4 tips to make you a Safari Savant in iOS 8

I’ve never been on a Safari but every time I see Lions, Elephants and Giraffe’s I wonder what it would be like to see them freely roaming the Serengeti outside the confines of a zoo.

I may never make it to the great plains of Africa but I browse a different sort of Safari on my iPhone every day.  Safari for iOS that is!

My friend once quipped that Safari is quote: the browser people use to download other browsers.  I laughed at the bit of truth there but to be honest it doesn’t have to be that way.  Today I want to arm you with 4 tips that will make using Safari on your iPhone or iPad a little more enjoyable.

1. Get off the grid

The first thing you need to do is activate private mode.

This is how you can “walk through the snow without leaving prints”.

Private browsing is the de-facto option for going undercover on the interwebs.  Of course, it won’t make you invisible but at least the Safari app won’t save your history or form data.

To turn on Private Browsing, tap the multi-tab icon in the bottom right corner of the browser (it looks like two overlapping squares) and then touch the Private button on the lower left side.

Viewing tabs in iOS Safari

Any new tabs you open from this point forward will be in Private mode.

Private mode in Safari

To get back to your normal, more exposed, way of doing things, just hit the Private button again.

2. Finding text in-page

One of the biggest deterrents to using Safari on iOS is lack of usability.  Finding stuff is nebulous.  For example, how do you find a word or phrase on a page in Safari iOS?

Here’s the trick:

Touch the address bar and then start typing.  That’s it.

Most people miss this because they don’t realize the address bar is used for both surfing and searching.  And searching applies not only to the web in general but also to the currently loaded webpage.  So as you type your search phrase, Safari automatically scans the page for matches and displays them at the very bottom of the list.

You’ll probably need to scroll down past the Google, Bookmarks and History search results to see the section titled On This Page.

Searching text in Safari in iOS

When you touch the result, the phrase appears yellow highlighted in the webpage.  Just keep pressing the right arrow at the bottom of the screen to find each matching hit.

Matching results Safari iOS 8

3. Swipe back to go back

Sounds simple… and that’s because… well it is.

Instead of tapping the back arrow at the bottom of the screen to go back, just place your finger on the left edge of the screen, and in one smooth motion, drag it to the right.  Do the opposite to go forward.

Swiping left or right to browse back or forward

That’s much easier than trying to touch those infinitesimal left and right arrows.

4. Cut the ads with Reader Mode

I love Reader Mode.  I’m sick of browsing ads on my desktop and the small screen real estate of my smartphone makes me all the more vigilant to avoid being assailed with ads.

Yes, yes I’m a hypocrite because I know this site has ads but… well… okay – there is no but.  Let’s just acknowledge that I’m a hypocrite and move on lol.

If the page supports Reader Mode, you’ll see a tiny icon that looks like a document in the upper left corner of the address bar.  Tapping that causes everything to disappear except for the beautiful content of the page.  No ads, no silly distractions just the text you wanted when you came there.  You can also adjust the size of the font by tapping the letter A in the upper left corner.

I think you’ll agree that Reader Mode is a lot easier on the eyes and will really help you focus on absorbing the content.

Incidentally, not all webpages support Reader Mode.  The webmaster has to use the right HTML elements in the code and the content has to be long enough so that Safari can detect it.

Let me show you what I’m talking about.

Here’s a great webpage on logical fallacies but without Reader Mode:

Safari iOS8 page without Reader Mode

Now look at the difference.

After tapping the Reader Mode button you get the same delicious content but without any distracting backgrounds, pictures or fonts.

iOS 8 Reader Mode

The Bottom Line

Safari isn’t so bad is it?  I actually still prefer Chrome on my iPhone but I must say that so far I haven’t found another iOS browser that has this Reader Mode function.  What do you think?  Do you know of any other tricks besides browsing privately, swiping to browse, using Reader Mode or finding text in the page?

Tell me in the comments!

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