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After completing a search in Safari (tested on version 13.1.2 and 14.0 with Catalina 10.15.6), the address bar remains in focus after pressing return. With other major browsers (including Chrome, Firefox, and Edge) the web page comes to focus after pressing return.

Safari not changing focus from the address bar to the web page is problematic for example when using DuckDuckGo as the default search engine. DDG allows navigation with j and k. The navigation requires the web page to be in focus and not the address bar.

Switching the focus from the address bar to the web page seems to require an extra step in Safari (such as pressing esc or clicking the web page) compared to other major browsers that switch to the web page automatically after pressing return. Is there a way to change the behavior in Safari to automatically switch focus to the web page after pressing return?

Clicking on the web page or pressing esc is necessary to begin keyboard navigation

Safari General Settings

Safari Search Settings

Safari Advanced Settings

I have removed extensions and tried various settings.

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  • Welcome to Ask Different. This is not the behavior I see with Safari 13.1.2 on Catalina 10.15.6. Which macOS version are you on? – jaume Sep 3 '20 at 12:33
  • Thanks. I am also using Catalina 10.15.6. The behavior I described occurs for me with and without extensions enabled. – Paretile Sep 4 '20 at 23:40
  • @jaume are you using the search engine ? the focus switches only for websites other than your search engine. I see this behaviour too on 10.14.6, safari 12. Never noticed it before btw! – anki Sep 9 '20 at 15:29
  • @anki Thank you for your comment, yes, I can reproduce the issue: the search field is in focus after doing a search. I've upvoted the question :-) – jaume Sep 9 '20 at 16:17
  • Strangely enough this works as desired with Safari on iPadOS. – Paretile Dec 30 '20 at 18:01
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I was searching for the same answer that you are looking for, and I know that this answer is not the exact solution you were looking for, but it may ease the frustration a bit until a better solution is found.

I remapped my Caps Lock key to function as the Esc key, so after I do a search from the address bar, hitting Esc is a quick and ergonomic keypress away that lets me keep my fingers on the home row.

If you're extra fancy and like to remap Caps Lock to Control, there's a solution to that as well. Using the free app called Karabiner Elements, you can remap the Caps Lock key to both Control, if held and another key is pressed, and also Esc, if pressed by itself.

If using Karabiner Elements, and you need Caps Lock functionality, you can either assign it to the Control key or, what I do, is assign it to toggle when I press both left and right shift at the same time.

I hope someone else finds a true solution or that Apple updates Safari with at least an option to change this behavior.

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  • Vim user here, so I do appreciate an easy ESC. – Paretile Mar 31 at 18:52

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