How to Show the Full Website URL in Safari for macOS and OS X El Capitan

Oct 20, 2014 - 69 Comments

Safari icon The newest versions of Safari in macOS Sierra, OS X El Capitan & OS X Yosemite defaults to only displaying the domain name of the website you are visiting, rather than the complete URL that many users have long been accustomed to seeing. Some users won’t notice the change, but for many of us, this is unnecessary and annoying as it hides information about active websites that is important to know.


If you’d like to change back to how most web browsers have behaved for twenty+ years and display the complete website URL, you can make a quick settings change on your Mac within Safari to do this.

Show the Complete URL in Safari Again on Mac

  1. Open Safari Preferences (accessible via the Safari menu) and choose the “Advanced” tab
  2. Check the box next to ‘Smart Search Field’ for “Show full website address”
  3. Exit out of Preferences to immediately see the difference in a URL

Note that you’d need to be beyond the root level of a website to see the difference. Assuming you are, the change is immediately visible in the URL bar as the complete URL is now printed again, letting you know exactly what the URL of the website is.

Show full website URL in Safari for OS X

For example here’s a URL with the default setting on OSXDaily.com which only shows our domain name (osxdaily.com):

Incomplete URL shown in Safari for OS X

And with the “Show full website address” feature enabled, the exact same webpage now demonstrates a complete URL as it always had for OSXDaily.com (in this case, a post here on iOS 8.1, with the full URL being: http://osxdaily.com/2014/10/20/ios-8-1-released-download/ )

Show the full website URL in Safari

Some users may not care about this, but many of us like to know where on a website we are, and what URL address we are actively visiting. This is particularly important for users who work with the web, whether in a designer, developer, editor, blogger, or any other form, but even casual web users who just like to share a URL often want to know what it looks like, or to make sure they’re at the right place. This is probably a more important change for those who use Safari as their default browser rather than rare or occasional Safari users, but even for developers with occasional use it can still be valid to take a moment to enable.

Why this option is not enabled by default, as it has been since the entirety of the web since the earliest versions of Netscape (and Safari for that matter) is a bit of a mystery, but fortunately revealing the full URL of websites is as simple as checking a settings box.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

69 Comments

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  1. Bette says:

    All you have to do to see the full URL of any website page, is to click in the address field and it is displayed in its entirety. I really like the abbreviated address. Also, the page title is displayed in the Tab, so you always know where you are.

    • Wes says:

      So right Bette… when I saw this ‘tip’ I was a little surprised that they didn’t point out what you have said. Oh well..

    • OSXDreamer says:

      exactly. this is such a dumb “tip”. just like those that decry the disappearance of website titles — all they have to do is look at the tab bar.

      • OSXpert says:

        Just because you don’t need it doesn’t make it dumb. That’s incredibly ego-centric. As a developer, the ability to quickly look at URLs without a click is essential.

      • Santa says:

        url is useful to discover phishing website,
        plus you can quickly change page number, to navigate site
        such as http://www.example.com?page=2, to http://www.example.com?page=100, without having to click through bunch of next button. just saying, apple is trying to dumb all of us down.

        Santa

      • Andy says:

        So it’s “dumb” that some of us want to be able to use our eyes rather than navigate and click?

        This evening I was on a news web site which I use a lot, but for which the headers weren’t immediately obvious. I was about to click on another link, but I wanted to quickly see if the page was in a particular section (this is obvious thanks to the standard and logical URL scheme the site uses).

        But, no, apparently I should just move my mouse pointer up to the top bar, click, and then back down to the place I was going to click?

        Presumably you like doing lots of extra work in everything you do?

      • MacMan says:

        Have to agree with Fletch and OSXpert on this! I was getting tired of clicking in the address window to reveal URL. It’s a great tip and I couldn’t easily find it in Safari help. OSXdaily.com was very useful.

      • Programmer says:

        This is a life saver tip! What’s dumb is that Apple decided to hide the full URL in the first place.

