By John Gruber
Raycast: Level up your productivity and control your tools with a few keystrokes.
The way Safari tabs work on the Mac:
This is the way Safari tabs have worked as long as I can remember, and it matches the way tabs work on other browsers on the Mac.
It’s fine if you don’t have a lot of tabs. But I always do, and the behavioral mismatch has long bothered me. If I have, say, 10 tabs open in a window and I’m currently using, say, tab 2, when I type ⌘T to open a new tab it feels like the rightmost end of the row of tabs is “way over there”, but what I want is the new tab to open “right next to where I am” — like what happens when I ⌘-click a link.
A few months ago I asked on Twitter if there was a secret preference in Safari that would change this to what I want — which is for new tabs to always open right next to the current tab. There is no such preference. I set about trying to figure out if this could be done using AppleScript, but I couldn’t figure it out.
Jeff Johnson figured it out, though, and was kind enough to share the solution and explain the rather ungainly syntax required.
Here’s my slightly modified version of Johnson’s solution:
tell application "Safari" tell front window set _old_tab to current tab set _new_tab to make new tab at after _old_tab set current tab to _new_tab end tell end tell
What tripped me up is that in Safari’s AppleScript object model,
tabs have an
index property. The leftmost tab in a window has an
index of 1; the next tab 2, etc. But
index is a read-only value — you can’t change the
index to move a tab, and you can’t create a new tab with a specific
As Johnson notes:
Here’s the somewhat unintuitive AppleScript. It’s “at [location specifier]”, where “after [item]” is a location specifier.
Which gives us “
make new tab at after _old_tab”. AppleScript’s English-Likeness Monster rears its head.
Ungainly syntax aside,1 this simple script works exactly how I want it to. I use Red Sweater Software’s excellent FastScripts to provide a system-wide scripts menu, and assigned this script the shortcut ⌘T in Safari. FastScripts “sees” the ⌘T shortcut before Safari does, so when I invoke it, the script runs instead of the File → New Tab menu command. One could set it up using Keyboard Maestro just as easily. If you don’t use either FastScripts or Keyboard Maestro, I don’t know what to tell you other than that you’re missing out.
I’ve been using this for two months, and at this point it feels indispensable. I was using a different Mac the other day where I hadn’t yet set this up, and it felt like Safari was broken. Which, yes, also means that ⌘T in Safari on iPad now feels broken.