The Safari web browser likes showing the websites you frequently visit when you open it. On an iPhone or iPad, it shows “frequently visited sites.” On a Mac, it shows your “top sites.” You can disable this to prevent your browser from advertising the websites you frequently visit.

This feature is customizable. You’re free to remove any websites you don’t want appearing here and continue using it. On iOS, you can disable it entirely. On a Mac, you can tweak it to prevent your personal information from appearing.

Disable Frequently Visited Sites on an iPhone or iPad

As of iOS 9, it’s now possible to disable the “Frequently Visited Sites” feature, preventing any frequently visited sites from appearing on the new tab page in Safari on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Only icons for your favorites will appear on Safari’s new tab page.

To do this, open the Settings app, select the “Safari” category, and disable the “Frequently Visited Sites” option under the General options.

To instead just remove one or more frequently visited websites while leaving the feature enabled, open Safari’s new tab page and look at the icons for your frequently visited sites. Long-press an icon and tap Delete to remove it. Safari won’t show it on this page anymore, no matter how much you visit it.

Disable Top Sites on a Mac

The Safari web browser on Mac OS X has a similar feature. It will open to a “Top Sites” view with thumbnail previews of the websites you frequently visit when you launch Safari or open a new tab.

There’s no actual way to completely hide the top sites from the interface on a Mac as there is on iOS. However, you can prevent them from appearing unless someone seeks them out, or tweak your top sites so that a specific list of websites always appears there.

The simplest option is simply clicking the star icon at the top-right of the favorites page screen. Safari will always open showing your favorite websites, and won’t show top sites unless someone clicks that option. The favorites page will always contain an icon that takes you to the top sites. If you’re just worried about someone seeing your top sites from over your shoulder, this will work fine.

You could also click the Safari menu and select Preferences. For “New windows open with” and “New tabs open with”, select an option other than favorites — for example, your home page or a blank page. Someone will have to click History > Show top sites to access the favorites page, and then click the top sites icon on the favorites page to access them.

Safari’s top sites page is always a 4×3 grid of 12 thumbnails. You can add websites to it, remove websites from it, and lock websites in place. Lock twelve thumbnails in place and no other websites will automatically appear here.

To manually add a website to your top sites list, visit it, click the share button on Safari’s toolbar, select “Add bookmarks,” and tell Safari to add the page to “Top sites.”

You can then visit the top sites view. Hover your mouse cursor over a top site and click the pin icon to lock the top site in place. If a website you don’t want to see appears there, click the x button instead to remove it from the page.

By removing top sites you don’t want to see, adding ones you do want to see, and then locking every single one in place, you can customize your list of top sites and prevent other websites from appearing here. Someone would have to start removing top sites to see other ones — and, if that’s a problem you’re worried about, you should just be clearing your Safari browser history.

Many web browsers have features like this one. Ultimately, if you’re worried about people seeing the websites you’re visiting, you should be clearing your web browser’s history and private data regularly. But you may just want to hide those sites a little bit, preventing people from seeing the websites you visit every time you open a new tab in your browser or just getting those frequently visited sites out of your way so you can focus on your favorite websites — the websites you actually want to see every time you open your browser’s new tab page.

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.
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