Stop Safari Reloading on Back Gesture

The Inconsistency

Like countless others (1,2,3), I’ve been frustrated by recent versions of Sarai on OS X Lion and Mountain Lion. It’s great to have mouse-gestures built in to the OS, but why on earth would a “back swipe” be processed by Safari differently than a back button press or key shortcut? Those of you with blazing internet speeds may never notice it, but when I swipe back on my Magic Mouse, a JPG preview of the last page appears briefly while the page is reloaded back to the top regardless of last scrolled state. Even Apple’s cute little demo in the mouse settings shows a page needlessly reloading. This can be particularly infuriating when going back to search results and basically having resubmit the search each time. Of course, if I click the actual back button or use “Command-[” Safari instantly displays the cached page right where I left it.

Why on earth would this be different? What actual command is OS X sending to Safari ? Obviously, it’s not simply “back”.


If you use BetterTouchTool, MagicPrefs or similar then the fix is easy. These tools let you customize and extend the functionalities of Apple’s input devices such as a MagicMouse. It’s three simple steps that take a total of 30-seconds to complete. I use BetterTouchTool:

  1. Turn off “Swipe between pages” in the Mouse settings in System Preferences
  2. Go to BetterTouchTool preferences and select Gestures tab menu bar
  3. Add or modify existing gesture in BetterTouchTool: “Single Finger Swipe Right”
  4. Enter “Command-[” (the open bracket key above the double-quote key) in under Custom Keyboard Shortcut


Simple hacks like this are so easy that it is hard not to be a bit angry at Apple for not being able to get it sorted properly. It’s fine enough for me to figure this out, but most people will just live with the annoyance and decrease in efficiency. It’s a fail for the millions of people, like my parents, who have bought into the hype that Apple products are more thoughtfully and consistently designed.

On the subject of lost efficiency, making the screenshots for was a complete disaster. Maybe this deserves its own post, but I’ll just include it here as an additional whine about the iCloud mess:  in Mountain Lion, Preview and others default to saving to iCloud. I didn’t notice, because for 20 years it has defaulted to last location which is always the desktop for me. When it came time to upload the images to the web server, there was no easy way to browse to them, so I went back to Preview, opened them from the recents menu and then saved a copy to the desktop. Luckily, there’s a Terminal command to change that behavior (via Macworld):

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSDocumentSaveNewDocumentsToCloud -bool false

How many millions of people have been browsing their file-system frantically looking for a file they know for a fact that they saved?

Do you have a better way to fix the Safari caching bug? Want to mock me for not reading my Save dialog boxes? Let me know in the comments.