Apple continues to add new features to Safari on a regular basis to try to make our web browsing experience faster, easier, and—above all—more secure.

You can open up a private browser window anytime you want in Safari's file menu and Safari won't save your browsing history and will ask websites you visit not to track you. But there are a few more steps you might want to consider taking.

The place to go for most of these things is in Safari's preferences window, accessed from the Safari menu.

How to guard against unsafe files

As with all things related to security, there's a balancing act between convenience and safety. Safari will automatically open certain types of "safe" files you download from the web as a matter of convenience. But because a malicious file could be disguised as a "safe" file, it's a good idea to guard against unsafe files—and it's as easy as checking a box.

  1. Launch Safari. If it's not in the Dock, you can find it in the Applications folder.
  2. From the Safari menu, choose Preferences....

    Open Safari and choose preferences

  3. Click the General button.
  4. Uncheck the box to Open "safe" files after downloading.

    Click General and uncheck Open Safe Files After Downloading

Downloads will occur as they usually do, and to the location you have chosen, but the files won't automatically open.

How to identify fraudulent websites

Safari already identifies websites that use encryption (indicated by a padlock icon in the address bar) and an EV certificate which indicates a more extensive identity verification of the website operator (indicated in green). Safari also uses Google Safe Browsing technology--which is simply a list of websites that may contain malware, unwanted software, or phishing scams.

If it's not already on, here's how to do so:

  1. From the Safari menu, choose Preferences....
  2. Click the Security button.
  3. Check the box to Warn when visiting a fraudulent website.

    From Safari preferences, click security and check the box to warn about fraudulent websites

If you happen to run across one of these sites, Safari will put up a full-screen warning about the site before you can proceed.

How to disable JavaScript

Many—if not all—webpages contain JavaScript, which enables certain functionality for web pages, such as displaying the time and date or displaying an image from a set of options.

You can disable JavaScript if you like, but it may impact the functioning of the web page.

  1. From the Safari menu, choose Preferences....
  2. Click the Security button.
  3. Uncheck the box to disable JavaScript.

    From Safari's Security preferences, disable JavaScript

How to prevent cross-site tracking

If you've been using Safari and suddenly seen a plethora of lawnmower ads not long after doing some web research about lawnmowers, then congratulations: you've discovered crop-site tracking. It's a way of keeping track of your behavior on one part of the internet to show you ads while using a different part of the internet. If you prefer, you can turn it off.

  1. From the Safari menu, choose Preferences....
  2. Click the Privacy button.
  3. Check the box to Prevent cross-site tracking and check the box to Ask websites not to track me.

    From Safari's Privacy preferences, check boxes to prevent cross-site tracking and to ask websites not to track

Keep in mind that while you can ask websites not to track you, it's up to the website creator to honor your request.

How to block all cookies in Safari

Cookies are small text files a website may store on your Mac to help identify you or your Mac when you visit the website in the future. Examples of content stored in a cookie are your name, site browsing history, and preferences. If you don't want Safari to use cookies, you can shut it off.

  1. From the Safari menu, choose Preferences....
  2. Click the Privacy button.
  3. Uncheck the box to Block all cookies.

    From Safari's Privacy preferences, uncheck the box to block all cookies

How to remove website data

If you ever decide to remove website data from your Mac, you can do it selectively for certain websites or remove all the data.

  1. From the Safari menu, choose Preferences....
  2. Click the Privacy button.

    Choos Safari's preferences, then click Privacy

  3. Click the Manage Website Data... button.
  4. Select a website and click the Remove button to remove the site's cache, cookies, or local storage or click the Remove All button to delete data for all websites.

    Click Manage Website Data and delete data for one site or all sites

How to clear your browsing history

Rather than root around through a set of checkboxes and pop-up menus, you can clear your browsing history, cookies, and website data with a menu command.

  1. From the Safari menu, choose Clear History....
  2. From the Clear pop-up menu, choose how far back you want to go.
  3. Click Clear History.

    From the Safari menu, choose clear history, seta time frame, and click Clear History

In addition to the history of the website pages you've visited, you'll also give the heave-ho to recent searches, a list of items you have downloaded, the frequently visited site list, and other information.

If your Mac and other devices have Safari turned on in iCloud preferences, the clear history command will remove the browsing history from Safari on those other devices.

How to check for Apple Pay on websites

You can enable Safari on your Mac to show you websites that can accept payments via Apple Pay. You can then make the payments from your Apple Watch or iPhone, or using Touch ID if it's built into your Mac.

  1. From the Safari menu, choose Preferences....
  2. Click the Privacy button.
  3. Check the box to Allow websites to check if Apple Pay is set up.

    From Safari's Privacy preferences, check the box to allow Safari to show Apple Pay on websites

How to allow or deny camera, microphone, and location access

Safari includes the ability to determine whether or not websites ask can use your Mac's camera and microphone. Here's how to set it up.

  1. From the Safari menu, choose Preferences....
  2. Click the Websites button.

    In Safari's preferences, click Websites

  3. From the General section of the sidebar, click Camera.
  4. Click the pop-up menu for "When visiting other websites" and choose Ask, Deny, or Allow, depending on your preference.

    Click Camera, and choose either Ask, Deny, or Allow access

The settings work in exactly the same way for your Mac's microphone and your location. Simply click Microphone or Location in the sidebar. Similarly, you can change the setting for currently open websites to suit your preference.

How to block pop-up windows

Some web pages that you visit will automatically display a pop-up window that will block content—often with an ad—that you're trying to view. While this can be annoying, there are some sites that require pop-up windows to work properly. Fortunately, Safari provides fine-grained control of these pop-up windows.

  1. From the Safari menu, choose Preferences....
  2. Click the Websites button.

    In Safari's preferences, click Websites

  3. From the General section of the sidebar, click Pop-up Windows.
  4. Click the pop-up menu for "When visiting other websites" and choose Block and Notify, Block, or Allow, depending on your preference.

    Click Pop-up Windows and choose Block and Notify, Block, or Allow

Similarly, you can change the setting for currently open websites to suit your preference.

If you choose Block and Notify, a small icon will appear on the right side of the Smart Search field. Click it to display the pop-up windows for the web page.

Questions?

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