Keyboard Shortcuts for the Safari Bookmarks Toolbar

Keyboard shortcuts to some of your favorite web sites

Safari Preferences Favorites and Tab Shortcut Options
Use the command key and the numbers one through nine to access the first nine web sites in the Safari bookmarks toolbar. or the first nine tabs. Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Accessing your favorite web sites in Safari may be as easy as typing the command key followed by a number. But before you start using these bookmark and tab shortcuts, there are a few things to know first.

Safari Bookmark Shortcuts

Safari has supported bookmark shortcuts for quite a while, however, starting with OS X El Capitan and Safari 9, Apple changed the default behavior for the keyboard shortcuts that we used to use to access web sites saved to our Favorites toolbar (also known as the Bookmarks toolbar in some versions of Safari).

Apple dropped support for using keyboard shortcuts to jump to web sites you've stored on the Favorites toolbar. Instead, using the same keyboard shortcuts now controls Safari’s Tabs toolbar.

Fortunately, you can change the default behavior of the keyboard shortcuts to use them the way you wish.

We'll go over the options for Safari and OS X El Capitan a bit later in this tip. For now, let's look at the original behavior of the Favorites toolbar shortcuts as used in Safari 8.x and earlier.

Bookmark Favorites Toolbar

If you have web sites bookmarked in the Safari Bookmarks toolbar, also called the Favorites toolbar, depending on the version of Safari you're using, you can access up to nine of them without ever touching the toolbar. If you haven't bookmarked your favorite sites in the Bookmarks toolbar, this tip might be a good reason to do so.

Organization is the Key

Before you give these keyboard shortcuts a workout, it's important to first take a bit of time to look at your Bookmarks toolbar and perhaps rearrange or organize the web sites it contains.

This tip only works for individual web sites stored on your Bookmarks toolbar, and will not work with any folders that contain web sites. For example, let's say the first item on your Bookmarks toolbar is a folder called News, which contains a number of your favorite news sites. That folder, and all of the bookmarks within it, would be ignored by the keyboard shortcuts for accessing the Bookmarks toolbar. Consider a Bookmarks toolbar that looked like this:

  • News (folder)
  • Apple (folder)
  • Google Maps (site)
  • About Macs (site)
  • Banking (folder)
  • Facebook (site)

Only the three bookmarks that directly point to a web site would be accessible by the keyboard shortcut. The three folders on the Bookmarks toolbar would be ignored, leading to Google Maps being the first useable bookmark via keyboard shortcuts, followed by About Macs as number two, and Facebook as number three.

To take the best advantage of the keyboard shortcuts for accessing bookmarked sites, you may want to move all of your individual web sites to the left side of the Bookmarks toolbar, and your folders to start after your favorite websites.

Using the Keyboard Shortcuts

So, what is this magic series of keyboard shortcuts? It’s the command key followed by a number from 1 to 9, which gives you access to the first nine web sites in the Favorites toolbar.

Press command+1 (the command key plus the number 1) to access the first site on the left in the Bookmarks toolbar; press command+2 to access the second site from the left in the Bookmarks toolbar, and so on.

You may wish to place the sites you visit most often with the keyboard shortcuts as the first entries in the Bookmarks toolbar, to make accessing them easier.

Regaining Keyboard Shortcut Access in OS X El Capitan and Later

Safari 9, released with OS X El Capitan and available as a download for OS X Yosemite, changed how the command+number keyboard shortcut works. Instead of giving you quick access to the web sites on your Favorites toolbar, Safari 9 and later uses these keyboard shortcuts to access tabs you have open on the Tabs toolbar.

Luckily, although it's not listed in the Safari documentation, you can use a variation of the command+number shortcut. Simply add the option key to the shortcut (command+option+number) to switch between sites listed in the Favorites toolbar.

Even better, you can change between the two options, using command+number for whichever item you wish to control (tabs or favorite sites), and command+option+number for the other.

By default, Safari 9 and later is configured to use the keyboard shortcuts for switching tabs. But you can change to switching favorites by using Safari’s preferences settings.

Change Safari Preferences to Alter Shortcut Assignment

Launch Safari 9 or later.

From the Safari menu, select Preferences.

In the Preferences window that opens, select the Tabs icon.

In the Tabs options, you can remove the checkmark from the “Use ⌘-1 through ⌘-9 to switch tabs” item. With the checkmark removed, the command+number keyboard shortcut returns to switching web sites located on the Favorites toolbar.

Once you remove or keep the checkmark, you can close the Safari preferences.