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All the new Safari features in iPadOS 13 that you need to know about

Apple’s new iPadOS, which split off from the main iOS 13 mobile operating system for the iPhone, allows the iPad more flexibility, capability, and desktop-style flair. One of the main beneficiaries of these tablet enhancements is Apple’s Safari browser. With iPadOS 13, Safari is transformed into a desktop-class browser rather than a mobile browser, bringing Safari on the iPad into sync with the look, feel, and functionality of desktop Safari.

Desktop class browsing is a term of art. Under the hood, Safari for iPadOS fundamentally alters the app’s “user agent” — the way it communicates with websites —  to identify it as a macOS Safari browser instead of a mobile browser, offering a similar browsing experience on the iPad as on the desktop.

It’s no accident that with the same iPadOS, Apple has optimized new Assistive Touch features that now let you use a Bluetooth mouse with the iPad, as well as the Apple Pencil or your fingers, smoothing out some of the friction of using the iPad as a laptop. Web interfaces for Gmail, Google Calendar, Facebook, YouTube, and other apps now work similarly on your iPad as they do on a Mac. Let’s take a closer look at some of the new tricks specifically designed for the Safari browser in iPadOS 13.

View menu

You have many more choices in viewing web pages in Safari on the iPad than you did before the new iPadOS was launched. Observe the AA button  — the website view menu — to the left of the browser’s address field. Tap and you will see a list of controls. You can zoom in on just the text, like on a desktop browser. Tap the larger A to enlarge the text but not zoom in on the entire page. You can also zoom out the text or choose the Reader view. This menu lets you hide or show the entire toolbar by tapping near the top of the screen. If you prefer the mobile version of the site, you can choose it.

Individual site settings

iPadOS desktop settings
Image used with permission by copyright holder

With iPadOS and Safari, a new menu called Website Settings lets you adjust your browser for individual sites, the same way you can in the desktop version of the browser. You can set it to Request Desktop Website or the Mobile Website. You can request it to use the Reader view automatically, if available, on any page. You can alter permissions to your iPad’s functions and data, by switching the camera, microphone, or your location on or off or tapping Deny, Allow, or Ask every time when you browse a specific site that wants to hook into your tablet’s functions.

Download manager

At the top of the toolbar, a new Download menu lets you control files you want to download to your tablet. Tap it to view your downloads just like on a desktop. You can see a list of previous downloads or a progress bar indicating a current download. You can also clear the list or tap the Magnifying Glass icon to move the download to the Files app’s Download folder. If you don’t see the download button immediately, try downloading a file first, and that will make it visible.

Upload controls

You can upload files from your iPad to various websites. Images are especially flexible with iPadOS 13. If you choose an image from your photo library, you can adjust the size of the upload. At the bottom of the window, there’s a Choose Image Size notation you can tap to choose Large, Medium, Small, or Actual Size uploads, just as you would in Safari for Mac.

Tab action

Tabs play a huge role in desktop browser productivity. So it’s not surprising that there are new tools available to make your life easier in Safari for iPadOS. If you have numerous tabs open, and you want to find one of them, a search will now bring up not only regular results but a Switch to Tab feature (also new in macOS Catalina) so you can tap that to access the tab you seek. If you tap and hold a tab, you will discover even more options. You can arrange tabs by title or by website. You can also save all of your tabs as bookmarks by tapping and holding the Bookmarks button at the top left of the window and selecting Add Bookmarks for Tabs.

Sharing options

The Share function now has an Options button that lets you share a web page specifically as a PDF or web archive. The Automatic setting gives you a link to share, but it can also make the best sharing format choice, depending on the destination.

Full page screenshot

Taking a full-page screenshot is easy in Safari for iPadOS. Just press the Home button and the Sleep/Wake button at the same time and you’ll see a preview at the bottom left of the screen. Tap the preview to reveal the markup mode. At the top of the screen, you now get a choice of selecting Screen or Full Page. Switching to Full Page lets you scroll through the long narrative using a scroll bar. You can also use the markup pens and highlighters to call out important content on the page, share it by tapping the Share button, or save it as a file.

Improved multitasking

iPadOS multitasking
Image used with permission by copyright holder

One of iPadOS’s best new features is that it now lets you use two versions of the same app in a split view — and you can have multiple split-view windows for the same app. That comes in handy with Safari for all kinds of efficient productivity. Two Safari pages open side-by-side can showcase web research and a Google doc, for example. You can also pair Safari pages with other apps, such as Notes, in multiple windows. And Safari lets you access all toolbar options in all windows while in split view mode.

Keyboard shortcuts

Not everyone is a keyboard shortcut fan, but for those who are, there are plenty of opportunities with iPadOS. The new iPadOS now offers users more of a desktop-style shortcut experience in Safari when using Apple’s Smart Keyboards or third-party keyboards, making the Safari browsing experience a lot more fluid. Here are some of the main iPadOS keyboard shortcuts.

Use default font size in Reader (⌘-0) Open link in background (⌘-tap) Toggle downloads (⌘-Option)
Open link in new window (⌘-Option-tap) Use selection for Find (⌘-E) Email this page (⌘-I)
Open link in new tab (⌘-Shift-tap) Decrease Reader text size (⌘—) Zoom in (⌘-+)
Zoom out (⌘—) Save webpage (⌘-S) Change focused element (Option-Tab)
Focus Smart Search field (⌘-Option -F) Dismiss web view in app (⌘-W) Increase Reader text size (⌘-+)
Download linked file (Option-tap) Add link to Reading List (Shift-tap) Close other tabs (⌘-Option-W)
Scroll around screen (arrow keys) Paste without formatting (⌘-Shift-Option-V) New Private tab (⌘-Shift-N)
Actual size (⌘-0) Open search result (⌘-Return) Toggle bookmarks (⌘-Alt-1)

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Jackie Dove
Jackie is an obsessive, insomniac tech writer and editor in northern California. A wildlife advocate, cat fan, and photo app…
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