Optimizing Safari Browser Automation Performance

Optimizing Safari Browser Automation Performance

Apple provides an outstanding web browser, Safari, equipped with state-of-the-art web technologies. 

Safari is renowned for its sleek user interface, fast browsing speeds, and unique, carefully curated features. Despite Chrome’s growing popularity in Apple devices, Safari browser still holds a substantial share of the browser market. This highlights the necessity of ensuring that websites function flawlessly in Safari.

Challenges Faced by Safari Browser in Test Automation

Testing against Safari presents significant challenges due to its availability exclusively on Apple devices. While there are potential workarounds, such as running MacOS software within Docker containers, these methods violate Apple’s End User License Agreement (EULA) and Terms of Service (TOS). Apple strictly prohibits using MacOS software on non-Apple branded devices, making any attempt to run Safari on non-Apple hardware a breach of this license.

Moreover, Safari is specifically designed to operate on MacOS hardware, meaning there is no official Safari browser available for Linux. Although some Safari containers exist in the Docker registry, they are typically WebKit-based browsers for Linux, not the official MacOS Safari. While these WebKit browsers may offer some similarities with Safari, conducting accurate testing against the official Safari application on MacOS hardware remains essential.

Safari, known for its adherence to standards in CSS, HTML, and JavaScript (ECMA6) content, generally operates similarly to other browsers for conventional websites. However, complexities may arise when websites incorporate innovative elements.

Despite Apple’s commitment to adopting new technologies, Safari’s browser development pace tends to lag behind that of Chrome or Firefox. Several issues may hinder website performance, particularly when left unaddressed.

CSS: Unsupported CSS features often lead to cross-browser compatibility issues, including Safari. To ensure styling flexibility across various viewports, responsive design techniques are recommended. However, it’s crucial to be mindful of unsupported features in the latest Safari version, 11.1, such as CSSOM Scroll Behavior, Web Animations API, and CSS Containment.

ECMA 6: Although Safari supports a wide array of ECMA 6 features, certain functionalities like Shared memory and atomic, Asynchronous iterators, and Lookbehind assertions in RegExp may not be fully supported.

Multimedia: Careful consideration of multimedia formats is necessary for Safari compatibility. Formats lacking Safari support include Ogg Vorbis Audio Format, Ogg/Theora, WebM, and Opus codec.

Transport Layer Issues: Safari faces consistent issues with specific Transport Layer features, such as TLS 1.3 and ChaCha20 Cipher Suites, which are inadequately supported.

Other Important Features Lacking Support: Several crucial features remain unsupported by Safari, including Resource Hints: Prefetch, Resize Observer, Permission API, HTML Imports, Web MIDI API, Public Key Pinning, Web Authentication API, and Visualizing Layer in Web Inspector.

PWA Support: While Safari has begun embracing Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), support for features like Service Worker API and Web App Manifest is essential for users to benefit from offline access and improved caching.

To ensure good test coverage and compatibility with Safari, developers must carefully address these challenges and consider alternative approaches or workarounds where necessary.

LambdaTest provides a comprehensive solution for simplifying browser compatibility testing through its AI-powered test orchestration and execution platform. With access to over 3000 real devices and browsers, including both legacy and current versions, LambdaTest enables you to identify and resolve any browser-related issues effectively. This ensures a smooth and seamless user experience on your website

Selenium’s integration with Safari on macOS

This offers a robust solution for automation testing, leveraging Safari’s native support for the WebDriver API. With features like isolated automation windows and Web Inspector support, Selenium automation on Safari provides a seamless testing experience for macOS users.

Selenium WebDriver

Testing Safari with Selenium and SafariDriver poses a significant challenge for developers, primarily because Safari is exclusive to Apple devices. However, Selenium provides a solution for testing Safari using SafariDriver, which adheres to the cross-browser WebDriver API specification utilized by Selenium internally. Support for WebDriver/Selenium with Safari has been available since 2016 and remains the sole method for cross-browser testing that employs a standards-based API.

Both the safaridriver from Safari and safaridriver from Safari Technology Preview can operate simultaneously, each launching its associated Safari browser instance.

To use Selenium’s safaridriver for automation testing, all you need is Safari 10 (or later) installed on your macOS device, as native support for the Selenium WebDriver API is available in these Safari versions.

Configuring Safari for WebDriver Support

Although Safari 10 and above offer native WebDriver support, it’s disabled by default. Here’s how you can enable it:

  • For macOS High Sierra (and later):

Run the command /usr/bin/safaridriver –enable in the terminal.

  • For macOS Sierra (and earlier):

Enable the ‘Show Develop’ menu in Safari through Safari > Preferences > Advanced > Check ‘Show Develop menu in menu bar’ if it’s not already checked.

