I am BARRY HESS > Blog

Tab Groups in Safari

I get made fun of for using Safari as my primary web browser. I use an iPhone as well as a Mac, and that’s basically the reason it started. When the Safaris across those devices are sharing information, things seem to work a little better. URLs complete better. I can go into Safari on my computer and see the 200 tabs open on my mobile browser. I can clean up those tabs by bookmarking them or taking notes on them, and then I can close those mobile tabs from my computer.

It’s pretty convenient. Probably some things in my web experience don’t work as well, but I guess I generally don’t know? And when I do, I can open Firefox.

A fairly new Safari feature that landed with little fanfare is Tab Groups. It allows you to collect a group of tabs into a sort of dynamic group bookmark. I love this feature!

For example, I have a tab group for blogging. It started with the following tabs:

This just sounds like a folder of bookmarks, but it’s not. The grouping is dynamic. This means when you close all the tabs and reopen them later, the pages you were on in the last session are still there even if those pages are different from when you first created the tab group. This means when you decide to microblog about crocheting, you can add a tab to look up yarn colors and it will be there the next time you open the tab group.

When you open a tab group, it’s instantly there. The pages appear to be open constantly, which probably has a cost in memory. I haven’t noticed any performance issues.

On a Mac you navigate between tabs with ⌘+⌥+→ and ⌘+⌥+←. Tab groups use the same format. You can move up and down between all of your groups with ⌘+⌥+↓ and ⌘+⌥+↑. It’s convenient!

As you probably expect, you can open these tab groups on your other connected devices as well. I haven’t used this much, but these tab groups are available across my computer and phone and tablet. I think the best use case of this would be if you’re, say, researching a new lawn mower. If you had some time waiting in your car for school to let out, open the tab group and find the latest tab you were reading about the subject. (I mean my actual recommendation in that situation is to listen to music and look around the world. Take some time to see, hear, smell. But I digress…)

Oh, and the biggest win of this ease of use? No more 10 different research windows with 15 tabs open in my browser forever because I’ll get back to that topic someday soon and I hope things don’t ever crash catastrophically making me lose those links for all eternity OH NO! Making a tab group is quicker than making a folder of bookmarks, and I don’t have to remember to add new bookmarks the next time I touch the topic. Opening a new tab in the tab group means there is a new tab in the tab group. Easy!

My weakly held commitment to Safari is paying off now. Make fun of me all you want!