Safari 14 running on macOS Big Sur
|Initial release||January 7, 2003|
|Written in||C++, Objective-C and Swift|
|License||Freeware; some components GNU LGPL|
|Part of a series on|
Safari is a graphical web browser developed by Apple, mostly based on open-source software such as WebKit. It first appeared as part of Mac OS X Panther on the Mac in 2003; later, a mobile version was introduced as part of iPhone OS 1 on the iPhone and iPod touch in 2007. It is currently supported on macOS, iOS, and iPadOS. A Windows version was available from 2007 to 2012.
Safari 14, released on November 12, 2020, is the current version for macOS as part of macOS Big Sur; it is also available for macOS Catalina. Apple claims that it is up to 50 percent faster than Google Chrome while consuming less battery power than other standard web browsers. It is also the current version of iOS and iPadOS, as part of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14.
Safari 15 is the current preview version of Safari. It was announced on June 7, 2021 at WWDC 2021 with a projected release date of July 2021. Included as part of macOS Monterey, iOS 15, and iPadOS 15, it added a new design, tab groups, a new start page, and extension supports.
History and development
Before 1997, Apple's Macintosh computers were shipped exclusively with the Netscape Navigator and Cyberdog web browsers. Internet Explorer for Mac was later introduced as the default web browser since Mac OS 8.1 as part of a five-year agreement between Apple and its rival, Microsoft. During that time, Microsoft announced three major versions of Internet Explorer for Mac that were used by Mac OS 8 and Mac OS 9, though Apple continued to support Netscape Navigator as an alternative. Microsoft ultimately released a Mac OS X edition of Internet Explorer for Mac, which was bundled as the default browser in all Mac OS X releases from Mac OS X DP4 to Mac OS X v10.2.
Before the name Safari being used, a couple of others were drafted, including 'Freedom'. For over a year internally, the browser was widely known as 'Alexander'; that name was used as a string in the code and resources. Apple's development team also casually referred to it as 'iBrowse' prior to Safari being the chosen name.
On January 7, 2003, at Macworld San Francisco, Steve Jobs announced that Apple had developed its own web browser, called Safari. It was based on Apple's internal fork of the KHTML rendering engine, called WebKit. The company released the first beta version, available exclusively for Mac OS X. Later that day, several official and unofficial beta versions followed up until version 1.0 was released on June 23, 2003.
On Mac OS X v10.3, Safari was pre-installed as the system's default browser, rather than requiring a separate download, as was the case with previous Mac OS X versions. Safari's predecessor, the Internet Explorer for Mac, was included in 10.3 as an alternative.
In April 2005, Dave Hyatt, a Safari developer, fixed several bugs in Safari, thereby enabling it to pass the Acid2 test developed by the Web Standards Project. On April 27, 2005, he announced that his development version of Safari now passed the test, making it the first web browser to do so.
Safari 2.0 was released on April 29, 2005, as the only web browser Mac OS X 10.4 offer by default. Apple touted this version as it was capable of running a 1.8x speed boost compared to version 1.2.4, but it did not yet feature the Acid2 bug fixes. These major changes were initially unavailable for end-users unless they installed and compiled the WebKit source code or ran one of the nightly automated builds available at OpenDarwin.org. Apple eventually released version 2.0.2 of Safari, which included the modifications required to pass Acid2, on October 31, 2005.
The final stable version of Safari 2, Safari 2.0.4, was updated on January 10, 2006, for Mac OS X. It was only available as part of Mac OS X Update 10.4.4. This version delivers layout and CPU usage issues, among other improvements. Safari 2.0.4 was the last version released exclusively with Mac OS X.
On January 9, 2007, at Macworld SF, Steve Jobs announced the iPhone. The device's operating system, initially called iPhone OS, but was later renamed to iOS made use of a mobile version of the Safari browser capable of displaying full, desktop-class websites.
At WWDC 2007, Steve Jobs announced Safari 3 for Mac OS X 10.5, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. During the announcement, he ran a benchmark based on the iBench browser test suite comparing the most popular Windows browsers, hence claiming that Safari has the fastest browser performance. His claim was later reviewed by a third-party test of HTTP load times, they verified that Safari 3 was indeed the fastest browser on the Windows platform in terms of initial data loading over the Internet though it was only negligibly faster than Internet Explorer 7 and Mozilla Firefox when it came to static content from the local cache.
