Written by: hexley on Tuesday February 12th 2008, 4:39 AM
Filed under: Applications,OS X 10.5,Safari
Our past post ‘Safari or Firefox on OS X, which should you be using?‘, drew quite a bit of discussion. It is good to know the next feature tutorial will be one that is of interest to all our users. Given that Safari is probably the one application most new users spend the most time in, it seems important to try to make that time as comfortable as possible.
Safari is a great browser, even with its default settings. With a few small changes to the settings and preferences, you can custom tailor it to be even better.
New windows open with:
The first time you launch Safari, it will set itself up with some very basic default settings. You will also notice that a page automatically loads. In the case of OS X 10.5 Leopard it is going to load Apples website.
While this is nice, it is important to know you can change this behavior. You have a couple options. You can load a custom web address, or a blank page. This behavior is controlled in your preferences, which you access from the Safari menu item
As you can see, I have set mine to an empty page. While an empty page may seem dull and boring, it does serve a purpose. If you are so inclined, you can set it to whatever you want.
For example, you may like to check your email first thing when you start your browser. In that case, set it to the web address of your web-based email. The only caveat is that every new page window you create in Safari will always open to that page. I tend to find this slows me down.
If I open a new page, I have to wait for my favorite page to load. This then slows down my ability to go to a new page. If a new window starts out blank, it is ready for me immediately.
There are four options to how new windows open:
1) Home Page, which you specify in the Home Page field.
2) Empty Page, which will simply show you a blank white page.
3) Same Page, which will open a new window identical to your current one.
4) Bookmarks, which will let you see all your bookmarks in your browser.
Remove history items:
Also in the General Preferences is “Remove History Items”. This defines how long it will take before past sites you have visited are expired. Safari has a menu item called “History” which keeps track of every single page you have visited.
Your history is a handy tool. Who can really remember the web address of every site they visit? I certainly cannot. As long as you can remember a fragment of the address, you should be able to locate it in your history.
Set the timing of history removal to whatever suits your needs. I find that after about a week, I no longer would ever need to go back to a site I was at sometime earlier. If I do need to do so, I will usually bookmark it, which will be remembered forever.
Some experience Safari getting sluggish over time, and have linked that behavior to excessive history items. One week sounds like a sane amount of time. Visited sites are also “recycled”, so as long as you keep visiting a site, it will be moved back to the top of your history, thereby starting your expire time over again.
Set downloaded files to:
Prior to OS X 10.5 Leopard, your system was not set up with a special folder called “Downloads”. Since most of you readers are on Leopard, Safari should be defaulting to saving your downloads into your downloads folder.
I find this a perfect place to store your downloaded files. About the only other place I ever see people set this to is their Desktop. The idea being that you can see the file immediately as it is being downloaded, and do not have to navigate to a special folder.
Download file location is entirely up to you. Whatever works best for how you use your computer is where you should set it to. I just happen to think the default setting is well thought out.
Remove download list items:
If you go to the Window menu in Safari, and select “Downloads” it will show you a small floating window called “Downloads”.
The download manager window has some very useful functions. For the time being, just be aware that it lists the files you have downloaded.
The preferences for this floating window allow you to define how often that download window is cleared of listings. I have mine set to clear it when I quit Safari. If you do frequent downloading, you may want to set this to clear as soon as the file has finished downloading.
Open “safe” files after downloading:
In the past, Safari would open nearly every file you downloaded, automatically. Recently, some people with ill intentions have found you can exploit this and automatically run malicious software, or even a virus.
While I am entirely unaware of any wide scale situation in which this has been exploited, it is safer to simply leave this setting checked. Safari knows which files are safe, like images and movies, and which could be dangerous. In the case of a potentially dangerous file, you will have to manually open the file.
Open links from applications:
Since we have not covered tabs, and what they are, I only want you to be aware of this setting. When you click on a link, it usually replaces the current site you are looking at, and shows you the new page. Not all links come from Safari. Word files, applications, and a few other non-web browser files can at times have links to websites in them. This setting defines what happens when you click on those links.
