Safari 15 Users Say New Tab Design is Counterintuitive

Safari 15's controversial new design on the Mac has led to complaints about the way the browser indicates which tab is active.

safari 15 tabs
As illustrated by Daring Fireball's John Gruber, there was never any ambiguity about which tab is active in previous versions of Safari, as an active tab is shown with lighter shading that matches the browser's toolbar.

In Safari 15, however, tabs have a new button-like design with a rounder and more defined appearance. Apple has also inverted its shading of tabs, with an active tab now having darker shading and inactive tabs having lighter shading. The change has annoyed Gruber and other users, as evidenced by this Reddit thread with nearly 1,000 upvotes.

"The design is counterintuitive," wrote Gruber. "What sense does it make that no matter your settings, the active tab is rendered with less contrast between the tab title and the background than background tabs? The active tab should be the one that pops."

In a Safari 15 window with two tabs open, especially from the same website, Gruber said determining which tab is active is basically a guessing game. Gruber acknowledged that it is easier to discern the active tab when more than two tabs are open, but he said the confusion with exactly two tabs should have been reason enough to scrap the design change.

"I can't tell you how many times I closed the tab that I needed because of this," one Reddit user expressed in frustration.

Unfortunately for users who do not like the new design, Apple has not made any changes to the shading of tabs in either the Safari 15.1 beta or the latest version of the experimental Safari Technology Preview browser.

Tag: Safari

Top Rated Comments

Bawstun Avatar
16 weeks ago
Just yet one more example of the poor designers Apple employs lately. It’s such a small thing but it speaks to a larger problem. Their user interface has sucked on many design angles for years. Just take a look at Apple Music. Nothing is as intuitive as it used to be…
Score: 140 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Joe_ Avatar
16 weeks ago
When you got John Gruber (who defends Apple 24/7) agreeing with you, you’ll know Apple has messed up:
https://daringfireball.net/2021/10/the_tragedy_of_safari_15_quote_unquote_tabs
I have nothing personal against him but he defends Apple like it’s no tomorrow.
Score: 57 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PBG4 Dude Avatar
16 weeks ago
Never have I been so happy to not upgrade an Apple OS. Truly a first for me.
Score: 45 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bookofxero Avatar
16 weeks ago
It is "natural" scrolling all over again...
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
paulypants Avatar
16 weeks ago
100% agree. Glad I'm not the only one finding this backwards.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mapsdotapp Avatar
16 weeks ago
if Apple was brave enough they would have stuck to leaving the Compact tab layout as the default view. it eliminates all ambiguity about which tab is active and looks the best.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

safari 15 tabs

Safari 15 Extension for Mac Helps You Tell Which Tab Is Active

Wednesday October 6, 2021 12:58 am PDT by
Safari 15 has faced a barrage of complaints about its controversial new design, and while Apple has listened to user feedback and reversed some changes or made them optional, many users still struggle to discern an active tab from a background tab on the Mac browser because of the inverted shading. Unfortunately for users who do not like the new design, Apple has not made any changes to the...
safari ios 15

iOS 15: Check Out Safari's New Tab Bar, Tab Groups, and Tab Switcher

Friday June 11, 2021 5:22 am PDT by
In iOS 15, Safari has been completely redesigned with easier-to-reach controls in mind. Foremost is a new, compact tab bar that floats at the bottom of the screen when you're not inputting a URL address. Safari on iOS has also inherited the Start Page from macOS Big Sur, and you can now create tab groups to allow you to easily access them across devices. Let's take a closer look at how it all...
safari ios15

Safari Browser to Get UI Overhaul and New Features Including Tab Groups

Monday June 7, 2021 11:37 am PDT by
For its new mobile and desktop OSes, Apple is redesigning the Safari browser user interface to be more compact and allow for better organization of multiple open tabs, specifically with a new feature called Tab Groups. Tab Groups aim to offer a new way to easily save and manage related tabs, such as those used when planning trips or shopping, or groups can be used to store the tabs you visit ...
macbook pro tab bar blending safari 15

macOS Monterey and iPadOS 15.1 Release Candidates Limit Safari Color Tab Bar Option to Compact View

Monday October 18, 2021 5:52 pm PDT by
With the macOS Monterey and iPadOS 15 release candidates that were seeded to developers today, Apple has eliminated the option to use the Color Tab Bar with the separate tab design in Safari. A tab bar with color in Safari 15 If you want to have a color tab bar that blends in with the background color of a website, you need to toggle on the Compact Tab Bar, which is the tab bar design that...
microsoft edge vertical tabs

Microsoft Edge 89 Brings Vertical Tabs and New History View

Friday March 5, 2021 4:06 am PST by
Microsoft has officially released version 89 of its popular Chromium-based Edge browser, bringing its long-trialed vertical tabs feature to Mac for the first time. Vertical tabs are intended to make more efficient use of screen space, and should prove a welcome addition for users browsing on 16:9 ratio displays in particular. Users can click vertical tabs to switch between them and...
chromelogo

Chrome for iOS Gains Biometric Authentication for Incognito Tabs

Tuesday July 20, 2021 10:36 am PDT by
Google today updated its Chrome app for iOS devices to version 92, introducing a new feature that allows iPhone and iPad users to protect their Incognito tabs with Touch ID, Face ID, or a passcode. Locked Incognito tabs will not be visible until authenticated after leaving the Chrome app and reopening it, which will prevent someone who gets ahold of your device from viewing your Chrome tabs. ...
safari macos icon banner

