How to Show Back & Forward Buttons in Safari for iPhone
Modern versions of iOS changed how Safari looks when a web page is loaded, particularly on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. To save screen space on these devices, all of the Safari navigation buttons disappear automatically once you start scrolling through a web page, hiding your standard back and forward features and other buttons. While this helps to reduce onscreen buttons and also aids in emphasizing the web page you are viewing on the smaller displays, it’s also rather confusing for some users to find the back/forward navigation, sharing, bookmarks, and tabs buttons to disappear, particularly if they aren’t familiar with how this feature works in Safari for iOS.
In fact, some users interpret this as webpages either hijacking their browser in Safari on the iPhone, or even a bug or crash in the Safari browser for iOS. That’s not the case however, and despite not being the most obvious thing in the world, showing all of the navigation bar, including the back, forward, sharing, and tabs buttons in Safari for iOS on iPhone or iPad, is actually extremely simple once you learn how to use and understand the feature.
How to Show Navigation Buttons in Safari for iOS on iPhone or iPad
Can’t find the navigation bar in Safari? Here’s how to reveal it at any time on any web page in iOS:
- From the Safari app in iOS, tap on the URL bar on any webpage (the URL is the web address of the site, for example “osxdaily.com”)
- The navigation buttons: Back, Forward, Sharing, Tabs, are now visible across the bottom of Safari as usual
Now that the navigation bar is visible you can tap forward, back, summon browsing history, share or email a page, access bookmarking features, tabs, and access Privacy browsing mode, or even search on page.
Notice that if you start scrolling down or up a web page again, or tap on an image, the URL bar shrinks and the navigation buttons disappear again. This happens automatically, and tapping on the URL bar will again make them reappear.
Pretty easy, right? It is once you learn how this works, but even tech savvy users can struggle with this because there is virtually no indication that tapping on the URL is going to display the navigation bar of Safari.
I saw confusion with this firsthand when a longtime Mac and iPhone user was annoyed with her iPhone, complaining to me that it always was buggy when using Safari and that Safari became usable and “stuck” on a single webpage, so she preferred to use Chrome on the iPhone instead. After asking her to show me what was happening, I realized it was the automatically hiding navigation buttons that were causing her grief, and that Safari wasn’t crashing or stuck on a website at all. After showing this simple solution to her, she said “wow that is easy, but how would I know to do that?” and remarked that many of her friend and coworkers had the same complaint. Many of these issues are just a result of changing up the user interface and switching things after users have become habituated to a certain behavior, when it changes so dramatically (and is not obvious) and no longer works as before, many users are convinced something is broken or wrong.
This applies to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, and is obviously intended for newer versions of iOS system software, including iOS 12, iOS 11, iOS 10, iOS 9, or anything newer than iOS 7 and iOS 8, because prior versions of iOS always displayed navigation buttons and did not hide them automatically in the same way.