Written by: hexley on Friday February 29th 2008, 1:45 AM
Filed under: Applications,OS X 10.4,OS X 10.5,Safari
Since the beginning of the web, sites have been created with two major themes. First and foremost was the propagation of information. In the beginning, the web was largely text only, with perhaps a few sparse images for context.
Today’s web browsing experience is as much driven by beauty and design as it is by putting out information. People have been pushing the limits of design in a web browser since the old days of modem connections and slow internet speeds.
While a browser is rather flexible in what can be displayed; all browsers do have various nuances in how they display a site. A well designed website should look near identical in every browser you view it in, whether it be Safari, FireFox, or Internet Explorer. The great news is Safari and FireFox both do a great job at trying to follow standards and give you a high quality viewing experience.
Today’s tutorial will cover one of Safari’s preferences that gives you a small amount of control to over-ride how a site is displayed. In general, these Appearance preferences should be reserved for those with eyesight disabilities. However, many people will at times find a site has type that is too small to read; Safari has you covered, and provides simple tools to make your reading a little more pleasurable.
Enlarging and shrinking fonts
While in Safari, navigate to the view menu, you will see three items, “Make Text Bigger”, “Make Text Normal Size”, and “Make Text Smaller”.
Selecting the larger or smaller option will do as you would suspect. If a website is difficult for you to read, select the “Make Text Larger” option, and it will bump up the font size. If the type is too large, and you would like to be able to read more of a site in one glance, you of course can make the type smaller. Finally, the “Make Text Normal Size” will bring everything back to how the website designer intended you to view the site.
While these options can make a site easier for you to read, it is important to know the layout, or the design of the site may suffer. Not all sites can gracefully shift their layout to accommodate the extra, or lack of space that a font size change may cause. As long as you are aware that you inspired the change, and an ill placed image is the cause of your font size adjustments, you should be fine. Also remember, it is very simple to change the site back to its original format by selecting “Make Text Normal Size”.
Changing fonts with the keyboard for efficiency
Many people will use these settings often, making them a perfect case for keyboard shortcuts. To make text larger, just press the command-plus keyboard combination, smaller is command-minus, and to bring it all back to normal, command-zero.
The Appearance preferences
Selecting the Safari menu, and down to Preferences, will bring up a palette that has numerous options. Over time we will cover them all, for now, I would like to concentrate on the Appearance portion.
Safari’s standard font
The first option of the Appearance preferences is setting of the “Standard Font”. By default, it is set to Times 16. You are free to change this to anything you like. In most cases, you will be best serves to leave this setting as it is.
“Times” refers to the name of the font, and “16″ refers to the size. This should not be confused with the font being 16 times larger.
When a developer makes a website, it is designed around a browsers default settings. Safari’s default of Times 16 is taken into consideration when the developer is building the site.
If you make this larger or small, all websites will be shown either larger or smaller in regards to the fonts. This can wreak havoc on sites that have strict design structures. At times, it can even make a site more difficult to navigate, as the larger fonts can push graphics elements off the page.
If you are burdened with a vision impairment of some form, I would go against my recommendation of leaving the setting as is. People with vision disabilities should do whatever it takes to make their internet experiences as comfortable as possible.
Safari’s fixed width font
In the same area is a setting to control Safari’s fixed width font settings. This has the same effect on fonts as the standard font setting with one exception. It only affects a certain type of font. A fixed width font is one in which the width of every character is identical to that of another character. For example, a skinny letter “i” will take up the same width as a fat letter “m”. I am again recommending this setting be left alone, unless you have a specific need to change it.
Display images when page opens
In the past, people have written in and asked how they can speed up their browser when they are on a slow internet connection. This setting is one such way. Un-checking the “Display images when page opens” will disable all images from loading.
In general, a page will load much faster with this setting off. If a site only has superfluous images, and they are of no use to understanding the content, you can turn this setting off.
The trouble with this setting is it is indeed valuable, but the difficulty in accessing it makes it near worthless to use. There are many sites I would not mind reading without images. The downside is it takes longer to visit the setting and locate it in the preferences than it does for me to sit patiently and wait for the website to load. Worse, when I want to turn it back on again, I have to repeat the same steps. Time wasted if you ask me.
