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Safari Tips and Tricks

Update (September 12, 2015): Added the Retab extension to the Reopen recent pages section.

Ages ago I was a Firefox fan, it was the alternative for Internet Explorer. When I got my first Mac I started to use Safari, then Chrome when it was mature enough. I used it for years, then I switched back to Safari about a year ago. My main problem was that Chrome is a memory hog and you get the best browsing performance and hours of extra battery life on a Mac with Safari.

The problem with Safari…

… is that it’s weird. I mean if you get used to thing in Chrome, you will probably have a hard time to find those in Safari. Let’s start with my biggest problem, which kept me from coming back, I missed the favicons on the tabs, but I managed to solve this, which was the point when I decided to go back to Safari. I don’t want to go into detail about this, read the post, there are plenty of other things to talk about.

Tab management

One of the main differences is that Chrome shrinks tabs to favicon size if you have many of them, then you can scroll. In Safari (where you don’t have favicons by default) you have to identify tabs by text, so the smallest tab size has to be big enough to make space for a word. Also if you have just a few, like one, it spans across the full width of the window.

First, always show tab bar, even if only one tab is open. Safari by default doesn’t show tabs if only one is open, but if you have only one tab open, you can select View > Show Tab Bar from the top menu. This setting stays on after restarting.

Now to get rid of those huge tabs, you can use cosyTabs SIMBL plugin (about these plugins please check my Favicon article). Just download the bundle file, put it into ~/Library/Application Support/SIMBLE/Plugins and you’re good to go. Also double clicking on the empty tab space opens a new tab.

Screenshot 2015-09-02 12.54.34

Reopen recent pages

I really like the Recently closed section in Chrome’s History menu. In Safari you don’t have that, but you can reopen the last closed tab with Cmd + Z or with the Edit > Undo Close Tab menu item. For tabs you closed earlier, you can use the Retab extension, which remembers all your closed tabs and reopen them one by one. Another great feature in Chrome is after restarting the browser you can reopen all tabs. This is also possible in Safari with the History > Reopen All Windows From Last Session menu item, and just above that the Reopen Last Closed Window. While this is less granular control than what Chrome provides, I almost always get along with these two.

Address Bar

By default Safari 8 only shows the domain (in green if secure) in the address bar, but you can turn on displaying the path in Safari > Preferences… > Advanced > Show full website address checkbox.

Screenshot 2015-09-02 13.35.26

Default Font

A few months ago I noticed that some pages that rely on the browser default font changed from sans-serif to serif one. It was really annoying, so I tried to find a way to change the default font in Safari. Sadly there is now option for this in Preferences… but with some Terminal magic it’s easy to change. With the command below, you can change the default font to Lucida Grande, or any other font of your choice:

defaults write 'Lucida Grande'


And one more at the end: Safari by default opens “safe” downloads, when they are finished. If you Don’t like that (I did not) you can turn it off in: Safari > Preferences… > General and uncheck Open “safe” files after downloading.

I hope these little tips could make your life easier with Safari. 🙂


  1. Herbert Reininger
    Herbert Reininger October 16, 2015


    For a moment I thought I could do this too. But, alas, I’m a creative director, not a code wizard or an experienced programmer.

    Following your instructions I got close though, until I got stuck at the Terminal stage when none of my passwords would work. It was scary for me to work in Terminal to begin with, and I finally gave up and manually removed all the SIMBL and SafariStand files installed so far.

    I am absolutely determined that I will switch to another browser if I can’t get favicons on Safari tabs back, it just takes way too much time to tediously scroll back and forth through the tabs bar, looking for the tab I need.

    So Apple un-like where everything should just work.

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