How to Use the Safari Web Browser on iPhone

What is Safari? Ask Apple. Apple

While you can install other browsers from the App Store, the web browser that comes built into every iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad is Safari.

The iOS version of Safari is adapted from the desktop version that has come with Macs for many years—but mobile Safari is also very different. For one thing, you control it not with a mouse but by touch.

To learn the basics of using Safari, read this article. For more advanced articles on using Safari, check out:

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Safari Basics

Woman using iPhone in kitchen

Double Tap to Zoom In/Out

If you want to zoom in on a particular section of a web page (this is especially useful to enlarge the text you're reading), simply tap twice in quick succession on the same part of the screen. This enlarges that section of the page. The same double tap zooms out again.

Pinch to Zoom In/Out

If you want more control over what you're zooming in on or how much zooming you do, use the iPhone's multitouch features.

Put your index finger together with your thumb and place them on the part of the iPhone's screen that you want to zoom in on. Then, drag your fingers apart, sending each one towards the opposite edge of the screen. This zooms in on page. The text and images appear blurry for a moment and then the iPhone makes them crisp and clear again.

To zoom out of the page and make things smaller, put your fingers at opposite ends of the screen and drag them towards each other, meeting in the center of the screen.

Jump to the Top of the Page

You scroll down the page by dragging a finger down the screen. But, did you know that you can jump back to the top of a web page without all that scrolling?

To jump to the top of a page (in order to get back to the browser bar, search bar, or the site's navigation), simply tap the clock at the top center of the iPhone or iPod touch's screen twice. The first tap reveals the address bar in Safari, the second immediately jumps you back to the top of the web page. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a similar shortcut for jumping to the bottom of a page.

Moving Back and Forth Through Your History

Like any browser, Safari keeps track of the sites you've visited and lets you use a back button (and sometimes a forward button) to move through the sites and pages you've been to recently. There are two ways to access this feature:

  • Arrow Buttons—At the bottom left corner of the screen, there are arrow buttons. Tap them to move back or forward
  • Swiping—You can also swipe to go back or forward. Swipe the left edge of the screen to go back and the right edge to go forward.


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Open a Page in a New Window

There are two ways to open a new window in Safari. The first is by tapping the icon in the lower right corner of the Safari window that looks like two squares on top of each other. This makes your current web page small and reveal a + (iOS 7 and up) or New Page button (iOS 6 and earlier) at the bottom. 

Tap that to open a new window. Tap the two rectangles again and slide up and down (iOS 7 and up) or back and forth (iOS 6 and earlier) to move between windows, or tap the X to close a window.

Besides opening a new blank window, though, you may want to open a link in a new window as you do on a desktop computer. Here's how:

  1. Find the link you want to open in a new window.
  2. Tap the link and don't remove your finger from the screen.
  3. Don't let go until a menu pops up from the bottom of the screen that offers five options:
    • Open
    • Open in New Page
    • Add to Reading List (iOS 5 and up only)
    • Copy
    • Cancel
  4. Select Open in a New Window and you'll now have two browser windows, one with the first site you visited, the second with your new page.
  5. If you have a device with a 3D Touchscreen (only the iPhone 6S and 7 series, as of this writing), tapping and holding the link can also pop up a preview of the page that's linked to. Hard press the screen and the preview will pop out and become the window you're browsing.



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The Action Menu in Safari

The menu at the bottom center of Safari that looks like a box with an arrow coming out of it is called the Action menu. Tapping it reveals all sorts of features. There you'll find options to bookmark a site, add it to your favorites or reading list, make a shortcut for it on your device's home screenprint the page, and more.


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Private Browsing in Safari

If you want to browse the web without the sites you visit being added to your browser history, use this feature. To enable it in iOS 7 and up, tap the two rectangles to open a new browser window. Tap Private and then choose whether you want to keep all of your open browser windows or close them. To turn Private Browsing off, follow the same steps. (In iOS 6, Private Browsing is enabled via the Safari settings in the Settings app.)