Customize Safari startup page and new tab page on the Mac

Put information you need on new Safari tabs and windows

Apple MacBook showing the screen and keyboard

With every new version of macOS, Apple tweaks Safari and adds great new features. The Safari startup page and the new tab page are more customizable than ever. Make them work the way you want.

There is more to Safari’s startup and new tab pages than you might think and they can be very plain and simple, but super fast to display, or you can fill it out by adding bookmarks, Siri suggestions and links to recently visited sites. What you show on the start and tab pages is up to you and different people have different needs.

If you have not recently checked out the startup options, it is time you took another look because they may have changed. It only takes a few minutes to completely redesign everything and it might make web browsing simpler and quicker by placing what you need on the startup and new tab pages. I’m using the macOS dark theme, by the way.

1 Select the Safari startup page type

Startup options for Safari web browser on the Apple Mac

Open Safari bowser on the Mac and go to Safari > Preferences > General. Click Safari opens with and New windows open with and choose one of the four options. There is a slight difference between these two window opening options, which we will look at later.

Open with a normal window or a private browsing window that has no identity or history. Some people like to open a browser and continue with the websites they were looking at last time. Select All windows from last session if you want this. It is great when you need it, but irritating when you don’t. I prefer A new window.

2 Change Safari new tab page

New tab options in Safari web browser on the Apple Mac

What do you want new Safari tabs to open with? Select one of the menu options. Top Sites are your most visited sites, Homepage can be set below and Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo search engines are popular choices.

For now, select Favourites for new tabs. Favourites are websites you have bookmarked.

3 Choose your favourites

Safari startup and new tab options on the Apple Mac

If you select windows or tabs to open with Favourites, click Favourites show and you can choose all favourites or a folder of favourites (bookmarks).

You could create a folder in Favourites (go to Bookmarks > Edit Bookmarks) containing sites you want to see in new tabs or new windows or select an existing folder. You do organize bookmarks into folders don’t you?

I selected a folder in Favourites and when opening a new window or tab, the bookmarks in the folder are displayed as icons like this. It makes it easy to select a favourite website.

Safari web browser start page on the Apple Mac

4 Choose new window and tab content

Safari browser start page options on the Apple Mac

After configuring the startup and new tab preferences, open a new window or tab. Ctrl+click an empty space on the page to access a menu.

If there are more items than will fit in the window, there is a Show More option. For example, there are more frequently visited sites than can be seen, so click Show More to see them.

You can show or hide the Favourites, Frequently Visited and Siri Suggestions sections in the new window or new tab page.

5 Edit the Frequently Visited sites

Safari start page options on the Apple Mac

If there are items in the Frequently Visited section of new tabs or windows that you do not want to see, like embarrassing visits to sites you would rather keep quiet about, Ctrl+click them and select Delete.

6 Stop Siri suggestions

Customizing Siri suggestions in Safari start page

If Siri suggests websites that are not useful in new tabs or new windows, Ctrl+click the item and select Don’t Suggest This Website. Suggestions come from bookmarks and some of my bookmarks are years old and out of date. This stops Siri suggesting them (cleaning up old bookmarks will also do the job, too).

7 Show top sites in Safari tabs and windows

Safari start page options on the Apple Mac

Return to Safari > Preferences > General and select Top Sites for new windows and new tabs. Down below, click Top Sites shows and close 6, 12 or 24. How many do you want to see?

8 Configure top sites in new tabs, windows

Safari start page configuration on the Apple Mac

Open a new Safari window or tab with Top Sites selected and they appear as icons. Move the mouse over a site and in the top left corner is a cross (delete) and pin (make permanent) icon. Ctrl+click a top site and there are options to open it in a new tab or window, add it to Favourites or delete it.

9 More Safari start page options

Safari start page options on the Apple Mac

Return to Safari > Preferences > General and click Safari opens with. Down at the bottom of the menu is Tabs for Favourites and Choose tabs folder. Do not choose Tabs for Favourites! I did and it crashed Safari. I think it tried to open every site in my Favourites, that’s probably 100+ tabs! This is only useful if you have 5 to 10 Favourites.

Select Choose tabs folder to select a subfolder.

10 Show Favourites on startup

Safari start page options on the Apple Mac

Now you can select a folder in your Favourites bookmarks. Select something containing only a few items because Safari will start with a new tab for every item. Avoid selecting a folder with dozens of bookmarks.


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