Seven Safari superpowers for creatives

Lesa Snider
12 February, 2016
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Apple apps are packed with helpful features. For example, both Preview and QuickTime Player include a multitude of superpowers of which many folks aren’t aware. Unless you click every button and scour every menu, you’re likely not using the app to its potential. In this column, you’ll discover seven handy tips for using Safari the next time you’re surfing the web.

Address bar stunts

If you’re perusing one site and you wish to visit another, you don’t have to click within the address bar, highlight it and then delete the existing address. Instead, press Command-L to highlight the current address and immediately enter the new one. It’s also unnecessary to enter http:// or www. Simply enter the domain, such as macworld.com, and then press Return to transport to that site.

Further, Safari, by default, no longer displays the full address of the web page you’re visiting. For example, when viewing this story, the address simply reads macworld.com. If you want to always see the full address, choose Safari > Preferences > Advanced and then turn on Show full website address.

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Enlarge the view

If the web page content is too small to read, you don’t have to squint; you can enlarge it by pressing and holding Command and then tapping the + key on your keyboard (use Command – to reduce size). To enlarge the text but not the images, choose View > Zoom Text Only. To specify a minimum font size for Safari to use, choose Safari > Preferences > Advanced and enter a larger size in the Never use font sizes smaller than field (it’s visible in the screenshot above).

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View just the facts, ma’am

Alas, ads are necessary to the monetary health of many websites, though they can make it difficult to focus on reading – especially when they (gasp) blink or talk back to you. Happily, you can eliminate all that by clicking the icon at the far left of the address bar (it looks like four tiny lines) to enter Reader View. When you do, you get a gorgeous, distraction-free view of the page (click the same icon to return to the standard view).

Share a web page with others

If you want to share a page with somebody else – say, the most excellent iPhone column in the screenshot above – let Safari handle it; it’s not only quick, you get a boatload of choices as to how to share the page. To do it, choose File > Share > Email This Page and Safari opens a fresh email, plops the headline into the subject field and inserts a link to the page in the message body. (Safari helps you send additional webpages to recent recipients by adding their names to the bottom of the Share menu.)

In the email message, use the Send Web Content As menu to choose between sending a link, the whole webpage, a PDF or the webpage in Reader View. (The last three options keep your recipient from having to click the link to see the content.)

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View images or animated GIFs

You can view all manner of imagery in Safari, as well as play animated GIFs. You could use Safari’s File > Open command, but you can also drag a file atop a Safari window to see what it’ll look like on the web. If the colours don’t look like you expect them too, it’s because the image is in a colour space other than the internet’s native sRGB colour space (see this column for more on sRGB).

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See an image’s pixel dimensions

You can peek at the pixel dimensions of most web images by opening them in a separate tab. This is incredibly handy if you’re designing an image for the web and need to match the size of an existing image. To do it, Control-click the image and from the menu that appears, choose Open Image in New Tab. When you do, a new tab opens containing the image and its dimensions appear to the right of its file name.

See which fonts are used on the page

If you encounter a webpage and you love the fonts, you don’t have to dig into the HTML to find out what they are. Instead, install Chengyin Liu’s free WhatFont browser extension or download its iOS app. To download the browser version, visit the website; to get the iOS version, fire up the App Store on your device and search for WhatFont.

Once you install the browser extension, click the f? icon in Safari’s toolbar to activate it and then point your cursor at some text to reveal the font name. Click the text to see lots more info about it. To turn WhatFont off, click the same icon again or click the black Exit WhatFont button that appears at the upper right of the page. (You may have to relaunch Safari for the extension to work.)

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As you can see, Safari has a lot of tricks up its sleeve. Until next time, may the creative force be with you all!

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