8 Tips to Keep iPhone Safari Tabs in Control

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Do you have a tab issue on your iPhone? If you get into the habit of never closing anything, you could end up with hundreds of tabs that are hard to manage. It’s time to say no to confusion and take back control!

Related: Listen, you don’t need to open many browser tabs

Close all Safari tabs at once

It’s easy to close all tabs at once in Safari on your iPhone or iPad. Launch the browser and tap and hold the View Tabs button in the lower right corner of the screen. You can then select the “Close all tabs” option to stop your entire browsing session. This works with the current session, so if you’re in a “private” browsing session, this will close all open private tabs.

Close all iPhone tabs at once

If you prefer to save only one tab, first click on the View Tabs button to bring up the tiled tab view. From here, tap and hold on a tab and choose Close Other Tabs to keep the highlighted tab open.

Related: How to close all Safari tabs at once on iPhone and iPad

Rearrange your tabs by location or title

You can also rearrange the currently open tabs to make it easier to find things. You can do this via the website, having tabs from the same domain (like howtogeek.com) grouped together, or you can sort by title to sort your session alphabetically. There is no way to keep this in order, so you’ll need to repeat this from time to time if you want to keep things that way.

Rearrange open iPhone tabs

To arrange tabs, launch Safari and then click the View Tabs button in the lower right corner. Click and hold on any tab and select “Sort tabs by” followed by your choice.

Find tabs by searching for them

If you have a lot of tabs open, rearranging things might not be very helpful. Scrolling through hundreds of tabs just to find the one you want is far from ideal. In this example, you can search for a specific tab just like you can search for apps or preferences anywhere else in iOS.

Find an open tab on iPhone

To do this, launch Safari and click on the “View Tabs” button in the lower right corner of the screen. From here, “drag” the top layer of tabs (or scroll up) to reveal the search bar. You can now search by address bar or URL to find the tab you want.

Related: How to open apps, websites, and shortcuts from Search on iPhone and iPad

Automatically close tabs after a period of time

If you don’t trust yourself to keep Safari clean and tidy, you can close tabs automatically in a specified period. Head to Settings > Safari and under the Tabs section, tap Close Tabs to choose between a day, a week, or a month.

Select a period to automatically close iPhone tabs

You may find yourself “losing” tabs if you enable this. Fortunately, there is another feature that you can use instead to keep track of things you want to come back to later.

Use your reading list to save things for later

Do you often open tabs in the background, intending to come back to them later? Safari doesn’t provide the best interface for browsing through your open tabs, so it’s easy to miss or forget articles or websites you’ve “saved” for later.

A much better option is to use Safari’s Reading List instead. You can add links to your reading list and then access them at a later time. These items will remain in your Reading List until you remove them manually, just like YouTube’s Watch Later feature. You will never need to clean it, and it will sync between your iPhone, iPad and Mac.

Use Safari's Reading List to save webpages for later

You can add a link to your Reading List by pressing and holding it and selecting the Add to Reading List button. You can then access your reading list by using the “Bookmarks” button under a standard tab (it looks like an open book) and then clicking on the “glasses” icon to see your reading list.

Sort tabs into groups for better organization

If you want to prevent your tabs from getting out of control in the first place, you can use Safari’s Tab Group feature to split your browsing sessions. This allows you to create new groups for different purposes. You can use this to separate the “work” and “study” groups from your interests, such as “games” or “sports.”

It might seem like a hindrance to managing your sessions this way, but you can use the feature as little or as much as you want. To create a new tab session, launch Safari and tap the View Tabs button in the lower right corner. Click the Tabs dropdown button at the bottom of the screen and choose between creating a new empty group or a new group using the tabs that are currently open.

Start a new group of tabs in Safari

You will be prompted to name the group, then switch between it and your normal browsing sessions using the “Tabs” dropdown menu (whose name will change depending on which session you are currently in).

You can move tabs to your session by long-pressing them in the square tab view and selecting the “Move to tab group” button. To delete a group, go back to the Tabs dropdown menu and click Edit and then use the ellipsis “…” followed by the “Delete” button.

Move tab to tab group in Safari

Tab groups saved in this way will sync between devices, and changes you make on your Mac or iPad will be reflected on your iPhone.

Related: How to use tab groups in Safari on iPhone and iPad

Other “Hidden” tab tricks

There are two other tricks that you may find useful while using Safari on your iPhone. First, you can tap on any tab with two fingers to open it in a new tab. If you have tabs, open In the Background under Settings > Safari > Open Links, it will open without drawing focus to the new tab.

Finally, you can also restore any tabs you closed recently by long pressing the “+” new tab button. These tabs are only limited to tabs you have closed on the device you’re using, not on another device (such as your Mac).


If you have a lot of tabs open but don’t want to kill them all at once, you may want to use the StartPage.ai Safari extension to close them from an easy-to-use interface. This is much faster than using Safari’s default tab view to close hundreds of tabs.

This is just one of the benefits that Safari extensions can bring to your iPhone. Check out other recommended Safari extensions and do more with your iPhone browser.