Choose Develop > Allow Remote Automation.

Salient Features of Selenium Safari Driver on macOS

  • Isolated Automation Windows: Tests run using Safari’s safaridriver are confined to special automation windows, ensuring isolation from normal browsing data.
  • Web Inspector: Web Inspector tool is fully functional during and after Selenium WebDriver tests, aiding in element inspection and network performance monitoring.
  • Selenium WebDriver Commands for Debugging: safaridriver preloads Web Inspector and JavaScript debugger, facilitating debugging during test execution.
  • Glass Pane: A glass pane overlays the Safari window during test execution, preventing manual interactions that could interfere with automation.
  • Single Session Limit: Only one WebDriver session can be attached to a Safari browser instance at a time, ensuring resource allocation and preventing conflicts.

Integration with Playwright 

Testing Safari using Playwright offers an alternative approach. Playwright is a browser testing library that supports various browsers, including Safari. Unlike Selenium, Playwright doesn’t utilize the WebDriver API spec but instead maintains a forked version of each browser with hooks enabling it to drive the browser UI.

Integration with Cypress

Cypress, another browser testing tool, does not officially support testing on WebKit browsers like Safari. However, experimental support for Safari testing has been released as part of Cypress’s 10.8 release. To enable testing against Safari, set the experimentalWebKitSupport flag to true in your Cypress configuration. Then, pass the –browser webkit flag when running your Cypress test via the command line.

For continuous integration support for testing Safari, platforms like GitHub Actions and CircleCI offer runners that execute tests on MacOS, enabling Safari testing within their infrastructure. These platforms provide options for running tests against Safari as part of your CI workflow.

Best practices to optimize Safari Browser Automation 

Optimize Test Scripts:

Optimization of Selenium test scripts is crucial for reducing resource usage and maximizing efficiency. This entails fine-tuning selectors, minimizing unnecessary waits, and leveraging browser-specific functionalities to streamline test execution. Additionally, consider integrating lightweight testing frameworks and libraries to minimize overhead and enhance performance.

Leverage Cloud-Based Testing Platforms:

Cloud-based testing platforms like LambdaTest offer instant access to a variety of browsers and devices, including Safari on macOS and iOS. LambdaTest is an AI-powered test execution and orchestration platform offering testing across 3000 browsers and operating systems. Utilizing these platforms enables teams to expand their browser automation testing initiatives, perform thorough cross-browser testing, and utilize real-world testing environments without the need for significant infrastructure investments.

Harness Headless Mode:

Safari provides a headless mode option, allowing browser automation tests to execute without a graphical user interface. Enabling headless mode minimizes resource consumption and boosts test execution speed, which is particularly beneficial for efficiently managing large test suites and CI/CD pipelines.

Implement Parallel Execution:

Adopting parallel execution involves running multiple browser automation tests concurrently, and optimizing the utilization of available system resources. By distributing tests across multiple Safari instances or nodes, teams can significantly reduce test execution time and enhance overall productivity.

Ensure Performance Monitoring and Analysis:

Deploy performance monitoring tools and analytics to oversee the performance of Safari browser automation tests. Keep an eye on vital metrics like test execution duration, resource utilization, and instances of test failures. This diligent monitoring allows for the identification of bottlenecks and areas ripe for improvement. Regular analysis of performance data empowers teams to fine-tune test scripts, infrastructure, and testing methodologies effectively.

Stay Updated on Safari Releases:

Stay well-versed in the latest Safari releases, updates, and functionalities to uphold compatibility and optimize performance. Consistently update browser automation frameworks, drivers, and dependencies to capitalize on the newest enhancements and bug fixes introduced by Apple. By staying abreast of Safari developments, teams can bolster the efficacy of browser automation testing efforts.

Encourage Cross-Team Collaboration:

Promote collaborative efforts among developers, QA engineers, and automation testers to elevate Safari browser automation performance. Foster an environment where insights, best practices, and optimization strategies can be freely shared across teams. By facilitating collaboration, teams can collectively enhance Safari browser automation performance and achieve superior testing outcomes.


Enhancing the performance of Safari browser automation is pivotal for maintaining the dependability, scalability, and efficacy of web application testing across macOS and iOS platforms. Adhering to recommended practices like leveraging Safari Technology Preview, employing headless mode, executing tests in parallel, and refining test scripts enables teams to surmount challenges and boost the efficiency of Safari browser automation. 

Moreover, tapping into cloud-based testing platforms like LambdaTest, monitoring performance metrics, and staying abreast of Safari updates are essential tactics for ongoing enhancement and refinement. Through the adoption of these strategies, organizations can realize swifter test execution, expanded test coverage, and heightened quality assurance for web applications within Safari environments.

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