Safari on Your iPhone Tips
You have seen lots of great Safari tips and techniques, but you are up for even more, because you have got a ways to go. In the rest of this tip, you learn such useful techniques as maintaining your privacy, tweeting a web page, changing the default search engine, configuring the Safari security options, and searching a web page.
Maintaining your privacy by deleting the History list
The History list of sites you have recently surfed on your iPhone is a great feature when you need it, and it is an innocuous feature when you don't. However, there are times when the History list is just plain uncool. For example, suppose you shop online to get a nice gift for your spouse's birthday. If he or she also uses your iPhone, your surprise may be ruined if the purchase page accidentally shows up in the History list. Similarly, if you visit a private corporate site, a financial site, or any other site you would not want others to see, the History list might betray you.
And sometimes unsavory sites can end up in your History list by accident. For example, you might tap a legitimate-looking link in a web page or e-mail message, only to end up in some dark, dank Net neighborhood. Of course, you high-tail it out of there right away with a quick tap of the Safari Back button, but that nasty site is now lurking in your History.
Whether you have got sites on the History list that you would not want anyone to see or if you just find the idea of your iPhone tracking your movements on the web to be a bit sinister, follow these steps to wipe out the History list:
- In Safari, tap the Bookmarks icon in the menu bar. Safari opens the Bookmarks list.
- Tap the folder names that appear in the upper-left corner of the screen until you get to the Bookmarks screen.
- Tap History. Safari opens the History screen.
- Tap Clear. Safari prompts you to confirm.
- Tap Clear History. Safari deletes every site from the History list.
Here is another way to clear the History, and it might be faster if you are not currently working in Safari. In the Home screen, tap Settings, tap Safari, and then tap Clear History. When your iPhone asks you to confirm, tap Clear History.
Deleting website data
As you wander around the web, Safari gathers and saves bits of information for each site. For example, it stores some site text and images so that it can display the page faster if you revisit the site in the near future. Similarly, if you activated AutoFill for names and passwords, Safari stores that data on your iPhone. Finally, most major sites store small text files called cookies on your iPhone that save information for things like site preferences and shopping carts.
Storing all this data on your iPhone is generally a good thing because it can speed up your surfing. However, it is not always a safe or private thing. For example, if you elect to have Safari save a site password, you might change your mind later on, particularly if you share your iPhone with other people. Similarly, cookies can sometimes be used to track your activities online, so they are not always benign.
In previous versions of iOS, you could use the Settings app to clear all your stored cookies, saved passwords, or stored web page text and images (this is called the cache). However, those were awfully blunt instruments, particularly if you were only concerned about a site or two. Fortunately, iOS now has a more finely honed tool that enables you to delete the data for an individual website. Here is how it works:
- On the Home screen, tap Settings. Your iPhone opens the Settings app.
- Tap Safari. The Safari screen appears.
- Tap Advanced. The Advanced screen appears.
- Tap Website Data. Safari displays a list of the recent sites for which it has stored data, as well as the size of that data. The Website Data screen shows you which sites have saved data on your iPhone.
- If you don't see the site you want to remove, tap Show All Sites at the bottom of the list.
- Tap Edit.
- Tap the red Delete icon to the left of the site you want to clear.
- Tap the Delete icon that appears to the right of the site's data size value. Safari removes the site's data.
If you find yourself constantly deleting your browsing history or website data, you can save yourself a bit of time by configuring Safari to do this automatically. This is called private browsing and it means that Safari does not save any data as you browse. Specifically, it does not save the following:
- Sites are not added to the history (although the Back and Forward buttons still work for navigating sites that you have visited in the current session).
- Web page text and images aren't saved.
- Search text isn't saved with the search box.
- AutoFill passwords aren't saved.
To activate private browsing, follow these steps:
- On the Home screen, tap Settings. The Settings app appears.
- Tap Safari. The Safari screen appears.
- Tap the Private Browsing switch to On. The Settings app asks if you want to close your existing Safari tabs.
- To close the tabs, tap Close All. If you prefer to keep the tabs open, tap Keep All instead.
Tweeting a web page
If you have a Twitter account, there's a good chance that one of your favorite 140-characters-or-less pastimes is sharing interesting, useful, or funny websites with your followers. Using a client such as the official Twitter app or TweetDeck is fine for this, but it means you have to copy the site address, switch to the app, and then paste the address. For quick tweets, it's easier and faster just to stay in Safari, which lets you send a tweet directly from a web page. Here's what you do:
- Use Safari to navigate to the page that you want to tweet.
- Tap the Actions icon.
- Tap Twitter. Safari displays the Tweet dialog.