Our next post is going to jump from defining what the preferences do, to setting a few options to tweak Safari into telling you a little more about what is going on.
I anticipate this being greater than ten posts in total, with the idea of breaking them up into small sections that are easier to digest and remember. Stay tuned, I have a feeling the next post will reveal some interesting settings.
so far so good!!!!!Comment by maure 02.12.08 @ 8:01 AM
Thank you, I didm learn some new things.Comment by Julius Hjulian 02.12.08 @ 8:25 AM
I found this very interesting and learned some new things. Thanks.Comment by Pat 02.12.08 @ 10:47 AM
I’m new to Mac, these newsletters are just great. Even an old retired guy can learn with this. Thanks a bunch and keep them coming.Comment by Gary 02.12.08 @ 2:23 PM
@maure, @Julius Hjulian, @Pat, @Gary
Thanks so much for the support, keep reading, we have a ton more content coming your way very soon.
I’m a bit confused on the New Windows section. I’m not sure what is meant by new window vs new page window. Does this mean not a new tab?
My preference is to have one browser window open and multiple tabs open. In preferences I always choose the open link in new tab. When I’m reading an article and it has a link to another. I would normally right-click and choose to open that link in a new tab. How would I do this in Safari?Comment by Donna 02.13.08 @ 7:59 AM
@Donna, “New Window” is just a new Safari browser instance. So while you are used to using tabs, and only have one Safari window open at a time, it is in fact possible to have another. You can also have multiple tabs in that window as well.
If you have your preferences set to open all links in a new tab, I do not think you need to bother with with the right-click and clicking to open that link in a new tab. Assuming I understand you correct, that should happen with a normal click.
We will talk in great detail about tabs tomorrow, the post goes live at 12:01 AM PST. However, in the meantime, you could also hold the command key down, and issue a single left-click with the mouse, and that will open a link in a new tab as well.
I hope this helps clarify the matter, thanks for commenting.Comment by Scott Haneda 02.13.08 @ 8:16 AM
Now if only I could figure out how to get Google to open links in a “new” window, it would be awesome.
Google has a preference to open links in a new window, and it works on Windows IE.
On the Mac, it uses one window, and if you happen to click on a series of links they use the same window and navigates you away from the link you clicked on previously.
Personally, I think it’s a bug, but I am not sure if it is a Safari bug or a Google bug.Comment by Ron 02.13.08 @ 2:15 PM
@Ron, I just set my google prefs to open all links in a new window, and it does just that. In the html of the search result page, I see ‘target=_blank’ which is the code that tells any browser to open links in a new window.
I would try a few things, go into your prefs and into the security section, click on show cookies, and search in there for ‘google’, you should see some with a name of PREF. Delete those, quit safari, and set your prefs again in google, that may fix it.
With the new preference set, when you hover over a search result, what does the status bar say? Does it make note that it will be trying to open in a new window?
Our Amazon ads off to the right are set to open in a new window, can you click once on any of those, and tell me if that works?
I am sure with a little more data we can get you through this.Comment by Scott Haneda 02.13.08 @ 8:22 PM
Thanks for the suggestions… I seem to have fixed my Google! I can’t believe I’ve been putting up with that for two years now…
Your ads don’t open in a new window, though.
In the status bar, it says at the end “in a new frame”, but it opens in the same window as your website (not in a frame).Comment by Ron 02.13.08 @ 11:42 PM
@Ron, how did you fix the google issue? The Amazon ads are the only ones that open in a new window, the others generally do not.Comment by Scott Haneda 02.14.08 @ 1:36 AM
To fix the issue with Google, I deleted all of my Google cookies.
When I roll over your Google ads on the right, it says “Go to “http;//xxx…” in another frame”, but when I click on them they take over the current window.
