How to get the most out of Safari on iOS

Safari on iOS is a smaller but very capable version of Apple's popular web browser on the Mac. Cory Bohon shows you a few hidden surprises in the newest iteration, iOS 8.

Safari tips

From syncing your bookmarks and open tabs, to limiting ad tracking, Safari on iOS is a very capable and modern web browser. With the advent of iOS 8, however, there are many new features in Safari that make it more powerful than ever before. Let's take a look at four of these new features and how to use them to get the most out of Safari on iOS.

Deleted cloud tabs remotely

Sometimes you may have a tab opened on a remote computer, and you wish to delete it so that it no longer appears in your iCloud tabs listing. To do this, simply follow these steps:

  1. Open Safari on iOS
  2. Tap the tabs button
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the list to show the iCloud tabs on other devices
  4. Swipe from right to left on the tab that you wish to remove
  5. Select the Delete button (Figure A)

Once deleted, the tab will no longer appear in the iCloud tabs listing.

Figure A

Figure A
Deleting iCloud tabs will remove them from the iCloud tabs listing in iOS or in OS X Yosemite.

Note: If you no longer have access to the device that the iCloud tabs are visible for, the listing for iCloud tabs for that device will be removed in 14 days of the device being disabled/turned off.

Requesting a desktop site

Let's say that you're visiting a mobile version of a website that you use frequently on your iPad or desktop/laptop computer. When visiting that website, it may offer up a mobile version of a site instead of the larger site that you're used to browsing. If this is the case, you can easily now request the desktop version of a site in iOS 8. Here's how:

  1. Open Safari
  2. Enter the address for the site that you wish to load the desktop version of into the address bar, then press Enter to load the page per normal
  3. Once the page has loaded, tap in the address/search bar again, and swipe down in the content area
  4. Tap "Request Desktop Site" to try and load the desktop version (Figure B)

Figure B

Figure B
Requesting a Desktop site works for the majority of websites, but some do not respond to this request.

Once you do this, Safari will request the desktop version of the website and begin to load it. While browsing that site, each page will load the desktop version of the website.

Limiting ad tracking

Advertising is the annoying necessity that keeps the internet and websites running smoothly and generating revenue to keep site contributors paid; however, when ads between sites track movement, it can be more than a little creepy. Fortunately, there's a way to limit advertising, and here are the steps to do it:

  1. Open Settings | Safari
  2. Enable the Switch for "Do Not Track" (Figure C)
  3. Select Block Cookies, and then select "Allow from Current Website Only"

Performing these steps will significantly limit the information shared with online advertising trackers.

Figure C

Figure C
Limit ad tracking in Settings | Safari.

Quick Website Search

A new feature in iOS 8 is known as "Quick Website Search." This tool lets you easily search a site without visiting that site right from within the multibar in Safari. Using this functionality, you can type something like "techrepublic apple" to search the TechRepublic site for Apple articles into the multibar. This will open the TechRepublic website and perform a search for the topic after the site name.

Follow these steps to use this feature:

  1. Navigate to the site you wish to use with the Quick Website Search feature
  2. Perform a search to initially add the site to the feature
  3. After a few seconds, you can use the feature by typing "website search term," into the search field in Safari (Figure D), replacing "website" with the name of the website you wish to search, and "search term" with the content of the search to perform on the site.

Figure D

Figure D
Safari will offer to search the website when using the multibar.

If you wish to remove sites that have been added to this feature, you can do so by navigating to Settings | Safari | Quick Website Search, then swipe left on the website search items to delete.

Have you used any of these features in Safari in iOS 8? How do you like them? Do you have any other tips and tricks for mobile Safari? Let us know in the discussion thread below.

By Cory Bohon

Cory Bohon is an indie developer specializing in iOS and OS X development. He runs a software company called Cocoa App and is also a developer at MartianCraft. He was introduced to technology at an early age and has been writing about his favorite te...