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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

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.

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.

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.

Try these keyboard shortcuts

One road to becoming a more accomplished Mac user is memorizing and using keyboard shortcuts. Safari has a few that I'd like to recommend.

Email this Page (Command-I): Press this command, and your default email application will open, create a new message, and insert the Web address for the page you're currently viewing into the message. Just address and send the email to share the page.

Show All Tabs (Shift-Command-\): Even many seasoned Safari users are unaware of this view. When you invoke this command, tabs shrink down so that they're viewable within a single window. If your Mac has a trackpad, you can swipe between the tabs. If you have a mouse, just click the small dots below the pages to move from page to page. Apple has demonstrated a similar view in iOS 7's version of Safari.

Show Downloads (Command-Option-L): At one time, Safari had a separate Downloads window. Now, to view your downloads, you click on the Downloads button (the downward-facing arrow) in the top-right corner of a Safari window. Faster still is using this shortcut.

Zoom In (Command-Plus), Zoom Out (Command-Minus): Do you find text too tiny or too large on a page you're viewing? Use these shortcuts to zoom in and out.

Previous Page (Command-Left Arrow), Next Page (Command-Right Arrow): Clicking the Previous and Next buttons in Safari's toolbars is largely unnecessary when you've memorized these shortcuts. (Optionally, instead of the arrow keys, you can use the left and right bracket keys that appear just to the right of the keyboard's P key.)

Add Bookmark (Command-D): This simple keyboard shortcut keeps you from having to choose Bookmarks > Add Bookmark.

Open bookmarks in Bookmarks bar (Command-1 though Command-9): Suppose you've placed nine items in the Bookmarks bar. You can invoke any of those nine items by pressing Command and then the number associated with an item. For example, if Amazon.com is the third item in the bar, press Command-3 and you'll be taken to Amazon's site. (You can't open folders using this shortcut, however.)

Open your favorite sites with one click

It's likely that you visit the same websites day after day. Wouldn't it be convenient if, with a single click, you could open all those sites in multiple tabs? You can. Here's how.

Choose Bookmarks > Show All Bookmarks. At the bottom of the leftmost pane, click the plus button (+) to create a new folder. Give the folder an intuitive name such as Daily Reads. Now browse through your other bookmarks and drag any that you wish to add to your daily reads to this folder. When you've finished, drag the folder into the Bookmarks bar. Click on the Bookmarks Bar entry that appears in the leftmost pane and locate your Daily Reads folder. Click on the checkbox that appears under the Auto-Click heading. When you do this, a small square will appear next to your Daily Reads folder in the Bookmarks bar.

Now, when you want to view all the pages in that folder, just click on it. The pages within will open in separate tabs.

Odds and ends

If you'd like to see where a particular link will take you, choose View > Show Status Bar. A gray bar will appear at the bottom of Safari windows. Hover your cursor over a link, and its associated address will appear in the status bar.

You can open certain file types in Safari simply by dragging them to the Safari icon in the Dock. For example, drop an image file on top of the Safari icon, and it will open in a Safari window or tab. This works similarly with plain-text files, PDF documents, and many movie and audio files.

If a website won't work because it requires a browser other than Safari, you can trick that site into cooperating with your browser. Choose Safari > Preferences, select the Advanced tab, and enable the Show Develop menu in menu bar option. As requested, a Develop menu will appear. When you encounter one of these stubborn sites, choose Develop > User Agent. You'll see a list of browser names. Choose one that's likely to be compatible--Internet Explorer 8, for example, and then reload the page by pressing Command-R. With luck, the site will let you in, believing you're using one of its "approved" browsers.

Next week: Basic technology terminology


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