By Dan Moren
March 11, 2020 8:19 AM PT
Quick Tip: Make Safari tabs open at the end
Note: This story has not been updated for several years.
Change! It’s the worst, isn’t it? Case in point: When Apple adjusted the behavior of Safari tabs on the Mac to always open after the current tab, I—a die-hard always-put-new-tabs-at-the-end lifer—was bereft. For a while, I subsisted on the OpenAtEnd Safari extension, but when the more recent macOS updates killed off the legacy Safari plugin infrastructure, I lost my only recourse.
Until the eagle-eyed TJ Luoma noticed that Safari’s hidden Debug menu contained an option to control the tab-opening behavior, including options to open new tabs at the end:
@gruber @jsnell @dmoren ISTR that I've heard talk about frustrations with where Safari on the Mac opens new tabs in relation to existing tabs. I just noticed this setting in Safari’s “Debug" menu, and wondered if it might fix the issue? Maybe it's new? Thought it worth mentioning pic.twitter.com/vFvWs3TE2d
— TJ Luoma (@tjluoma) March 11, 2020
Sounded like exactly what I was looking for! Off on a quest I went. First step: figure out how to enable the Debug menu. Note that this is different from the Develop menu, which can be enabled with a simple checkbox in the Advanced pane of Safari’s Preferences. The Debug menu is intended for internal testing usage, so enabling it requires a trip to the Terminal and use of the
Moreover, the new security strictures put in place in macOS Mojave and Catalina mean that the old Terminal commands don’t always work. After a little poking around, I discovered that in order to use some of them, you first must make sure that Terminal has Full Disk Access in the System Preferences > Security & Privacy pane. (Note, of course, that you are deliberately weakening some aspects of macOS’s protections by doing that, since the Terminal app now has access to every file on your disk—though that was more or less the case in previous versions of macOS.)
Once you’ve done that, you can issue the following command in Terminal:
defaults write com.apple.Safari IncludeInternalDebugMenu 1
You’ll then need to restart Safari, and voila! The Debug menu has appeared. To enable the tab-opening behavior, go all the way to the bottom of the menu and choose Tab Ordering > Position of New Tabs > After Last Tab. And, in order to make sure that tabs opened via links follow the same behavior, make sure to check off Tab Ordering > Apply Position to Spawned Tabs and, for good measure, Apply Position to All Blank Tabs (or whatever combination thereof you prefer).
It’s unclear how long these options will last—in theory they could be removed in any future build, or, at the very least, require you to go through this dance again. But for the moment, sweet sweet opening tabs at the end is back, friends.
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at @firstname.lastname@example.org or reach him by email at email@example.com. His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is now available for pre-order.]
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