Suppose I am trying to search for information about this file:


If I paste the following into Safari's search bar:


Safari tries to be clever and converts it into :


And then tells me it can't be found. If I do the same with Chrome, it simply searches for what I want without trying to be clever.

How can I prevent Safari from trying to do "smart searching" and instead simply search for what I want?

  • Safari on the Mac is strictly a web browser. Unlike Windows you cant search local files in a web browser. Why Google has implemented local file searching in Chrome, I couldn't say, seems odd. Oct 3, 2018 at 12:58
  • I'm not attempting to search for local files. I'm attempting to search Google for information about this configuration file. Oct 3, 2018 at 13:54
  • then go to google.com or another search engine and put your search query in the search field. Looks like safari does not recognize that as something to be searched for Oct 3, 2018 at 18:03

1 Answer 1

  • Proper way out:

open the search engine page (e.g.:google.com) and paste the string into the search field.

  • Easiest way out:

paste the above into the URL bar (which is increasingly abused as a search field as well.)

To indicate that you are cleverer than Safari, jump to the first position and insert a space character. (e.g. Ctrl+a, followed by Space)

That indicates to the browser that you are searching for a string and not trying to insert a botched URL. The leading space will be ignored by your search engine. This works in almost all cases when you want to make sure that Safari parses the contents of the URL bar not as an address but as a search string.

Now some strings seem to be more equal than others. Input "/etc/inetd.conf" and indeed Safari also ignores the first space for that. Then there are other examples like: /private/etc searches directly, /private searches directly, /private/ opens a Finder window… Some paths seem to be hardcoded.

In the example above / etc/inetd.conf should take you to a desired result.

  • 1
    Your "easiest way out" doesn't work for me. Safari interprets it as a file on my location machine and tries find it. It returns "Safari can't find the file. No file exists at the address '/etc/inetd.conf'." Oct 3, 2018 at 13:39
  • @james.garriss Tried it with another string and got what I wanted. I just retried it with "/etc/inetd.conf" and indeed Safari also ignores the first space for that. Curious. But see updated answer. Oct 3, 2018 at 13:44
  • @james.garriss That's strange. /private/etc searches directly, /privatesearches directly, /private/ opens a Finder window… Are there some paths hardcoded? Oct 3, 2018 at 13:52

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