- If you added more than one account to the Twitter settings, tap the username in the From section and then tap the name of the account you want to use to send the tweet.
- Type your tweet text in the large text box. The Tweet dialog displays a number in the lower-right corner telling you how many characters you have left.
iOS lets you tweet about a website directly from Safari.
- If you want to include your present whereabouts as part of the tweet, tap Add Location.
- Tap Send. Your iPhone posts the tweet to your followers.
Sharing a link on Facebook
If you sign in to your Facebook account on your iPhone, you can use either Siri or the Notification Center to update your Facebook status. A timely, pithy, or funny status update is a time-honored (relatively speaking) Facebook tradition, but your friends would probably appreciate at least the occasional tidbit of non-narcissistic content. In this case, of sharing links to useful, interesting, funny, or even downright weird web pages.
Link-sharing with your Facebook pals is now built directly into Safari, so there's no need to surf to the Facebook site or fire up the Facebook app to get the job done:
- Use Safari to display to the web page you want to share.
- Tap the Actions icon.
- Tap Facebook. Safari displays the Facebook dialog.
- Type your link text in the large text box, as shown in Figure below.
You can post a link to your Facebook posse right from Safari.
- To select who will see the link, tap Friends and then tap a group in the Choose Audience list that appears.
- If you want to include your current location as part of the post, tap Add Location.
- Tap Post. Your iPhone posts the link to your Facebook Timeline.
Changing the default Search Engine
When you tap the Search icon at the top of the Safari screen, your iPhone loads the Address Bar screen and places the cursor inside the Search box so that you can type. The button you tap to launch the search is named Google, which is appropriate as Google is the default search engine on your iPhone. Almost everyone uses Google, of course, but if you have something against it, you can switch and use either Yahoo! or Bing as your search engine. Here's how:
- In the Home screen, tap Settings. Your iPhone opens the Settings app.
- Tap Safari. The Safari screen appears.
- Tap Search Engine. Your iPhone opens the Search Engine screen.
- Tap the search engine you want to use. You have three choices: Google, Yahoo!, or Bing.
Dialing a phone number from a web page
Your iPhone's membership in the smartphone club is fully confirmed with this next feature. A common chore when you surf business or retail sites is hunting down the phone number for a person, a department, customer service, technical support, or whatever. In a regular browser, you note the phone number, head for the nearest phone, and then dial. Hah! The iPhone laughs at all that extra work. Why? Because when the iPhone Safari browser comes upon a phone number in a web page, Safari conveniently converts it into a link. Tap the number, tap Call in the dialog that pops up, and you're immediately switched to the Phone app, which dials the number for you. Your iPhone smartly converts a web page phone number into a link that you can tap to call the number.
Setting the web browser security options
It's a jungle out there in cyberspace, with nasty things lurking in the digital weeds. The folks at Apple are well aware of these dangers, of course, so they've clothed your iPhone in protective gear to help keep the bad guys at bay. Safari, in particular, has four layers of security:
- Phishing protection. A phishing site is a website that, on the surface, appears to belong to a reputable company, such as an online bank or major corporation. In reality, some dark-side hackers have cobbled the site together to fool you into providing your precious login or credit card data, Social Security number, or other private information. Many of these sites either are well known or sport telltale signs that mark them as fraudulent. The Safari app comes with a Fraud Warning setting that, when activated, displays a warning about such sites.
- Pop-up blocking. Pop-up ads (and their sneakier cousins, pop-under ads) are annoying at the best of times, but they really get in the way on the iPhone because the pop-up not only creates a new Safari page, but it immediately switches to that page. So now you have to tap the Pages icon, delete the pop-up page, and then (if you already had two or more pages running) tap the page that generated the pop-up. Boo! So you can thank your preferred deity that not only does your iPhone come with a pop-up blocker that stops these pop-up pests, but it's turned on by default, to boot. However, there are sites that use pop-ups for legitimate reasons, such as media players, login pages, and important site announcements. For those sites to work properly you may need to temporarily turn off the pop-up blocker.
- Cookies. These are small text files that many sites store on the iPhone; these sites then use those files to store information about your browsing session. The most common example is a shopping cart, where your selections and amounts are stored in a cookie. However, for every benign cookie, there's at least one not-so-nice cookie used by a third-party advertiser to track your movements and display ads supposedly targeted to your tastes. Yuck. By default, your iPhone doesn't accept third-party cookies, so that's a good thing. However, you can configure Safari to accept every cookie that comes its way or no cookies at all.
Follow these steps to customize your web security options on your iPhone:
- In the Home screen, tap Settings. The Settings app slides in.
- Tap Safari. Your iPhone displays the Safari screen.