The initial Safari 3 beta version for Windows, released on the same day as its announcement at WWDC 2007, contained several bugs and a zero day exploit that allowed remote code execution. The addressed bugs were then fixed by Apple three days later on June 14, 2007, in version 3.0.1 for Windows. On June 22, 2007, Apple released Safari 3.0.2 to address some bugs, performance issues, and other security issues. Safari 3.0.2 for Windows handles some fonts missing in the browser but already installed on Windows computers, such as Tahoma, Trebuchet MS, and others.
The iPhone was formally released on June 29, 2007, with a version of Safari based on the same WebKit rendering engine as the desktop version but with a modified feature set better suited for a mobile device. The version number of Safari as reported in its user agent string is 3.0, was in line with the contemporary desktop versions of Safari.
The first stable, non-beta release of Safari for Windows, Safari 3.1, was offered as a free download on March 18, 2008. In June 2008, Apple released version 3.1.2, addressing a security vulnerability in the Windows version where visiting a malicious web site could force a download of executable files and execute them on the user's desktop.
Safari 3.2, released on November 13, 2008, introduced anti-phishing features using Google Safe Browsing and Extended Validation Certificate support. The final version of Safari 3 is 3.2.3, released on May 12, 2009.
Safari was one of the twelve browsers offered to EU users of Microsoft Windows in 2010. It was one of the five browsers displayed on the first page of browser choices along with Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Opera.
Apple also released Safari 4.1 concurrently with Safari 5, exclusively for Mac OS X Tiger. The update included the majority of the features and security enhancements found in Safari 5. It did not, however, include Safari Reader or Safari Extensions. With Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, Apple released Safari 5.1 for both Windows and Mac on July 20, 2011, with the new function 'Reading List' and a faster browsing experience. Apple simultaneously released Safari 5.0.6 for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, excluding Leopard users from the new functions in Safari 5.1.
Safari 5.1.7 has become the last version of Safari developed for Windows.
Safari 6.0 was previously known as Safari 5.2 until Apple announced the change at WWDC 2012. The stable release of Safari 6 coincided with the release of OS X Mountain Lion on July 25, 2012, and is integrated into the OS. As Apple integrated it with Mountain Lion, it is no longer available for download from the Apple website or other sources. Apple released Safari 6 via Software Update for users of OS X Lion. It has not been released for OS X versions before Lion or for Windows. Regarding the unavailability of Safari 6 on Windows, Apple has stated, "Safari 6 is available for Mountain Lion and Lion. Safari 5 continues to be available for Windows." Shortly after the statement, Apple quietly removed references and links for the Windows version of Safari 5. Microsoft later removed Safari from its BrowserChoice page.
On June 11, 2012, Apple released a developer preview of Safari 6.0 with a feature called iCloud Tabs, which allows users to 'sync' their open tabs with any iOS or other OS X device running the latest software. Safari 6 also included new privacy features, including an "Ask websites not to track me" preference and the ability for websites to send OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion users notifications, although it removed RSS support. Safari 6 has the Share Sheets capability in OS X Mountain Lion. The Share Sheet options are: Add to Reading List, Add Bookmark, Email this Page, Message, Twitter, and Facebook. Tabs with full-page previews were added, too.
The sixth major version of Safari, it added options to allow pages to be shared with other users via email, Messages, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as making some minor performance improvements. It added support for -webkit-calc() in CSS.
Additionally, various features were removed, including, but not limited to, Activity Window, separate Download Window, direct support for RSS feeds in the URL field, and bookmarks. The separate search field and the address bar are also no longer available as a toolbar configuration option, instead; it was replaced by the smart search field, a combination of the address bar and the search field.
Safari 8 was announced at WWDC 2014 and released with OS X Yosemite. It included WebGL support, stronger privacy features, increased speed and efficiency, enhanced iCloud integration, and updated design.
