In the past, there was a specific number of tabs you could have open in the Safari browser on your iPhone. Now, things are a little more complicated. Here’s how Safari tabs work on iOS.
But First, Some Tab Wrangling Tips
Before we dig into the historical and current tab limits in the mobile version of Safari, there’s a good chance if you opened this article out of more than curiosity, it’s because you’re interested in more effectively managing your iOS browser tabs.
In that case, do check our list of tips for keeping iPhone Safari tabs under control. And while you’re at it, we also have some great general tips for getting more out of iPhone Safari too.
If you’ve simply been using Safari as a basic web browser to open links and haven’t tapped into any of the additional features like Reader Mode and tab grouping, you’re missing out.
So How Many iPhone Safari Tabs Can You Have?
Maybe you’ve never looked at how many tabs you have open in Safari. I’ll admit, didn’t pay much attention to it. In fact, I upgraded through several iPhones over the years, bringing along all my apps, settings, and data—including the data for Safari—and never really looked.
Until one day, I looked and, to my surprise, saw a clean number: 500. It turns out that just wasn’t some kind of cosmic coincidence, but me staring down the hard upper limit of tabs Safari will retain.
Historically, before the arrival of iOS 15 and Safari tab groups, you could only have 500 tabs in regular browsing mode and 500 tabs in private browsing mode, allowing you to—if you used private browsing mode creatively—to max out at 1,000 tabs.
With the arrival of iOS 15, you can not only max out the main list at 500 and private browsing mode at 500, but you can take advantage of the tab grouping function to both copy over your existing pile of tabs into a group or start fresh with a new tab group. The new group has a 500-tab limit.
You can make tons of new tabs. How many? We were unable to find any documentation about an upper limit and, frankly, after making dozens and dozens of new tabs, we weren’t sure if there was any utility in testing the upper limit. Once you have 25 tab groups with the ability to hold 500 tabs each, you’re looking at 12,500 tabs.
On top of that, once you hit 6 tab groups (3,000 tabs), you have to scroll to see more. Once you hit 13 tab groups (6,500 tabs), they don’t all fit on the screen and you have to scroll to see more than the initial group. Now, obviously, not everyone is going to make out every single tab group to the full 500 tabs, and they may like using them that way for organizational purposes.
Nonetheless, our point is that with the changes introduced to Safari with iOS 15, there’s no practical limit to the number of tabs you can save. You can squirrel away as many as you can, though we do seriously question the utility of having thousands of tabs. Even with tab grouping and the ability to search through the page titles of the tabs, it quickly becomes an unmanageable mess.
And if all this talk about tab clutter has you feeling the urge to clean out your tabs, feel free. In fact, you can even configure Safari to automatically clean out tabs on schedule.
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