How to Close All Tabs in Safari on the iPhone or iPad

Woman holding an iPad.
Safari is the default web browser for the iPhone and iPad.

 Public Domain / Pexels

There's an easy way to close all of the tabs in the Safari browser on your iPhone or iPad without the need to go to each tab individually and close them. While it is not a big deal to keep a few or even a dozen open tabs, the Safari browser can begin having performance problems if you open too many. And dozens of open tabs doesn't do much good when you go searching for that specific website you had open.

We'll go over a few ways to close all the tabs open in your browser, including a way to close them without even opening Safari. This is a good trick if you are having problems trying to launch the Safari web browser.

How to Close All Tabs in the Safari Browser

It's super easy to find yourself with dozens of tabs open, which makes shutting them all down one at at time a time-consuming process. Luckily, there's a way to get the iPhone or iPad to do the heavy lifting.

A screenshot of the iPhone with the tabs menu open
  • Tap and hold the tab button. This is the button that looks like two squares stacked on each other. When you tap it, the tabs button opens a new windows, but when you keep your finger pressed on it, the tabs menu will be displayed.
  • The tabs menu will have an option to close all of your tabs. This will close out of all websites except the page you are currently viewing.
  • On a newer iPad, this menu will also let you open split view. This view splits the web browser in half allowing you to view two websites at the same time.
  • You can also use this method to open a 'private' tab. Read more about private browsing.

How to Close All Tabs Without Opening the Safari Browser

What if you can't even open the Safari browser? It is possible to open so many tabs that Safari has a problem opening. More common are websites that lock you into a series of dialog boxes from which you cannot exit. These malicious websites can lock down your Safari browser.

Luckily, you can close all tabs on your iPhone or iPad by clearing the Safari's cache of website data. This is the sledgehammer way of closing tabs and should only be done when you cannot close them through the web browser. Clearing this data will erase all of the cookies stored on your device, which means you will need to log back into websites that ordinarily keep you logged in between visits. 

A screenshot of the iPhone and iPad settings for Safari
  1. First, launch the iPhone or iPad's Settings app.
  2. Scroll down the menu and choose Safari.
  3. Toward the bottom of the Safari settings select Clear History and Website Data.
  4. When asked to confirm your choice, tap Clear History and Website Data again.

How to Close Tabs in Safari Individually

If you don't have many tabs open, it can be easier to simply close them individually. This allows you to pick-and-choose which tabs to leave open. The iPhone and iPad can display open tabs as windows that can easily be closed.

A screenshot of the windowed view in the safari browser on the iphone
  • On the iPhone, you will need to tap the tabs button. Again, this is the one that looks like a square on top of another square at the bottom right of the screen. This will bring up a cascading list of websites open. Simply tap the 'X' on the upper left of each website to close it.
  • On the iPad, you can see each tab displayed just below the address bar at the top of the screen. you can tap the 'X' button on the left side of the tab to close it. You can also tap the tabs button at the top-right corner of the screen to bring up all of your open websites at once. This is a great way to close tabs if you want to keep a few open. You can see a thumbnail image of each website, so it is easy to target which one to close.

More iPhone and iPad Safari Tricks:

Are you looking to optimize the Safari browser or get even more out of it? The web browser included with the iPhone and iPad is surprisingly powerful and packed with a lot of great features.

A screenshot of the iphone safari share sheet
  • The Share button will let you send a website to a friend as a text or mail message. But one cool hidden feature is "Add to Home Screen." This adds the website to your iPhone or iPad's Home Screen as an icon, creating a shortcut to the website.
  • The half-circle arrow in the web address bar will reload the current page when tapped. But if you hold it down, you can refresh the "desktop" site, which is the version seen on PCs and Macs.
  • You can install an ad blocker. This is done by first enabling ad blockers by opening the device settings, choosing Safari settings and tapping on "Content Blockers". You will first need to download an ad blocker before this option appears in settings.
  • Read more tips for Safari.

Did You Know?

Private browsing allows you to browse the web without the websites being logged in your web history. It also prevents websites from recognizing and tracking you based on cookies.