Safari 9 was announced at WWDC 2015 and released with OS X El Capitan. New features included the possibility to mute the audio in specific tabs, more options for Safari Reader, and improved autofill. When used in OS X Yosemite, it does not include all features, for which Apple requires upgrading to El Capitan.
Safari 10 was released alongside macOS Sierra 10.12 for OS X Yosemite and OS X El Capitan. It does not include all of the new features available in macOS Sierra, like Apple Pay on the web and picture-in-picture support for videos.
Safari extensions saved directly to Pocket and Dic Go. Bookmark sidebar and History view were redesigned, double-clicking will lead to a focus on one particular folder. Software improvements include Autofill quality from the Contrast card and Web Inspector Timelines Tab, in-line sub-headlines, bylines, and publish dates. Ut tracks and re-applies zoom level to websites. Legacy plug-ins were disabled by default in favor of HTML5 versions of websites. Recently closed tabs can be reopened via the History menu, or by holding the "+" button in the tab bar, and using Shift-Command-T. When a link opens in a new tab; it is now possible to hit the back button or swipe to close it and go back to the original tab. Debugging is now supported on the Web Inspector.
Safari 10 also includes several security updates, including fixes for six WebKit vulnerabilities and issues related to Reader and Tabs. The first version of Safari 10 was released on September 20, 2016, and the last version (10.1.2) was released on July 19, 2017.
Safari 11 was released as a part of macOS High Sierra but was also made available for OS X El Capitan and macOS Sierra on September 19, 2017. Safari 11 included several new features such as Intelligent Tracking Prevention which aims to prevent cross-site tracking by placing limitations on cookies and other website data. Intelligent Tracking Prevention allows first-party cookies to continue tracking user browser history, albeit with time limits. For example, first-party cookies from ad-tech companies, like Alphabet, are set to expire 24-hours after the user visits the website.
Safari 12 was released in the lead up to macOS Mojave but was also made available for macOS Sierra and macOS High Sierra on September 17, 2018. Safari 12 includes several new features such as Icons in tabs, Automatic Strong Passwords, and Intelligent Tracking Prevention 2.0. An updated Safari version 12.0.1 was released on October 30, 2018 as part of macOS Mojave 10.14.1 release, and Safari 12.0.2 was released on December 5, 2018, alongside macOS 10.14.2.
Support for developer-signed classic Safari Extensions has been dropped. This version will also be the last one that supports the official Extensions Gallery, and Apple encourages extension authors to switch to Safari App Extensions. This move triggered negative feedback in the community.
Safari 13 was announced alongside macOS Catalina at WWDC 2019 on June 3, 2019. Safari 13 includes several new features such as prompting users to change weak passwords, FIDO2 USB security key authentication support, Sign in with Apple support, Apple Pay on the Web support, and increased speed and security. Safari 13 was released on September 20, 2019, on macOS Mojave and macOS High Sierra.
In June 2020 it was announced that macOS Big Sur will include Safari 14. Safari 14 introduces new privacy features, including Privacy Report, which shows blocked content and privacy information on web pages. Users will also receive a monthly report on trackers that Safari has blocked. Extensions can also be enabled or disabled on a site-by-site basis. Safari 14 introduced partial support for the WebExtension API used in Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and Opera, making it easier for developers to port their extensions from those web browsers to Safari. Support for Adobe Flash Player will also be dropped from Safari, 3 months ahead of its end-of-life. A built-in translation service allows translating a page in another language. Safari 14 was released as a standalone update to macOS Catalina and Mojave users on September 16, 2020.
Safari 15 will be released with macOS Monterey and, simultaneously for the first time, iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 in late 2021. It features a new design, tab groups, a new start page, and extension support on iOS and iPadOS.
Safari Technology Preview
Safari Technology Preview was first released alongside OS X El Capitan 10.11.4. Safari Technology Preview releases include the latest version of WebKit, incorporating Web technologies to be incorporated in future stable releases of Safari so that developers and users can install the Technology Preview release on a Mac, test those features, and provide feedback.
