Safari in iPadOS brings desktop websites, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg

Apple introduced significant enhancements for Safari in iPadOS to make tablet browsing a desktop-class experience with new capabilities and features such as a dedicated download manager, desktop websites instead of mobile ones, easier multitasking and so forth.

iOS 13 and iPadOS were released for developer testing following the June 3 WWDC 2019 keynote. Both software updates will release to everyone in Fall 2019.

Here are all the new features for Safari in iPadOS and iOS 13.

iPadOS: new Safari features

Here are all the new features for the Safari browser in iPadOS.

Desktop websites

Safari now automatically displays desktop versions of websites you visit.

It does so by adapting the browser’s user agent so that web servers are fooled into believing that you’re using Safari on desktop. In addition, touch input now maps correctly and that’s huge because some websites don’t work properly on iPad because they expect a mouse or trackpad.

Desktop websites take full advantage of the larger iPad screen and you can now zoom in and out on a website’s text without its code preventing you from doing so, which has been an issue with many mobile websites that have dynamically adapting layouts.

Now websites like Google Docs, Squarespace and WordPress work without a hiccup in Safari.

Safari in iPadOS

Dieter Bohn, The Verge:

Google Docs has long been a huge problem on the iPad, for two reasons. First, Google’s own iPad app is god-awful and the company seems hell-bent on not updating it to work better. Second, Google Docs in Safari on the iPad right now redirects you to that app even if you ‘Request Desktop Site’.

On iPadOS, however, Google Docs in Safari seems great.

Admittedly, I only spent about five minutes poking around, but I went straight for the stuff I didn’t expect to work at all — and it worked. Keyboard shortcuts for formatting and header styling, comments, cursor placement and even watching real-time edits from another person in the doc all worked.

Changing Safari’s user agent on iPad and doing some clever things under the hood still doesn’t make iPadOS’s Safari a real desktop browser, but at least those problematic websites will no longer be frustrating to use and interact with on your tablet.

Easier multitasking

Safari on iPadOS makes it easy to see webpages side by side.

To create such a setup, just drag a piece of content like a website link or a webpage image and drop it into its own space. Doing so will instantly spawn another instance of Safari so you can have, say, search results in the left window while opening websites in the right Safari window.

Creating multiple windows from the same app was previously possible, but only within the Safari before. iOS 13 and iPad OS have extended that functionality to a plethoras of other apps, including Notes and Mail. In Mail, for instance, you can drag a window to compose an email next to your primary inbox so that you can view or copy from one message and paste it into another, all without obscuring either message.

safari ipados

iPadOS brings other multitasking enhancements to Safari. When browsing two webpages in Split View, it will now display the full toolbar, meaning fewer taps to get things done. And if you have an external keyboard connected to your tablet, you can navigate the web even faster with more than 30 new keyboard shortcuts. Just hold down the Command key on the keyboard to display keyboard shortcuts in any app that supports them.

Download manager

Safari is bringing a dedicated download manager to the experience.

Like in Safari for Mac, you can now finally download stuff such as ZIP files, documents and so forth and save them to the disk. Not only that, but Safari for iPad lets you download files in the background, while you’re doing something else, saving you time.

download manage safari ipados

Both your web downloads from Safari and attachments from Mail are automatically saved into the Downloads folder which lives in Files. You don’t even have to open the folder because Safari lets you simply drag and drop any downloaded item and drop it into another app.

Photo upload resize

This another under-appreciated Safari feature has been around for years now.

In iPadOS, it’s getting even better. Now when you want to upload an image somewhere, you’ll be asked whether to automatically resize the image before uploading to save bandwidth. Similar to the Mail app, you can choose between Small, Medium, Large or Actual Size.


In addition to these major features, Safari in both iPadOS and iOS 13 is packed to the gills with a bunch of under-the-hood tweaks and nice-to-haves. Scrolling is now faster and you can now quickly zoom in and out on a website’s text even if the website has disallowed zooming.

An overhauled start page makes it easier to access your favorite, frequently visited and most recently visited websites. Similar to Safari in macOS, you can now easily adjust camera, microphone and location permissions, and more, on a per-site basis. These settings along with text size controls and Reader View are hidden underneath Safari’s new icon in the URL filed.

