Automatically fetch desktop websites in Safari on iOS [Pro tip]

Don’t settle for mobile sites all the time.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

We want to help you master Safari. Cult of Mac’s Safari Pro Tips series will show you how to make the most of Apple’s web browser on iOS and Mac.

If you prefer an entirely unadulterated experience when browsing the web, you probably find yourself frequently loading websites in desktop mode in Safari on iPhone. But rather than having to enable this mode every time you visit a new site, you can have Safari fetch desktop websites automatically.

We’ll show you have to set it up in this Safari pro tip.

Many mobile versions of your favorite websites strip out some important features to make the site snapper on slower data connections, and easier to use on a smaller screen. Some sites won’t load at all on a smartphone. Fortunately, there is a desktop mode built into Safari on iOS.

And if you use regularly for almost every website you visit, there is a way to have desktop mode enabled all the time.

How to enable automatic desktop mode in Safari

This trick works on iPad, too, but more recent versions of iPadOS ship with a desktop-grade version of Safari as standard. What that means is that on most iPad models, you will already see desktop websites by default when you’re browsing. If that isn’t happening, this should help.

Simply follow these steps on your iOS device:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Safari.
  3. Tap Request Desktop Website.
  4. Enable All Websites.

You should now see desktop sites as standard, without having to load them manually, when browsing the web in Safari. And if you want to, you can make specific sites exempt from this rule, so that they continue to load as normal (in their mobile state) when you visit them on iPhone.

Go mobile on certain sites

To do this, visit the site that you want to make exempt, then follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Aa button in Safari’s address bar.
  2. Tap Website Settings.
  3. Disable Request Desktop Website.

This change will be remembered so that the next time you visit this particular site, Safari will know how you want to view it, and you won’t have to make any changes manually.