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This chapter is from the book

Web Browsing in Safari

Although similar in many ways to other web browsers, Safari offers a few unique features that set it apart. You can open Safari from its icon on the Dock or Launchpad, or in the Applications folder.

Safari has seen dramatic improvements over the past few years. Safari uses a web browsing engine called Webkit that was, although not an Apple product, engineered by mostly Apple developers. This engine is the same engine found in Google Chrome and on iOS, HP WebOS, and Android platforms. This means that Safari is quickly becoming a web browsing standard, rather than an exception.

Managing Your Bookmarks, Top Sites, and Reading List

In Safari, there are four primary areas where you can store sites for easy access: the bookmark menu, which appears under the bookmarks menu item; the bookmarks bar, displayed under the URL; the top sites screen, which shows the sites you (or Safari) have identified as being frequently visited; and, new in Mountain Lion, the Reading List. The Reading List (denoted by an icon of eyeglasses) holds pages and links that you want to visit at a later time, but aren’t planning to keep as a permanent bookmark.

Adding a Bookmark

To add a bookmark to Safari, you need to know what site you want to bookmark, and where the bookmark should be stored:

  1. Visit the site you want to bookmark by typing its address into the URL field.
  2. Click the Share Sheet button in the Safari toolbar.
  3. Choose Add Bookmark from the Share Sheet pop-up menu.
  4. Choose where to file the bookmark (Top Sites, Bookmark Menu, Bookmarks Bar, Reading List, or a folder within one of these areas).
  5. Enter a name for the bookmark so you can identify it later.
  6. Click Add.

Previewing Bookmarks

Amassing a huge collection of bookmarks can make it difficult to find what you’re looking for. With Safari you can quickly preview the websites in your bookmarks or history.

  1. Click the Show Bookmarks button.
  2. Choose a collection of bookmarks from the left-hand pane.
  3. Select a folder of bookmarks (if any) or individual bookmark from the bookmark list.
  4. Drag the handle to resize the preview Cover-flow pane so that you can get a clear preview of the pages.
  5. Use the scrollbar below the preview area to flip through the sites in the folder.

Organizing Bookmarks

After you’ve added a few bookmarks to the bookmark menu or bookmark bar, you can re-categorize them using these steps:

  1. Click the Show Bookmark button.
  2. Click the collection with which you want to work.
  3. Navigate the folders and individual bookmarks as you would navigate a Finder window.
  4. Click and drag bookmarks between folders or collections to organize them.
  5. Click the + buttons to add new bookmark collections or folders for additional filing options.

Organizing Top Sites

As you browse, Safari identifies your “top sites.” The Top Sites button switches to display previews and marks sites that have updates with a star. Clicking a site opens it in Safari.

To manage the ordering and display of the top sites in Safari, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Top Sites button.
  2. Click Edit.
  3. Click the X button by a site to remove it, or the “pin” button to make sure the site stays on the screen.
  4. Rearrange the sites by clicking and dragging their preview images.
  5. Add new sites by dragging their URLs into the top sites window.
  6. Click Done.

Adding to Your Reading List

The Reading List is a simple feature that holds links and pages until you have a chance to go back and read them. If you have an iCloud account shared between your iOS devices and your Mac, you’ll even see the same synced reading list between all of them.

To add to your reading list in Safari, first browse to a webpage that you want to view later, and then do the following:

  1. Click the Share Sheet button in the Safari toolbar.
  2. Choose Add to Reading List from the Share Sheet pop-up menu.

Managing Your Reading List

After you add things to your list, you want to read them, right? To manage your list, just follow these steps:

  1. Open the Reading List by clicking the Reading List icon.
  2. Click All or Unread to limit your view of the list to all pages, or just pages you haven’t finished reading.
  3. Click a Reading List entry to load the page in Safari.
  4. Click the X icon in the upper-right corner of an entry to remove it from the list.
  5. Click Clear All to remove all items from the list.
  6. Click the Reading List icon again to hide the list when you’re finished.

Advanced Browsing Features

Although “web browsing” as a pastime is only a little more than a decade old, it’s a skill that it almost seems that we were born with. Little by little, browser developers have been refining the process to add additional features. Safari is no different.

Using Tabbed Browsing

Originally, web browsers created a new window for each page you visited. In Safari, all these windows can be combined under a single window with tabs representing individual websites within that window. To use tabbed browsing in Safari, follow these steps:

  1. Click the + button near the far right of the Safari toolbar.
  2. A new tab is added.
  3. Enter a URL (or choose a bookmark) to browse to a new site in that tab.
  4. Use the tabs to quickly switch between web pages. Note that while you’re browsing, you can hold down Command as you click links. The links create a new tab in the Safari browser window.

Viewing All Tabs

If you find yourself lost in tabs, not knowing what they all are, you can view all the tabbed web pages at once in a pretty scrolling view. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Perform a pinch gesture within a web page or click the Show all tabs icon at the far right of the Safari toolbar.
  2. The tabs appear in a horizontally scrolling list. Use two fingers to swipe side to side and view, or click the small circles underneath the web page images.
  3. Click within a page to go to that page, or reverse your pinch to return to your standard tab view.

Viewing PDFs Online

In Mountain Lion, Apple has included a helpful PDF viewer that makes reviewing PDF documents a breeze. When you click a PDF link, the viewer opens. To control the viewer, follow these steps:

  1. Position the cursor near the bottom center of the browser window to show the PDF controls.
  2. Click + or – to zoom in and out.
  3. Click the Preview icon to open the PDF in the Mountain Lion Preview (an Image/PDF viewer) application.
  4. Click the Download button to save the PDF to your Downloads folder.

