How to Customize Safari in macOS Big Sur

By 3 weeks ago

Safari has traditionally been regarded as the top performing web browser on the Mac. Surprisingly, macOS Big Sur has improved it. Safari is now not just up to 50% faster than Chrome, but it is also considerably more power-efficient than before.

All of this, however, will be for naught until you customise the browser to work the way you want it to. So, in macOS Big Sur, you’ll learn everything you need to know about modifying the most significant parts of Safari.

Customize the Safari Start Page

The start page is the first thing you’ll see whenever you launch Safari. With macOS Big Sur, it’s also a lot richer in detail, and you’d have already noticed the following sections:

  • Favorites: Shows your top-level bookmarks.
  • Frequently Visited: Displays sites that you’ve visited frequently.
  • Privacy Report: Lists the number of trackers that the browser has blocked.
  • Siri Suggestions: Links to websites based on machine learning.
  • Reading List: Thumbnails from your Reading List.
  • iCloud Tabs: Open Safari tabs from other Apple devices.

You can quickly declutter the start page if it appears to be excessively congested. In the lower-right corner of the screen, select the Options button. Then uncheck the boxes next to the portions you’d like to get rid of. You might, for example, remove everything but the Frequently Visited and Reading List sections.

Now for the fun part: in Safari, you can modify the default start page background image. To see them all, use the horizontal scroll bar on the Options fly-horizontal out’s scroll bar. You can also add your own photos by selecting the Add thumbnail and selecting an image from your Mac.

Customize New Safari Windows

When you launch a new window in Safari on macOS Big Sur, you can set it to display something other than the start page. To access the browser’s Preferences pane, go to Safari > Preferences on the Mac’s menu bar.

Under the General section, use the pull-down menu next to New windows open with and pick between the following options:

  • Start Page: Opens the default start page.
  • Homepage: Displays any website that you want.
  • Empty Page: Opens a window with nothing in it.
  • Same Page: Loads the same page in your current window.
  • Tabs for Favorites: Loads all your favorites in separate tabs.
  • Choose tabs folder: Loads all pages from a specific Favorites or Bookmarks folder.

If you select Homepage, enter the URL of the website you wish to visit in the area next to Homepage. You can also add a Home button to the Safari toolbar to quickly return to the homepage—we’ll show you how to accomplish that next.

You can also use the Safari opens with pull-down option to choose how Safari opens when you start a new browsing session.

A new window (the default), A new private window (great if you’re concerned about privacy), All windows from the previous session (if you want to resume where you left off), and All non-private windows from the previous session are all options.

Customize the Safari Toolbar on macOS Big Sur

By default, the Safari toolbar, which comprises the address bar and adjacent areas, displays a few fast options including Sidebar, Back/Forward, and Share. It’s also extremely adaptable.

To access the toolbar customization pane, go to View > Customize Toolbar. After that, you may start dragging new items into the toolbar—Home, Mail, Websites Preferences, and so on—or dragging controls out of it those you don’t want.

You can also swap things around, use the Flexible Space block to add empty spaces between icons, and adjust the position of the address bar (or even remove it altogether). To save your changes, select Done.

If you want to revert to the old appearance, simply drag the default set from the toolbar customization pane’s bottom and drop it into the Safari toolbar.

Customize How Tabs Work

When using Safari, you’ll frequently find yourself with dozens of open tabs. There are a few things you can do to alter the behaviour of tabs.

To begin, go to Safari’s Preferences pane. You may choose how new tabs open in the General section by using the menu next to New tabs open with and picking one of the following options:

  • Start Page: Opens the default start page
  • Empty Page: Opens a blank tab
  • Homepage: Opens the Homepage
  • Same Page: Duplicates your current tab

The Tabs section of the Preferences pane also provides a handful of options that allow you to determine tab behavior. For instance, you can check the box next to When a new tab or window opens, make it active if you want Safari to shift focus to new tabs automatically.

Customize Safari Smart Search

You can use the URL bar or the Smart Search box in Safari to search for anything. It generates search results using Google by default.

Switch to the Search area of the browser’s Preferences window to update this. Then select Yahoo, Bing, or DuckDuckGo from the drop-down option next to Search engine.

Because the Smart Search field is already cluttered with search engine ideas, Safari’s own suggestions, favourites, and top hits, uncheck some of the boxes next to the relevant options next to Smart Search Field to clear it out.

Also, go to the Advanced area and tick the Show entire website address option to have Safari display full website URLs in the address bar.

Customize Safari Using Extensions

Safari’s extension support is limited in comparison to Chrome and Firefox. However, there is still a lot that can help you improve your browsing experience.

Honey, for example, can be used to find great offers, Grammarly to correct errors, Evernote Web Clipper to add items to your notes, and so on. You can also use a content blocker to prevent Safari from loading adverts and other undesirable items.

To find and download extensions from the Mac App Store, go to Safari > Safari Extensions. Then, in the browser’s Preferences pane, go to the Extensions area and manage them. The Safari toolbar will display the majority of active extensions.

Customize Websites in Safari

Safari has a number of options for altering the way websites work. Begin by going to View > Customize Toolbar and adding a Website Preferences icon to the toolbar. Then, after loading a website, pick the Website Preferences button to display the personalization choices available.

You can, for example, opt to access the website in Reader mode, load it with or without content blockers, adjust the page zoom, and so on. You can also change the permissions for the camera, microphone, and location.

Safari will remember your choices and load websites the way you want them to be loaded every time. Go to the Websites section of the browser Preferences to manage sites you’ve configured or to apply your preferences to all websites in general.

Work With More Safari Tweaks

Aside from the alterations listed above, Safari’s Preferences pane allows you to make a variety of other changes. You can alter the default download location, change how AutoFill works on web forms, and adjust your privacy and security settings, among other things. Apple has done an excellent job of organising things, so don’t be afraid to tinker around with the settings.


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