What every Safari user should know

In the previous two lessons, I took you through Safari’s interface and offered a glimpse of the browser’s most important preferences. This week we wrap up Safari with a few techniques that I hope you’ll find helpful.

Read it later

Store webpages you wish to read later in Safari’s Reading List.

Very of us have the time to navigate to an interesting webpage, read its entire contents, and then repeat this action for the dozens of other sites we visit each day. But we can save these pages for another time. To do that, you add the pages to Safari’s Reading List (which you access by clicking the eyeglasses icon at the far left of the Bookmarks bar or by choosing View > Show Reading List.) Specifically, while viewing the page you wish to read later, choose Bookmarks > Add to Reading List (or press Command-Shift-D). The page will be saved in its entirety so that you don’t need an Internet connection to read it.

Once you’ve added a few pages, you can give them a look by clicking the Reading List icon. You’ll see a list of the pages you’ve saved, along with a short blurb describing each page’s contents. Click an item, and the page will load in the main browser window. You can choose to view all pages you’ve saved or just those that are unread. Also, from within this pane, you can choose to add a page to Reading List by clicking an Add Page button.

Favicons and you

When you visit a website, there’s a good chance that you’ll see a small icon just to the left of the site’s address. This is called a favicon and is a way for sites to brand themselves (and for you to more quickly see where you are by glancing at this icon). The favicon is not simply decorative, however. Drag the thing, and you can perform a few tricks.

Store your favorite sites as webloc files and place them in a folder for easy Finder access.

For example, if you drag the favicon to the desktop, you’ll create a web location file (also known as a webloc file). Double-click this file, and your default browser will launch and take you to that website. You might find it helpful to create a folder that holds webloc files pointing to your favorite websites and then drag the folder to the Dock. This allows you to quickly launch a favorite site from the Finder.

You can also quickly add a site to Safari’s Bookmarks bar by dragging the favicon onto this bar. (Likewise, if you have a folder in the Bookmarks bar, you can add the site to that folder by dragging the favicon on top of it.) And you can add a site to Safari’s Reading List or Top Sites screen by simply dragging its favicon on top of these items in the Bookmarks bar.

Keep it clean

Considering the large number of intriguing sites around the Web—and given our ability to display multiple sites within Safari—none of us should be surprised when the browser becomes a jumbled mess of countless tabs and overlapping windows. Thankfully, there are ways to make the open pages within Safari easier to view.

One is by dragging the tabs. It’s a pain to have to flip between tabs to, say, compare the information on one page with that of another. So don’t. Instead, drag one of the tabs to the desktop. When you do, the tab opens in a new Safari window. (You can also choose Window > Move Tab to New Window, or Control-click (right-click) on the tab and choose this same command.

Similarly, you can move tabs between open Safari windows. To do that, just drag a tab from one window to another.

If you have loads of tabs open and you’d prefer to close all of them except the one for the currently active page, hold down the Option key and choose File > Close Other Tabs (or press Command-Option-W).

Staying on the low-down

You, dear reader, and I have nothing to hide. But people you know may. And because they may, it’s worth your while to pass along these tips for maintaining a low profile in Safari.

The first way to do this is to launch Safari and choose Private Browsing from the Safari menu. Do so, and you’ll learn that Safari won’t store the pages you visit in its history, won’t keep a record of where you’ve gone, and won’t store AutoFill information. This is a command that you must invoke each time you launch Safari if you don’t want this information stored. And that makes sense, since much of the time you do want Safari keeping track of this kind of information so that you can more easily revisit websites. But on those rare occasions when you’re searching for a new job from the computer at your current job, you may not wish to leave tracks.

To really cover your tracks, explore Safari's Reset window.

If you’ve already been places that you’d prefer that Safari not remember, you can obscure your trail after the fact. To start doing so, choose History > Clear History. In the window that appears you can additionally choose to reset Top Sites. If that’s not enough for you, choose Safari > Reset Safari. A window appears that allows you to choose exactly the information you’d like Safari to forget. In terms of tracking, the ones you should enable are Clear History, Reset Top Sites, Remove All Website Data (meaning cookies), Clear the Downloads List, and Close All Safari Windows.

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