Safari tip: cycle through your open tabs with a gesture

Tabbed browsing boosts your productivity by letting you multitask in Safari like a pro.

Regardless of your browser of choice, it’s virtually guaranteed that it supports tabs to help you avoid cluttering the desktop with multiple windows. What tabs bring to the web-browsing experience is the ability for users to have multiple webpages open in a single browser window.

This is especially useful if you’re researching a subject on the web or reading news in one tab while having Gmail open in another tab one, and so forth.

How to scroll through open Safari tabs

Safari lets you create a new tab by hitting a button near the top-right corner, navigate open tabs with the keyboard and take advantage of other productivity-focused keyboard combos.

But what do you do when you have more open tabs than can fit in the tab bar?

Thankfully, a simple gesture lets you scroll through open tabs like you would cycle through them using the Command (⌘)-Shift(⇧)-[ and Command (⌘)-Shift(⇧)-] keyboard shortcuts.

Here’s how…

iPhone/iPod touch

You can only scroll through your open tabs on Plus-sized iPhone models because Safari on all the other iPhones doesn’t show the tab bar at the top at all.

1) Open Safari on your Plus-sized iPhone.

2) Rotate your iPhone into landscape mode to display the tab bar. If it wont show up, reveal the tab bar along with the URL field by tapping the top of the screen.

3) If there are more tabs than fit in Safari’s tab area, simply swipe left or right with your finger over any tab bar to scroll through all of your open tabs just like that.

safari gestures on iphone

Large-screened iPhones display Safari’s tab bar in landscape mode

TIP: Make sure that the option Show Tab Bar is turned on in Settings → Safari.


Unlike smaller-screened iPhone and iPod touch, iPad has plenty of screen real estate to always display the tab area, making it even simpler to get to a hidden tab.

1) Open Safari on your iPad.

2) If you have more tabs than fit in the interface, simply swipe left or right with your finger over any tab. This will smoothly scroll items horizontally in the tab bar.

safari gestures on ipad

Safari tab bar on iPad persists in either orientation

TIP: To prevent the Safari tab bar from appearing, close all of your open tabs. Next, choose Preferences from the Safari menu and click the Tabs tab. Click next to “Open pages in tabs instead of windows” and choose Never from the popup menu.


On your Mac, use a trackpad gesture to cycle through your open tabs.

1) Open Safari on your Mac.

2) If you have too many open tabs to fit the current width of the Safari window, swipe left or right over the tab bar to scroll through open tabs (whether or not Safari is fullscreen).

safari gestures on mac

TIP: To instantly jump to the rightmost tab in Safari, use the shortcut Command (⌘)-9.

Please note that your computer must be running macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 for the above keyboard combination to function. In prior editions, pressing Command (⌘)-9 takes you to the ninth open tab.

And that’s all for today, folks!

If you prefer tabbed browsing, now you know how to get to that tab outside of the Safari window.

Need help? Ask iDB!

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