Safari 5: Tweaks and Tips for Better Browsing

If you use Safari every day, you probably know that Apple’s added a ton of timesaving features into their fancy-schmancy browser. Need to know a way to fool websites into thinking you’re running Internet Explorer? Getting tired of clicking on links and having new windows open in front of the one you were using? Here are a few of my favorite ways to make Safari more useful (and user-friendly).

The first trick involves turning on Safari’s Develop menu, which is done by going to Safari > Preferences, clicking on the “Advanced” tab, and then checking the “Show Develop menu in menu bar” box.

This will add an extra drop-down menu in, well, your menu bar. If you’re designing websites, you can use the helpful functions there to debug your code. What does this mean for us regular folks, though? 

Some sites across the Web don’t just inform you that their pages are best viewed in a certain browser, they block you out of accessing anything at all if you’re not using some antiquated version of Internet Explorer. And the developers may not even be doing it because their sites won’t work in other browsers—they may just want total control over the user experience, for example. Employing the Develop menu to change your user agent (i.e., what browser your machine reports it’s using) to one that a particular site specifies might mean the difference between being locked out completely and getting some access to the information you need. And while it often doesn’t work perfectly, changing your user agent may just get you in places you thought you couldn’t go. All you have to do is turn on the preference above, and then go to Develop > User Agent and choose whichever browser you’d like to pretend to be using.

Look! I’m a PC! I swear!


You can then load websites at will, and all the while the sites you visit will think you’re on an iPhone, a PC, or whatever you choose, you sneaky Mac user, you. This will continue until you select a different user agent or quit the browser.

The second tip is one that I use every time I open Safari. I have a few sites I visit every day without fail, and I’ve grouped those bookmarks into folders. An easy way to do this is to choose the menu item Bookmarks > Add Bookmark Folder, or hit Command-Shift-N. You’ll then be taken to your bookmark list, where you can name the folder you’ve just created, drag bookmarks into it, and organize them any way you’d like.

Now here’s the fun part—I can then just Command-click the folder in the bookmarks bar to get Safari to open every bookmark within it in a new tab. Much quicker than opening each page individually, especially if you spend too much time on the Internet like SOME people, who shall remain nameless. Ahem.

You can also right-click and choose “Open in Tabs.” The same option is available if you click on the folder and scroll down.


Another favorite Safari tweak of mine is new in Safari 5. Well, it’s new from Apple’s point of view, but you’ve been able to change the default setting through the Terminal for some time now. What this effects is the behavior of links that the page creator designated to open in a new window (rather than just opening in the same one you’re already using). You can tell Safari to open those types of links in a new tab instead, which is most amazingly awesome and much better than the default behavior in my tiny little opinion.

What you’ll do is go to Safari > Preferences (wait, haven’t we been here before?) and choose “Tabs.” Under that, you’ll toggle “Open pages in tabs instead of windows” to whichever option seems best for you. I use “Always,” but that’ll override settings on windows that are configured to open at a particular size. I figure, though, that it’s my browser, and I’ll do whatever I want, so there. 

Hey, at least my computer does what I want it to most of the time. If only everything were so easy.


As you can see, it’s beneficial to walk through the options you have in any program you use regularly, as you may have a timesaver available you didn’t know about. And let’s face it, looking through preferences is lots of fun. No? Just me? Oh, OK.