually clear your browsing history, click on the Clear History button in Full History search or choose History > Clear History.

If you want Safari to automatically clear the history after a certain period of time, or not at all, choose Preferences from the Safari menu. Click the General icon. From the "Remove history items:" pop-up menu, choose your preferred setting (after one day, after one week, after two weeks, after one month, after one year, or manually).  The default setting is "After one month".

Until you close the Safari 4 window, you can still click the Back and Forward buttons to return to webpages you have opened. 

Block pop-up windows

Some websites display "pop-up" windows that open automatically when you visit. Pop-up windows may display advertisements or other material, depending on the types of websites you visit. Some sites use pop-up windows to display more information about a selected item, or as a way for you to navigate to other areas of the site.  Pop-up window blocking prevents these pop-up windows from appearing.

By default, pop-up window blocking is enabled in Safari 4 and later. You can choose to not block pop-up windows, or block them again later, by choosing and toggling Block Pop-Up Windows from the Safari menu. If a website isn't working the way you expect, you may need to deselect Block Pop-Up Windows.

Adding bookmarks

You can bookmark webpages so that you can quickly navigate to them without having to type the URL. To bookmark a site or webpage that you're currently viewing, choose Add Bookmark from the Bookmarks menu (Command-D) or click the "+" button on your toolbar. You will be prompted to name your bookmark and choose where you want to keep it.

You can also drag the website icon, located in the left side of the Address (URL) field (Safari window element 4 above), to the Bookmarks bar, a bookmark folder, or the Top Sites button to bookmark it.

Searching for words in a page

To quickly find a word or phrase that's on a webpage, either press Command-F, or choose Find from the Edit menu, and type the word or phrase to find. Press Command-G or click the forward-pointing triangle to the right of the search box to see the next occurrence of that text on the page.

Creating Dashboard widgets

You can turn parts of a webpage into a Dashboard widget. 

Add the "Open in Dashboard" toolbar item by customizing your toolbar.

Click the "Open in Dashboard" icon and select the part of the page you want to turn into a widget. Click Add and Safari opens your new widget in Dashboard. From there you can customize it with a selection of themes. Your new web clip widget stays updated, just like the website it was clipped from.

Using Tabbed Browsing

Tabbed browsing lets you switch between multiple open webpages within a single Safari window. You can drag and drop the tabs to rearrange them, open one in a new browser window, or merge all your current windows into one tabbed window. You can even bookmark a set of tabs or revert to the tabs that were open when you last closed or quit Safari.

To open a new webpage in a tab instead of a new window, Command-click any webpage link. You can switch back and forth between tabs by simply clicking the tabs, or by pressing Control-Tab or Shift-Control-Tab to navigate right or left through your tabs, respectively

To start with a new tab, press Command-T, or choose New Tab from the File menu.

Using RSS Feeds

Safari 4 lets you view RSS (Really Simple Syndication) article feeds with a browser window. Many websites offer RSS feeds, and Safari allows you to view the content from multiple websites in one browser window. To do this, from the Bookmarks menu, choose Bookmarks Bar, then View All RSS Articles.

When you visit a website that offers an RSS field, an RSS label  appears in the address field; click it to view the article summaries in its feed or click any article title to view the full article. If you're only interested in viewing certain types of articles in the feed, use the Search Articles field to enter your criteria. If you want to bookmark that RSS feed, choose Add Bookmark from the Bookmarks menu, type a name for the bookmark in the resulting dialog (such as "Apple News RSS"), and click Add.

Emailing Webpages

Ever search the Internet and find an article that you'd love to send to someone? With Safari, you easily can. You can send them a link to the page, or you can send them the page's entire contents, including all graphics and links that will work as long as the destination pages still exist. When you find a webpage that you'd like to send to someone:

Choose File > Mail Contents of This Page or File > Mail Link to This Page.

Mail opens and displays a new message window with either the webpage displayed in it, or a webpage link attached to it.

Type an email address in the To field, type a message to your friend if you'd like, and then click Send to send it.

Search Field SnapBack

Safari features built-in Google search directly in the browser. Just type what you're looking for in the Google field, press Return, and Google displays its search results in your browser window. As you explore your search results, Safari displays a Search Field SnapBack button in the Google field (it looks like a round, orange graphic with a white arrow), so you can instantly go back to your most recent Google search.

Enabling AutoFill

If you shop online, AutoFill can make entering information such as Ship To addresses much easier. Safari gets this information from your Address Book card, and will automatically fill in any relevant information into webpage fields.

To enable Safari to AutoFill using your Address Book information, choose Safari > Preferences, click the AutoFill button, and select the "Using info from my Address Book card" checkbox. To make sure that your card is up to date, click the Edit button to open Address Book.

Developer Tools

In Safari 4, developers will find the best set of development tools ever included in a browser. Simply enable them in Safari preferences and use them to examine the structure of a page, debug JavaScript, optimize performance and compatibility, inspect offline databases, or test experimental pieces of code on the fly.

To activate the development tools, click to the Advanced icon in the Safari 4 preferences and enable "Show Develop menu in menu bar."

For more specific information about each of the development tools, visit the Safari Dev Center page.

Report issues and send feedback to Apple

If you have an issue with a website or there is a feature you would like to see in Safari 4, you can choose Safari > Report Bugs to Apple... to send your data directly to the Safari team at Apple.

Tip: Want to learn more about Safari? Check out the built-in Safari Help guide on your Mac (in Safari, choose Help > Safari Help).  Also visit the Safari features website to see all the features Safari 4 has to offer.


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