Using SnapBack in Safari

I’ve often been intrigued by Safari’s SnapBack feature – how exactly does it work, and is it useful?

The basic idea of SnapBack is to save you having to click the Back button so much. You click the SnapBack icon, and Safari takes you back to the first page you visited in the current window or tab, or back to the last page of search results. Here’s how it works.

Page SnapBack

Page SnapBack is available when you see the little orange arrow icon in the address bar:

Click this icon – or press Command-Option-P – and Safari takes you back to the SnapBack page. What is the SnapBack page? Well, it’s one of the following:

  • The URL you last typed into your address bar.
  • The first page you visited in a new tab or window.
  • A page you explicitly marked for SnapBack. (To mark the current page for SnapBack, choose History > Mark Page for SnapBack, or press Command-Option-K.)

So the idea of Page SnapBack is that it takes you back to the last “hub” or “jumping off” page that you visited. You might use this feature when:

  • You’re reading through lots of discussion threads in a forum and want to jump back to the forum index page
  • You’re browsing a large image library and want to return to the index page
  • You’re on a news site such as BBC News and you’ve followed a few “related stories” links, and now you want to get back to the main page.

Search Results SnapBack

The second type of SnapBack works with search results pages, rather than regular pages. To use it, first search for a term using the search box at the top right of the Safari window:

Once your search results come up, click the links to visit sites as normal. When you’re ready to return to the search results, click the orange arrow icon in the search box (or press Command-Option-S):

Safari returns you to your search results page. A nice touch is that Safari remembers which search results page you were on, so if you were on page 3 of your search results, Safari returns you to that page, rather than page 1.

If you’re an Opera fan then you’ve no doubt noticed that SnapBack is remarkably similar to Opera’s Rewind feature (though SnapBack is done better in my opinion). SnapBack is one of those features that, while not earth-shattering, helps to make your browsing just that little bit smoother.

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9 Responses to “Using SnapBack in Safari”

  1. steveballmer Says:

    IE has always done this~!

  2. MacPhobia Says:

    A good feature.

  3. Mount Burns Says:

    I just downloaded Safari 4, and now can’t use or find snapback. Did Apple eliminate it with the new Safari 4.

  4. Matt Says:

    @Mount Burns: It looks like they left in the search results SnapBack but lost the page SnapBack. Shame. Hopefully it’ll make a reappearance!

  5. Safari-Surfer Says:

    WRITE a bug report to Apple! This great and unique feature should not disappear!

  6. adrian Says:

    Bring it BACK!!!, MAC,

  7. Alphaman Says:

    It’s supposedly back in Safari 5, although I’m on my iPad right now and haven’t yet had a chance to try it. It looks like they’ve reimplemented some of the SnapBack features, but not all. Specifically the ability to mark your own SnapBack page is missing out of the box, but fortunately, someone has stepped up and written an extension to fill in that gap.

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?s=088d64d76a23d410bc8a35047c9a76a7&p=10100367&postcount=11

  8. Matt Says:

    @Alphaman: Thanks for the update. Hurray for extensions! :)

  9. Using SnapBack in Safari « NTBK Says:

    [...] Using SnapBack in Safari Like this:LikeBe the first to like this. Published: October 29, 2008 Filed Under: Uncategorized, written interaction [...]