How to preview a link in Safari on Mac without opening a new tab

This tutorial shows you how to use your Mac’s trackpad to quickly preview a website link in a small popup Safari window.

Previewing on-page link in Safari on Mac

Safari offers an extremely handy little feature that allows you to quickly preview pages without leaving the current page.


Open links in a popup window in Safari on Mac

  1. Make sure the first website is open in Safari.
  2. Take the trackpad pointer over a link you want to take a glance at.
  3. Force-click the trackpad with one finger (or tap with three fingers), and a window will pop out that loads the URL of the link you pressed in an interface that temporarily hovers above the current web page.
Force press trackpad to preview on-page link in Safari on Mac

You can then use your trackpad to scroll on the previewed page, just like you would in a normal Safari window. If you want to load the full page in its own full-sized tab, simply click on the preview overlay, and it will open in a new tab. You also have the option of adding the page directly to your Reading List by using the Add to Reading List button in the upper right-hand corner of the preview window.

Force press vs. three-finger tap

By default, you have to force-press the trackpad on your MacBook or Magic Trackpad with one finger to see previews in Safari or use Look Up. However, you can go to System Settings > Trackpad and set “Look up & data detectors” to “Tap with Three Fingers.” After this, you can tap an on-page link with three fingers to open it in a popup window.

Tap with Three Fingers on Mac trackpad for Look up

I’ve been using a Mac long before the introduction of Force Touch trackpads, and thus, I’m accustomed to the three-finger tap, as I find it quick and comfortable to use.

Did you know about this preview gesture? If not, do you plan on using it going forward?

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