OS X: A Better Way to Handle Tabs in Apple's Safari

If you've been frustrated with how Safari crams all its tabs into the left of the tab bar, scrunched into unreadable oblivion, there's a very much better way to deal with seeing all your tabs.


I've been a Firefox browser enthusiast for years now, so I've only used Apple's Safari occasionally for browsing.  Recently, I decided to experiment with Safari more for general browsing and realized that Safari doesn't handle the tab bar as well as Firefox.

When Firefox has too many tabs, it keeps the tab icon and name fairly readable and sets up a scrolling scheme. Arrows on both ends allow you to slide the named tabs left and right. A shadow there helps reinforce the notion that the tabs can slide under to the left. (Same on the right.)

However, Safari does no such thing. It compresses the tabs into smaller and smaller rectangles on the left, separated by vertical bars, until you have no idea which tiny rectangle is which tab. The best bet is to click on the left-most region and let the tabs expand from the left side. But if you have a tab on the far right to alternate with, the drill starts all over again.

However, Safari has a way out of this dilemma. If you haven't explored the Safari Menu: View > Customize Toolbar lately, look anew for the icon called "Show All Tabs." It's circled in the screen shot below:

Drag this icon to your Safari Toolbar and click "Done."

Now, when your tab bar gets all scrunched up, click this icon to see a grid of thumbnails that nicely summarizes all your active tabs. They're big enough to remind you of the contents of each, and all you have to do is click on the one you want to zoom it back as the frontmost tab. Voila!

Note that Firefox has something similar called "Tab Groups" found in Menu > Customize. In any case, this feature of Safari, "Show All Tabs," is a nice feature, and it's an elegant way of handling an overload of tabs. Once you start using this feature, you'll seldom go back to clicking in the tab bar.