Thanks for your assistance!Comment by Ron 02.14.08 @ 9:27 AM
When you want to click on a link and have it open in a separate tab, you can hit Command (Apple key) while clicking the link. You can enable this feature by going to Safari>Preferences>Tabs.
When I open dukebasketballreport.com a sound bite (first available on the site last November) automatically plays. I can turn it off by going to Safara Preferences, clicking on the security tab and then unchecking “enable plug-ins.” The sound then stops. When I check “enable plug-ins” again the sound bite does not replay and everything is fine until the web site is opened again. Can you suggest a fix to this weirdness?
Current Mac OS and Safari on new iMac G5.
@Tom, I would be hesitant to toggle the plug-in on and off like that. It is a Gloabl setting to Safari, and will stop plug-ins for all sites you visit while it is off.
What are you trying to accomplish? You want no sound byte on that one website, but audio to work on all others?Comment by Scott Haneda 02.19.08 @ 8:27 AM
Scott, thanks for the prompt response.
What I would like to have happen is to stop the one sound bite from loading. I want audio to work whenever I load it, not for an audio file to open automatically.
I have contacted the web site about the problem but have not had a response.
@Tom, welcome to the world of web publishers who do not care about what their users want. They will force their agenda on you no matter how annoying it is. MySapce is a good example with their auto-play feature of users audio.
About the only thing you can do is to tell the site you will not visit it until they change their policy. If Enough people do this, they may change.
In a more advanced post, we are going to talk about ways to block certain things in Safari, with a 3rd party tool. You may be able to block that audio file.
As it stands now, audio and video can both be set to auto-play on any website, and there is little you can do about it.Comment by Scott Haneda 02.19.08 @ 9:18 AM
Thanks Scott. Really appreciate your help. I love the site and will just have to put up with the inconvenience.
It’s strange that the audio only loads on my iMac and not my wife’s.Evidently the problem is with my setup only.
Will using the toggle switch in Safari/preferences to turn the sound off and then immediately toggling back on harm Safari?
Thanks again for your help.
@Tom, Toggling your Safari plug in prefs will have no harm on Safari, though some sites may behave incorrectly.Comment by Scott Haneda 02.19.08 @ 9:54 AM
Here’s something I’d really like some help with. Recently Safari will only play the audio on Quicktime files–no video at all. Firefox, however, plays all Quicktime files perfectly. I have a PowerMac G4 running 10.4.11. Anybody have any thoughts on what’s happening?
Thanks in advance.
I recently updated to Safari 3.1(5525.13) and now have a problem with the Finder when I first turn on my computer. I am unable to use any of the drop down menus in the Finder, but after a while I have access to the menus. Is there a fix for this problem?
@Ron, I am just about to run the update myself, and use it as a way to write a post about Software Update.
How long does it take to give yourself access to the menus? If you look in your Utilities folder, there is an application called “Activity Monitor.app”, open that, and you can tell it to list running processes. You can also sort them by the ones using the most CPU time. This may provide a clue as to what is stalling out your computer.
If that does not work, come back and let us know and I will see what else I can come up with.Comment by Scott Haneda 03.19.08 @ 7:39 PM
I’m trying to change my home page.
I’m in Safari, but when I got to preferences the window that comes up says “advanced”. How do I make it so the one that says “General” pops up?
@Tom, just click on the General icon at the top of the preferences window.Comment by Scott Haneda 09.24.08 @ 4:05 PM
Thank you for your response, but there isn’t a “General Icon” at the top of the preferences window. It’s nothing like the window pictured above. In the advanced window that pops up the only options it gives me are: “Never use font smaller than_”, “style sheet (none selected)”, and “proxies”.
Any other ideas what I could do?Comment by Tom 09.25.08 @ 1:01 PM
@Tom, could you email in a screenshot of the window so I can see what you are talking about?Comment by Scott Haneda 09.25.08 @ 2:39 PM
I’m not sure how I attach the screenshot. I just dragged the picture into this box. Hope it works.