    • VoidMourn says:

      well, as a normal user you don’t really need that. But besides the fact that the information you have stated is pretty obvious to everyone, this tip makes sense for IT people who need that kind of information out of the box, without an extra click. It’s not about knowing where we are, you should be a developer to understand.

      • Helma says:

        Not only does the short title annoy me, I also think that it mystifies the browser experience further, and makes the web less safe for naive users (see phishing comments above).

    • zelduh says:

      I can’t even see the URL on THIS p0age, so I cannot simply copy the URL and paste it into, say, a bloody email. Damned frustrating as hell.

  2. Zen says:

    Good tip. I was surprised when I found it had disappeared.

  3. Claus says:

    hi, thank you for this tip. Would appreciate a similar way in Safari for iOS 8.
    Regards, Claus

  4. Joseph Singer says:

    I guess the question is “Why?” How does shortening the URL benefit anyone in the slightest? I don’t know sometimes I think these people who work on this stuff don’t have enough important stuff to do so they mess with something so that with any luck at all they’ll break something that works.

  5. Kevin Roa says:

    Thanks.

  6. ChuckBlack says:

    Now if only I could get rid of that drawer that opens when I click on the link.

  7. Carl says:

    I really like the way the address is shortened when viewing. Also, I don’t find it a problem to just click on the URL box to get the full address. Frankly going into settings is an unnecessary step.

    • Andy says:

      Well it’s not unnecessary if you don’t like or want that behaviour. Honestly, why does everyone think their way is the right way and decries anyone who prefers an alternative? If you like it, Carl, whoop-i-doo! Good for you. I’m not going to tell you to change it.

  8. vdiv says:

    Do not be surprised if the check box disappears in the next version of Safari akin to the sidebar missing in iTunes 12 with no option to bring it back. Apple is doing it their way or the highway.

    • Bruce says:

      iTunes 12 confused me too. However, if my iPhone is connecting on wifi, then a small phone icon appears in the upper left hand corner. Click on it. Apparently the sidebar is only relevant to the device. iTunes is such a mess as they have stuffed so much into it.

      I used it in full-screen mode yesterday but could not get out of it. The standard (forever, everywhere) of using Esc did not work. Had to force quit.

  9. Bruce says:

    For all of you non-trolls: the way to get things fixed is to use apple.com/feedback (at least that is the way it is supposed to work). Complaining here doesn’t mean that anyone at apple will know about it.

    • Andy says:

      I think in this instance the checkbox option is the best route (though we could argue about which state is the default) as it seems some people prefer one way over the other. That said, it was never even an option in the past.

  10. Alex says:

    It would be nice if we could make the FONT SIZE of the URL bar in Safari a lot bigger, who on earth can read font size 6 or 8?

    And speaking of fonts, the Yosemite font is terrible and blurry, Helvetica Neue SUCKS.

    Yosemite is a UX disaster, can’t wait until 10.10.1 when they walk back half this usability crap like they had to with iOS 7.1 after mass uproar.

    Let Apple know you don’t like this stuff otherwise they won’t do a thing!

  11. ! says:

    Is there any way we can make the URL bar bigger?

    • barbasol says:

      I wish. This is so frustrating. I’ve got a 27″ screen but the url field is fixed size and will not expand to fill the space. I’ve played with customize toolbar to no avail. I really don’t understand why they do things like this.

  12. J.P. says:

    As a web developer that uses Safari constantly, not being able to see the script name I’m working on without clicking in address bar was an exercise in frustration. So to the folks who said that “this is a stupid tip as it was not a big deal”, to those of us who build the webpages that you mindlessly stare at all day long, it is a big deal.

    Thank you for this tip. You have reduced my number of clicks per day by about 50%.

    • Cathy says:

      Exactly. Thank you for saying this.

      I’m a bit puzzled as to why these people are even on this page, commenting. If they are happy with the URL being the way it is, why did they come here to read how to change it back?

      I, too, am a web developer that uses Safari constantly. I need it to work for what I do.

