Sorry but I don't know how to describe this problem. Let's see a simple example below.

Take this page as an example, when I search(cmd+F) "comp", safari is able to find everything about it; but if I search "omp", nothing can be found! (suppose I want to find strings containing "complete")

This can be inconvenient sometimes because I may forget the spelling of the first several letters of a word/string, or I may be only concerned about the postfix, namely, finding all strings with a given postfix(or 'midfix') and the prefix can be arbitrary.

Can someone explain this issue and is there a way to resolve it ?


1 Answer 1


This is by design. Clicking on the magnifying glass next to your search shows a menu that allows you to switch between Contains and Starts With, with the latter being the default.

There is a hidden setting to change the default to Contains.

  1. Quit Safari. (Safari menu > Quit or Command-Q)
  2. Open Terminal. (Applications > Utilities > Terminal)
  3. Copy/paste the following line exactly and press Return:

    defaults write com.apple.Safari FindOnPageMatchesWordStartsOnly -bool FALSE

The next time you run Safari, substring matching (which is what you are trying to do) should work correctly.

  • 4
    I must admit thats a very strange design decision. I've never seen a text search UX that defaults to word prefix search. Now I'm thinking on how many searches I missed before just because I didn't know about that default.
    – Max O
    Aug 8, 2019 at 11:39
  • 1
    Surprise: this doesn't work for Safari 13.0.2 in macOS 10.15. But dropdown showing "Contains/Starts With" switch which appears when you click small magnifying glass icon in field where you enter search term - still works. Oct 29, 2019 at 15:39
  • 2
    omg thank you. Like @MaxO said, I must've missed thousands of searches because of this "default" "feature"/bug. I knew Safari was gaslighting me somehow, I never had a problem w/Chrome.
    – Noon Time
    Apr 28, 2020 at 5:43

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