How to Manage Tabbed Browsing in Safari for OS X and macOS Sierra

Mac users, in general, do not appreciate clutter on their computers. Whether it be within applications or on the desktop, OS X, and MacOS Sierra boast a sleek and efficient interface. The same can be said for the operating systems' default web browser, Safari.

As is the case with most browsers, Safari offers advanced tabbed browsing functionality. By making use of this feature, users can have multiple web pages open simultaneously within the same window. Tabbed browsing within Safari is configurable, allowing you to control when and how a tab is opened. Several related keyboard and mouse shortcuts are also provided. This tutorial teaches you how to manage these tabs as well as how to use these shortcuts.

Manage Tabs

  1. First, open your browser.
  2. Click on Safari in the main menu, located in the upper left-hand corner of your screen.
  3. When the drop-down menu appears, click on the option labeled Preferences.
    You can utilize the following keyboard shortcut in place of selecting this menu item: Command + Comma
  4. Safari's Preferences dialog should now be displayed, overlaying your browser window. Click on the Tabs icon.

Open New Pages in Tabs

The first option in Safari's Tabs Preferences is a drop-down menu labeled Open pages in tabs instead of windows. This menu contains the following three options.

  • Never: With this option selected, clicking on a link coded to open a new window will launch a separate Safari window.
  • Automatically: With this option selected, clicking on a link coded to open a new window will open a new tab instance in most cases. Although Safari will make an effort to launch a tab instead of a new window, it may not always be successful with this option enabled.
  • Always: With this option selected, clicking on a link coded to open a new window will always cause a new tab to be created. Safari will override all settings and will forcefully open a new tab each time.

Safari's Tabs Preferences dialog also contains the following set of checkboxes, each accompanied by its own tabbed browsing setting.

  • Command-click opens a link in a new tab: Enabled by default, this option provides a keyboard shortcut (COMMAND + mouse click) to force a specific link to open in a new tab.
  • When a new tab or window opens, make it active: When enabled, a new tab or window automatically gains focus as soon as it is opened.
  • Use Command-1 through Command-9 to switch tabs: Also enabled by default, this setting allows you to skip directly to specific open tabs by utilizing these keyboard shortcuts.


At the bottom of the Tabs Preferences dialog are some helpful keyboard/mouse shortcut combinations. They are as follows.

  • Command + mouse click: Opens a link in a new tab (only when enabled; see above)
  • Command + Shift + mouse click: Opens a link in a new tab, and makes it the active tab
  • Command + Option + mouse click: Opens a link in a new window
  • Command + Option + Shift + mouse click: Opens a link in a new window, and makes it the active window