Make web pages easier to read using Safari’s Reader feature



Every so often I show my Mom something on her iPad (or her iPhone, or her Mac) and her reaction is incredibly enthusiastic. Actually, sometimes it’s more along the lines of “I wish you’d shown me this before.” Either way, when that happens, I write it up for everyone. This is one of those times.

Safari’s Reader feature has been around for a bit but since Mom didn’t know about it I’m assuming that there are at least a few others who don’t know about it too. In a nutshell, it makes web pages easier to read by eliminating the ads and other distractions. It’s available on the Mac, on the iPad, and on the iPhone. It makes a huge difference in readability, especially on the iPhone. You really ought to try it.

Take a look at the screenshot below– it’s from sacbee.com, in the default view.

Web page view in iOS Safari browser
Web page view in iOS Safari browser, normal view

Now look at it in the Reader View.

Web page view in iOS Safari browser, Reader view
Web page view in iOS Safari browser, Reader view

Which would you rather read? Of course you’d rather read the second one. It’s a million times more readable. Note the buttons at the top for changing the font size and for sharing the page by email or printing or Twitter or whatever. There’s also a “Done” button which takes you back to “normal.”

Interestingly, the Reader button is blue when using Safari on a Mac, while it’s grey on the iPad and iPhone. Double-interesting: when Reader can’t figure out which part of a web page is the “real” content, it disables itself… and on the Mac, it indicates “I can’t do this in Reader” with a grey button while on the iPad and iPhone, the button simply doesn’t show up. Just to confuse things more, when you’re using Reader on the iPad, the button turns purple, and you tap it again to turn leave Reader and turn the button grey. Save us, Jony Ive.

Interface inconsistencies aside, Safari’s Reader is a fabulous feature. You should try it.


BONUS: you’ve probably had to deal with stories on the web that are split into multiple pages, such as the one shown below (with the “next page” buttons highlighted). This screenshot is from an iPad.

Web page with content split into multiple pages
Web page with content split into multiple pages

Sites that cut their stories into pieces that way do it because it gives then another chance to display ads, which means money for the site. (In fairness, it also makes the pages load faster, because there is less to load.) Split-up stories are more difficult for you to read because you have to read-click-read-click-read. Safari’s Reader feature takes care of sites like that by “reading ahead” so that page 2 follows page 1– without a click.

Safari's Reader View eliminates the need to click the "Page 2" button
Safari’s Reader View eliminates the need to click the “Page 2” button

Distraction-free, bigger fonts, a choice of background colors– who wouldn’t want that? Did I mention you should try it?



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4 thoughts on “Make web pages easier to read using Safari’s Reader feature

Add yours

  1. This really is a great feature. Thank you. I hope future Safari can improve it for use in every site since there are a few sites which it doesn't support

  2. Reader works best on sites where it's clear what the "main" story is. It's not so good (and the Reader button won't even appear) if Safari can't figure out what is "main" and what is fluff.

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