/Users/motnitram/Desktop/Picture 1.pngComment by Tom 09.27.08 @ 12:22 PM
@Tom, it looks like you are not using a current version of Safari. There is a small button or chicklet in the upper right of the window in Safari prefs, that will show the top header.
The version of Safari that ships with Leopard, does not allow you to toggle the header off. I would click that button, and you should be back in business.Comment by Scott Haneda 09.27.08 @ 7:47 PM
Thanks! It worked! I thought I had clicked that small button or chicklet in the upper, but I obviously didn’t. Thanks again.Comment by Tom 09.28.08 @ 10:28 AM
Can anyone tell me how to turn off the query suggestion drop down from the search box? I’m using Mac OSX, in Google. Even though I check “do not provide query suggestions” in preferences, and “save preferences” they still persist. A maddening feature!!!Comment by Jimmy Longacre 09.29.08 @ 8:08 AM
To turn off google suggestion, use:Comment by foo 11.17.08 @ 10:53 AM
Hello, I have the same proble as Tom. When i choose preferences i only get the advanced tab. The is absolutely no way as far as i can see to select the other tabs. I just un-clean installed 10.5. And am quite the expert user but now i’m at a loss… HELP PLEASE!
My SAFARI 1.0.3 for my very old imac10.2 will not stop quiting on me. I have tried everything I know. It pops up for 1 second and quits. I dont know if i clicked on somethimg I wasnt supposed to. Now I only have the E web and I can only LOOK at my google messages,no deleting,no relying nothing! what do I do,please HELP ME!!!!!Comment by cynthia 12.16.09 @ 9:42 PM
@cynthia The hard part about your problem is that I do not have any access to an OS 10.2 machine, let alone Safari 1. Have you ran software update to make sure you can not get a more current version of Safari?
At this point, my only suggestion would be to quit Safari, which seems to be the simple part and then start looking for the preferences that control Safari. Once you find those, move them aside, or delete them if you are feeling brave. See if that solves it for you.
Possible locations for the preferences are in your Library folder, you should see a Preferences folder, files named com.apple.Safari.plist and also any folders named Safari will be suspect.
With the preferences removed, the next time you open Safari it will make them new again. You will see a file called bookmarks.plist. You may want to hold onto that, as that contains your bookmarks. There may be a chance that corruption in that file is causing this, and you will have to be with a clean slate of bookmarks.
Good luck.Comment by Scott Haneda 12.16.09 @ 10:29 PM
Thank you for your help…. I have went into the libery find a preferencePanes, whatever that is!!! I am a dummy on this computer. Im trying to delete all this stuff but dont know how. I dont care about anything on here just wont safari to work! cant find safari preference,cause I cant open it long enough.Comment by cynthia 12.17.09 @ 12:01 AM
@cynthia PreferencePanes are not the same things as Prefernces. You are looking for a folder called Preferences and a file called com.apple.Safari.plist. You are also looking for a folder called Safari.
You do not need Safari open to delete these files, Safari should actually be closed. From my previous reply:
Possible locations for the preferences are in your Library folder, you should see a Preferences folder, files named com.apple.Safari.plist and also any folders named Safari will be suspect.
If the file does not have the name “safari” in it, I would leave it alone. I certainly wold not delete files in the Preference Pane folder.
Hope that helps.Comment by Scott Haneda 12.17.09 @ 12:20 AM
I FOUND IT!! THANK YOU VERY MUCH COULDNT HAVE DONE ITWITHOUT YOU!! THANK YOUComment by cynthia 12.17.09 @ 10:36 AM
we just started using safari on our XP pc. It is much better and faster than the internet explorer we had been using for years. BUT…I can’t access the preferences. I would like to change the opening screen to a particular web page rather than the apple one it goes to now.Comment by gary strutin 01.08.10 @ 7:00 AM
Are you stating you can’t locate the preferences, or that there is some other issue? The more details that is given, the better chances that a solution may be offered up.
actually, I can’t locate the preference screen.