Apple Releases Safari 15 Update for macOS Big Sur and macOS Catalina With New Safari Design, Tab Groups, and More

Monday September 20, 2021 11:37 am PDT by
Apple today released Safari 15 for macOS Big Sur and macOS Catalina devices, with Apple introducing support for features that are going to be coming in the macOS Monterey update set to be released later this year. Safari 15 introduces a new look for Safari with rounded, more defined tabs and support for transparency, a compact tab bar option that can be toggled on or off, and Tab Groups....
macos monterey safari design reverted

macOS Monterey Release Candidate Undoes Safari Changes, Reintroduces Old Tab Design

Monday October 18, 2021 12:33 pm PDT by
Apple has admitted defeat on the Safari design changes that have been present for the entire macOS Monterey beta, and the release candidate that was provided to developers today reverts to the old style that was available prior to Safari 15. Safari design in the macOS Monterey release candidate macOS Monterey now features a standard Big Sur tab design that does have the tabs with spaces in...

Popular Stories

maxresdefault

Review: M1 Max MacBook Pro After Three Months

Wednesday January 19, 2022 11:30 am PST by
It's now been a few months since the M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBook Pro models launched in October, and MacRumors video editor Dan Barbera has been using one of the new machines since they debuted. Over on the MacRumors YouTube channel, Dan has shared a three month review of his MacBook Pro to see how it has held up over time and how it's changed his workflow. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube ...
iphone se 2020 top

New iPhone SE Likely to Launch in April Based on Production Timeframe

Wednesday January 19, 2022 6:44 am PST by
Apple suppliers will begin producing display panels for the third-generation iPhone SE this month, with final assembly of the device likely to start in March, according to information shared by display industry consultant Ross Young. Based on this production timeframe, Young believes the third-generation iPhone SE is likely to launch in the second half of April, or perhaps in early May at...
AirPods 3 New Firmware Feature

Apple Updates AirPods 3 Firmware to Version 4C170

Tuesday January 18, 2022 11:46 am PST by
Apple today released a new 4C170 firmware update for the AirPods 3, an update from the prior 4C165 that was made available in December. Apple does not offer details on what's included in new firmware updates for the AirPods‌, so we don't know what improvements or bug fixes the new firmware brings. There is no standard way to upgrade the ‌AirPods‌‌ software, but firmware is...
iPad Air Feature 2 green

New Apple Products Filed in Regulatory Database, Likely Including New iPhone SE and iPad Air

Tuesday January 18, 2022 6:11 am PST by
Apple today filed unreleased iPhone and iPad models in the Eurasian Economic Commission database, as spotted by French blog Consomac. The filings likely represent the rumored third-generation iPhone SE, fifth-generation iPad Air, and potentially more. The unreleased iPhone models have the identifiers A2595, A2783, and A2784, while the unreleased iPad models have the identifiers A2588, A2589, ...
iphone 5g mmwave

U.S. Airlines Warn of 'Catastrophic' Crisis With Impending 5G Rollout, AT&T and Verizon Agree to Delay Around Airports

Tuesday January 18, 2022 10:35 am PST by
Verizon and AT&T's upcoming rollout of new C-Band 5G technology could cause chaos and lead to widespread delays of passenger and cargo flights, major U.S. airlines said on Monday in a letter sent to the White House National Economic Council, the FAA, and the FCC (via Reuters). "Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially...
microsoft office icons

Microsoft Releases Office for Mac Update With Full Apple Silicon Support in Excel

Tuesday January 18, 2022 4:15 am PST by
Microsoft has released a new version of its Office for Mac productivity suite that includes an updated Excel app with 100% native support for Apple silicon machines. According to the release notes accompanying version 16.57, Excel will now run natively on Macs powered by Apple's M1-series processors without having to use the Rosetta 2 translation layer, which means anyone using a Mac with an ...
appleeducation

Apple's US Education Store Now Requires Institution Verification to Buy Discounted Products

Wednesday January 19, 2022 2:22 am PST by
Apple is now requiring that customers in the United States verify that they're active students, teachers, or staff members at an educational institution in order to access education discounts on products. Previously, little verification was needed for customers to purchase products through Apple's education store in the United States. Apple's education stores offer models of the iPad and Mac ...
iPhone 14 Mock pill and hole thumb

ProMotion Now Expected to Remain Exclusive to iPhone 14 Pro Models, Not Expand to Entire Lineup

Sunday January 16, 2022 8:56 am PST by
Continuing the tradition set with the iPhone 13 Pro, only the highest-end iPhone 14 models will feature Apple's ProMotion display technology, according to a respected display analyst. Ross Young, who on multiple occasions has detailed accurate information about Apple's future products, said in a tweet that ProMotion will not be expanded to the entire iPhone 14 lineup and will remain...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID

Rumored iPhone 14 Pro Feature Delayed Until Next Year

Wednesday January 19, 2022 3:00 am PST by
Apple's long-rumored under-display Face ID technology will not be coming to the iPhone 14 Pro, according to recent reports. Based on the latest rumors, it now looks unlikely that the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max will feature Face ID technology under the display as several reports claimed over the past year. Display industry consultant Ross Young, who often reveals ...