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How to Open Links in New Tabs by Default in Safari 5

written by: Mike Piero•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 9/23/2010

If you are confused about why Safari always opens links in separate windows instead of tabs, this article will show you how to customize Safari 5 and create a better browsing experience.

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    For a long time, I have used Mozilla Firefox as my main Mac web browser. With the introduction of Safari 5, I wanted to switch over. Safari is a lightning-fast browser that integrates seamlessly into Mac OS X. It also has a cool new feature called Top Sites, in which the page automatically keeps track of the sites you visit most and keeps snapshots of them for easy and quick access.

    There was just one problem. When I started using Safari 5, I was irritated by the fact that every time I clicked on an external link, it was opened in a new window instead of a new tab. I went into preferences and was dismayed to find that there was no option to have Safari open links in tabs instead of new windows.

    So, the online search of computer forums began - I knew there just had to be a way to get Safari to do this simple task. How could Apple have overlooked such a basic option - very uncharacteristic of them. Yes, I could hold down command while clicking on the link, but that’s a little too much trouble for me.

    The following instructions will help configure Safari to open links in tabs instead of new windows.

    1. Open Terminal under Utilities in the Application folder, or by typing Terminal into Spotlight.
    2. Enter the following command: defaults write com.apple.Safari TargetedClicksCreateTabs -bool true
    3. Restart Safari

    If you ever need to switch this setting back to the way it originally was, simply change the true in this command to false.

    With this simple terminal hack, I am now enjoying Safari as my default web browser. It's a very fast browser, and with this configuration, your desktop will not be cluttered with endless windows popping up upon each click of a new link. While there are still some websites that this hack doesn't work for, it will open most links in tabs instead of new windows.