In terms of security and privacy, Safari’s elevated anti-fingerprinting protections make using web fonts more secure while iCloud end-to-end encryption means your synced bookmarks are no longer readable by anyone, Apple itself included. Indian users get new fonts in Safari, a bunch of of open tabs can now be bookmarked with a tap and you’ll now be warned when using weak passwords on websites. Siri brings suggestions to Safari for things like previously visited websites and links you receive through Messages.

On top of that, there are some noteworthy touches.

For instance, tapping the Share menu reveals new options for quickly emailing a webpage as a link or a PDF or access it in Reader view. And when you start entering a URL of the already-open website, Safari will forward you to its corresponding tab.

Lastly, even typing in URLs is faster thanks to a new gestural keyboard in iPadOS and iOS 13.

Safari changelog

Some Safari features are exclusive to the iPad version of Safari—such as desktop websites and dragging to create new windows in side-by-side multitasking mode—while others are universally available across all supported iOS devices.


These features are specific to the iPad edition of Safari.

  • Desktop websites: At long last, Safari in iPadOS automatically presents a website’s desktop version so now touch input maps correctly when a website expects mouse or trackpad input. And thanks to website scaling, these desktops sites take full advantage of the large iPad screen.
  • Drag to create windows: Quickly open another Safari window by dragging the content like a URL into its own space, creating a side-by-side browsing environment.
  • Full toolbar in Split View: Now you can access the full Safari toolbar in the Split View multitasking mode.
  • Keyboard shortcuts: Navigate the web even faster with over 30 new keyboard shortcuts when you use an external keyboard.
  • Faster scrolling: Scrolling within web pages is faster and more fluid.

iPhone and iPad

The following Safari capabilities are available on all iOS devices compatible with iOS 13.

  • Photo upload resize: When using Safari’s support for mobile uploads, the browser can now resize your photo to small, medium, large or actual size before uploading.
  • Download manager: Safari now packs in a dedicated download manager with background support. Not only does it let you see download progress, but also drag and drop any downloaded item into another app.
  • Downloads in iCloud: A unified Downloads folder in the Files app gives you a central place to access both your web downloads and attachments from Safari and Mail
  • Updated start page: An updated design of Safari’s start page now includes your favorites, frequently visited and most recently visited websites, so you can get to the site you want when opening a new tab with a tap.
  • Weak password warnings: Safari will warn you if you attempt to use a weak password when signing up for a new website account.
  • Jump to open tab: If you start to type the address of a website that’s already open, Safari directs you to the open tab.
  • Expanded email sharing: When you choose Mail from Safari’s Share menu, you have new options for emailing a webpage as a link, PDF or in Reader view.
  • Siri suggestions: Siri now offers personalized suggestions in Safari based on your browsing history, links sent to you in the Messages app and more.
  • Website View menu: Found in the Smart Search field, this new menu is now your one-stop shop for text size controls, Reader view and per‑site settings.
  • Per‑site settings: Control camera, mic and location access, view a website in its desktop or mobile version, use Reader view and enable content blockers, all on a per‑site basis.
  • Page zoom: Quickly zoom in and out on a website’s text.
  • Save open tabs as bookmarks: You can save a set of open tabs to your bookmarks.
  • New fonts: Four New Indian language system fonts for Gurmukhi, Kannada, Odia and Gujarati are now available in Safari and other apps.
  • iCloud end‑to‑end encryption: Your Safari history and open tabs that have synced with iCloud are now protected with end‑to‑end encryption.
  • Enhanced anti-fingerprinting protection: Safari’s protections related to browser fonts have been expanded.

iPadOS and iOS 13 compatibility

iOS 13 is compatible with the following Apple smartphone models:

  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone SE
  • iPod touch (7th generation)

iPadOS is compatible with the following iPads:

  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro
  • 11-inch iPad Pro
  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro\
  • 9.7-inch iPad Pro
  • iPad (6th generation)
  • iPad (5th generation)
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad mini 4
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)
  • iPad Air 2

To learn more, read Apple’s press release or visit

What do you think of these Safari changes? And while we’re at it, do you believe Apple when it says that Safari in iPadOS brings desktop-class browsing to the tablet experience?

Let us know by leaving a comment below.