Getting started with Safari

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Navigation options

As with a bag of M&M’s, one nibble leads to another, and before you know it you’ve traipsed from one end of the World Wide Web to another. You have a couple of ways to make your way back along the path you trod. One is to use the Back and Forward navigation buttons to the left of the search/address field. A single click on the Back button takes you to the previous page you visited. Click Forward, and you reverse course and move to the page you just retreated from.

If you use a trackpad with your Mac, you can swipe two fingers left or right to move between recently visited webpages. And speaking of gestures, if you have multiple tabs open, you can view a large preview of each: Just pinch two fingers together, and open tabs will be reduced to elements on a single screen. Use two fingers to swipe between them. Click the one you want to view, and it enlarges to fill Safari’s window. The other windows become tabs.

The Back and Forward buttons are convenient, but they can make for slow going if you need to move through dozens of sites. A faster method is to click and hold on one of these buttons—do so, and you’ll see your entire path back or forward. Just select the page you wish to revisit from the list that appears.

Click and hold on the Back or Forward button to view your trail.

Note: Safari treats each new window or tab as a separate journey. So, for example, if in Tab 1 you’ve visited Sites A, B, and C, and are currently viewing Site D, clicking and holding on the Back button will produce links to A, B, and C. If you open Tab 2 and visit Sites E, F, and G, clicking Back will show you only E and F. This tab is wholly unaware of A, B, C, and D because they never appeared within it.

However, you have a way to see every site you’ve visited recently, regardless of which window or tab you used. That’s the purpose of the History menu. Click it to find a list of the sites you’ve visited. The list will display just under 20 sites. If you’ve visited more than that, select Earlier Today to display any other sites you’ve visited in a submenu. And if you need to go farther back still, choose an earlier day from one of the commands that appear near the bottom of the History menu.

If those results are still too recent, choose History > Show All History. The Bookmarks window will open, History will be highlighted, and you’ll see a long list of days below. Click the triangle next to the one you wish to explore to see its contents. Optionally you can enter a keyword or site name in the Search field. Any history items that match will appear in a list underneath.

One other traveling shortcut to keep in mind is Command-Option-S (or History > Search Results SnapBack). If you’ve conducted a search and taken a series of winding paths in your exploration but would like to return to the original search results quickly, press this key combination.

Leaving tracks

What I’ve told you so far will serve you well during a single Safari session, but Web browsers aren’t the sort of application that you launch only every couple of weeks. We use them day after day and tend to revisit favorite sites time and again. And because we do, it makes little sense to type in a well-visited site’s address every time we want to see what new things Site X has to offer.

And so, instead, you create bookmarks. Like their real-world counterpart, Safari’s bookmarks serve to mark a place to which you intend to return. For example, if you’re interested in reading these Mac 101 lessons each week, it would make sense for you to bookmark their home: Just travel to that page, select Bookmarks > Add Bookmark (Command-D), and in the sheet that appears, choose where to store the bookmark. Your choices include the Bookmarks Bar, Top Sites, within one of the folders in your Bookmarks Bar, or in the Bookmarks menu. If, in the field beneath, you find the suggested name to be too long, enter one of your own and click Add. The bookmark will be added to the location you chose. To revisit that site, just select the bookmark, and you’re on your way.

A quick Command-D, and you've added a bookmark.

Alternatively, if you’d like to add a bookmark to the Bookmarks Bar, just click the small icon that appears to the left of the site’s address in the search/address field, and drag it to the Bookmarks Bar. The new item will take up residence where you placed it and push any others in its way to the right. To visit that site, click once on the bookmark.

And if you’d care to treat a bookmark as you would an application, click that icon and drag it to the desktop. It will turn into a Web location file. Double-click that file, and Safari launches and takes you to the associated website. You could even gather such files together in a folder and then place that folder in the Dock. Then, click and hold on the folder, wait for the contents menu to appear, and select the site you wish to visit. Safari launches and brings you to the site.

Organizing your bookmarks

After accumulating a load of bookmarks, you may find them to be a bit unwieldy. Thankfully Safari offers easy ways to organize them. Click the Bookmarks button in the Bookmarks Bar (or choose Bookmarks > Show All Bookmarks) to reveal the Bookmarks pane. Along the left side you’ll see the Collections heading, which contains History, Bookmarks Bar, and Bookmarks Menu entries.

When you select an item in the Collection area, any associated bookmarks and folders appear in the main portion of the window. You can rearrange the order of these items by clicking and dragging them to a new position. You can drag them to a different category item, too: For example, if you’d like a bookmark that currently resides in the Bookmarks menu to appear in the Bookmarks Bar, select the Bookmarks Menu category, click the item you want to move, and drag it to the Bookmarks Bar category. (Or, in this case, drag it directly into the Bookmarks Bar.)

The bookmarks pane

In this same area you can create folders. To create a folder that appears in the Collections pane, click the small plus (+) button at the bottom of the pane. A new folder called ‘Untitled Folder’ will appear. Click it and rename it. Now drag any bookmarks you wish into it. You can then place this folder wherever you like. For example, you might place it in the Bookmarks Menu, select Bookmarks Menu, and then drag it to the top of the list. Or you could drag it to the Bookmarks Bar, where it will appear with its title and the triangle icon indicating that it holds bookmarks. You could even drag a folder to the desktop to create a folder full of Web-location files. Or drag the folder into the attachments area of a new email message to share the enclosed Web-location files with a friend or colleague.

You can also create folders within collections or other folders. To do so, select a collection or folder and then click the plus (+) button that appears below the bookmarks area. You’ll get a new folder; again, name it, move bookmarks into it, and place the folder in a logical location. To leave the bookmarks pane, just click the Bookmarks button in the Bookmarks Bar or choose Bookmarks > Hide All Bookmarks.

There’s much more to Safari, but you’ve got the lay of the land now. We’ll dig into its details in the coming weeks.

Next week: Exploring Safari’s preferences

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