How Safari in iOS 15 Works with a New One-Handed Design


One of the major changes coming with iOS 15 is a totally redesigned Safari. The all new browser aims to make it easier to use with one hand as it moves URL / tab bar down, introduces customizable tab groups and a new start page, and more. . Let’s see how the new Safari works in iOS 15.

The new Safari is coming iPhone, iPad, as well as Mac with macOS Monterey. Apple says two of its goals with the new Safari in iOS 15 were to make “controls easier to reach with one hand” and to put “content first”.

There is no doubt that it will take some getting used to because there is real muscle memory to be rewritten here.

iOS 15 is currently available in public and developer beta with the official release scheduled for fall 2021.

How the all-new Safari works in iOS 15

New layout and basic navigation

  • You will immediately notice the new URL / search / tab bar at the bottom of Safari
  • The previous page button will appear on the left if applicable
  • When you swipe on a web page, the tab bar collapses at the bottom of the app
  • Swipe up or tap down to reappear the tab bar
  • Hit the reload button or drop down from the top of many websites to refresh the pages
 How Safari in iOS 15 works layout and navigation
  • To navigate to another website or start a new search, tap a website URL (or swipe up on the tab bar)
    • The URL / search bar will move to the top of Safari with the keyboard appearing below
  • Hit the search bar / tab for all your other menu buttons such as Reader View, Read Later, Add Bookmark, Request Desktop Site, and more (swipe up on the menu sheet to see all of your options)
  • Share button is included in new search bar / tab along with tab preview button to open new page, manage tabs etc.
 How Safari works in iOS 15 - search bar / tab, share button, more

Swipe between Safari windows

  • If you’ve only opened one Safari page and swipe right to left in the tab bar, you’ll open a new start page
  • Swipe seamlessly between open Safari windows by swiping left and right on the tab bar
 How Safari works in iOS 15 - swipe to the search bar / tab to open a new page or switch between open pages

Tabs, tab groups, and private browsing

  • Access Safari tabs by tapping on the double square icon or simply swiping up on the tab bar
  • You can search for tabs at the top, press / hold + drag tabs to rearrange them
  • Add a new tab at the bottom left with the + icon, or a Tabs tab at the bottom middle to customize tab groups
  • Tap a tab or choose Done in the lower right corner to exit Tab view
  • Another change here is that the X for closing tabs has moved from top left to top right
 How does Safari work in iOS 15 - swipe up on the search / tab bar to see all tabs
  • To create a custom tab group, tap X tabs at the bottom middle of the tabs screen (this is also where private browsing resides now)
  • Choose New Empty Tab Group or New Tab Group from X Tabs
  • Name your tab group, press OK

Bookmarks, history, playlist and personalized start page

  • To access your bookmarks, history and reading list, open a new Safari page or tap the search bar / tab and press the button book icon in the upper left corner
  • To customize your Safari start page, swipe down all the way and tap Edit
  • You can rearrange the sections, activate / deactivate them
  • And a fun option is the ability to set a start page background image with iOS 15 (first came with macOS Big Sur)
 How Safari works in iOS 15 - custom start page


Another handy change coming to Safari for iOS 14 / iPadOS 15 is extension support. We’ll probably start to see developers building early support for this over the summer and many will be ready to go for public launch in the fall.

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