Preview Web Page Links in Safari for Mac with a Multitouch Tap Trick
Have you ever been reading a webpage where another link is referenced, but you don’t want to click and follow the URL because you’re in the middle of an article? Of course you have, right? That’s practically a regular occurrence on the web. Fortunately for Mac users, web life is a bit easier, because rather than opening those links into new windows or into the background, you have a third option: previewing a web page link using a little known multitouch tap trick built into Safari for OS X.
In order to use this method to load a preview webpage of links, you’ll need a Mac with a modern version of Safari, a modern version of OS X, and a multi-touch compatible tracking surface, like a trackpad on newish MacBooks, a Magic Trackpad, or a Magic Mouse. The rest is easy, and just a matter of applying the trick at the right time and in the right place, follow along to see how this works. You’ll also need
Use a Three Finger Tap to Preview Web Page Links in Safari for Mac OS X
- Open Safari on the Mac if you haven’t done so already, then visit an example website (this one called osxdaily.com is great and you’re already on it!)
- Hover the cursor over any link embedded in a webpage like this one right here and apply a gentle three-finger double-tap on the trackpad – do not use a full click, just gently tap with three fingers without pressing down
- Wait a second or so for the hovering pop-up preview window to load the link – this little webpage preview popup is entirely navigable and interactive!
- Close the webpage preview by clicking away from the preview or by using another gentle three finger tap on the trackpad / tracking surface of the mouse
Here is an animated GIF demonstrating this feature:
Is that great or what? This is an incredibly useful trick for getting a quick glance at links in Safari for Mac OS X without needing to load the entire URL in a separate tab, window, or webpage. Instead, preview the link, and if it looks like something you’d be interested in, click on it as usual to load that webpage. Easy, useful, and just about guaranteed to improve your productivity and web browsing efficiency!
The video below demonstrates the three-finger tap for previewing a few links on a webpage, as you can see it will preview complete web pages, but also video links (where it even loads the video!), audio links, images, and everything else on the other end of the URL.
If the preview window looks familiar, you may have seen something similar in our walkthrough on how to view webpages in Spotlight for Mac.
If this isn’t working for you, be sure you have “Look up & data detectors” enabled with a three-finger tap in the Trackpad and/or Mouse settings of OS X. Here is what the setting looks like in Trackpad System Preferences:
Oh and for iPhone and iPad users, there are a few similar tricks in iOS Safari as well, though they work a bit different and require 3D Touch. We’ll cover those in another article, but a trick that doesn’t exclusively require 3D Touch at least allows iOS users to preview the URL of a link before opening it, similar to the hovering trick in desktop browsers.