In iPadOS 15, Apple left the new Safari tab bar design turned off by default, but it’s already installed when you upgrade to iPadOS 15 or later. If you’d like to experiment with the new “compact” tab bar design, it’s easy to enable in Settings. Here’s how.

First, open Settings by tapping the grey gear icon.

In Settings, tap “Safari” in the sidebar.

In iPad Settings, tap "Safari."

In Safari settings, navigate to the “Tabs” section, then select “Compact Tab Bar” until it has a check mark below it.

In Safari Settings, select "Compact Tab Bar"

Next, launch Safari and open several websites at once. Previously, with “Separate Tab Bar” selected, you’d see a dedicated tab bar just below the address toolbar. Now, with “Compact Tab Bar” selected, the toolbar at the top of the screen takes up less space. That’s because the tab bar has merged into the address bar.

An example of the "Separate Tab Bar" vs. the "Compact Tab Bar."

To see or edit the current URL address while in “Compact Tab Bar Mode,” tap the current tab button, and it will expand into an address bar. To open a new search box to type in a search term or a new web address, tap the plus (“+”) button in the right side of the tab bar.

In Safari on iPad, with the compact tab bar, tap the plus button to open a new search box.

If you change your mind and want to go back to the old tab bar style, just open Settings again and navigate to Safari, then select “Separate Tab Bar” in the Tabs section. You can make a similar change on the iPhone if you’re not happy with the new Safari design in iOS 15. Happy browsing!

RELATED: How to Get the Old Safari Back on iPhone

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Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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