How to Use the iPhone Safari Browser (with pictures)

iPhone Safari Browser
Photo by Rahul Chakraborty

You accidentally hit in '' instead of '' in your safari browser.

But you don't have to repeatedly tap on the keyword hoping to correctly position the cursor or delete the entire thing.

All you have to do is hard press anywhere on the keyboard to hold control of the cursor, hover it across the keyword and set in position, then release the press on the keyboard and make correction.

Boom, easy peasy!

Apple has done a wonderful job in making the safari web browser clean and simple.

And that got me thinking just about how many features the web browser could boast on the iPhone and iPad today.

Turns out there is a lot safari is hiding on the inside.

So in this article, you’ll learn how to use the iPhone safari browser from new to ninja and then some tricks and magic shortcuts to make your web browsing experience smoother.

How to Use the iPhone Safari Browser

Launching The  App:

As far as i can tell, there are only two ways to launch the safari web browser on the iPhone and iPad.

First is the manual search and tap.

Second is by using siri the assistant. 

It's fun, simply utter: "Hey siri,..... Safari".
The browser is the white app with a blue compass on it—in case you prefer the first option.

And it utilizes the 3D touch which means you can instantly access some of it’s in-app features without having to launch the app.

Simply long press on the app icon to get started with this feature.

Safari 3D Touch

Using The Safari Web browser:

Safari’s main interface is a minimalist design.

At the top is a search field where you can input search queries to retrieve web results or enter a URL to get to a specific web page.

It retrieves search results from the google search engine by default. But you can change that from: Settings >> Safari >> Search Engine.

Safari search field

Whenever you type anything on the search field, tap the blue 'Go' button on the keyboard to initiate the search.

How to Use Safari on iPhone

If you need to erase a search query for a new one, tap the small grey circle with a transparent cross on it (at the right of the search field).


Activate the 'Shake to Undo' feature from: Settings >> General >> Accessibility >> Shake to Undo,

and delete entries with a jiggle.

The keyboard:

The keyboard is the heart of safari.

If you are not using it well, then you are not using safari well.

Thankfully, there are only a few things you need to master on the keyboard to ensure you're getting the best out of it.


1] Hard Long Press:

If you ever make mistake typing a URL or search query on the field—hard press anywhere on the alphabet area of the keyboard to get control of the cursor and position it right where the mistake is to make corrections.

Erase Search Queries in Safari

2] Soft Long Press:

By reducing the amount of pressure you apply on the keyboard, you can access more characters and features from different buttons on it.

For example, you can easily insert a ".com" or ".net" to a URL by lightly holding the "." button on the keyboard and hovering across the different extensions that appear.

iPhone Keyboard Shortcuts


You can quickly access keyboard settings directly from the keyboard without ever going through the settings app on your iPhone, by simply long pressing on the microphone or emoji button and selecting "Dictation Settings".

Tip: Try the soft long press on alphabets and buttons on the keyboard to see the different features each one of them pack. alert-information

3] The emoji and microphone:

iPhone Keyboard Emoji and Microphone

If you’re not already using voice search to look up things on safari, then you better start now.

It will save you the stress of having to type in long phrases and URL's with just a simple tap.

Plus, it's pretty good at interpreting words from voices that are clear and audible. 

!At least most of the time.

One more thing, i bet you never knew you could use emojis in your search queries?

iPhone Keyboard Emoji

Tip: Text Replacement: This is a keyboard feature that allows you to create shortcuts for long phrases or web URL's so you can easily assess them by typing only the shortcuts. For instance, 'tb' for ''. You can find this feature on the keyboard settings page. alert-information

Safari Browsing Tips

Preview Links: 

Not all pages online are worth your click and safari provides a way to peek on them to help sort out the ones are worth it.

It is called 'Peek and Pop' and it is one of the features from Apple's 3D touch.

You can dodge click baits online or pages that don't interest you by using "Peek" to preview the page without actually opening it, and then "Pop" if you actually want to read it. 

Here's how to you can Peek and Pop in safari.
  • Long tap on the link until you get a vibration and a preview page appears (Peek)
  • Now you can read the contents of the page (Pop) by increasing the press on the preview page or back out by releasing the press.

Safari peek and pop

Scroll up: 

If you ever scroll down a really long page and want to scroll back up, tap on the area above the search field to jump right back up!

