In the iOS 16 public beta, Apple has added six new actions to the Shortcuts app that work with Safari on iPhone and iPad.
Currently only available for developers and public testers (but coming to everyone this fall), these actions are aimed at interacting with different "views" in Safari, plus creating tabs and doing basic Tab Group management.
To help you take full advantage of these, here are 14 shortcuts built out with each potential option across the actions so that you don't have to build them yourself — if you're brave enough to install the betas, that is (if not, just bookmark this story):
- Open Safari Bookmarks
- Open Safari History
- Open Reading List
- Open Shared With You
- Open Safari start page
- Open Safari sidebar
- Open Tab Overview
- Open new tab
- Open new private tab
- Open Default tabs
- Open Private tabs
- Create Tab Group
- Open Safari Tab Group
- Set Safari Focus Filter
Released alongside 40 other actions, Safari has gained six actions of its own so far in the betas (descriptions from Apple):
1. Open View: Opens the view in Safari.
2. Open New Tab: Opens a new tab.
3. Open New Private Tab: Opens a new Private Tab.
4. Create Tab Group: Creates an empty Tab Group.
5. Open Tab Group: Opens the selected Tab Group.
6. Set Safari Focus Filter: Sets the behavior of the safari when the given Focus in enabled.
In addition, Safari Reader actions are also now available on macOS, matching the functionality from iOS and iPadOS that's been missing the last year since Shortcuts for Mac launched — we'll cover how to take advantage of those in a future story.
The Open View action in Safari packs a lot of functionality into a single action, providing access to every screen you can find in the Safari app.
We've built shortcuts for each option, letting you speak the names to Siri and immediately access the specific portion of the app when needed. Plus, this set works great as a Shortcuts widget to quickly pick between every option and get to the right spot.
- Open Safari Bookmarks: Opens the Bookmarks tab of the Safari app to your bookmarked websites.
- Open Safari History: Opens the Safari app and shows the History tab of previously-visited sites. Use this shortcut to find a website that you visited earlier in the day/week/month and access it again — it works well if you remember looking something up recently but don't want to search the web for the same information again, like recipes for example.
- Open Reading List: Opens the Safari app to the Reading List window so you can find pages you've saved for later. Use this shortcut to actually get to your read-later list in Safari.
- Open Shared With You: Opens Safari to the Shared With You tab where links shared in Messages are surfaced for quick access. Use this shortcut to quickly open all the links that have been, well, shared with you in apps like Messages – this works great if you regularly share links, articles, and websites with things like recipes with friends and family from your favorite iPad.
- Open Safari start page: Shows the Start Page section of Safari with Favorites, iCloud Tabs, and other custom sections. Use this shortcut to access your iCloud Tabs from another device or jump into one of your Favorite bookmarks.
- Open Safari sidebar: Activates the Sidebar area of Safari, showing the extra features and moving the main window to a 2/3 view. Use this shortcut alongside other Safari functions to set the app up exactly how you want it — it works well for a web browsing experience where you may be switching between tab groups, for example.
- Open Tab Overview: Shows all the current tabs in your tab group in a bird's eye view. Use this shortcut to quickly see the contents of all your active tabs and pick between them — it works well for searching for a specific tab, looking at the site previews, and closing tabs you're not using.
To work with tabs and tab groups, Safari has options to create new tabs, plus create a new tab group and reopen it as needed. We've included the Open View actions for Open Default Tab View and Open Private Tab View here as well since they align well with the New Tab and New Private Tab actions.
- Open new tab: Creates a new blank tab in the Safari app. Use this shortcut to open an empty tab and leave it waiting in Safari — it works well in the Shortcuts widget, or as a prompt to begin a web browsing session. Oddly, this doesn't let you specify a Tab Group to create it in (yet?).
- Open new private tab: Creates a new tab in the Private tab group of Safari.
- Open Default tabs: Opens Safari to the main tab section outside of Tab Groups. Use this shortcut to switch out of "Tab Group mode" and back to your normal set of tabs. Works well when you don't care about saving tabs for later and want to end a specific browsing session.
- Open Private tabs: Switches to the Private tab group where browse data isn't tracked. Use this shortcut to switch from public to private tabs and see the set you have available behind your default set. I use this to see the non-logged-in version of my website when testing the public vs. members-only experience.
- Create Tab Group: Generates a new tab group in Safari, prompting for a new name. Use this shortcut when you want to set up a new Tab Group and keep track of specific tabs synced across devices over time.
- Open Safari Tab Group: Prompts you to choose which of your Tab Groups to open. Use this shortcut to pick from your full list of tab groups and open the corresponding option — this works well as a Shortcuts widget to jump into the various groups you have without tapping around the Safari app multiple times.
Try duplicating this shortcut and create new shortcuts for each of your tab groups so you can access each of them with Siri too.
Finally, Safari is one of the apps that Apple added Focus Filters actions for (so far?) — this feature lets you automatically switch to a specific tab group when you activate a Focus mode, and this action lets you control that functionality entirely from within Shortcuts.
- Set Safari Focus Filter: Activate/deactivate the Focus Filter features for Safari tab groups by asking for a Focus, then which Tab Group to set. Use this shortcut to automate whether or not the feature activates alongside Focus modes — works well as an override for the Focus options defined in Settings.
These handy new Shortcuts make Safari a breeze
With that set of shortcuts, you now have a complete basis for interacting with Safari in iOS 16 — you can access everything, work with tabs, and get even deeper with Tab Groups and Focus Filters.
Currently, these actions do not work in the macOS Ventura betas — while I assume this is only temporary in the earlier betas, it's possible these may not come to the Mac. This story will be updated in future betas if more information is discovered.
This overall release is also missing a set of actions for "getting" the current tabs from Safari and your various tab groups. On the Mac, there is an action called Get Current Tab from Safari that has existed since last year that was brought over from Automator.
However, that action hasn't been brought to iOS, updated for Tab Groups, and doesn't let you get anything except the front-most tab. I hope Apple fixes this in the next few betas, as I'd like to see a Get Tabs From Safari action added in this iOS 16 release so Shortcuts users can truly take advantage of all their tabs and Tab Group setups to the fullest.
We'll be covering how to use the Safari Reader actions on the Mac in the future, plus sharing more advanced use cases for these actions near to the iOS 16 launch — until then, enjoy playing with these shortcuts on the betas.
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Matthew Cassinelli is a writer, podcaster, video producer, and Shortcuts creator. After working on the Workflow app before it was acquired by Apple and turned into Shortcuts, Matthew now shares about how to use Shortcuts and how to get things done with Apple technology.
On his personal website MatthewCassinelli.com, Matthew has shared hundreds & hundreds of shortcuts that anyone can download, plus runs a membership program for more advanced Shortcuts users. He also publishes a weekly newsletter called “What’s New in Shortcuts.”