How to access secret menus and functions in Safari on the Apple Mac

There are hidden menus in Safari that you cannot normally access. They enable Safari to emulate iPhones and iPads and block video ads.

Safari has two menus that contain main useful functions, but they are hidden by default. Here’s how to make them visible and use them to emulate devices, stop video ads playing and more.

Why would Apple hide menus? The reason is that they mostly contain advanced settings and functions that most people do not need. However, some of the options on these menus are very useful and they can be used to solve problems, emulate other computers, operating systems and mobile devices, and even block video adverts within articles on web pages.

It is worth enabling these two menus just for that last feature alone because video ads are awful things. Who likes them apart from advertisers? I can’t get to the close button fast enough, but now there is no need.

Related: How to reset Safari and restore default settings

Show the Safari Develop menu

  1. Open Safari
  2. Go to the Safari menu and select Preferences
  3. Select the Advanced tab
  4. Click the checkbox Show develop menu in menu bar

Safari advanced preferences tab on the Apple Mac

This menu hidden menu is fairly well known and is easy to enable from within Safari preferences.

Not everything is useful to everyone and many of the menu items are aimed at people with websites and blogs. For example, open the Develop menu, move the mouse over User Agent and select one of the many web browsers.

Safari simulates the selected browser, such as Microsoft Edge, Firefox on Mac or Windows, and so on. This means you can see how your would site look on a different computer, operating system and browser, which is great for checking that your site looks OK.

set the user agent in Safari on the Apple Mac to simulate other browsers and operating systems

If you have a website and want to check that it works properly on an iPhone, you don’t actually have to have an iPhone to test it. Select Develop, Enter Responsive Design Mode.

Safari shows a range of devices at the top, such as iPhone SE, iPhone 6S Plus, iPad Pro and so on. Click a device and Safari shows exactly how the current web page will look on that device.

Emulate other devices like the iPhone and iPad in Safari on the Apple Mac

This is another great feature for website developers and blog owners. Exit Responsive Design Mode on the Develop menu.

If you are having problems with Safari, click Empty Caches on the Develop menu. It sometimes helps.

Related: Increase Safari security and privacy in macOS

Show the hidden Debug menu

The Develop menu contains some advanced functions, but they are nothing compared to what is on the hidden Debug menu. To be honest, there is little on the debug menu that is of any use to most people, except for one item.

Close Safari if it is running.

Open the Terminal in the Utilities folder and at the command prompt, enter:

defaults write com.apple.Safari IncludeInternalDebugMenu 1

Enable the hidden Debug menu in Safari on the Apple Mac with this Terminal command

Open Safari and there is a new Debug menu. It has some seriously advanced functions that you should not play around with. However, tucked away on the Media Flags menu is Disallow Inline Video.

Stop videos automatically playing on web pages using Safari's Debug menu

This setting stops videos from automatically starting when a web page is loaded. Many videos that start automatically are simply adverts and they are often inserted into the middle of the text of an article.

They are very annoying and this setting does not hide them, but it does prevent them from playing automatically. If you want to watch a video on a web page, just click the play button. It puts the control of video playback under your control and not the web page.

Hide the secret menus

To hide the Debug menu an almost identical command is used in Terminal:

defaults write com.apple.Safari IncludeInternalDebugMenu 0

The only difference is the 1/0 at the end. 1=enable and 0=disable.

To hide the Develop menu, return to the Advanced section in Safari preferences and clear the checkbox, Show Develop menu in menu bar.

 

 

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