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
8 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
8 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
8 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
8 weeks ago
It is "natural" scrolling all over again...
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
paulypants Avatar
8 weeks ago
100% agree. Glad I'm not the only one finding this backwards.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mapsdotapp Avatar
8 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...
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....
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. ...
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...
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

Mac Notebook Upgrade Program

Apple Introduces New MacBook Upgrade Program for Business Partners

Monday November 29, 2021 7:38 am PST by
In association with CIT as the financing partner, Apple has launched a new Mac Upgrade Program for small businesses and Apple business partners that allow companies to easily distribute and upgrade their fleets of MacBooks at an affordable price to all of their workers. As outlined on CIT's website, shared by Max Weinbach, Apple Business Partners can distribute the 13-inch MacBook Pro,...
General cyber monday 20 sale feature

Best Cyber Monday Deals for AirPods, Apple Pencil, iMac, More

Monday November 29, 2021 4:19 am PST by
With Black Friday over, Cyber Monday 2021 is now in full swing and you can find many of the same sales as last week on Apple products like AirPods, Apple Pencil, and iPad Pro. In this article we're focusing on the best Cyber Monday discounts on Apple products like these and more. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we...
2017 apple tv

Cyber Monday: Original Apple TV 4K Drops to $99.99 for Amazon Prime Members

Monday November 29, 2021 12:01 pm PST by
We've been tracking Apple product and accessory deals for Cyber Monday 2021 today, and now Woot is offering a solid discount on the previous generation 32GB Apple TV 4K. You can get this device in new condition for just $99.99 if you're an Amazon Prime member. Note that this sale will last for one day only. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a...
iPhone SE Cosmopolitan Clean

New iPhone SE Reportedly on Track for Release in First Quarter of 2022

Tuesday November 30, 2021 8:08 am PST by
Apple plans to release a third-generation iPhone SE in the first quarter of 2022, according to Taiwanese research firm TrendForce. If this timeframe proves to be accurate, we can expect the device to be released by the end of March. As previously rumored, TrendForce said the new iPhone SE will remain a mid-range smartphone with added support for 5G:In terms of product development, Apple is...
maxresdefault

Five Features to Look Forward to in the 2022 MacBook Air

Tuesday November 30, 2021 1:51 pm PST by
In 2022, Apple is going to release an updated version of the MacBook Air with some of the biggest design changes that we've seen since 2010, when Apple introduced the 11 and 13-inch size options. In the video below, we highlight five features that you need to know about the new machine. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. No More Wedge Design - Current MacBook...
telsa cyberwhistle

Elon Musk Urges Customers to Buy 'Tesla Cyberwhistle' Instead of Apple Polishing Cloth

Wednesday December 1, 2021 4:01 am PST by
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has encouraged customers to buy the "Cyberwhistle" for $50 instead of Apple's much-discussed Polishing Cloth. The product page, which Musk shared on Twitter on Tuesday evening, offers a limited edition stainless steel whistle with the same distinctive design of the Tesla Cybertruck:Inspired by Cybertruck, the limited-edition Cyberwhistle is a premium collectible made from ...
General cyber monday 20 sale feature 2

Best Cyber Monday Apple Accessory Deals Available Today

Monday November 29, 2021 6:41 am PST by
We started sharing deals on Apple products for Cyber Monday 2021 earlier today, and now we're tracking deals and bargains available from all of the best Apple accessory companies. Similar to Black Friday, you can expect Cyber Monday savings from Twelve South, Nomad, Belkin, Casetify, and many more. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and...
iphone holiday

Best Black Friday iPhone Deals Still Available

Friday November 26, 2021 4:58 am PST by
Cellular carriers have always offered big savings on the newest iPhone models during the holidays, and Black Friday 2021 sales have now carried over into Cyber Monday as well. Right now we're tracking notable offers on the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro devices from AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. For even more savings, keep an eye on older models like iPhone SE. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate...
airpods prototype translucent

Transparent AirPods and 29W Power Adapter Prototypes Surface in Photos

Tuesday November 30, 2021 7:16 am PST by
Images of transparent prototype AirPods and a 29W Apple power adapter have been shared on Twitter by Apple device collector Giulio Zompetti. The prototypes, which appear to be either first-generation or second-generation AirPods, feature clear plastic along the stem and around the outer side of the earbud, with the normal white plastic on the inner side of the earbud. Transparent casings are ...