How to Customize Safari Start Pages for Each Tab Group in iOS 16

With the advent of iOS 16, there are now more options than ever for customizing your Safari browsing experience with Tab Groups. I’ll walk you through how to pin tabs in groups and how to set unique Start Page backgrounds and favorites.

While Tab Groups are not new to iOS 16 (and if you've never used the feature before, I'd suggest checking out our guide on creating Tab Groups in Safari first) the big update to iOS does bring some new options for customizing them to your personal tastes and give us some new ways to help make them visually distinct from one another. For more guides like on utilizing the various features of your Apple devices, be sure to sign up for our free Tip of the Day newsletter.

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How to Customize Tab Groups Start Page Backgrounds

The first thing I did when when customizing my various Tab Groups was try to make them instantly recognizable visually. This is pretty easy to do, but the menu for doing it is in a spot that is a little hard to find.

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  1. When you first create a Tab Group it will have the background of your main Start Page. Once you've opened a Start Page on the Tab Group you want to customize, swipe up to scroll to the bottom of the page.

    Safari app with a Tab Group Start Page open and a marking indicating a swipe up.
  2. At the bottom of the Start Page tap Edit.

    Safari app with a Tab Group Start Page scrolled to the bottom to show a marked Edit button.
  3. This will open the Customize Start Page sheet. Unfortunately, while Safari doesn't say this explicitly, in my experience, almost all of the options here are universal, not specific to the Tab Group Start Page you're currently customizing. For example, if you toggle off Favorites or Shared with You, that section will disappear from all Start Pages, not just the one for this Tab Group. The background image, however, is unique for every Start Page. Swipe up to scroll to the bottom of the page to see them all.

    Safari app with the Customize Start Page sheet open for a Tab Group start page and a marking indicating a swipe up.
  4. Like the options above, if you toggle off Background image entirely, it will turn it off on every Start Page. If you select a background, whether one of the built-in options or (by tapping the option with the large plus sign) pick your own image to use, it will be applied only to this Tab Group. So pick one that fits the mood of the group and that will help you immediately identify which group you're looking at. Just tap the image you like and then close the sheet with the X in the upper right, and that's it, you'll see the new background immediately applied.

    Safari app with the Customize Start Page sheet open for a Tab Group start page, scrolled to the bottom and the Background Image section marked.

How to Set Tab Group Favorites

Favorites is also a crucial part of a Tab Group, and they are added in almost the exact same way as you would add a favorite normally.

  1. From your Tab Group Start Page, you have two options. If you've previously set the page as a Favorite in another Tab Group or as a standard Favorite, you can tap the large plus in the Tab Group Favorites section and this will open a menu to let you select a page from the other favorites you have saved. If you want to to set new as a Favorite, however, that's easy too, just tap into the address bar and navigate to the page as normal.

    Safari Tab Group Start Page with the address bar and button to add a new Favorite marked.
  2. Once on the page you want to Favorite, just tap the share button at the bottom of the screen.

    Safari with the Wikipedia main page open in a Group tab and the share button marked.
  3. Swipe up on the share Share Sheet top see more options.

    Safari app with the Share Sheet for a Group tab open and a marking indicating to swipe the sheet up.
  4. Here I'm tapping Add to "Demo group" Favorites. For you, the name you selected for your Tab Group should appear in place of "Demo group."

    Safari app with the Share Sheet for a Group tab open with the option reading Add to "Demo group" Favorites marked.
  5. This will open a confirmation sheet where you can change the name of the bookmark or edit the URL if necessary. If the default is fine though, just tap Save in the upper right corner. Now this page will appear in your Tab Group Favorites section at the top of the start page.

    Safari app with the sheet to save a Favorite open for adding to a Tab Group. The Save button is marked.

How to Pin Tabs in a Group

With iOS 16, you can also now pin tabs to specific Tab Groups.  You can use this feature to make sure that certain page you use all the time stay open, but only within the Tab Group they're relevant to.

  1. To pin a tab to a group, while in the group with the page open, tap the tabs button in the lower right corner.

    Safari with the Wikipedia main page open in a Group tab and the tabs button marked.
  2. Long press the tab you want to pin. This will open a small menu.

    Safari app with the tabs screen for a Tab Group with two tabs open and one tab marked.
  3. In the menu that opens, tap Pin Tab.

    Safari app with the tabs screen for a Tab Group blurred in the background and a single tab visible with the long press menu open below it. The Pin Tab option is marked in the menu.
  4. After you're done, your pinned tab will appear collapsed above your other tabs. It will remain even if you close Safari, and tapping links in the pinned tab will open the new page in a separate tab.

    Safari app in a Tab Group with with the tabs view open. There is one pinned tab and a Start Page tab open.

For now, these are the only ways to customize your Tab Groups Start Pages individually and while these are still useful, personally I'm hoping we'll be able to do more in the future, such as having unique sets of options for each Start Page.

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Author Details

Brian Peters's picture

Author Details

Brian Peters

Brian Peters is a Feature Web Writer at iPhone Life, a creative writing hobbyist, and general technology enthusiast. He has a bachelor's degree in English, and has completed National Novel Writing Month multiple times. He lives in the Austin, Texas, area with his wife, two dogs, and two cats.