Somehow, Apple managed to cram in a ton of web browsing functionality into a teeny, tiny package called Safari. To distinguish the mobile web browser from the one of the same name on OS X, we’ll call it Mobile Safari and be done with it.
Regardless of the name, the mobile version of Safari is chock full of features both subtle and hidden. Here are five great tips and tricks to help you master Mobile Safari on your own iOS device, whether that be an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
Want to get to websites faster using mobile Safari? No, I’m not talking about upgrading your internet or data plan to LTE or something, though that will obviously help. No, I’m more interested in showing you how to get to most major websites with just a bit less typing involved.
It’s pretty simple and straightforward, to be honest. Here’s how.
Mobile Safari has a great sharing feature, letting you send a web page to anyone via iMessage, Twitter, Facebook, or email. The bummer thing is, though, that if you hit Mail, your iPhone will wrest control from you and make you send via the built-in iOS Mail App.
But you don’t want to use Mail. You prefer the Gmail app, right? Of course you do. How the heck, then, can you send that adorable picture of a cute pug puppy via email using the Gmail app? With a secret bookmark, of course.
One of the more useful features of modern browsing, the AutoFill function started on the desktop, then made its way to the iPhone and iPad a while ago. It lets your iOS device hold all the form data, populating the oft-repeated fields with your personal info like your name and address. That way, you don’t have to type it all in all the time, which is brilliant on a mobile device with a small touch-keyboard.
When you share a device like an iPAd, like I do with my kids at home, you may not want to share this personal data. Until a proper multi-user experience comes to iOS, the best way to get around this is to clear out your personal info, and then turn off AutoFill. Here’s how.
One of the limitations of the iPhone and iPod touch version of Safari has always been a lack of tabbed browsing. Granted, there’s only so much space on the smaller mobile screen, but all the same – tabbed browsing is great.
So is being able to open tabs in the background, so that you can continue reading Cult oF Mac posts, but still save an interesting link in another tab, just like you can on the Mac with a Command-click.
When you tap and hold on any link on a web page, Safari’s default behavior on the iPhone is to ask if you want to open the link, open it in a new page, Add to Reading List, or Copy it. Choosing Open in New Page will do just that, but in the foreground, taking you away from your current web page.
Luckily, with a simple Settings tweak, you can change this default behavior.
With all the sites we visit on a daily basis on our iPhones and iPads, we are capturing and storing where we visit in the background of every web page we see. You may want to clear your browsing history or other stored web data from your iPhone from time to time, if you’re of a security or privacy turn of mind.
So, you’re surfing along on your iPhone or iPad and you want to email your buddy a fantastic new site that you’ve found. You hit the Share button, and then curse because it sends it to the default iOS Mail app. But you use the Gmail app! How will you fix this horrible, first-world problem? With a bookmark, of course.
This one’s for those of you who have to deal with that one person. You know the one? That guy who always reads off the “www” part of web addresses. As in, “go to double-u double-u double-u A-O-L dot com.”
If you want to blow that person’s mind (and maybe get yourself to websites just a bit faster with iOS via Safari’s mobile web browser), here’s how to do it.
Using the real web on an iPhone is a wonderful thing. Apple has made their iOS browser, Safari, into a solid powerhouse of web-browsing goodness, ready to use out of the box, accessible in many ways to many kinds of people. It’s a great app.
And yet, the size of the iPhone screen, iPhone 5 included, can be a bit cramped. Add in the top address bar and the bottom button bar, and you have even less screen real estate to use for actual browsing. That’s why Apple included a new feature in iOS: full screen browsing.
I got really used to using Chrome on my desktop and laptop Macs before Mountain Lion came out with Safari 6 at its heels. I try to use Chrome on my iOS devices, for the history and bookmark synching, I really do, but more often than not, I end up using mobile Safari, because a) it’s the default for all clicked links in other apps and b) I really, really like Reader.
Now, if you’re using Safari on both your Mac and your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you’ll be pleased to know that you can access the tabs you’ve opened on your iPhone on your Mac, and vice versa, as long as you’re using iCloud. Let’s take a look at how we do this.