Safari character encoding
The last preference in regards to Safari’s appearance has to do with character encoding. If you read English text, this should be left alone, and set to “Western (ISO Latin 1)”. If you read in a foreign language, set the character encoding to what is most logical.
Keep in mind; this is a default character encoding. Websites can and do over-ride this setting and force the encoding they feel is most appropriate for the language the site is written in.
The Safari Appearance preferences are pretty mundane and simple. In most cases you should leave them as they are. I wanted to point them out as there are people with disabilities, and it is important they are not treated like second-class citizens. Everyone gets old, everyone’s eyes wear out to some degree, and the Appearance settings may help you tolerate this inevitable problem.
I just thought it would be perhaps worth spelling out that where the Standard font is shown as “Times 16″, “Times” refers to the name of the font and “16″ is the sizes of it.
As opposed to the possible mis-interpretation that the font is “16 times” bigger.
@IanF, yes, that could be confusing. To me, I would think the fact that the word “Times” was in the font face Times as well, would be the give away. That is exactly the line of thinking I want to avoid, you raise a great point, we made an edit to reflect that.
Sometimes we all get tunnel vision, thanks again.Comment by Scott Haneda 02.29.08 @ 7:00 AM
I have found the Skia font to be a very good one for Safari. Much easier on the eyes than Times.Comment by Joseph 03.01.08 @ 1:10 PM
@Scott Haneda”If you read English text, this should be left alone, and set to “Western (ISO Latin 1)”.”
If I set Safari to the above setting, punctuation does not display properly. I find I have to use Unicode (UTF-8). Not sure why.Comment by MikeP 03.05.08 @ 5:32 AM
when I send an email (hotmail) to someone, I want it to come out larger in size when they receive it. How do I do this?
Thank You in advance.
@barry, if you are using hotmail, you will have to use their limited formatting tools to adjust the font size. If you move to a custom email application, such as Apple’s mail.app, you would be able to do this a with a little more ease. Email is not the best way to reliably format a message to someone. Every email application tends to do things a tad bit different.Comment by Scott Haneda 06.08.08 @ 7:35 PM
i’m having some issues. My Google toolbar is huge! But my address bar is super tiny. It almost looks reversed. Please help!Comment by bb 03.23.09 @ 5:42 AM
Doesn’t anyone have a problem with spontaneous changes in font size as the cursor moves around the screen? This really drives me (and many people I know) nuts, and we can’t figure out how to stabilize the font size.Comment by Veronica McDavid 05.16.09 @ 8:50 AM
While using Safari today, the display font inexplicably changed, no clue why. But what its using, I can barely read. I am trying to change the font back to the default. But when I go to Preferences, the ONLY menu that pops up is “Bookmarks”, weird, huh? Is there another way I can get to the Appearances menu?
If I can’t solve this, I will have to switch browsers, although Safari has been my favorite.
Thanks for any help.Comment by Pat St. Onge 05.16.09 @ 1:30 PM
@Pat I believe you have clicked the small “chicklet” in the upper right of the window, which collapses the top toolbar. Click it again, and the toolbar should come back.Comment by Scott Haneda 05.16.09 @ 9:26 PM
@Veronica, are you use this is not specific to a certain set of sites? Some sites like to make it so when you hover over a link, not only do the links change color, but they change size as well.
Do you have an example?Comment by Scott Haneda 05.16.09 @ 9:28 PM
Thanks Scott!Comment by Pat St. Onge 05.29.09 @ 8:03 AM
My younger brother has messed with the fonts.
I changed the fonts under preferences to the standard ones but on some websites (google and gmail for example) some of the fonts are in this childish font which is super annoying. I can’t seem to find any other font settings and he doesn’t remember how he changed it.
Help anyone?Comment by jordan 07.31.09 @ 8:34 AM
@Jordan If your Safari preferences for fonts are set to Standard Font at Times 16, and you are not getting the correct fonts, it could be a few things. Trying to narrow it down can be a little troubling.
I would perform these steps:
1) Create a new account in OS X, you can call it “test” and login to that account. Does the problem happen in that account? If it does then the issues is deeper than just Safari, if it does not, then the issue is something in your account.
