Safari Tab Groups Are Incredibly Useful

And way easier than dumb old bookmarks

Key Takeaways

  • Safari Tab Groups are a new feature in iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and Safari 15 for Mac.
  • They make it easy to get unused-but-still-needed tabs out of the way.
  • Tab Groups update automatically, and sync between your devices.
Tab groups on Safari on iPad

Apple

For such a tiny change, Tab Groups make a huge difference to the usefulness of Safari. 

Tab Groups, new in Safari 15 on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and the Mac, are barely more than the bookmarks folders we’ve all abandoned and ignored for years. But a single change makes them super-useful again. Now, these Tab Groups update themselves automatically, so you never have to save a bookmark, or delete one. And it improves Safari, big time.

“Tab groups will let you better organize large numbers of open tabs. This is great for anyone who does a lot of browsing or needs to keep windows and tabs open for work or creative purposes,” Mac user and technology writer JP Zhang told Lifewire via email.

Tab Groups vs Bookmark Folders

Saving bookmarks was always busywork, which is why so few people do it. Maybe a folder of favorite sites to display in the home page, but that’s it.

Tab Groups are fundamentally different. In fact, if you’re using Safari 15 now, you’re in a Tab Group—it just doesn’t have a title. 

Imagine you’re researching a new office chair. You have a bunch of tabs open, from Wirecutter, various stores, and so on. You want to keep these tabs around, because you’re not done, and your thighs and back are killing you from sitting on a kitchen chair all day long. The answer is to group these tabs into a Tab Group. It lives in Safari’s sidebar, and you can return to it just by selecting its icon.

"This is great for anyone who does a lot of browsing or needs to keep windows and tabs open for work or creative purposes."

The neat part is the Tab Group updates as you use it. Close a tab and it’s gone. Open one, or follow links, and it all updates. It might be better to think of a Tab Group as a saveable browser window, because it really has nothing to do with bookmarks. You can just close this window whenever you like, and when you come back, it’s all where you left it.

And these changes sync between iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

“In short, these groups are way better than regular bookmark folders because they give you a way to organize your tabs. You can now group them by category, project, or any other way you want to,” says Zhang.

What Are They Good For?

I’ve been using Tab Groups to keep fewer tabs open in Safari. As soon as I hit more than five or six tabs on a subject I want to return to, I turn them into a group. You can name the group, and access it from a list in the sidebar. I have a Tab Group for internet forums I visit, plus one for tricks, tips, and videos about the Octatrack music box.

Safari Tab Groups breakdown

Apple

You might also keep Tab Groups for upcoming trips, for doing your taxes, or anything else. Because they’re so much easier to create and use than bookmark folders, and because you don’t have to do any manual maintenance, you could find yourself using them quite a bit. 

“After using it on all my devices, I have to say I love the new Safari. Tab Groups are delightful,” says Mac software developer Shawn Platkus on Twitter. “And the new design scales nicely. I have a MacBook and iPad mini and the Compact UI is great for those devices.”

Tab Group Tips

There are a few neat tricks you can use to make Tab Groups even better. Long-press the sidebar icon on the iPad (or click the arrow next to it on the Mac) to see a dropdown list of your Tab Groups. This small trick lets you quickly move between Tab Groups without opening up the whole sidebar.

"Tab Groups are delightful."

Another tip is you can drag a tab, or several tabs, into a Tab Group. This is even better on the iPad, because you can easily select multiple tabs, then just dump them all into any Tab Group.

It’s surprisingly intuitive, and so far I haven’t managed to find an equivalent feature on the Mac. 

Basically, Tab Groups are worth trying out. If you don’t like them, it’s just a better bookmark tool. If you do, it could change your web-browsing life for the better.

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