- To configure the cookies that Safari allows, tap Accept Cookies. Tap the setting you want - None, From visited, or Always - and then tap Safari. The From visited setting (the default) means that Safari accepts cookies directly only from the sites you visit and spits out any from third-party sites, such as advertisers.
- Tap the Fraud Warning setting to toggle phishing protection On and Off.
- Tap the Block Pop-ups setting to toggle pop-up blocking On and Off.
- If you want to get rid of all the cookies that have been stored on your iPhone, tap Clear Cookies and Data and when you're asked to confirm, tap Clear. It's a good idea to clear cookies if you're having trouble accessing a site or if you suspect some unwanted cookies have been stored on your iPhone (for example, if you surfed for a while with Accept Cookies set to Always).
Searching web page text
When you're perusing a page on the web, it's not unusual to be looking for specific information. In those situations, rather than reading through the entire page to find the info you seek, it would be a lot easier to search for the data. You can easily do this in the desktop version of Safari or any other computer browser, but, at first glance, the Safari app doesn't seem to have a Find feature anywhere. It's there all right, but you need to know where to look:
- Use the Safari app to navigate to the web page that contains the information you seek.
- Tap inside the Search box in the top-right corner of the Safari window.
- Tap the search text you want to use. Safari displays the usual web page matches, but it also displays "On This Page (X matches)," where X is the number of times your search text appears on the web page.
- Flick the search results up to hide the keyboard. The On This Page message now appears at the bottom of the results screen. The On This Page message tells you the number of matches that appear on the current web page.
- Tap Find "search" (where search is the search text you entered). Safari highlights the first instance of the search term.
- Tap the right-pointing arrow to cycle forward through the instances of the search term that appear on the page. Note that you can also cycle backward through the results by tapping the left-pointing arrow. Also, when you tap the right-pointing arrow after the last result appears, Safari returns you to the first result.
- When you're finished with the search, tap Done. Safari highlights the first instance of the search term that appears on the current web page.
Printing a web page with AirPrint
If you have a printer that supports the AirPrint standard for wireless printing, you can send documents, such as web pages, directly to your printer.
Here's how it works:
- Use the Safari app to navigate to the web page you want to print.
- Tap the Actions icon. A menu of web page actions appears.
- Tap Print. The Printer Options screen appears. If the Printer field already shows the printer you want to use, you can skip to Step 6.
It took a while, but we're now starting to see quite a few printers support the AirPrint standard, including printers from Brother, Canon, EPSON, Hewlett Packard, and Lexmark. To find out more, and to see a list of AirPrint-ready printers, visit http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4356.
- Tap Printer. Your iPhone looks for wireless printers on your network and then displays a list of the available printers.
- Tap the printer you want to use. Your iPhone adds the printer to the Printer Options screen and then enables the other controls on the screen.
- In the Copy field, tap + to set the number of copies you want to print.
- Configure the other printer options as needed. Note that the options you see will vary from printer to printer.
- Tap Print. Your iPhone sends the web page to the printer.
Searching the web with Siri voice commands
You can use Safari to type search queries either directly into the Search box or by navigating to a search engine site. However, if you have an iPhone 5 or 4S, typing suddenly seems like such a quaint pastime thanks to the voice-recognition prowess of the Siri app. So why type a search query when you can just tell Siri what you're looking for?
Launch Siri by tapping and holding the Home button (or pressing and holding the Mic button of the iPhone headphones, or the equivalent button on a Bluetooth headset). Here are some general tips for web searching with Siri:
- Searching the entire web. Say "Search the web for topic," where topic is your search criteria.
- Searching Wikipedia. Say "Search Wikipedia for topic," where topic is the subject you want to look up.
- Searching with a particular search engine. Say "Engine topic," where Engine is the name of the search engine, such as Google or Bing, and topic is your search criteria.
Siri also understands commands related to searching for businesses and restaurants through its partnership with Yelp. To look for businesses and restaurants using Siri, the general syntax to use is the following (although, as usual with Siri, you don't have to be too rigid about this):
"Find (or Look for) something somewhere."
Here, the something part can be the name of a business (such as "Starbucks"), a type of business (such as "gas station"), a type of restaurant (such as "Thai restaurants"), or a generic product (such as "coffee"). The somewhere part can be something relative to your current location (such as "around here" or "near me" or "within walking distance") or a specific location (such as "in Indianapolis" or "in Broad Ripple"). Here are some examples:
- "Find a gas station within walking distance."
- "Look for pizza restaurants in Indianapolis."
- "Find coffee around here."
- "Look for a grocery store near me."
Note, too, that if you add a qualifier such as "good" or "best" before the what portion of the command, Siri returns the results organized by their Yelp rating.