Until Safari 6.0, it included a built-in web feed aggregator that supported the RSS and Atom standards. Current features include Private Browsing (a mode in which the browser retains no record of information about the user's web activity), the ability to archive web content in WebArchive format, the ability to email complete web pages directly from a browser menu, the ability to search bookmarks, and the ability to share tabs between all Mac and iOS devices running appropriate versions of software via an iCloud account.
Safari on an iPad running iPadOS 14 in Landscape view
Safari on iOS 14, on the Wikipedia mobile landing page
WebKit2 has a multiprocess API for WebKit, where the web-content is handled by a separate process than the application using WebKit. Apple announced WebKit2 in April 2010. Safari for OS X switched to the new API with version 5.1. Safari for iOS switched to WebKit2 with iOS 8.
Apple used a remotely updated plug-in blacklist to prevent potentially dangerous or vulnerable plugins from running on Safari. Initially, Flash and Java contents were blocked on some early versions of Safari. Since Safari 12 support for NPAPI plugins (except for Flash) has been completely dropped. Starting with the release of Safari 14, support for Adobe Flash Player will be dropped altogether.
The license has common terms against reverse engineering, copying and sub-licensing, open-source except parts, and its warranties and liability. The permission to opt-out of tracking was limited to specific devices. For example, Windows user is restricted to run opt-out of tracking since their license omits the opening If clause. All users are allowed to opt-out of location tracking by not using location services. Optionally, users can choose to enable a withdrawable diagnostic and usage collection program, which permits Apple and its associated developers to collect, use, and manage that user's data and information as long as they don't publicly identify them.
Apple thinks "personal" does not cover "unique device identifiers" such as serial number, cookie number, or IP address, so the uses of these were permitted by law.
In September 2017 Apple announced that it will use artificial intelligence (AI) to reduce the ability of advertisers to track Safari users as they browse the web. Cookies used for tracking will be allowed for 24 hours, then disabled, unless AI judges the user wants the cookie. Major advertising groups objected, saying it will reduce the free services supported by advertising, while other experts praised the change.
In the Pwn2Own contest at the 2008 CanSecWest security conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Safari caused Mac OS X to be the first OS to fall in a hacking competition. Participants competed to find a way to read the contents of a file located on the user's desktop in one of three operating systems: Mac OS X Leopard, Windows Vista SP1, and Ubuntu 7.10. On the second day of the contest, when users were allowed to physically interact with the computers (the prior day permitted only network attacks), Charlie Miller compromised Mac OS X through an unpatched vulnerability of the PCRE library used by Safari. Miller was aware of the flaw before the conference and worked to exploit it unannounced, as is the common approach in these contests. The exploited vulnerability and other flaws were patched in Safari 3.1.1.
In the 2009 Pwn2Own contest, Charlie Miller performed another exploit of Safari to hack into a Mac. Miller again acknowledged that he knew about the security flaw before the competition and had done considerable research and preparation work on the exploit. Apple released a patch for this exploit and others on May 12, 2009 with Safari 3.2.3.
|Operating system||Operating system version||Latest Safari version||Support|
|macOS||Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar||1.0.3 (August 13, 2004)||2003–2004|
|Mac OS X 10.3 Panther||1.3.2 (January 11, 2006)||2003–2006|
|Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger||4.1.3 (November 18, 2010)||2005–2010|
|Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard||5.0.6 (July 20, 2011)||2007–2011|
|Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard||5.1.10 (September 12, 2013)||2009–2013|
|Mac OS X 10.7 Lion||6.1.6 (August 13, 2014)||2011–2014|
|OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion||6.2.8 (August 13, 2015)||2012–2015|
|OS X 10.9 Mavericks||9.1.3 (September 1, 2016)||2013–2016|
|OS X 10.10 Yosemite||10.1.2 (July 19, 2017)||2014–2017|
|OS X 10.11 El Capitan||11.1.2 (July 9, 2018)||2015–2018|
|macOS 10.12 Sierra||12.1.2 (July 22, 2019)||2016–2019|
|macOS 10.13 High Sierra||13.1.2 (July 15, 2020)||2017–2020|
|macOS 10.14 Mojave||14.1 (April 26, 2021)||Since 2018|
|macOS 10.15 Catalina||Since 2019|
|macOS 11 Big Sur||Since 2020|
|Windows 2000||3.0.3 (August 1, 2007)||Beta|
|Windows XP RTM, SP1||4.0.3 (August 11, 2009)||2007–2009|
|Windows XP SP2, SP3||5.1.7 (May 9, 2012)||2007–2012|
|iOS||iPhone OS 1||1.0.1||2007–2008|
|iPhone OS 2||2.2||2008–2010|
|iPhone OS 3||3.2.2||2009–2011|
|iOS 8||8.4.1||2014–present (Third-party Application)|
|iOS 9||9.1||2015–present (Third-party Application)|
|iOS 10||10.3.4||2016–present (Third-party Application)|
|iOS 11||11.4.1||2017–present (Third-party Application)|
|iOS 12||12.4.1||2018–present (Third-party Application)|
|iOS 13||13.7||2019–present (Third-party Application)|
|iOS 15||iOS 15||Current|
The version of Safari included in Mac OS X v10.6 (and later versions) is compiled for 64-bit architecture. Apple claims that running Safari in 64-bit mode will increase rendering speeds by up to 50%.
