Is Safari a Search Engine?

No, Safari is not a search engine. It is a fully functional web browser that we use to visit web sites on the internet. Safari can visit and use a search engine site, but it is not limited to internet searching. It is actually much more than that.

My name is Eric, and I have worked as a software engineer for over 20 years. I’ve been playing around with computers since the late 1970s. I have experience with many different technologies and continue to learn about more every day. 

As I learn, I also enjoy passing the information along to you so you can learn as well. In this article, I‘m going to explain what Safari really is and then talk about search engines. Finally, we’ll discuss why Safari and other browsers are often mistaken for search engines.

Keep reading to find out more!

What is Safari?

Safari app showing on Dock

If you were thinking that Safari is a search engine, don’t feel bad. It’s easy to see why many people might think this. When you start up Safari on your Mac or iPhone, the first thing you usually see is the search field at the top or a search engine web page such as Google. 

The search box in Safari

This probably makes you associate Safari with searching for things on the internet. While you may use it to search the internet, it is not a search engine, it is the tool that you use to get to the search engine.

Safari is actually a web browser. Some may also refer to it just as a “browser”. A web browser is an application that allows you to connect to, view, and run other applications on the internet. 

Safari is just one web browser that you can use and it is the default browser on most Apple devices. There are many other web browsers available. You probably already know about the most popular ones such as Chrome, Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge.

What is a Web Browser?

We could probably dedicate a whole article explaining what a web browser is and how it works, but for now, just think of it this way. It is an app that you use to communicate and interact with websites on the internet. 

It basically translates the information from the internet into a form that you and I can view. In essence, it is much like a television that picks up a tv signal and converts it into the video or movie that you see on the screen. 

The television itself is not a movie or television station that you are watching, it is merely the interface that interprets and presents it to you in a medium that you can understand.

What is a Search Engine?

Google is the most popular search engine in the US, and the world.

So, if Safari is not a search engine, you may want to know what a search engine is and how you might identify one. A search engine, like a web browser, is an application but their similarities end there. 

Search engines are applications that search the internet or the world wide web for information specified by a client. That client is you and your browser. You type the question or item that you wish to search for, into the engine’s interface through your browser. 

The browser sends that information to the search engine application and it then uses a systematic way of looking through millions of websites to find information related to what you are looking for. 

Once it gathers the information on websites that fit your search criteria, it provides you with a list of links to get to those sites. Sounds pretty simple, but of course there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make this work. We won’t get into those details here as you can learn more from this article.

Just know that a search engine is an application that does exactly that, It searches. Examples of search engines are Google, Yahoo, and Bing. There are many others but these are some of the most popular.

Search engine marketshare as of 2021 (source: GlobalStats)

Why does Safari Seem Like A Search Engine?

Mistaking Safari for a search engine is very common. Safari has a search field near the top which allows you to type in things to search for. 

This can give the appearance that it is a search engine, but it is really just passing the text you type to Google, Yahoo, or others that do the actual searching. 

The search tool used by this field is normally defaulted to use Google, but this can be changed in Safari’s configuration. You can set it to use any of the other popular engines. Here’s how:

  1. Click on Safari on the top left corner.
  2. Click Preferences.
  3. Go to Search.
  4. Under Search Engine, change to your desired search engine.

Safari can often look like a search engine because it may have its homepage set to a search engine’s web site. This means, whenever you start up a new instance of it, this is the first place that it goes and the first thing that you see. 

So it’s no surprise that many people associate Safari with being a search engine.

Can I Change My Browser’s Homepage?

Many browsers such as Safari, will have their homepage set to go to Google’s search engine website by default. This is something that can easily be changed and in fact, your home page does not even have to be a search engine. 

It can be any web page you want. It can be your personal page or any other site that you spend a large amount of time on. 

All you need to do is go to the website that you want to be your homepage. Then follow the steps below:

Step 1: Click on Safari > Preferences

Step 2: Under the General tab, copy the URL of your desired web page and paste it into the Homepage field.

Step 3: Click on Set to Current Page button to save the change. 


Final Words

Now that you understand the differences between a browser and a search engine, you can see why Safari is not a search engine but a great tool for using search engines. 

You should also know that Safari is not the only browser that you can use to take advantage of the powerful search engines out there. There are many other browsers available with a variety of features. 

If you get a chance to try out any other browsers, let us know which ones you like best. We would love to hear from you.

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