How to customize text in Safari for Mac

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Customize text in Safari.
Customize text in Safari.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

You probably spend more time in Safari than in any other app on your Mac. Some people I know almost never use anything else, even typing their blog posts into a text field in the browser. The good news is that Safari is an excellent browser, and makes it really easy to read most sites on the web. Today, though, we’ll see how to make things even easier to read. With a few quick tweaks in Safari’s settings, we can customize text for any website.

The gold -standard for easy in-browser reading is the Reader View, which cleans out everything from web articles but the words and the pictures. It’s beautiful, like a minimal magazine page, but sometimes it’s a bit too minimal. Also, Reader view doesn’t work well on forums, or sites like Reddit, and it isn’t even available on some sites. For these times, we need to do a little bit of work.

Text size

Our first trick is to change the text size on a site. Safari on the Mac supports smart zoom, like on iOS. Double tap onto the body of the page with two fingers, and it’ll zoom in just enough that the text and images take up the whole Safari window. That’s fine, but it cuts out other page elements, or maybe makes them too big.

Instead, you can zoom just the text. This can be done in several ways. You can hit Option-Command + and Option-Command – on the keyboard to make the text bigger and smaller. You can also go to Menubar > View while holding down the option key, and select Make Text Bigger and Make Text Smaller.

Or, best of all for folks who prefer the trackpad to the keyboard, you can add text-size buttons to Safari’s own toolbar.

Add text buttons to Safari’s toolbar

Drag these buttons to your toolbar.
Drag these buttons to your toolbar.
Photo: Cult of Mac

To add text buttons to Safari’s toolbar, first right click in an empty are of the toolbar and click Customize Toolbar… when the option pops up. Then find the icon in the picture above, and drag it to the toolbar. Hit Done, and you now have zoom buttons in Safari’s toolbar.

Permanently customize individual sites

Customize a site to look just how you want it.
Customize a site to look just how you want it.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Instead of always adjusting the text on your favorite sites, every time you visit, you can just set them once using Safari’s Settings for This Website option. Just right click in the URL address bar of the page, and pick Settings for This Website from the options. You can’t set a custom text size, but you can set a custom zoom, choose whether to use content blockers, and allow or deny permission to use the camera, the microphone, and your location.

You can also choose to always open the site in Reader View, and to allow or disable outplaying videos. I like to have Reeder view set for sites that have either a very busy layout, or which pop up a bunch of annoying messages on-screen after you’ve been reading for five seconds. Reader view cures this hostile disease.

Customize text options

Safari is very customizable, so you can make it suit just how you like to work and read. And the best part id that you don’t need to really plan anything. Just correct a site, using the tools mentioned above. whenever it annoys you, and Safari will soon fit you like an old pair of slippers.