Stupid Simple Mac Tip #94: Big Sur-fing Safari

by | Oct 5, 2021

We recently started a series called Big Sur Prizes to explore improvements in the latest macOS, but Apple’s upgrades weren’t limited to the operating system – they also delivered a revamped browser.

Safari 14 is touted as the browser’s most significant update ever. Boasting boosts to privacy, security, performance, and appearance, this update brings a handful of features that will help you work safer, quicker, and more elegantly.

Join me in pulling on a fashionable tankini and hitting the silicone beach to examine these new elements in a Big Sur-fing Safari!

Privacy/Security Improvements

Privacy protection is one of Apple’s signature strengths and has only improved in the new Safari. This includes an enhanced version of its Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) system, which prevents those cross-site trackers that follow you around the web creepily targeting you with tailored ads.

Safari not only blocks these spies but shines a light on them with built-in privacy reporting.

Clicking on the badge to the left of the address bar brings up a summary of all trackers blocked on the current site (some dodgy URLs have hundreds!). Tapping the information symbol (ⓘ) will call up your full privacy report showing all blocked activity over the past 30 days, letting you avoid invasive sites in the future.

The new Safari also includes password monitoring by default. All saved auto-fill passwords are analyzed for their strength and uniqueness, then regularly compared against leaked credentials from public data breaches.

If you’re re-using a password across several sites, choosing codes that aren’t complex enough, or if your credentials have leaked elsewhere, Safari will warn you and prompt a change. Don’t ignore these warnings! 

Performance Improvements

Apple always bragged of a fast, lightweight browser…now its improved specs have it loading 50% quicker than Chrome while using about 1/10 the RAM.

Safari not only beats Chrome but joins it in part, borrowing a couple of popular concepts, including automatic translation. One-click of an icon to the right of the address bar quickly converts most foreign tongues.

Apple has also opened Safari to extension developers, meaning that many of the handy third-party tools available on Chrome will soon be coming to Safari. One more reason to switch back to Mac’s home field browser.

Presentation Improvements

Less critical but still appealing are a handful of aesthetic upgrades. The browser now supports 4K playback for Netflix and YouTube (letting beautiful screens shine with higher resolution), features thumbnail previews when hovering over hidden tabs (great for multitaskers like me), and allows you to use custom backgrounds (right-click on the start page if you have your own image, or use the new quick settings menu on the browser’s bottom right for some pre-loaded options).

The Verdict

Safari was already my favorite browser, but I know some Mac users who continue to run Chrome. They tout its customization options, video support, and broad catalog of extensions…yet those differences become slimmer all the time.

This Safari version integrates with Big Sur to supply excellent privacy protection, superior speed, reduced battery drain, and password management tools that make it the best choice for production…while its new focus on presentation and personalization make it fun and attractive to boot.

Upgrade both your OS and your browser and keep living your best Mac life.