Distraction-Free Reading with Reader

Web pages, unfortunately, are rarely dedicated to getting you just the information you need. They are filled with ads and other distracting content, and frequently require you to click multiple links to get the whole story. To provide a distraction-free reading experience, Apple includes a Reader feature with Safari that strips out all the unnecessary cruft. To use Reader, follow these instructions.

  1. When viewing a webpage with a story you want to read, check to see if the Reader button is lit up at the far right of the URL field. Click it.
  2. You are now viewing a clean version of the content.
  3. Position your pointer near the bottom of the Safari window to show additional controls, which enable you to change the font size, email or print the article, or close the Reader session.
  4. Click the X to close Reader and return to a normal browser.

Continuing Browsing with iCloud Tabs

Ever start reading something on one computer or iOS device and want to pick it up somewhere else? Instead of having to remember to add things to your reading list (or email yourself a bookmark), you can use the iCloud tabs button. This simple feature makes it easy to see what tabs are open on your other devices and quickly open them wherever you are.

  1. Click the iCloud button in the tool-bar.
  2. A popover appears showing all your open tabs, by device.
  3. Click an entry to open it in your local browser.

Sharing with Others

To share the page that you are currently reading with someone else via email or Messages, you can use the Safari Share Sheet. We discuss more about Share Sheets in Chapter 5 and 7. For now, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Share Sheet icon when browsing a page you like.
  2. Choose to share the page via email or messages.
  3. When sharing via email, a new email is created and you can choose whether to share a reader version of the page, the full web page, a PDF of the page, or just the link!

Enabling Private Browsing

If you share a computer with other people, and there’s a chance that they might stumble upon something in your web history that you’d prefer they didn’t (holiday gift orders, for example), you can enable private browsing.

When private browsing is enabled, no website content is saved to your MacBook—it’s as if you were never there:

  1. Choose Safari, Private Browsing from the menu bar.
  2. Click OK when prompted to verify whether private browsing should be enabled.
  3. You can now use Safari as you would normally, but your session is private—as indicated in the URL field.
  4. Choose Safari, Private Browsing again to disable private browsing.

Protecting Your MacBook and Yourself Online

Safari offers several tools to help protect you from fraudulent activity online. To ensure that you have the most secure browsing experience possible, complete the following configuration:

  1. Choose Safari, Preferences from the menu.
  2. Click the Security toolbar icon.
  3. Check the checkbox beside Warn When Visiting a Fraudulent Website.
  4. Check the checkbox beside Block Pop-up Windows.
  5. Click the Privacy toolbar icon.
  6. Be sure that the Block cookies option is set to from third parties and advertisers.
  7. Choose whether Safari should deny all access to your location information, or to prompt you if a website requests it. Note that some online services can provide valuable customized information using your location.
  8. Click Ask Websites Not to Track Me to request that your website visits be logged as little as possible. Note that web service providers may not pay attention to this setting.
  9. To remove all information stored on your computer by the sites you’ve visited, click “Remove All Website Data”. You may want to repeat this from time to time.
  10. Use the Notification Preferences section to manage which web-sites can post notifications to the Mountain Lion notification center.
  11. Close the Safari Preferences.

Adding Web Content to the Dashboard

Many of us visit a webpage just to see a tiny piece of content, such as the latest weather report or breaking news. With Safari and Mountain Lion’s Dashboard, you can create your own widget, called a web clipping, that is accessible directly from your MacBook’s dashboard. This gives you instant access to information you like without needing to open Safari. The content even updates automatically as long as you are connected to the Internet.

  1. Visit the web page with the content you want to add to the dashboard.
  2. Choose File, Open in Dashboard.
  3. Position the box on the page so that the content you want to capture is highlighted as best possible, then click your mouse.
  4. Fine-tune the selected area by dragging it within the Safari window and using the handles on the sides to resize it.
  5. Click Add when you are satisfied with the results.
  6. The Dashboard opens and the new web clipping widget is displayed.

Extending Safari’s Capabilities with Extensions

Safari supports developer-created extensions that can add additional functionality to your browsing experience—such as the ability to quickly access Twitter, eBay, and other services without leaving your current webpage. Safari extensions are supported by the individual developers, so after you install one, you will need to refer to their documentation for further support.

Installing an Extension

Installing extensions doesn’t require anything more than clicking a link on a website.

To find and install Safari extensions, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Safari, Safari Extensions from the menu bar.
  2. An Apple website opens listing all registered extensions.
  3. Use the website to browse to an extension you are interested in, and then click the Install Now button beside the extension.
  4. After a few seconds, the extension is installed and activated. Depending on how it works, you may see a new button or area added to the Safari toolbar. Follow the developer’s instructions to use the extension.

Managing Extensions

To manage the extensions you’ve installed—including configuring them, if configuration is necessary—use Safari preferences. Follow these steps to access your extension preferences:

  1. Open the Safari preferences by choosing Safari, Preferences from the menu bar.
  2. Click the Extensions button in the top of the Preferences window.
  3. Click an individual extension to view its configuration options.
  4. Use the Enable checkbox to enable or disable individual extensions.
  5. Click Uninstall to remove the extension entirely.
  6. Use the On/Off switch to disable all extensions.
  7. Click the Updates button to look for and install updates to any installed extensions.
  8. Close the Preferences panel when finished.
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