Safari 15.1 reverses controversial design changes for macOS Big Sur and Catalina

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Safari 15.1 design
Safari is back to its best.
Screenshot: Cult of Mac

After Apple finally decided to reverse its controversial Safari design changes in the latest macOS Monterey beta (when you use the “Separate” tabs option), it has made the same move for those running macOS Big Sur and Catalina.

The Safari 15.1 update released Wednesday for earlier versions of macOS brings back Safari’s old tab design. However, if you prefer the new “Compact” interface — introduced at WWDC 2021 back in June — you still have the option to use it.

Apple fixes Safari’s poor design changes

When it quickly became apparent that most Mac users didn’t like the Safari changes Apple originally made for macOS Monterey, the company made a series of further tweaks in an effort to address the growing list of complaints.

But the tweaks never made Safari any better than it already was, and they didn’t fix the problem many users had with tab visibility — which actually inspired third-party extensions that made Safari’s active tab easier to see.

So, the debut of macOS Monterey this week, Apple scrapped many of the interface changes it previewed for Safari 15 at WWDC and brought back its old tab design for those who choose to use the “Separate” tab layout.

Apple has now done the same in Safari 15.1 for macOS Big Sur and Catalina users.

‘Compact’ mode still available

If you were one of the few who actually liked Safari’s new design, which merges tabs with the address bar, you can still use this interface by enabling the “Compact” tab mode inside Safari’s preferences menu.

The release notes for the browser update say, “Safari 15.1 includes an updated tab appearance, security improvements and bug fixes.” For more on those bug fixes, visit the Apple support site.