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A Beginner’s Guide for iPhone or iPad Users

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On Apple devices, the default web browser is called Safari. It shares a lot of similar features to other common browsers, like Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. But if you’re new to using Safari, you may feel a little lost because the interface is slightly different to the others.

So, here’s a beginner’s guide on how to use the Safari app to browse the web on your iPhone or iPad.

How to Search for Content in the Safari App

google search on iphone safari app

As with all web browsers, you’ll need to first enable your iPhone’s mobile data or connect to a Wi-Fi network to access the internet.

Then, to search in Safari, simply type a term, phrase, or URL into the Smart Search bar at the bottom of the screen and tap Go on your keyboard. The Smart Search bar is a combination of the address bar and search bar. As you type, you’ll see search suggestions based on your keyword as well as results from your bookmarks and browsing history.

How to Navigate a Webpage in Safari

Once you obtain your search results, you tap on a link you’re interested in. Now let’s look at how you can navigate the webpage once it’s loaded.

How to Jump Back to the Top of Webpage

After swiping to scroll down a long article, you may want to go back up to access the website’s menu. To instantly jump back to the top of the webpage, just tap the topmost edge of your screen.

How to Go Backward (or Forward) a Webpage

After tapping on a link, perhaps the webpage isn’t quite something you’re looking for. To go back to your search results, swipe from left to right from the edge of your screen.

To go forward on a webpage, swipe from right to left instead.

Related: Essential Safari iOS Tips & Tricks for iPhone Users

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How to Reveal the Safari Address Bar

Your Safari address bar is automatically hidden away when you’re scrolling down a webpage. To bring it back, tap the bottom edge of the screen that shows the website’s main URL.

How to Work With Multiple Tabs in the Safari App

Having multiple tabs opened in Safari can help you to compare information between webpages and search for new content without having to close your current webpage. Here’s how to work with multiple tabs in Safari on your iPhone or iPad.

How to Open a New Tab

To open a new tab, select the Tabs icon in the bottom-right corner, which looks like two overlapping squares. Then tap the Plus (+) to open a new tab.

How to Switch Between Tabs

Again, hit the Tabs icon. You’ll see a gallery of all your opened tabs in Safari. Select a tab to visit the webpage you want.

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Since the release of iOS 15, Apple introduced a new feature in Safari: tab groups. Many of us are probably guilty of having way too many opened tabs. Therefore, organizing tabs into groups makes them more manageable. Learn more about how to use tab groups in Safari on your iPhone.

When you read long articles, you’ll likely come across a link or two within the content that sparks your interest. To avoid disrupting your reading process, you can make Safari open the link in the background, in a new tab. To do so:

  1. Go to the Settings app.
  2. Select Safari.
  3. Scroll down and tap Open Links.
  4. Choose In Background.

Next time you want to open a link, long-press it. Then, select Open in Background. When you want to visit that link, select Tabs to view all your opened tabs and choose the loaded webpage.

Saving and Sharing Webpages in Safari

The internet gives you access to a whole new world of information. Save a webpage to refer to it later, or share it with your family and friends.

How to Bookmark a Safari Webpage

To bookmark a webpage to read later, tap the Share icon in the middle of the bottom of the screen (it looks like an arrow coming out of a square) and select Add Bookmark. Type in a bookmark name.

To access your bookmarked webpage later, tap the Bookmark icon (an opened book) and browse through your bookmarks, reading list, and history to find what you’re looking for.

Besides the bookmark option, you’ll also notice that you can add a webpage to your favorites or reading list. Marking a webpage as a favorite will make it show up on your Safari home page. It’s useful if you visit the website often.

To learn more about reading lists, you can visit our guide on the differences between a bookmark and a reading list.

Stumble upon an interesting DIY project? A promising recipe you’d like to share with your family? You don’t have to bookmark and remind yourself to show the webpage to them later. You can share the link directly from the Safari app.

Tap the Share icon. You can then select the receiver’s name from the horizontal list of recent contacts, or choose your preferred communication app to send the Safari link to them.

If you’re an aspiring crime writer, having a friend notice your crime-filled search history when they peer over your shoulder is inevitably awkward. Hence, there are some things we’d prefer to keep private and erase all traces of once we exit a web browser.

Safari has a few features to help you with this.

How to Close a Tab

If you don’t close your tabs, old webpages will just auto-load again the moment you head into Safari. Having too many opened tabs affects your browsing speed as well.

Closing a tab is simple. You just need to tap the Tabs icon and then tap the Close (x) button in the corner of the tab.


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How to Browse Privately in Safari

Similar to Google Chrome’s Incognito Mode, Safari has a feature called Private Browsing Mode. Your autofill information and browser history won’t be saved when you use this function. Here’s how to use it:

  1. First, tap the Tabs icon.
  2. Select the center Tabs button with an arrow next to it.
  3. Choose Private.
  4. To open a new private tab, tap the Plus (+) button.

Whenever you’re in doubt about whether you’re in Private Browsing Mode, just check the Smart Search Bar. It will be dark grey instead of white when you’re browsing privately.

How to Clear Your Safari Browsing History

If you forgot to use Private Browsing while searching for confidential information, don’t worry. You can still clear your history in Safari. Just follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Bookmarks icon.
  2. Select History (the clock icon).
  3. Tap Clear.
  4. Choose the time length from which you want Safari to clear your history.

Use the Safari App to Surf the Internet on Your iPhone

The Safari app has all the features you need for a seamless browsing experience. Once you’re familiar with these basic functions, you can check out and download Safari extensions from the App Store to enjoy more helpful features while surfing the internet on your iPhone or iPad.


Safari Extensions store on iPhone
The 5 Best Safari Extensions to Download on Your iPhone for Free

Upgrade Safari on your iPhone or iPad with these free extensions.

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