The huge value of pinning a tab in El Capitan

There are a lot of terrific new features in OS X El Capitan. But given how much time I spend reading in Safari, my current favorite is tab pinning. If you are an old hand at this, move along, nothing to see here.

New to El Capitan? Give this a try:

  • Open up a new window
  • Open up your favorite web site
  • Click the site’s tab (the area under the title bar, to the left of the +) and drag it to the left until it turns into a mini tab, then release it. You’ll need to be within about half an inch of the left edge of the window for the pin mechanism to kick in.

The tab will be marked with the site’s mini icon, typically in the form of a single letter (the Loop is an L, Daring Fireball a D, the New York Times a fancy T).

  • Open a few more sites, drag them to the left, until you’ve got 3 or 4 tabs pinned on the left.

To revisit one of the pinned sites, click on its tab. To expand a tab, drag it back to the right. Easy peasy.

But the real value of tabs doesn’t emerge until you do this:

  • With a few tabs pinned to the left, open a new Safari window.

Your pinned tabs will be pinned in the new window, too.

I find this incredibly useful when I am making my way through my morning site visits. As I find stories I want to read in depth and, perhaps, comment on in The Loop, I accumulate those tabs, pinning them as I go. A pinned tab takes up very little tab bar real estate and let’s me keep a few unpinned tabs to work with as I work on a specific story.



  • Wow, thanks for that. Works like a charm, very easy to do.

  • mildlygeeky

    Dave, you should look at adding your own custom Loop icon for pinning tabs in Safari (for an example, pin Twitter and see that it shows up not as a letter, but as the Twitter logo in their brand color): https://developer.apple.com/library/prerelease/mac/releasenotes/General/WhatsNewInSafari/Articles/Safari_9.html#//apple_ref/doc/uid/TP40014305-CH9-SW20

    • Dave Mark

      Thanks. Terrific idea!

      • freediverx

        Doesn’t it just use your website’s favicon?

  • Sherif Laoun

    Nice. Thank you (and Macdaily News for sending me to you).

  • cesardlg

    so, ugh, isn’t that just a bookmark bar? i don’t get all the fuss – am i missing something?

    • mildlygeeky

      Not quite – they’re all pre-loaded whenever a browser window is opened (though if you’re on metered bandwidth this would be an issue), so no waiting for them to load, and they take up limited screen real estate.

      • rick gregory

        But they’re not refreshed. If you’ve pinned a tab and the content there has changed, going to the pinned tab gives you the old content. You need to manually refresh.

        • jsmith

          They don’t refresh, which is annoying, and they also seem to sometimes, but not always, open a link in a new tab. Clicked links should always open in a new tab, so the pinned tabs stay.

  • Jim Roberts

    Didn’t work for me until I set new window preferences to Tabs for Favorites then it opens with all windows.

  • llahnoraa

    Or, simply right click that page title and pin it. Simple.

  • jcgarza

    I guess no one who reads The Loop is familiar with a browser called “Chrome”.

  • Prof. Peabody

    I agree. The only thing I have against this new feature is that I had a few dozen tabs just waiting to be pinned, which I did when I opened the new Safari for the first time.

    An hour later, all the pinned tabs (which had survived for weeks awaiting the release), were deleted and gone. No message, nothing.

    So yeah, great feature, but obviously it has a few bugs so far.

  • orc4hire

    Wait, it puts the tabs on every window that you open? Ugh. I’m glad that’s working for some people, but it’s about as desirable as herpes to me. I have 8 Safari windows open right now. Why would I want the same page loaded multiple times like that?

  • rick gregory

    The one issue I’ve found with pinned tabs is this. Safari now lets me move from taboo tab by typing CMD+(X) where X is the number of the tab from left to right. So if I have 6 tabs open and I’m on #5 I can type CMD+2 and go to the second tab. Very useful for quickly moving to a tab, checking something, then moving back (mousing takes longer).

    However, the pinned tabs are counted as full tabs by this logic. So if I’ve pinned 4 tabs and have those 6 open and type CMD+2 I will go to the second pinned tab, not the second active tab.

  • ianp0512

    Yes, but try this… first, pin a site. Next, open a new window, the pinned site appears as described. Now, expand that pinned site in the second, new window. It expands ok but does it expand in the original window? No. It disappears. Boom. Gone. How is this a useful improvement?

  • Alejandro

    I saved some websites as pinned tabs but they went away when I cleared the Safari Cache using CCleaner Why?