How to scroll to the top in safari

Reload a Page or Request Desktop site:

You can refresh just about any page in safari by tapping on the clockwise arrow at the right of the search field, and request a desktop version from an ugly looking page with a long press on it.

Reload a page in safari

Request a desktop site in safari

Secured Pages: 

Whenever you visit a website and there is a black lock on the search field —It means the website is secured.

Any information you enter on that page like your passwords or credit card details will be fully encrypted, thus protected from unauthorized access by third parties including the owners of the website.

Safari black lock icon

Now that dosent mean websites without the black lock are harmful or not safe to visit. 

It simply means that any sensitive information you supply like your credit card details or passwords can be illegally accessed by third parties including the owners of the page.

Safari unsecured page

Copy, Look Up, Read and Share Web Texts: 

You may be reading an article and then suddenly come across a text you would like to share with your friends, look up on search engines, copy to your notes, or even read on screen.

To do that,
Long press anywhere on the text to highlight a word, release the press, press on the word again and drag your fingers across the screen to cover other texts. Now release the press and execute any of the options on the black popup menu.

Safari copy, look-up read and share web texts

NB: You will need to turn on 'Speak Selection' to activate the read and spell buttons. You can do that from: Settings >> General >> Accessibility >> Speech >> and turn on Speak Selection. alert-information

Listen to Web Pages:

If you haven't got time to read a long blog post, you can have safari read it for you. 

Simply go to: Settings >> General >> Accessibility >> Speech and activate Speak Screen. Now all you have to do is swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen to hear the content of the blog post.

How to read the contents of a blog post safari iPhone

Tip: You can set the reading language from: Settings >> General >> Accessibility >> Voices. alert-information
If you want to follow up texts as they are read, you can turn on 'Highlight content" from: Settings >> General >> Accessibility >>  Highlight Content.

How to highlight and read the contents of a blog post

Save Images:

Soft press on the image and select "Save Image" form the popup list to send it to your camera roll.

Note: It won't work on preview images. You will have to load them on a new tab first.

Reader View: 

Reader view feature will help you get rid of noise on a web page such as: persistent ads, newsletter popups, poorly formatted texts or annoying background.

To activate it, tap on the four line icon at the right of the search field (that should load up a lighter version of the page), then select the aA icon at the right of it to make few adjustments if needed.     

Reader view in safari

Reader view on safari

If you wish to automatically activate reader view on a specific website or on all websites that you visit, you can do that by long pressing on the reader view icon and selecting the option from the menu.

How to activate reader view on websites

Note: If you cant find the reader view button on the search field, it means the page dosent support it. alert-information


You can zoom in and out of web pages by placing your left and right thumb on the screen and dragging them apart or close to each other.

How to zoom in safari iPhone

Navigate between pages:

Whenever you are several pages deep in safari and want to switch between them, simply swipe right from the left end of the page for previous pages or left from the right end of the page to get to the next page.

How to navigate between pages in safari - previous page
Previous page

How to navigate between pages in safari - next page
Next Page

You can as well long press on either of the directional buttons to get a list of the pages you've toggled.

Access all your open links in safari
Long press on the directional buttons

Access all your open links in safari iPhone
List of pages you've toggled

Restrict/Allow certain websites: 

You can set restrictions on the kind of web pages you want safari to load from: Settings >> General >> Restrictions >> Websites. 

For parents, this feature can help restrict a childs activities online.

Create Tabs:

Tabs allow you to open up several web pages in safari and easily switch between them.

It is much more convenient than creating deep links from the default tab and trying to navigating between them. 

iPhone safari tabs

Whenever you launch into the safari app, you're in the default tab.

You can create a new one by tapping on the overlapping squares at the lower right corner and hitting the + button at the bottom.

How to create a new tab in safari iPhone

How to add a tab in safari iPhone

If you are on a web page and want to open a link on that page to a new tab, preview the link by long pressing on it (not too hard or soft), swipe up and then select "Open in New Tab". 

How to open a link from a website in a new tab safari iPhone

You can access all your open tabs by tapping on the tabs icon.

Search Tabs: 

Whenever you have so many tabs open that you find it difficult to manually locate specific tabs, —swivel your phone into a landscape orientation, click on the tabs button and search for those tabs using the ‘search tabs’ field at the top left corner. 

How to search tabs in safari iPhone browser

You can also zoom in and out of tabs easily on this orientation.

Rearrange tabs:

You can quickly rearrange tabs in order of importance by simply long pressing on them and swiping forward or backward on the portrait view and dragging them in any direction on the landscape view.


