The Complete Guide to Mastering Tabs in Safari

Tabs, glorious tabs! Every web browser now has them, including Apple’s Safari. In fact, tabs have been a part of Safari since the very beginning, but there’s a lot more to them than you may have realized. Let’s walk you through and show you all you need to know to become a Safari tab master.

How to Open, Pin, and Close Tabs

Safari tab basics are pretty easy to grasp, and resemble Google Chrome’s in many ways.

To create a new tab, click the little + sign on the right edge of the Tab Bar, or press Command+T on your keyboard.

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To close a tab, click the X on the tab’s left side or use the keyboard shortcut Command+W.

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Seems easy enough, but there’s so much more you can do.

When you have more than one tab open, drag them along the Tab Bar to rearrange them, or drag a tab out of the Safari window to open it in its own instance.

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If you want to merge any separate windows into one, click the Window menu and then “Merge All Windows”.

Right-click on any tab and notice the options. There aren’t a lot, but they’re important. You can close the active tab or move the active tab to a new window, as if you had dragged it off the Tab Bar.

If you have a bunch of open tabs and you don’t want to close each one individually, right-click and select “Close Other Tabs”. If you accidentally close a tab you want to keep, you can press Command+Shift+T on your keyboard to bring it back. (You can also press Command+Z to do this, like you’re “Undoing” your previous action, though this is a bit more limited.)

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Speaking of open tabs, you can see all of yours arranged in a convenient grid by clicking the “Show All Tabs” button in the upper-right corner, or by pressing Command+Shift+\ on your keyboard.

Right-clicking on a tab will also let you pin tabs. When you pin tabs, it will create smaller ones that persist on the left side of the Tab Bar.

Pinned tabs will remain there even if you close and re-open Safari, unless you specifically close or unpin the tabs. This is great for keeping tabs open that you use all the time such as your e-mail or How-To Geek.

To silence a noisy tab, click the speaker icon on the tab. To mute all tabs, click the blue speaker icon in the location bar.

Safari has a few other tab tricks up its sleeve. Right-click on any bookmark folder and choose “Open in New Tabs” to quickly open everything in that folder. If you select “Automatically Replace Tabs”, every time you click that folder, everything within it will open on the Tab Bar.

You can tell when this option is selected because a small square will appear next to the folder’s name.

To restore the folder to normal operation, right-click on it again and uncheck the option.

Finally, if you want to temporarily hide the Tab Bar, click the View menu, and then select “Hide Tab Bar”.

The Tab Bar will remain hidden until you create a new tab, after which you will need to hide it again from the View menu.

The Tab-Related Keyboard Shortcuts You Should Know

Safari comes with quite a few handy keyboard shortcuts—some of which we’ve already covered—to navigate and manipulate tabs. Here’s a convenient list:

  • Open new tab: Command+T
  • Close tab: Command+W
  • Move to the next tab: Control+Tab or Command+Shift+]
  • Move to the previous tab: Control+Shift+Tab or Command+Shift+[
  • Show all tabs: Command+Shift+\
  • Open a website in a new tab: Command+Click on a link or bookmark, or  Command+Return from the Smart Search Field
  • Open a website in a new tab and make it active: Command+Shift+Click on a link
  • Open a website in a new window: Command+Option+Click on a link
  • Open a website in a new window and make it active: Command+Option+Shift+Click on a link
  • Select one of the first nine tabs: Command+1 through Command+9
  • Close all tabs but one: Option+click the close (X) button on the tab you want to keep open
  • Reopen the last tab(s) or window(s): Command+Shift+T

How to Choose What Appears When Safari Launches or Opens a New Tab

If you want to change Safari’s tab behavior, open the preferences from the Safari menu or press Command+, on your keyboard.

In the General preferences, you can configure Safari to open new tabs to your Favorites page, Top Sites, your Homepage, an empty page, or the same page—for example, if you have How-To Geek open, new tabs will open with How-To Geek.

In the Tab preferences, you can choose when new pages open in tabs instead of windows:

  • Never: if a link is meant to open in a new window, it will open in a new window.
  • Automatically: links meant to open in new windows will instead open in new tabs.
  • Always: links meant to open in new windows, even those coded to open in their own separate, specially-formatted windows, will instead open in tabs.

Below this are options to change new tab behavior:

  • Enable or disable Command+Click to open links in a new tab.
  • If you click a link and it opens a new window or tab, it will become active (normally they open in the background).
  • Enable or disable Command+1 through Command+9 tab switching.

Disabling Command+Click will also disable any other associated shortcuts and their modifiers, which are described at the bottom of the Tabs preferences.

Get More Out of Your Tabs with Extensions

While Safari’s tabs are already pretty complete, they could always do more, which is why you might want to check out some tab extensions.

There are tab extensions to save an entire tab session, add emoji to your favorite tab titles, and a better way to keep track of recently-closed tabs, plus many more. Chances are you might find something really useful.


As you can see, there’s a lot more to tabs in Safari than what you find at first glance. They’re really easy to learn, and memorizing a couple of keyboard shortcuts can make short work of repetitive tasks. Now you’re well on your way to becoming a Safari tab master!

Matt Klein is an aspiring Florida beach bum, displaced honorary Texan, and dyed-in-wool Ohio State Buckeye, who fancies himself a nerd-of-all-trades. His favorite topics might include operating systems, BBQ, roller skating, and trying to figure out how to explain quantum computers.