Once you do step #1, you are safe to delete the “test” account.
I am going to assume that the new account will show the fonts correctly. In that case, move to step #2
2) Quit Safari. Open your home folder at /Users/your-user-name and open the Library folder. You will see a folder called Safari. Move that folder to your Desktop. Now, also in the Library folder in your home folder, open the Preferences folder. You will see a file called “com.apple.Safari.plist”, move that file also to your desktop.
3) Now launch Safari. Has the problem gone away? I will suspect that it does. If it does, quit Safari, and move back into the Library folder, the Safari folder. You will see a new one already exists, and will have to delete that one first. Open Safari, most of your settings will now be back. If the problem has gone away, you now know you have a corrupt preferences file. Throw away “com.apple.Safari.plist”, it will have been recreated now.
If the problem is still there, you can go ahead and put the preferences file back in place. You will have to replace the new one that was auto created when Safari noticed you moved the original out of the way.
4) If you have ruled out the Safari folder in Library, and the Preferences file, this means that your fonts are somehow messed up. The trouble is, it could be fonts in your users folder, or fonts higher up in the system area. Let’s start with the above steps, and see where that gets you.Comment by Scott Haneda 07.31.09 @ 12:26 PM
Hi, can someone please help me with the fonts on websites?
I go up to the View Menu in Safari but it shows Zoom In and Zoom Out. So how do I change that to Make Text Bigger and Smaller?
@Kenneth, by selecting “Zoom In” and “Zoom Out” you should also have the text made larger or smaller. At least, that is what happens for me. You may want to try playing with the “Zoom Text Only” Setting.
Perhaps you could provide a more detailed explanation of the problems you are having.
Maybe you are merely asking what to do, in which case, select the item in the menu, or click on the larger/smaller “A” icon in the Safari Toolbar, if it is enabled.Comment by Scott Haneda 11.03.10 @ 2:45 PM
I think its now sorted itself out, thanks for the detailed comment
very much appreciated it. Also I like to say the people on this site are really friendly so thanks.
Thank you for your step by step demonstration to help people like me to understand. I am new to computer and didn’t know what is default text encoding is for, so I try so hard to erase the display of western( ISO Latin 1) exc… I thought it was the porn side so I even paid person to rid of it but he didn’t succeed. But you really help me a lot so thanks again. namsongComment by Namsong 04.09.11 @ 9:27 PM
How do you make images that are too big for the browser automatically shrink down to fit?Comment by Bob 12.16.11 @ 2:51 PM
@Bob If the URL ends in an image format such as .jpg, .gif, or .png then the browser should auto scale the image. Safari does this. If the image is too large, it will be scaled to fit the window. Your mouse pointer will turn to a magnifying glass with a plus symbol on it. Click the image once and it will change the size to 100%. The mouse will now be a magnifying glass with a minus symbol.
One way, is to look for a Safari Extension that is designed to display all images of a page in a new tab. Searching for Safari Extensions will yield lists of extensions in which you can find something in the “images” category.
Probably the easiest would be to right click, or control click on the image, which will cause a contextual menu to pop up. Select the menu listing that says “open image in new tab/window”. At that point, the image will behave as explained in the first paragraph above.
Hope that helps.Comment by Scott Haneda 12.17.11 @ 7:39 PM
In Safari, when I open gmail, the inbox font is too small. It just started doing this. If I magnify it a couple of steps, then that makes the font in other sites too big. So the size of Gmail seems to have gotten out of sync with all other sites. It is annoying because I go back and forth between gmail and other things a lot. This does not happen in Firefox. Thoughts on this? Thanks
I have overlapping text on a few websites like Amazon, etc… I have the standard fonts in place in appearance… how do I fix this? ThanksComment by Pietro 12.31.11 @ 10:03 AM
And more from my Dec 30 post just above: this also applies to Google search. Too small. Magnify it and then other sites are too big.
Goto Safari in your menu.
Next to the first line example, choose select.
Modify the size of the font to your liking.
I would like the highlighted “viewed search results” in Google etc to be in red or green. At the moment the difference between viewed and unviewed results is too subtle for me to see easily.Comment by Clare Harding 02.12.12 @ 2:02 PM