Amidst the tidal wave of data breaches, ransomware, and privacy invasions on the news every day, you cannot be too careful when browsing the web or conducting business online. Therefore, it is essential to know how to properly configure Safari’s privacy and security settings to get the best, most private internet experience ever!
What is Safari?
Safari is a web browser that is integrated into macOS and iOS. It is also the fastest web browser for Mac and considered one of the best all-around browsers due to its strong security and privacy settings. Apple takes privacy very seriously, and it shows. Although Safari comes chock full of some great privacy options, not all of them are turned on by default. Let’s explore each one so you can button down your copy.
Private Web Browsing Safari
On a Mac or MacBook Pro, you can open a private browsing window that will ask websites not to track you, and Safari won’t store your browsing history. Using a private browsing window is just one way to keep your online activities private.
Privacy & Security on Safari
Privacy also means keeping the bad guys out so they can’t get their hands on your information. Along with privacy settings, there are some security settings you also need to be aware of and configure properly.
Malicious Code Disguised as Safe Files
Turn off the automatic opening of “safe files” because some malware such as Worm and ransomware could be disguised as or piggybacked with safe files. You want to control how and when you install stuff.
Go to Preferences > General.
Uncheck the box at the bottom that says Open “safe” files after downloading.
This setting will help keep you from accidentally installing something dangerous without knowing it.
Another critical setting to help keep you away from danger is in the security section of Preferences.
Go to Preferences > Security.
Check off the box that says Warn when visiting a fraudulent website.
Clear Browsing History
Another safeguard against someone prying into your business is making sure your browsing history is always clear. You can clear your browsing history any time by opening Safari and going to the Safari menu, and then choosing Clear History. Clearing your history also removes cookies and downloaded files history. Always choose the “all history” option in the dropdown to be thorough. Click the Clear History button, and it’s all gone. Remember to do this often. Or set your preferences to clean it out once a week or every day.
Safari Privacy Settings
In the Privacy menu of Preferences, you will see only three settings. The first will prevent websites from cross-tracking you. Keep that checked off at all times. You can also choose to block cookies. However, some websites may not work well, and you will have to log in fresh every time (which is not a bad thing when considering privacy and security).
Use the Manage Website Data button to delete cookies and history for specific websites or all of them.
It’s up to you if you want to allow websites to check to see if you have Apple Pay or Apple Card installed. A more secure privacy option would be to uncheck this setting.
Deny Camera, Location and Microphone Access
Another way that people can spy on you is through your device camera, microphone, or your GPS location. You can turn these off by following the steps below.
Go to Preferences > Websites.
On the left side, choose Camera, Microphone, or Location.
On the right, using the dropdown, select your preferences. You can choose between Ask, Deny, or Allow.
In that same section, you can also choose Pop-up Windows from the left side and Block and Notify, Block, or Allow those as well.
Other Privacy Settings on Safari
To enjoy the most secure and private online experience, there are a few more things to consider.
Secure your iPhone or Mac with a strong password. On iPhone, use Face ID or Touch ID to make your phone harder to breach by anyone other than you.
Disable Safari access to Siri and Search, thus protecting your privacy even further. To do this, go to Settings > Safari > Siri & Search and use the toggle switches to turn off Show Siri Suggestions in Apps and Show Siri Suggestions (ON LOCK SCREEN).
If you really want to go commando and stay off the grid, set your search engine to DuckDuckGo instead of Google, who is known for tracking your every movement. To do this, go to Settings > Safari > Search Engine > and choose DuckDuckGo.
You may also want to turn off AutoFill for your personal information and credit card numbers. This feature makes buying online easier but can also expose your personal data to hackers. To turn this off, go to Settings > Safari > AutoFill. On macOS, simply uncheck the four boxes.
On the iPhone, use the two toggle switches to turn off autofill for your contact information and credit cards.
One other setting you will want to consider is how you use your bookmarks and frequently visited sites. If you share a device with someone else or think they might be into prying, you will want to turn off these two settings.
On iPhone, to hide your favorites from showing up when opening a new browser window, create a new empty bookmarks folder. Then go to Settings > Safari > Favorites and point your favorites to the empty folder. Also, use the toggle switch to turn off Frequently Visited Sites. This way, no one will inadvertently see your banking website or other private sites if they grab your iPhone.
From Safari on macOS, go to the Bookmarks menu and uncheck Show Favorites. Also, uncheck the next option labeled Show Frequently Visited in Favorites.
These days you cannot do enough to protect your online privacy using any device. However, these settings should help keep you as safe and secure as possible.