How to rearrange tabs in safari iPhone Browser

Close tabs: 

Close all tabs in safari with a simple long press on the tabs icon and selecting "close all tabs'.

Close a specific tab in safari using the same procedure but this time selecting "close this tab" from the list.
Long press on the tabs icon

Another way to close a tab in safari is to select the tabs button, locate the tab you want to close, and tap the x icon by the left.
Swipe it left.

How to close a tab in safari

If you want to access your recently closed tabs, tap on the tabs icon, and long press on the + button.

How to access recently closed tabs

  How to access your recently closed tabs in safari iPhone

The Bookmark:

Bookmark is a feature that allows you to save your favorite web pages on safari for easy access.

You can access your bookmarks from the safari home screen by clicking on the book icon next to the tabs.

How to access bookmarks in iPhone safari

To save a page to your bookmarks, hit the share icon at the bottom of the page and select "add to bookmarks". That should add the page to your list of bookmarks.

  How to add bookmarks in safari

If you want the page to appear on the safari home screen, select "add to favorites" instead.

To search for a bookmark, swipe down on the bookmark section or enter the title of the bookmark in the safari search field.

To delete a bookmark, swipe it left.

How to search and delete a bookmark in safari iPhone

The Reading list:

Reading list is a feature that allows you to create a list of web pages you would like to read later. 

It is the “eye glass” icon next to bookmarks.

iPhone safari reading list

To add a page to you reading list , use the same procedure as bookmarks but this time select the “add to reading list” icon.

To search for a page on your reading list, swipe down on the reading list section.

To delete a page from your reading list, swipe it left.


The history feature keeps track of your browsing activities on safari and it is the small clock icon next to reading list.

iPhone safari history

You can find every web page you visited on safari in the history section.

To clear your history, tap the clear button at the bottom right corner and select how you wish to clear the history from the pop up menu.

How to clear safari browsing history

Warning: Whenever you clear the browsing history for a certain icloud account, it also clears the history from other devices signed into that account. Your options to save passwords, name, or address on particular pages will also be erased. You will need to re-enter them manually and select the auto-fill option again. alert-warning.

You can delete histories manually by swiping them to the left, and search for them by using the search box on the history page (swipe down) or the safari search field.

Search for history in safari search field

The share button:

Whenever you search a query or load up a web page, the share button is automatically activated (it's next to the book icon).

Safari share button

You can can use it to execute different activities like:
  • Share web contents to different applications like whatsapp, facebook, notes, reminders, mail, message etc.
  • Share web contents using Air drop.
  • Copy web links,
  • Print web pages by connecting to a printer.
  • Add web pages to your iPhone home screen so you can quickly access them.
  • Find texts on a web page (You can do this faster by typing whatever you want to find on the safari search field, scroll down to "On This Page" and tap on the result.
  • Create and save PDF version of a web page for offline viewing.

Safari share button features

You can as well rearrange the icon with a soft tap.

The Safari Home Screen

Favorite pages as well as frequently visited pages automatically appear on the safari home screen.

Safari web browser iPhone

To delete or edit them, simply soft press on the icons untill they blur and you get that vibration haptic feedback, then release the press and tap delete or edit.

If you want to rearrange them, apply the same press and move the icons around.

How to delete safari home icons

If you dont want your frequently visited websites to appear on the home screen, you can disable that from Settings >> Safari >> and then turn off  Frequently Visited Sites.


Cookies are small text files that are downloaded and stored to your computer whenever you visit websites that use them.

They are designed to hold modest amount of information about you such as your name, email address, login details, card details etc. 

or your activities such as

the items you purchased on a website, videos you watched or liked, buttons you clicked, pages you visited in the past, and even how you format web pages.

Cookie information can be used by websites that collect them for various purposes.

For example,
Websites can collect information about the articles you read on their page, your registration details, your language preference and how you layout their website on your browser, so they can serve you a more personalized website when next you visit.

You can chose to allow or block cookies on safari from Settings >> Safari >> Block All Cookies and setting it on or off.

Learn more about whether you should allow or block cookies down there.

Private Browsing Mode:

This is a privacy feature that allows safari to create a temporary session that is isolated from the browsers's main session and user data.

What this means is that your browsing history is not saved when you are in this mode, and cookies are cleared when the session is closed.

So the pages you visit and things you do on these pages are your business. Safari or any third party websites will not keep track of these activities.

