SoftwareInternet browser software
This website is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Apple Safari Review
Very, very fast
Improved tabbed browsing
The best set of developer tools
Poor help files and still no extension support
Uses huge amounts of RAM compared to the other browsers
Apple Safari offers a visually stunning web browser with a number of useful security and browsing tweaks to give you a better experience. But unless you are a web developer there aren’t many compelling reasons to switch your browser to Safari right now.
Most people will be familiar with Safari as the web browser for the iPhone. We’ve looked closely at Apple’s offering to see which features will make your browsing life easier and more fun.
Safari uses a huge amount of amount of RAM. On our test computer Safari used more than 500MB. In comparison Firefox required only 120MB. You can bring over your settings from other browsers when you setup.
Tab browsing – Apple Safari offers all the usual tabbed browsing features but nothing out of the ordinary, just an efficient way of looking at your sites.
Search box – The autocomplete box gives you options of websites in your history and your Top Sites list as you continue to type. If you hit enter, you are automatically connected to your Top Hit. As your search evolves you can hit SnapBack to take you back to your original search.
Favorites – Favorites, or Bookmarks, are conveniently displayed in an iTunes-like home, with customizable folders. You can drag a site’s icon into the Bookmarks library to save it. To automatically open all the bookmarks in a folder into different tabs, use the Auto-Click function. Apple was the first to offer this feature. There’s also a handy Address Book feature to list the URLs of the sites you add to your OS X Address Book.
History – One of the design-friendly features in Apple Safari is the Cover Flow display – when you’re looking through your history it displays like a show of iTunes album art. You can also do all the regular tasks in the history toolbar such as viewing visited websites, deleting all or deleting selected sites. When you choose to reset Safari you remove everything with one click.
Reading lists – Apple Safari 8 has a new feature, Reading Lists that let you save web pages in order to look at them later. Adding pages to the Reading List is easy and then you can browse an article preview, sort the list by read and unread, and display the pages you want to look at in Reader – a less cluttered display mode without distracting content. Safari Reader also allows you to scroll through long articles continuously, share articles by mail and zoom in and out of the text.
Top sites - Very similar to Opera's speed dial feature, Top Sites shows your most visited websites as graphical previews. Customize the number of sites displayed and the type of site, and also view news updates on your most-visited sites by looking for a star that indicated fresh content.
Private browsing – You can turn private browsing on and off easily, so others can’t see which sites you’ve visited. An icon lets you know at-a-glance whether you are in private or regular browsing mode.
Safari 8 is certainly fast. Pages render almost instantly. Apple has brought in new process architecture to separate content and interactions with the interface, for example when you create a bookmark. Once separated, processes don’t affect the speed of browsing.
Phishing protection – Apple Safari warns you when you are visiting a suspicious website that could be phishing for your personal details.
Malware protection - Web content is automatically sandboxed, or separated, so content and applications don’t have access to your information. The built-in blocker restricts malicious code from damaging your system. A privacy pane lets you see which websites are storing data on your computer.
Pop-up blocker – Apple Safari automatically blocks all unrequested pop-ups so you’re not distracted by ads.
Parental controls – You can see which sites your kids have visited and also create an approved list of sites the children are permitted to visit. If they click somewhere not on the list, they will be asked for the administrator password to proceed.
Developer tools – Safari remains the browser of choice for web developers due to its enhanced set of tools to make website creation smoother and easier. Safari is the first web browser to pass Acid 3 tests. With HTML5 support, Java support, and graphics acceleration among others, the tools are comprehensive and useful. One new feature is support for the Web Open Font Format to allow a wider choice in typography for websites.
Spell check – No need to worry about a separate spell check program, Safari checks your text as you type and also offers a built-in grammar check service. The browser spell checks in 15 languages and offers corrections to your sentence structures.
Download manager – A new feature for Safari 8, the downloads popover lets you conveniently check the progress of your downloads, view them, clear them or place them on your desktop.
RSS reader – Apple has a comprehensive and useful built-in RSS reader with all the tools you need to search the web for news updates and articles. You can search, sort and save feeds as well as add keywords for instant notifications of new content relating to your topic of interest.
Add-ons – Browse through the Extensions Gallery to pick and choose your add-ons and view your add-ons in the Extensions Pane.
Ease of use
With full screen options, an elegant interface and new zoom features, Safari is one of the most satisfying web browsers to use. All the features are intuitively designed and you won’t suffer a frustrating browsing experience with Safari.
Apple Safari also has a nice set of features for people who find traditional websites hard to read and navigate, such as a VoiceOver Screen Reader, keyboard navigation, full page zoom and customizable font sizes.
Apple has strangely decided to ditch the loading bar that appeared in the address bar that would fill up as a page loads. It was a nice touch and something we'd like to have back.
Help & support
The Help section in Apple Safari is a fully searchable, comprehensive collection of help topics. The results are sorted by relevance plus divided into related lists. Apple also makes it easy to report bugs and problems, which assists Apple in working with developers in order to create a more reliable browsing experience.
Apple Safari has shown a small, but steady rise in its popularity since its release. While it is packed with developer features and it looks great, it probably won’t tempt committed users of Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge or Mozilla Firefox.
Looking for more internet browser software reviews?
See our side-by-side comparisons and in-depth reviews