GaryComment by gary strutin 01.08.10 @ 12:52 PM
Preferences for the Windows version of Safari are explained by Apple in this Safari 4 for Windows Document.
i have problems with safari, i cant open some webs using safari.Comment by kendrick 08.27.10 @ 11:59 AM
I’m a PC to Mac convert and have used Safari on the PC where it shows the “file, edit, view, history, bookmarks, window, help” menu AND no little “gear” or “cog” icon where you can access the Preferences!! How do I get that icon??? Please help!Comment by Karen 11.26.10 @ 2:36 AM
@Karen, in Safari on the Mac you can access the preferences with the command-comma keys or you can go to the “Safari” menu and select “Preferences”.Comment by hexley 12.08.10 @ 3:29 AM
Everything is great. I’m also new to the Apple and have been struggling. I no onger feel alone. Howver, I can’t find the “sharing” button under preferences. I’m being undermined by Apache. Please help.Comment by Geraldine 10.01.11 @ 5:24 PM
On my iPad (first gen.) how can I clear history? and prohibit cookies?Comment by Ron 10.06.11 @ 8:00 AM
@Gerladine, the Sharing button is in your System Preferences. Open that, and click on the “Sharing” icon, it is the 3rd row, last icon for me. http://i.imgur.com/hgi0Z.gif
I am not sure what you mean by “undermined by Apache” but Apache is a web server, and more than likely not something you should be running. I would avoid it and consider it a very advanced feature. If it is causing you problems, disable it by unchecking “Web Sharing” is the same “Sharing” preferences area I linked the image to.
Unless you need to share files with another user, you can actually disable most, if not all of the checkboxes in the sharing preferences. If you do want to share files with another user on a Mac or PC, you will need to click ON the “File Sharing” checkmark in the “Sharing” preferences.
If your goal is Mac to PC sharing, that can become a challenge as you also will need to make changes on the PC to allow it to share files. That can mean changes to the PC’s sharing, firewall, and virus settings, which is a lot.
In those cases, as well as in many Mac cases, I suggest uses simply install DropBox for file sharing. It is free and offers much more than just sharing of files. I rely on it daily. You can join through my referral link here: http://db.tt/sSd7dtZ
I will also email you an invite in case that is easier for you. By all means, try to use Apple’s built in sharing, but look over what DropBox has to offer, as for free, it may have other value to you than the built in file sharing of Mac OS X.Comment by hexley 10.09.11 @ 5:35 PM
@Ron, you clear your Safari history on an iPad in the General Preferences under the Safari section.
You can also prohibit cookies there as well, however, doing so will make near all but the simplest of websites stop working for you.Comment by Scott Haneda 10.10.11 @ 1:14 AM
I’m using Safari 5.1.5 on Lion. I have set (many many times) search engine preferences to Google but it consistently loads Bing
I want to delete existing preferences and start again. How do I do this?
I’m assuming you have done the usual obvious changes like altering the preferences to change from Bing to Google?
If not, give that a try.
When that doesn’t work, select the Reset Safari menu from the Safari menu. You will be given several options of what to reset. Checking all will restore Safari to how it was when you first booted your computer.
Start out a little conservative, check off a few obvious reset items like preferences or cookies, quit Safari, and do a search test.
If none of those work, reset all and see how that goes. If a reset all doesn’t work, I think I have one other option.
Here is what you will be looking at for the first suggestion.
Next up, quit all browsers and open Chrome. Look in the preferences for Chrome and set the default search engine to Google. Do a few searches in Chrome and quit.
Re-launch Chrome and now look to the Chrome preferences to set Chrome to the default browser. Yes, that’s correct, we are changing the default browser to a non-Safari browser.
With that done, quit Chrome and open a link. Make sure Chrome open on its own. Make sure Chrome is using google. If it is, one last trip to the preferences of Chrome to set Safari as the default browser again, and that should do it.