      • Mitch Powell says:

        LOL! Great point! Why are they even here reading it?

        I agree with those who appreciate this tip for all the reasons they’ve mentioned.

        But what about the colors?

        I’d much rather look at black on white. I can’t find a way to get that back. Light grey on dark grey is not my idea of readable. And what about flushing it left?

        AND making the type larger.

        • Tiny Fonts Suck says:

          Unfortunately, Apple does not provide a way to increase the font, type, and text sizes to be larger and more readable in OS X or Safari. This is a common complaint that many users have particularly with OS X Yosemite, which uses a thin narrow font with low contrast and extremely small sizes, but until enough Mac users voice their opinions about the bad experience of tiny illegible fonts, nothing is likely to change.

          The best thing to do is file a feedback directly with Apple and request an ability to make universal system font size adjustments:

          https://www.apple.com/feedback/macosx.html

          Fill out the feedback with your recommendations regarding font size being adjustable, and perhaps something will eventually be done.

  13. AnnBG says:

    Thank you for this solution, and for making it easy to find when I searched.

    What an annoying change in Yosemite!

  14. Rob says:

    Being able to see or quickly copy a URL is useful. It allows you to know precisely where you are, and provides a simple way to copy the location to another app, such as an email message. Hiding the info behind a couple of (undocumented) clicks slows people down, and for what? A ‘neater’ display? Really? Brevity is often more limiting than useful. Apple is taking it a bit far here.

  15. barbasol says:

    I’m REALLY surprised anyone actually likes this change. Apple is great at making things simple, but this seems so obviously backward. Ok, I guess I can see some appeal, but for people who don’t understand tech, I feel like this will cause more confusion and removes any chance of teaching them how the web works. E.g. If I’m trying to help my Mom and figure out what exact page she is on, this is just going to make it harder for her know and harder for her to tell me.

    I hated when this happened to the iPad (on the iPhone it made some sense with the limited space), and I can’t believe they actually brought it to the desktop.

    It’d all be fine if you could bring it back fully, but since the URL field is a FIXED size, you can see MUCH LESS of the address than you used to. Don’t they check with advanced users at all?

    /end rant

    • Totally agree, this is completely inane. I can’t believe I can’t just copy the damn url when I want to past someone something I searched for on DuckDuckGo.com – I literally have to tell them to go to duckduckgo.com, and then search for something, as opposed to just sending them a link!

  16. bratschegirl says:

    Thanks for this. Not sure what they thought they were “improving” with this change. Yes, you can bring up the complete url by clicking in that field, but requiring additional steps to complete a pretty standard task seems like a step backward to me.

  17. Kevin G. says:

    I’m only 49, but my eyes are such that I can’t read the tiny type in the address field without putting my nose up against the screen, and this is on a 27″ iMac.

    Apparently if you’re over 30, an Apple product is Not. For. You.

  18. Nuria says:

    Hi, thanks for this tip. I do have a bigger issue with Safari/Yosemite now, though. I can’t copy/paste the urls? If I click on the bar nothing happens? Does anyone have this issue or know how to fix it? Thank you!

  19. City Gardener says:

    I am not a developer, but I searched a long time to figure out how to cut & paste URLs for the most ordinary of things:
    sharking them on FB,
    sharing them with friends,
    putting them in grant proposals,
    making link lists for students….etc.

    Developers aren’t the only people who use URLs, Apple!

    It completely sucks that I see the URL, drag & drop, or cut & paste it, and had to read many links and finally, completely through this blog to find out how to do it.

    I like everything about Mac except Safari. I wish Chrome would get up to speed on this platform so I never have to look at Safari again.

  20. City Gardener says:

    sharing them on FB, not sharking them, typo, LOL!

  21. J R. says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for the info. I find the default changes with the new “upgrade” to safari be frustrating at best. Thanks again.

  22. Sally M says:

    Thank you for this. I was very confused by it, now I have 2 ways to get the full link!

