OS X Yosemite hidden feature series – Part 2
Following on from Part 1 in this Yosemite series, looking at features of Yosemite that are not so well known or perhaps even hidden, Part 2 will focus on added features to the Apple Safari web browser app.
Apple have spent a lot of time on their web browser, and it really is a strong competitor now. And today, I’ve grabbed my favourite little gems!
New Feature 1: Recent Safari Browser History Removal
Previously, Safari would only allow you to remove your browsing history as an all or nothing feature. The only option to clear out recent browser history was to show all your browser history and manually select and delete required websites. A bit of a laborious task.
Well, Yosemite has stepped into change all that. Now you can choose to delete just your last hour of browser history, or perhaps just everything from today, or even the last 48 hours. You can, therefore, preserve your long-term web history while just removing more recent history. I won’t start speculating on the reasons why people may wish to clear out just their last hour or so of web browser history! 😉
So, how do we do this?
Pretty simply actually. In Safari, select the main ‘Safari’ menu or the ‘History’ menu and you will see the option for ‘Clear History and Website Data…’
Once selected, you can choose options from the pull down menu for how much browser history to clear:
Don’t forget that you can always clear custom-selected browser history by selecting ‘Show History’ from the ‘History’ menu and selecting and deleting just the specific browser links you wish.
New Feature 2: New Private Window
Safari has had a Private Browsing feature for a while. However, it was again an all or nothing option.
If you wanted to browse the web on a computer without Safari tracking what web pages you’ve visited, adding cookies or saving the passwords you’re entering. You had to enable Private Browsing for ALL web tabs and windows and then remember to disable it afterwards.
Yosemite’s Safari has made Private Browsing more convenient.
You can now just enable it in a new browser window, allowing you to perform your unmonitored browsing in one window while leaving all your usual websites open in other windows.
Again this is easy to do once you know how. Just select the ‘File’ menu and choose ‘New Private Window’ (or use the keyboard shortcut of SHIFT + COMMAND + N):
This will open a new Safari browser window that will have private browsing enabled:
Any browsing you perform within this window, including any tabs you create and use, will have its history, cookies and other info deleted once you have closed the window. Plus any tabs you open, will not appear on your other devices if you are using the same iCloud account on multiple Apple devices. (Refer to ‘New Feature 3: Handoff’ from Part 1 in this blog series for more info on this feature).
Any Browser windows you had open prior to opening this new private window, along with any new windows you open with the usual ‘New Window’ or ‘COMMAND + N’ keys, will still work as normal, by auto-filling in your usernames and passwords, creating browser history etc.
As you can see below, this new private window has a dark coloured search field instead of Safari’s default clear white colour. This allows you to remember easily which Safari window is the private browsing window:
New Feature 3: Viewing all Safari Tabs
I’m a big lover of Web tabs instead of having multiple browser windows open. Safari now has a nice feature to show you a clear view of all currently opened tabs in the current window. To do this, you could select ‘Show All Tabs’ from Safari’s ‘View’ menu or use the shortcut keys of ‘SHIFT + COMMAND + ‘. But the easiest way, is to select the ‘Show all Tabs’ icon as highlighted in red below:
Now I have 4 tabs open, 2 of which are from the same website. This new view has a handy feature where it will group Tabs from the same website. (See in the image below that the 2 tabs from www.amsys.co.uk are stacked together.)
Even better, if like me you have a Mac but also an iPhone or an iPad signed into the same iCloud account, this Show All Tabs feature will also show you any open tabs on any of your other iOS devices or even another Mac. (Notice that in the image below it shows the iCloud icon and the name of my iPhone along with the Safari tabs I’m using on my iPhone.)
If I now hover my mouse over these tabs from other devices, an ‘X’ will appear on the right allowing me to close those tabs on that device:
New Feature 4: Recent Share History
Nice little titbit this one.
If you use the ‘Share’ icon in the Safari menu bar to send web information to someone either as a message, email, etc., Safari now has a ‘recents’ list. Handy for when you regularly share webpage links with the same person. It will also remember for you HOW you share with that person.
In the below example, I have shared a weblink as an iMessage to myself, which has been sent to my iPhone :
New Feature 5: Favourites View
Most of us regularly visit the same core collection of websites every time we go online. Safari can now learn these for you, allowing you to choose quickly from a ‘favourites’ list.
You can select the ‘favourites view’ icon (see right) in the Safari toolbar, but if you also click on the Smart Search field (where you enter a URL or perform a web search), a grid of icons will then appear displaying your favourite websites and frequently visited websites:
You can drag out any favourites that you want to delete from the list with the usual ‘puff of smoke’ effect as well as re-order them should you wish.
