How to manage Safari's Top Sites

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One of Safari 5’s more useful features is Top Sites, which displays snapshots of the sites you visit most often on a showy, pseudo-three-dimensional wall worthy of The Architect.

But what if you want to prevent some sites from appearing in Top Sites, add sites that you rarely visit but still enjoy, or place some sites in specific slots so they’re easy to find? Fortunately, we have answers, and we won’t even make you decide between helping a loved one or saving humanity to learn them.

To make sure we’re all on the same page, Top Sites appears by default every time you start Safari. You can also open it manually from the small, tic-tac-toe-like icon in the left of Safari’s bookmarks bar.

Step 1: Add a site to Top Sites

The main way to add a site to Safari’s Top Sites is from the Bookmarks -> Add Bookmark menu. In the sheet that appears, click the drop-down bookmarks menu, scroll to the top to pick Top Sites as your link’s destination, and click OK. Your new link will take its place in the top-left slot of your Top Sites grid.

Of course, the other way to add links to Top Sites is to just use Safari. Apple designed Top Sites to keep track of the sites you browse and continually update with the ones you visit most.

Step 2: Manage your Top Sites

If you decide you want to keep a site handy in Top Sites regardless of how often you visit it, or you just want some sites to stay in specific slots in Top Sites, you can hit the Edit button in the lower left. Some new controls will appear over each Website snapshot in Top Sites: a close button and a push pin.

If you want a site to always remain available in Top Sites, click its corresponding push pin or click and drag its snapshot to a preferred slot. The pushpin will glow blue, signifying that the site will forever occupy that place until you decide otherwise, regardless of whether your browsing habits change down the road.

While in this editing mode, you may also want to give the Small, Medium, and Large buttons a try on the lower right side. By default, Top Sites uses a four-by-three grid (the Medium option), giving you 12 total slots for keeping your favorite and frequently-visited sites just a click away. If that view is too intimidating, or you simply don’t visit that many sites in Safari, the Large view slims down to six slots but maximizes the space, giving you a much larger snapshot of each site. The Small view (my personal favorite) gives you a six-by-four grid; a 24-slot dashboard of your personal slice of the Web.

Step 3: Delete a Top Site

For sites that you prefer to not see in Top Sites, click the close button to vote it off the proverbial island. The snapshot will disappear and Safari will make room to add your next most-visited site.

Be careful, though. If you banish a site this way from Top Sites, it will not return unless you say otherwise by deliberately visiting it and adding it to Top Sites with the manual bookmark process described above.

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