To activate the private browsing mode, tap on the tabs icon and locate the 'Private' button at the task bar on portrait view or title bar on landscape view.

How to activate safari private browsing mode

You can also activate it by long pressing on the tabs icon and selecting "New Private Tab".

How to activate safari private browsing mode

Safari Settings:

Safari Security:

Whenever you browse the internet, you leave a lot of footprints like the record of websites you visit, products you purchased, videos you watched, or every button you clicked.

These are referred to as your browsing activities and some websites like to track them.

Now you might be asking why some websites are interested in tracking your browsing activities huh?

Well, there are many reasons why a website might track your browsing activity. In some cases, its simply to improve your browsing experience on their page by serving you tailor made contents.

While in some, it's to determine your browsing habits and preferences online to enable third party advertisers serving ads on that page display more targeted ads to you.

Here are a few common examples of when a website may track your activities online.
  • Search engines like Bing or Google may keep record of things you search about to enable them personalize your searches and provide you with search results that are more relevant to you. They can also use these records for advertising purposes. For instance, if you search about dog food on Bing, you might see ads for dog food on other websites listed on its search results in the future.
  • Video sites like Youtube and Vimeo collect information on the videos you watch to enable them suggest other related videos you might like.
  • Online stores like Jumia and Amazon can keep records of items you add to your cart, viewed or purchased to help them suggest other products that might interest you.
  • Affiliate websites can use cookies to track who referred who to their particular product or services page.
  • Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can save information about your login details and automatically enter them when next you want to login.
And the list goes on.

How do websites track your activities? 

Websites can track your activities through your user account with them, or via cookies.

Online tracking via cookies does not pose any serious threat to your online security. 

But if you're not ok with the idea of websites collecting information about you in this manner, there are a few options you can apply on safari to restrict them from doing this. 

Now before you jump straight in and start switching all the security buttons "ON", you should know that this action can bear some troubling consequences like:
  • Getting restricted by a great deal when it comes to getting tailor made contents online, and
  • Being denied access to certain websites that use cookies.
Now the only thing standing between you and the buttons is your decision.

Here are some of the changes you can apply to limit online tracking of your browsing activities.

From Settings >> Safari,

1] Activate “Ask websites not to track me”: This will send a request to every websites you visit on safari asking them not to track you.

Some websites will gladly honor the request while others will not.

NB: Accepting the  "Do Not Track Me" request is optional on websites that receive them. alert-information  

2] Block All Cookies: This will prevent web pages from storing cookie information about you, thus preventing online tracking via cookies.

3] Prevent Cross Site Tracking: This will prevent third party content providers and advertisers from tracking your activities: site after site.
4] Use Private Browsing Mode: This will block all tracking activities for a particular browsing session.

Other safari settings and what they mean:

Check for Apple Pay: This will prevent websites that support apple pay from asking whether you have the service setup and suggesting it as a payment option.

Block Popups: This will block website popups from showing up.

Note: Turning this on can block some useful informational popups too. You can simply activate reader view to serve as an alternative instead. alert-warning

Frequently Visited sites: This will prevent your frequently visited sites from showing up in the safari home screen.

Siri & Search: This will enable siri to retrieve information from safari whenever you use siri to search.

Fraudulent Website Warning: This will enable safari to notify you of a fraudulent page when you try to access it.

Of course not all websites safari flag as 'fraudulent' are indeed fraudulent. But it's safer to hit the 'x' button and move on.

AutoFill: This will enable safari to automatically fill in online forms for you, using your previously saved information like credit card, contact, passwords and more.

To get started,
  • Add a credit card from AutoFill >> Saved Credit Cards >> Add  Credit card.
  • Add a default address by turning on the “Use Contact Info” button, and selecting a default address from the contact list.
  •  Turn on "Name and passwords".
Camera and Microphone Access: Turning this on will prevent websites from automatically accessing your iPhone camera and microphone features. 

When there is a need for a website to access these features, a request would be sent to you from where you can choose to accept or decline.

I recommend you turn this on because you never can tell who is watching or listening to you.

Automatically Save Offline: This will automatically save all your reading list items from icloud for offline reading. 

Offline Reading means that you won't need an internet connection to access and read web contents. alert-information
That's it folks, The ultimate guide to using safari on your iPhone.

Now its your turn.

Tell us,

What iPhone safari shortcuts have been making your web browsing silk and smoother?

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