On 64-bit devices, iOS and its stock apps are 64-bit builds including Safari.
Distribution through Apple Software Update
An earlier version of Apple Software Update (bundled with Safari, QuickTime, and iTunes for Microsoft Windows) selected Safari for installation from a list of Apple programs to download by default, even when it did not detect an existing installation of Safari on a user's machine. John Lilly, former CEO of Mozilla, stated that Apple's use of its updating software to promote its other products was "a bad practice and should stop." He argued that the practice "borders on malware distribution practices" and "undermines the trust that we're all trying to build with users." Apple spokesman Bill Evans sidestepped Lilly's statement, saying that Apple was only "using Software Update to make it easy and convenient for both Mac and Windows users to get the latest Safari update from Apple." Apple also released a new version of Apple Software Update that puts new software in its own section, though still selected for installation by default. By late 2008, Apple Software Update no longer selected new installation items in the new software section by default.
Security updates for Snow Leopard and Windows platforms
Software security firm Sophos detailed how Snow Leopard and Windows users were not supported by the Safari 6 release at the time, while there were over 121 vulnerabilities left unpatched on those platforms. Since then, Snow Leopard has had only three minor version releases (the most recent in September 2013), and Windows has had none. While no official word has been released by Apple, the indication is that these are the final versions available for these operating systems, and both retain significant security issues.
Failure to adopt modern standards
While Safari pioneered several now standard HTML5 features (such as the Canvas API) in its early years, it has come under attack for failing to keep pace with some modern web technologies. Since 2015, iOS has allowed third party web browsers to be installed, including Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Edge; however, they are all forced to use the underlying WebKit browser engine, and inherit its limitations.
Intentionally limiting ad blockers and tracking protection
Beginning in 2018, Apple made technical changes to Safari's content blocking functionality which prompted backlash from users and developers of ad blocking extensions, who said the changes made it impossible to offer a similar level of user protection found in other browsers. Internally, the update limited the number of blocking rules which could be applied by third-party extensions, preventing the full implementation of community-developed blocklists. In response, several developers of popular ad and tracking blockers announced their products were being discontinued, as they were now incompatible with Safari's newly limited content blocking features. As a matter of policy, Apple requires the use of WebKit, Safari's underlying rendering engine, in all browsers developed for its iOS platform, preventing users from installing any competing product which offers full ad blocking functionality. Beginning with Safari 13, popular extensions such as uBlock Origin will no longer work.
In 2009, Safari had a market share of 3.85%. After remaining stable for nearly three years, it had finally caught up with Firefox by late 2014. A year later, Safari was ranked the second most used browser worldwide after Google Chrome, with a 13.01% usage share.
(As of May 2021), Google Chrome continued to be the most popular web browser, with Safari closely behind in second place.
Safari Developer Program
The Safari Developer Program was a free program for writers of extensions and HTML5 websites. It allowed members to develop extensions for Apple's Safari web browser. Since WWDC 2015, it is part of the unified Apple Developer Program, which costs $99 a year.
- History of web browsers
- List of web browsers
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