Did you know that you can quickly preview any link in macOS Safari browser by using a special trackpad gesture? Safari contains an extremely handy little feature, one that often goes unnoticed, which allows you to quickly preview pages without leaving the current page.

Stop wasting your time opening new pages and new tabs just to see what lurks behind a link. Instead, learn to wield the power of the link-previewing three-finger trackpad tap!

First and foremost, make sure the Look up option is enabled in System Preferences → Trackpad → Point & Click:

Lookup Trackpad OS X

Previewing a link in Safari

To preview a link in Safari, while maintaining your focus on the current page, do the following:

  • Hover over the link that you wish to preview
  • Tap on the trackpad with three fingers

You’ll immediately notice a new pop-up preview window that loads the URL of the link you tapped in an interface that temporarily hovers above the current web page. You can then use your trackpad to scroll on the previewed page, just like you would in a normal Safari window.

Safari Preview Trackpad Lookup

If you want to load the full page in its own full-sized tab, simply click on the preview overlay. You also have the option of adding the page directly to your Reading List by using the Add to Reading List button in the upper right-hand corner of the preview window.

This truly is an unheralded, underreported, and under-appreciated feature of the Safari browser in macOS. Did you know about this preview gesture? If not, do you plan on using it going forward?

  • Robert A. Petersen

    Yup, knew about it, use it all the time, especially for sites like reddit.

  • Though I don’t have a Force Touch Enabled Mac, But I’ve read a force touch on the link performs similar action.

    • :D

      It does

  • sh1ny

    Unfortunately for mouse users, this feature doesn’t work with Apple Magic Mouse out of the box. Luckily, it is possible to map 3-finger tap gesture with Magic Mouse to lookup word/link preview action via BetterTouchTool.

    • Yep. I’m planning a Better Touch Tool post soon. Great app.

      • Yeah Really cool App,
        I’ve set gestures like :

        -3 Finger Swipe in Safari to go to next/previous tabs.

        – In finder to move back a directory and forward.

        – Two finger Swipe from bottom of trackpad to close the Top Window. Similar from left to Quit App.

        Endless Possibilities. Very amazing.

      • grapecrush

        That would be great Jeff. Can’t wait.

  • Chris

    Probably best to mention that for those using a 2015 MBP like myself, the default action is to ‘force click with one finger’.


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  • Carlos Medina

    Doesnt work for me.

  • Joonyaboy


  • The Zlatan

    I only get the dictionary no matter what link i hover over.

    • Carlos Medina

      Same here…

  • osciloscope

    works in Messages, possibly other apps too with url links

  • jw

    I’ve wanted that feature but never realised it was built-in. Thanks Jeff!

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  • Vlad

    For users without Force Touch:
    hover the link with mouse and use shortcut Ctrl+Cmd+D and you will see lookup.
    (If you set custom shortcut for ‘look up word’ , use that shortcut)