Safari is easy to use, but you may never find all of its useful features unless you go looking for them. iPads have many useful navigation tricks you may never stumble across, and Safari has its own tricks.

The screenshots here were taken on an iPad, but Safari functions very similarly on an iPhone. Safari for Mac is a full desktop browser and works differently, although all versions of Safari sync with each other.

Find in Page

RELATED: 8 Navigation Tricks Every iPad User Needs to Know

Safari has a Find in Page feature, although it’s a bit hidden. To perform a search for words on the current page, tap the address bar and type your search. Tap the Find option under On This Page at the bottom of the list to search the current page. If you don’t see this option, scroll down — it may be obscured by the on-screen keyboard.

Swipe to Go Back and Forward

You can go back a page or go forward a page by swiping from either side of your screen. For example, to go back to the previous page, place your finger at the left side of the screen and slide it towards the center of the screen.

Enable Reader Mode

Safari offers a special reader mode that simplifies articles on web pages. Reader Mode strips away all the navigation elements and shows you only the essential bits of the article — the article text and its images. To view the current web page in Reader Mode, just tap the icon at the left side of Safari’s address bar — it looks like several horizontal black lines.

Save Web Pages for Offline Reading

The built-in Reading List feature in Safari allows you to save a list of web pages you want to read later. It works sort of like Pocket, Instapaper, and similar applications. Like these other applications, Reading List also downloads an offline copy of the pages add for later reading, so you can view them offline.

To add a web page to your Reading List, tap the Share button on the toolbar and tap Add to Reading List.

To access your Reading List, tap the book icon on the toolbar and tap the eyeglasses. To remove an article from this list, swipe it to the left and tap the Delete button that appears.

Use Bookmarklets Like Browser Extensions

RELATED: The Most Useful Bookmarklets to Enhance Your Browsing Experience

Safari for iOS doesn’t support browser extensions, but it does support bookmarklets. Bookmarklets are small bits of JavaScript that can be saved as a bookmark. When you open the bookmarklet from your bookmarks, the JavaScript will be executed on the current page. Bookmarklets can take the place of many browser extensions.

For example, if you use Pocket, you normally can’t share pages from Safari directly to Pocket. Install the Pocket bookmarklet and you can open your bookmarks and tap Save to Pocket to add the current page to your Pocket queue for later reading. Bookmarklets can be used in many, many other ways.

Clear Private Data and Change Settings

Safari’s settings aren’t exposed in Safari itself. If you’d like to clear your private browsing data, change your default search engine, or tweak any other settings, you’ll need to do it from the system-wide Setting app.

To access Safari’s settings, go back to your home screen, tap the Settings icon, and select the Safari category in the sidebar.

Sync Browser Data With iCloud

RELATED: How to Sync Any Browser's Bookmarks With Your iPad or iPhone

Safari’s iCloud integration allows you to synchronize your saved passwords, open tabs, favorites, and other browser data with your iCloud account. This data will sync back and forth with the Safari browser on iOS and Mac OS X, so it works well if you have Apple hardware. Just tap the cloud icon on Safari’s toolbar to view open tabs from your other devices.

Apple no longer supports Safari for Windows, but they do provide another solution for Windows users. Install Apple’s iCloud Control Panel and you’ll be able to sync bookmarks with Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, or Internet Explorer.

icloud bookmark sync on windows

Activate Private Browsing Mode

RELATED: How Private Browsing Works, and Why It Doesn't Offer Complete Privacy

Safari offers a private browsing mode. Any browsing you do in private browsing mode won’t leave any “tracks” — history entries, cookies, and other similar usage data. Because it doesn’t save any cookies, it also ensures you’ll be logged out of any websites you logged into as soon as you leave private browsing mode.

To activate private browsing mode, open a new tab with the + button on the toolbar and tap the Private button at the bottom of the Favorites page. Safari’s toolbars and interface will turn from white to near black, indicating that you’re browsing privately. To leave private browsing mode, open a new tab again and tap the Private option at the bottom of the page.

If you have an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch that your kids use, you can also enable Restrictions. Restrictions function as parental controls, blocking access to websites you don’t approve of and allowing you to lock down your device in other ways.

Image Credit: John Karakatsanis on Flickr

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »