How to search Safari tabs across all your devices, instantly


Not this kind of safari.
Photo: Cult of Mac/Charlie Sorrel

You’re going to love this one if you’re a keyboard-shortcut user. And if you’re not, then this tip might be the thing that finally converts you. Did you know that you can quickly search across all open Safari tabs on all your devices, just by hitting a key-combo and then typing?

Show all tabs on Mac

This tip has two parts, although that makes it sound way more complex than it actually is. The first part is Safari’s Tab Overview, the cool grid-like view of thumbnails showing all the open tabs in the current window. Can get to this in a few ways. One is to pinch in on your Magic Trackpad. Another is to click the Tabs Overview icon in Safari’s toolbar. It’s the icon that looks alike a square laying on top of another square. Another way is to mouse up to the menubar and choose View>Show All Tabs.

And finally, the quickest way of all is to hit ⇧-⌘- on the keyboard (this combo also works on iOS, as we’ll see below).

Safari’s Tab Overview is a great feature already, but the reason we mention it here is that you have to invoke it in order to search through those same tabs.

Safari tab search

Typing filters all your open tabs, and shows only those which match.
Typing filters all your open tabs, and shows only those which match.
Photo: Cult of Mac

To search your open tabs in Safari on the Mac, you just have to start typing. Safari narrows the results as you type, presenting only the tabs whose titles match your search string.

Amazingly, it also includes any tabs you have open on other devices. So, if you search in Safari on your Mac, the results will include tabs from Safari on your iPhone, your iPad, or any other Mac you use. Just start typing.

Weirdly, the search doesn’t include tabs from other windows open in Safari on the same machine. That means you’ll have to switch between Safari windows to search in each one. That seems like an absurd omission, but then again, I guess most folks just use a single, with a zillion tabs open in it.

iOS tab search

Search across all your iCloud tabs also works on iOS.
Search across all your iCloud tabs also works on iOS.
Photo: Apple

Tab search also works on iOS with or without a keyboard. Hit the same key combo to see all tabs in a grid: ⇧-⌘-, or pinch to zoom out to the tab overview.

To search tabs, either tap into the Search tabs field at top left, or hit ⌘-F and start typing. This only searches tabs open on your local device, showing a thumbnail of any matching tabs. The tabs on other devices — your iCloud Tabs — show up as lists at the bottom of this view, and are not included in the narrowing-down of the search.

Can also be done using pinch gesture to get to the thumbnail tab grid, and then tapping in the search field to search.

Custom search key

I love this feature so much that I set up a custom keyboard shortcut so I can use the otherwise-defunct application menu key on my Windows-layout keyboard to trigger Safari’s Tab Overview on my Mac. The key is in the bottom row, and I can hit it with my little finger to trigger both the overview and the search. In most cases, though, the overview is enough, and way better than mousing over the tiny tab titles to find what you’re after.