Apple tweaks Safari’s design once more: Tabs finally look like tabs

Apple continues to refine Safari tabs on iPad and Mac, with the latest iPadOS and macOS betas reverting to the old design with proper styling, spacers between tabs and no color matching.


  • Safari on iPadOS 15.1 and macOS Monterey reverts to the old design
  • An active Safari tab now finally looks like an active tab
  • Users can switch to consolidate tabs at any time
  • Website tinting is now turned off by default

Illustration showing an Apple Safari logo set against a blue gradient background

Safari tabs on iPad and Mac: The latest changes

Here’s what’s changed in Safari:

  • Old tab design is back: Safari now defaults to the familiar tab design from macOS Big Sur and iPadOS 14, with the controversial compact tab interface still a few clicks away for those who want it. Before the change, compact tabs were turned on by default.
  • Website tinting: This option is now turned off by default, but the user can optionally toggle it on in the Safari preferences. Website tinting used to be turned on by default.

The changes were first spotted by John Gruber of Daring Fireball.

It’s not like Apple has completely undone the new (controversial) way of handling and displaying Safari tabs: You can re-enable both compact tabs and website tinting at will through the Safari preferences. Apple has also updated tab styling so you will no longer mistake the active tab for its non-active counterpart. Read: How to bring back the old Safari design

With compact tabs, Safari combines the URL field into the currently active tab.

Wait, I actually prefer compact tabs!

As a result, a clicked tab expands to make room for the URL, which is confusing.

If you for one reason or another prefer this controversial tab design over Safari’s traditional tab styling, the new look is a few clicks away in the Safari preferences on macOS and via Settings → Safari on iPadOS. From there, you can re-enable the new design by choosing the option labeled “Compact” (similarly, the old design is referred to as “Separate”).

As mentioned earlier, Safari now defaults to the compact interface turned off.

I also prefer website tinting!

As for the website tinting feature, it adds up to the confusion by dynamically modifying Safari’s interface color to match the accent color of an active website. With it, Apple wanted to erase the visual separation between web content and browser chrome. In reality, this creates a major distraction during web browsing while adding absolutely no value to the experience.

That said, we understand that some people may prefer website tinting. The good news is, website tinting is still available as an option in Safari’s settings. Simply re-enable the option labeled Show color in tab bar underneath the Advanced tab of the Safari preferences (macOS 12 Monterey) or toggle on the Website Tinting switch in Settings → Safari (iPadOS 15.1) to re-enable color-matching for Safari tabs. Read: How to disable website tinting in Safari

When will these Safari tweaks go live for everyone?

The aforementioned changes to Safari tabs are now present in the release candidates (RC) of the iPadOS 15.1 and macOS 12 Monterey updates, which are currently being tested ahead of their public launches. macOS Monterey is scheduled to launch for public consumption on October 25. Apple has not said when the iPadOS 15.1 update will drop, but our hunch tells us to expect it around the same time as the Monterey update.