If none of those work, create a new account on your computer. Login to that account and see if the problem follows you.
If it does, the problem is at a System Level. If the problem is not there, the issue is a local account one, and will be solved by fixing it in the local account, or moving your data from the “corrupt” local account, to the newly created clean account.
Let us know what your results were.Comment by Scott Haneda 04.01.12 @ 11:31 AM
Hi @emily, hope all is well,
Every “Application” on the Mac should have it’s own distinct preferences menu.
There are very few specific apps that won’t have a preferences menu. As a hypothetical example, imagine an app that does no more than move the mouse to the dead center of screen on press of command-shift-C.
Eventually that app will get preferences due to developer frustration or user feedback. Someone will eventually desire to change the keyboard command. ( though altering keyboard commands as of Mac OS X Lion can now be done natively in the OS itself. Here is a list of the top keyboard shortcuts which I recommend all users memorize.
There are some other oddities within the System Preferences which control how the system itself works. Mouse, keyboard, display, etc are just a few of the Preferences in the System Preference Panes. ( A.K.A. Sys Pref Pane or just Pref Pane or System Prefs )
Finally, there are applications — each application most likely will have a preference menu.
My personal method to locate a menu rather than digging through ~20 menus each with sub-menu’s is to Press Command-? Or select “help” from the far right menu. A text input field will display. Type in the first few letters or a “sub-string” of the feature you are looking for.
The help menu will then visually/physically spawn open the menu and select it. You can press return or enter and it will be the same as if you had manually dug around for hours.
The one slightly tricky part is the Mac OS X Finder. The Finder is a semi-faceless application. But an application nonetheless. You don’t need the finder to run most apps, but may be limited in some file open/save dialogs. ( In general, the Finder should be running at all times sans perhaps a server setup that loads only to the login window yet still allowing background faceless apps such as Apache, MySQL, Postresql, Named/BIND, and other server style apps ) But the Finder itself does have a preference menu. This contrasts what you see when no applications are visible. Icon size, position, labels, spring loaded folders, new windows open at what defined location, amongst much more.
For your Safari issue, activate Safari to the foreground app, confirming you have by making sure to the right of the Apple icon in the upper left corner of your screen reads, in this case “Safari”. Every active app will show its name in the top most menu bar directly to the right of the Apple Logo if it is the front most application. This is true 100% of the time baring application crashes , application stalls, application hangs, and application freezes. All problems are usually alleviated by selecting “Force Quit” from The Finder menu.
Another method, the one I use most, is a keyboard shortcut. If I need to view Safari Prefs. I would press command-space to open spotlight search. I would then type “Sa” for “Safari” which will find Safari and press enter to launch or bring to foreground the Safari app.. ( I use a dedicated app named LaunchBar ) with my desired app in the foreground ( no application window need be open, merely the app’s name listed to the right of the Apple Menu ) I then press command-comma.
Command-comma is, as far as I know, globally trustable to open the preferences to any app in the foreground. You can skip the search via Spotlight, or LaunchBar as in my case.
I find LaunchBar an indispensable utility. It’s not hard to learn — it just works.
Tuning it in custom ways can be confusing. *Hint: if you are a bit OCD about order and cleanliness, you may not like that LaunchBar returns many results that to you might appear irrelevant.
You can alter and change this, though even with my penchant for organizing of files, I leave LaunchBar preferences modtly alone. For most of its use, it is “out of site; out of mind”, meaning I won’t even see the clutter if you could even call it that. Once you learn it, LaunchBar is like typing, you stop looking at the keys. In this case, LaunchBar gets smarter the more you use it, reducing that clutter.
I suppose the best and fastest answer is learn command-comma to access preferences. 99.9% of apps use this command combo. The others are rare, server apps, faceless apps, or may simply lack preferences.
*I’m strongly endorsing LaunchBar. I get no affiliate commission, commission, kickback, or similar. I am simply promoting that which I like through word of mouth/web.
I hope that helps.