Safari: The Smart Search Bar, the Cursor, & You

| TMO Quick Tip

When you open a new tab (Command-T) or a new window (Command-N) in Safari, you'll almost always want your cursor to start in the so-called Smart Search Field.

After all, it doesn't make a ton of sense to open a new window, all ready and eager to start typing a URL or a search term, and then have to hammer the Tab button a bunch to move your cursor to where you want it to go. Of course, you can hit Command-L to jump up there if you need to, or you could actually move your cursor there and click, but gosh, what is this, 1993?

So if Safari isn't doing this for you, here's how you fix it. The secret lies in a setting in Safari > Preferences > General, under either "New windows open with" or "New tabs open with."

If you have either of those set to "Homepage" or "Same page," your cursor will not automatically or consistently be in the Smart Search Field when you open a new window or tab. So toggle those options to any of the other choices. "Empty page" is my favorite one, as you can see above; that way, every window or tab I open starts fresh.

That's it! From now on, your cursor will be ready for you to type right away when you head off somewhere new. And you won't have to move your mouse or trackpad at all. Laziness helps me solve so many of my problems, people.

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That functionality (or lack thereof) has frustrated me too. This way around it is interesting, but I don’t want my new windows to be blank. I want them to open with Top Sites or my Homepage. So what I’ve done is map a custom keyboard shortcut. This works because there is a menu shortcut for searching (it is found under Edit - Find).

1) Navigate to : System Preferences - Keyboard - Keyboard Shortcuts
2)Click on Application Shortcuts on the left
3) Click the + to add a new shortcut.
4) Select Safari instead of “All Applications”
5) Type in the exact name of the menu item— assuming you use Google, it will be (no quotes) “Google Search…”
6) Enter a keyboard shortcut.

I use CMD+Shift+F because it’s a modifier of CMD+F for Find.

This way, I can use it anytime, not just when opening a new window.
BTW - this works for any menu item in any application that may not already have a keyboard shortcut. This may or may not drastically alter your happiness in daily life.


You can simply set the “New windows open with” and “New tabs open with” to Top Sites.


I was just looking for this answer! Thanks. Setting options to Top Sites worked beautifully.

Melissa Holt

Happy to help, Adrienne! Thanks for reading.


Jean Mineo

Had it, loved it, lost it. Have no idea how to get my Safari search bar back. Went through the settings but I’m not finding the answer for my MAC. Any ideas?

Melissa Holt

Hey Jean,

I’ll bet if you go into Safari and press Option > Command > T (View > Show Toolbar), it’ll come back.

If that’s not it, let me know!

Jean Mineo

Hi Melissa, you are so great to respond! When I click on Safari (6.0.2) in the top menu I get these options: About, Extensions, Preferences, Private Browsing, Reset Safari, Services, Hide Safari, Hide Others, and Quit Safari. Not sure where to go to press Option> Command >T….

Melissa Holt

Hey Jean,

You don’t need to go into a menu—as long as you have the program open, it should work. Alternatively, you can just open the View menu and pick Show Toolbar. Does that do the trick?


Jean Mineo

So when I’m in AOL…..(I know, groan) there IS an options button (top right corner) and I can click on that, then command T and a new tab opens with the Safari smart search bar…..progress. I think this will happen also if I’m just in AOL and hit command T - a new tab opens with the smart search bar. I just can’t get that to be the “regular” view (unhidden?) so I don’t have to go through these extra steps each time.

Jean Mineo

You are a genius and I am grateful. Found it in the View menu > show toolbar. All is right in my little world. Very much appreciate your help!

Melissa Holt

Ah! I’m just happy it’s all sorted out. You’re very welcome.


Spandan Keshav

Great! It works perfectly. Thanks a lot!

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