I feel like prefetching support isn't talked about enough when comparing Safari to other browsers

I know this is a very specific topic, but I discovered this today and I basically never see it come up when people talk about the merits of Safari vs. other browsers.

Safari (at least according to Wikipedia and anecdotal testing) doesn’t support prefetching of links the same way Chrome-based browsers – and Firefox – do. That is, once a page loads, they start loading pages linked to on that page on the background and prerendering them, such that when you click on them they appear ~ instantly.

I was playing around with Chrome and browsing sites and trying to figure out why it felt like pages were loading instantly, and then started researching this prefetching.

I could see why some people may not like this, but in my own little bubble of lightning fast internet, no bandwidth caps, a high RAM machine, this feels like by far the biggest advantage of switching to a Chrome based browser, and I basically never hear about it.

Am I missing something? Is this news to anyone else?


Thanks for pointing this out – it rings a very, very vague bell, but it wasn’t something I remembered as a specific point of difference.

It makes me happy I use Safari for most of my online research. There are many times when I want to make sure I’m in control of opening a link or not – especially given the lengths to which some sites go to try to track IP addresses


Pre-fetching, or pre-tracking? :laughing:

I think of not pre-fetching as a feature. If the browser is loading every link then it’s a simple waste of bandwidth at both ends, especially on many types of sites like news sites, where most links aren’t to other content at all. If it’s not loading every link, then it’s applying some rules or, worse, AI, to try to decide which ones and… well… it’ll probably decide not to load the one link I do actually click.

Also… I wonder how many sites are getting page loads for content that is never seen?

It’s not as if we’re all still on dial-up. I have a few seconds to spare anyway.


In Safari, look under develop > Experimental > LinkPrefetch in iOS 16.1+ or Ventura


It’s a hard problem to distinguish between clicks that leak information and ones that don’t, without chewing up a lot of extra bandwidth and battery. Would be a good application of the neural engine chip.

On top of that, Safari’s had trouble with their implementation (e.g. the DNS prefetch that would flood requests instead of intelligently feathering them between other activity.)

Also available in Monterey, as it has Safari 16.1.