Safari and SharePoint.

If you are like most of our clients, you have both Windows and iOS devices in your environment. Apple and PC, working together in the same space. Fortunately, times are changing, and these mixed environments can work well together.

In this case, a client who has a large number of Macs deployed in its environment asked recently what it means when Microsoft says current versions of Safari are “supported.” After searching the Microsoft site and the internet in general, it became clear that there’s very little data as to what “supported” means. 

I decided to run tests of common “end-user” actions using a Mac and Safari to try to nail down what differences and limitations my client might expect using SharePoint Online versus what they might expect using Internet Explorer 11 on a PC.

There are a variety of variables that can potentially impact a user’s experience with browser software. These variables include:

  • Browser version
  • Browser add-ins
  • Browser configuration
  • Operating System version
  • Network and firewall connections
  • Supporting software (Microsoft Office, Adobe, etc.)
  • File extension configuration
  • Device (Desktop, tablet, mobile, etc.)
  • SharePoint customizations

Microsoft’s documentation of browser support is located at: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc263526.aspx. Unfortunately, details on exactly how Safari will work is non-existent.

Because SharePoint was originally coded as Internet Explorer-specific, some functionality requires the use of ActiveX browser add-ins. Because these add-ins are not supported by Safari, users will find that this functionality is either missing, displayed but not active, or the control can be clicked, but nothing happens or an error dialog is returned.

Microsoft appears to be in the process of removing these features (ala “New Experience” document libraries) from the application in order to provide a more consistent user experience across all browsers.

Our Test Configuration for Safari and SharePoint

Here is the Mac/Safari configuration we tested:

Computer: MacBook Pro, OS X(El Capitan), OS Version 10.11.6

Office Version: Microsoft Office for Mac 2011, Version 14.6.2

Safari Version: 9.1.2 (11601.7.7)

Extensions

  • Microsoft Lync 2010 Meeting Join Plug-in
  • Microsoft Office for Mac SharePoint Browser Plug-in
  • Java Applet Plug-in

SharePoint: O365 SharePoint Online–E-3 license, out-of-the-box SharePoint Sites, lists and libraries.

The Results

I tested the following SharePoint actions using Safari on our MacBook Pro. Other IOS devices (IPhone, IPad) should not be expected to provide equivalent performance.  I tried to cover what typical end-users might be doing in SharePoint Online–namely, browsing pages, and editing files and lists.

  • Browse Web Pages
    • Same experience as a PC user. Font and page presentation may be slightly different than PC users browsing with Internet Explorer or Chrome.
  • Upload a file to a document library
    • Same experience as a PC user.
  • Update Metadata for the Document
    • Calendar Icon – When clicking date/time fields that fall below the page fold in the edit form (user scrolled down the page to reach the field), the page display may return to the top of the form.
      • Workaround: Scroll back down the page. The Calendar date picker should be available.
    • Multi-line text fields: Rich Text editing controls are not available.
      • Workaround: Enable enhanced rich text editing for the column.
    • Drag and drop a file to a document library
      • Depending on the trackpad version, you may need to adjust accessibility settings to enable drag and drop.
    • Create a new document using Office Web Apps
      • Same experience as PC users with exceptions noted in creating and editing list items.
    • Open a document library in page view and use “New Experience” Ribbon
      • New Experience: same experience as PC Users.
    • Open a List in page view and use List Ribbon
      • Open with Project – Button is active but returns a dialog stating no compatible application is available or does nothing.
        • Workaround: No workaround using Safari. Requires ActiveX support to detect the Office application.
      • Connect to Outlook – Button is active, but does nothing.
        • Workaround: No workaround using Safari. Requires ActiveX support to detect the Office application.
      • Export to Excel – Button is active but returns a dialog stating no compatible application is available or does nothing.
        • Workaround: No workaround using Safari. Requires ActiveX support to detect the Office application.
      • Open with Access: Button is inactive.
        • Workaround: No workaround using Safari. Requires ActiveX support to detect the Office application.
      • Share a document with another user
        • Same experience as PC user.
      • Create a new list item
        • Calendar Icon – When clicking date/time fields that fall below the page fold in the edit form (user scrolled down the page to reach the field), the page display may return to the top of the form.
          • Workaround: Scroll back down the page. The Calendar date picker should be available.
        • Multi-line text fields: Rich Text editing controls are not available.
          • Workaround: Enable enhanced rich text editing for the column.
        • Copy/Paste Text: Safari does not support copy and paste using SP Ribbon buttons.
          • Workaround: Use right-click menus to copy and paste text.
        • Edit an existing list item
          • Calendar Icon – When clicking date/time fields that fall below the page fold in the edit form (user scrolled down the page to reach the field), the page display may return to the top of the form.
            • Workaround: Scroll back down the page. The Calendar date picker should be available.
          • Multi-line text fields: Rich Text editing controls are not available.
            • Workaround: Enable enhanced rich text editing for the column.
        • Copy/Paste Text: Safari does not support copy and paste using SP Ribbon buttons.
          • Workaround: Use right-click menus to copy and paste text.
        • Delete a list item
          • Same experience as PC User.
        • Make an entry in a newsfeed
          • Same experience as PC User.
        • Start a manual workflow
          • Same experience as PC User.
        • Search for content using the search engine
          • Mouse-over preview of search results does not work.
            • Workaround: click the body of the result item (not the link itself). This launches the preview dialog.
          • Open OneDrive for Business
            • OneDrive Experience is same as PC User.
          • OneDrive Sync Feature: Clicking the Sync link in the library ribbon returns a dialog asking for a MS compatible application or if OneDrive is installed on the computer.
            • Workaround: Download OneDrive for Mac (OS X) I did not actually install the OneDrive client, so I can’t confirm this will work the same as on a PC.
          • Microsoft Visio Files: A Mac version of Visio does not exist.
            • Workaround: Utilize 3rd-party software.
          • Add a SharePoint Web Site to the Applications folder – highlight the site URL, then drag the URL to the Applications Folder.

Making Safari and SharePoint Work For You

In short – today, you can provide your Safari community with most of the same rich experience they’d have in Internet Explorer, and the feature set is continuing to evolve to work on most mainstream browsers. We’d love to help you get your Safari users up and running.  Give us a call or drop us a line.