  23. Michele O says:

    Thank you!!! I’m a new Mac user and was surprised not to see the full URL. This was very helpful.

  24. Brain Dead Homer says:

    I just click in the address field. No need to do the other steps in prefs. The tip should’ve mentioned this. Obvious know how anyway.

  25. UserSuper says:

    Ya this doesn’t work. All it does is let you see the pages, but you still can’t see the traditional URL including the protocol prefix. I used to like Apple, but now I think they suck.

  26. Tim says:

    I can understand defaulting to something less ‘busy’. But to take that choice from me? It’s not just inconvenient. It’s insulting.

    It seems to happen more and more.. Apple deciding what I need and don’t need. Removing features and functionality so that everything looks right.

    OK. I’m done. Bye Safari!

  27. Kirsta says:

    Hi – Yes good tip – not necessarily needed as you can see the address when you click in the bar but this helped me figure that out. Nothing to grump about!

  28. Sir Francis says:

    Once again, thanks for the tip. That’s 3 things you’ve helped me with (bound to be 1,000s more). It’s been less than 24 hours since I upgraded to Yosemite. If it wasn’t for the Logic Pro X update I’d prefer to go back to Mountain Lion. ANd I don’t think anything is going to fix how sloooooow my machine has become. I guess it’s a little too long in the tooth. Shame I can’t afford a new Mac Pro.

  29. Annette says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! You helped me so much with this tip. It was driving me bonkers to have to click in the address bar every time I wanted to see the full url.

    Many of the defaults of the new Safari seem to add pointless extra clicking. I am not a fan.

  30. Josha52 says:

    A bit OT, but connected to the issue:
    You see a hyperlink on a page.
    Before clicking on it you want to know its URL.
    In Firefox as wel as in Chrome there is a small nice feature for this: Move your mouse over the hyperlink. Immediately the URL is shown in a small temporary window in the bottom left corner.
    Is there any feature like this in Safari 8.x?
    I’ve searched a bit for this, but w/o success.

  31. Marcos says:

    Most of the people in favor of reverting the change, have given ample reason why it is a great option to have. Including, one that I had missed which is (not) showing the protocol prefix. Sure, I can click to see the full URL, but then the address bar becomes animated and now my eyes need to focus on a moving object. That’s just cute and “dynamic” and not at all useful.

  32. Paul says:

    I tried the above steps but I do no still get a display of the smart search bar or the url.
    I am so fed up I am about to switch browsers
    I had to replace my mac and I am frustrated by the amount of time I have had to waste in re customizing my new computer. The inability to see the URL is one of these: annoying!

  33. Poopy says:

    It is impossible to make Safari show the full URL. The full url begins with “http://” or “https://”

    This information is essential to anyone using a computer. This is why people use Firefox. Safari renders a Mac nearly useless.

    If you like to “point-n-click”, that means that the computer is running you, rather you running the computer.

    Apple makes superior hardware products, but it’s software like Safari that keeps people from buying them.

    Trying to use MacOS is like trying to build the space shuttle from three beer can. You are continuously thwarted by the Apple proprietary world, where you can only do a few things, and you can only do them the way the Apple allows … with no way of getting around it !!!

  34. dave says:

    Bah it still is only semi useful it does not show the protocol !

    I want to know where i visit and what protocol i’m communicating over !

    where is the http:// or the https://

    Safari isn’t the only browser with similar issues !

  35. TJ says:

    How do you get it to show the URL when you use the address bar to do a search?

  36. Bdub says:

    it’s a very useful tip — that’s why i landed here. Thanks!

  37. mato says:

    Now if someone could suggest how to make the address bar stretch horizontally to occupy all the space available. It’s really silly if I can see just part of the URL while I have plenty of empty space on both sides of the address bar. This really makes me worried about direction OS X has been going lately. :-(

  38. Amy says:

    is there a way to fix this on Facebook? I checked the correct box but it is not working, so I can’t send people to specific pages on Facebook anymore.

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