Should you wish to remove this feature, select the Safari main menu and open the Preferences. Go to the ‘Search’ tab and un-tick the ‘Show Favorites’ option:
New Feature 6: Importing bookmarks into Safari
Importing your bookmarks from other web browsers was sometimes not that easy. Even requiring exporting an HTML file first. Safari in Yosemite has improved importing.
You can easily now import Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox’s configuration files. All you need to do is go to the ‘File’ menu and select ‘Import From’:
The sub-menu will offer you dedicated options for importing from Chrome and Firefox, as well as the HTML import option:
Safari supports importing bookmarks, history and passwords from Firefox and bookmarks and history from Chrome:
New Feature 7: RSS Returns!
In years gone by before social networking kicked off, I used to love using Safari to subscribe to news feeds known as RSS. With the introduction of OS X Mountain Lion, this feature was removed. After the initial moaning, I got over it and found other ways to keep up to date such as following news feeds on Twitter.
For those of you that would like to return to using RSS, Safari in Yosemite has integrated RSS feeds into the Shared Links feature and can also grab links from your Twitter and LinkedIn feeds.
Just click on the RSS link within any website and Safari will bring up a window asking if you would like to add this feed to your Shared Links:
Once you have added the feed to access your Shared Links, select the Sidebar icon in the Safari toolbar, which is usually next to the back/forward icons (see right), then select the @ icon. Or you can select ‘Show Shared Links Sidebar’ from Safari’s ‘View’ menu. (CONTROL + COMMAND + 3 will also do the trick).
If you have logged into social media accounts such as Twitter and LinkedIn, these will also have their feeds displayed here:
Shared links are displayed by the date that they were posted. So you may find RSS feeds and social media feed posts merged.
If you want to remove a site from the Shared Links, follow the steps above to return to the @ tab of the Safari sidebar, and then click on the ‘Subscriptions’ button at the bottom:
To remove a social media feed, un-tick the box. To remove a RSS feed, select the ‘X’ icon to the left of the feed.
New Feature 8: Clever Searching
Safari has gained the ability to ‘learn’ when you use a search field in any website. You can then use a website’s search feature directly from the main Safari URL/search bar without having to re-visit the specific site first.
Sometimes, Safari is so clever that you may not even need to visit a website and use its search field for Safari to offer you a website’s search field directly in the menu bar.
How can I explain this clearly? Well, a demo usually works.
Imagine that I have Googled the Apple Watch. I have then clicked a link to the Apple website where I have used the search field inside Apple’s webpage (The Magnifying Glass icon) to find all articles hosted directly on Apple’s website regarding the watch:
Safari will now have learned that I have searched within www.apple.com for the term ‘watch’.
I can now perform this same search quicker next time by simply typing in ‘apple watch’ into Safari’s main smart search field as shown below:
Notice that Safari has suggested www.apple.com/uk/watch/ and as well as searching discussions.apple.com for ‘watch’ which is exactly what I did manually.
Want to remove this feature?
Select the Safari main menu and open the Preferences. Go to the ‘Search’ tab and un-tick the relevant option(s):
Quick Website Search has a ‘Manage Websites’ button that allows you to view and remove the website that it has remembered you used in their internal search systems:
New Feature 9: Where’s the full URL gone?
Finally, I wanted to mention a cheeky trick Safari now does with URL names. It now only shows you the main URL of a site or its domain name.
The idea here is to protect users from phishing scams by showing you just the base URL a web link has come from.
For example, if I visit https://www.apple.com/watch/apple-watch-edition/ and look at the Safari address bar, all I will see is ‘Apple Inc’:
Now the good news is that I now know that the link I am going to is officially from Apple. But I can’t see the full URL. Now you can just click on the base URL info, and it will expand to give you the full URL address. But if you wish to see the full URL by default, you just need to know where to enable it.
Select the Safari main menu and open the Preferences. Go to the ‘Advanced’ tab and Tick ‘Show full website address’:
I hope you are finding this blog series useful, the features i am discussing are just a collection of the ones that i have discovered and found useful and is not a complete feature list.
Remember, Apple has a decent overview of the main new features of OS X Yosemite on their website.
Watch this space for more in this series!
Don’t forget, if you would like to learn more about OS X or just the Mac in general, then take a look at our collection of introductory training courses.
While the author has taken care to provide our readers with accurate information, please use your discretion before acting upon information based on the blog post. Amsys will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog.
These features were tested using OS X Yosemite v10.10.1 and iOS v8.1.2 which were the latest Mac OS and iOS releases at the time of writing.