Ten Safari shortcuts you should know

Kirk McElhearn
13 February, 2012
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I’m a keyboard guy. While I like my Magic Trackpad and the trackpad on my MacBook Air, I do as much work as I can from the keyboard. To that end, I use Objective Development’s LaunchBar (US$35) to launch applications, open files and more with a few quick keystrokes. I’ve also made a point of learning dozens of shortcuts for each of the apps I use most.

Safari is no exception. Since it’s easier to use the keyboard – no need to move my hand to my trackpad – I’ve memorised a handful of useful shortcuts for browsing the web. Here are 10 that I think are essential. (These work in both Snow Leopard and Lion as long as you have Safari 5 or later.)


When I want to type a URL, I don’t use a mouse or trackpad to click in the address field, clear it and then type. I just press c-L and all the text in the address field is selected, so whatever I type replaces it immediately. Start typing a URL for a favourite site and Safari autocompletes it by looking at your history or bookmarks. If Safari displays a list of sites, you can use the up and down arrow keys to choose the right one and then press Return to go there.


Like most people, I search the web with Google all the time. But I don’t use the mouse to click in the Google search field before I do so. Instead, I simply press c-Option-F, which moves the cursor straight to the search field. This shortcut works in many Apple programs, including Mail, iTunes, Address Book and more.


There are times when I want to go back to a webpage that I visited recently but I can’t remember its URL. I could open the History menu with the mouse or trackpad. But pressing c-Option-2 takes me directly to the History list and puts the cursor in its search field. I can then type a word or two and narrow down the list to find the site I want. Double-clicking an entry in the History list takes me to that page; if that’s not the one I want, I can press c-Option-2 again to go back to the History list.


When I get to my favourite webpage, I rarely bother to use scrollbars or even my trackpad, to scroll. Instead, I just press the spacebar and Safari scrolls down one screen. If I need to go back up a screen? I press Shift-Spacebar. It’s fast and efficient and doesn’t make me dizzy watching the page move up and down.

Specify your preferences. Safari's Tabs preferences let you choose how you want tabbed browsing to work and show you the available keyboard shortcuts according to your settings.


Safari’s tabbed browsing is a practical way to have several webpages open at once without getting confused by multiple windows. Not surprisingly, there’s a lot you can do with tabs (and windows) from the keyboard. Go to Safari > Preferences and click on Tabs to see a list of shortcuts you can use.

The one I use most is c-Shift- click, which opens a new tab in the background. I use this a lot when I’m doing research on the web and want to open several pages from search results without looking at each one right away.

(In Lion, the new tab now opens directly to the right of the current tab, rather than at the far-right end of the tab bar. This is a popular feature of Canisbos’s LinkThing – canisbos.com/ linkthing – so users of that extension will appreciate the inclusion of that behaviour in Safari.)

To open a tab in the front, use c-click. (These shortcuts are reversed if you don’t select the ‘When A New Tab Or Window Opens, Make It Active’ option.)


Once I have a bunch of tabs open in Safari, I usually want to move from one to another, but I don’t want to use the mouse for that. Pressing c-Shift-Left Arrow or c-Shift-Right Arrow will take you from one tab to the other. Just make sure that your cursor isn’t in a text field on any window displayed in a tab; if so, this shortcut will hit a dead end when it reaches such a window.


Sometimes I want to email a webpage I’ve found to a friend. Pressing c-I does the trick; it takes the content of the page and sends it to the person in a new message in Mail, with the page’s title as the message subject. If you just want to send a link, use c-Shift-I.


The flagship feature of Lion Safari is Reading list, which lets you ‘save’ interesting articles for later reading. When you come across an article on the web that you just don’t have time to read immediately, or that you want to keep around for later reference, you simply choose Bookmarks: Add To Reading list (or press c-Shift-D), and that article is added to your list. You’ll see an animation of an icon flying from the page to the little eyeglasses icon on the left side of the Bookmarks toolbar.

Reading List. Save links for later in Safari 5's new Reading List.


The previous shortcut works with pages you have open in the browser. You can also add links – from search results or other webpages – that you haven’t even opened. To add a linked page to the Reading List, hold down the Shift key and click on the link.


To view the Reading List, you can click on the eyeglasses icon in the Bookmarks toolbar, assuming the icon is visible. However, since we’re discussing keyboard shortcuts, use the easier method of just pressing c-Shift-L instead.

Your saved articles are listed here, each displaying the article title, the host site’s favicon (web icon), and a two-line preview of the article’s content. Click any article in the list to view it in the main part of the Safari window.

Shortcuts like these make your web browsing faster and easier – and there are plenty I haven’t even listed here. To find the keyboard equivalents of the commands you use most often, just look through Safari’s menus; almost every command has a shortcut.



5 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. steven says:

    Use Control-Tab to nevigate tabs. It’s easier, less modifier keys to press and it feels more natural.

  2. Christopher Deeble says:

    what’s “c-…” meant to be? Pressing the key between “x” znc “v” doesn’t seem to work for me.

  3. Christopher Deeble says:

    what’s “c-…” meant to be? Pressing the key between “x” and “v” doesn’t seem to work for me.

  4. Mac Monk says:

    I’m sorry but I just don’t see how pushing 2-3 buttons simultaneously is any sort of short cut from whipping the cursor over to somewhere and clicking the mouse in one quick movement.
    Courses for horses I suppose. I think it usually comes down to what you commonly use as you then get proficient at it.

  5. Marie says:

    I use keyboard shortcuts a lot – part of being in secretarial/admin roles for over 30 years. I find that having to lift my hand away and locate the mouse, align to where I want to click etc breaks the flow of my work and speed. I miss having keyboard shortcuts in Office for Mac. These are very handy tips and I have a sticky note with them stuck to my screen till I learn them. Thank you!

    BTW – Christopher, “c-” means the command key ;p

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