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How to Fix: Safari Tabs not Syncing between Devices?

One of the best features of the Safari browser is that website tabs and your data sync with all your devices. But sometimes, you might face problems with your Safari syncing tabs with other devices. To fix this problem, you can try disabling and enabling Safari sync and force Safari sync to iCloud on your iOS or Mac device.

One of the best features of the Safari browser is that website tabs and your data sync with all your devices. This means if you open one website on your Mac, you can open the same website from your iPhone with the help of sync history and reading tabs data.

However, this feature was not working as intended for quite a long time. In some research, I found that many people face the same issue.

The option to sync Safari should be enabled within iCloud. Hence it will sync across devices. Sometimes there might be an issue on your Mac device if it’s unable to sync with your iCloud account.

You can force Sync Safari to iCloud to resolve the issue. However, it is also possible that the issue is due to an incorrect configuration on your iOS device.

I have followed some troubleshooting tips, which I used to fix the issue with tabs sync. The issue is mainly due to sync settings, so here is how you can fix it.

Note: You must crosscheck the iCloud and Safari browser-sync settings on all your devices. This includes your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or MacBook as well. On slow internet, Safari Tabs will sync slowly, or they might not even sync. Even more, before troubleshooting, ensure you have closed all the Tabs on Safari on every device.

Force Sync Safari on Mac

To force sync Safari to iCloud, you must quit the Safari browser. Then you can enable the iCloud sync history.

Here are the steps to force sync the iCloud on the Safari Mac browser:

  1. If Safari is running, then force quit the browser.
    You can use the Cmd + Q safari shortcut.
  2. Launch the Applications folder and then open the Utilities.
  3. Open the Terminal app from Utilities.
    Terminal app in macOS computer
  4. Please type the following command in the Terminal and press Enter to execute it.
    defaults write com.apple.Safari IncludeInternalDebugMenu 1
    It will terminate any Safari-related background process.
    macOS command terminal
  5. Relaunch the Apple Safari browser.
  6. Open on Debug menu and select Sync iCloud History from the menu list.
    Safari macOS Sync iCloud History option

After that, you can check on your other devices if Safari Tabs have synced properly between Apple iCloud signed-in devices.

Force Sync Safari on iOS

Force syncing Safari on iPhone or iPad is the same as on Mac devices. You will have to ensure that Safari is not running in the background. But first, close all the tabs that are opened on Safari.

Here are the steps to force sync the iCloud on your iOS device:

  • Swipe up from the bottom of the screen on your iOS device and open up the App Switcher.
  • Swipe up the Safari Card from the app switcher to terminate the application.
  • Press hold on to Safari until it starts jiggling.
  • Hit on the X red icon.
  • Launch Safari on the device which you were having issues with.

After these steps, check if the Safari Tabs are in sync using other devices.

Note: If you cannot force restart the Safari app, you can reboot your device; this essentially means the same.

Safari Sync to iCloud

Sometimes disabling iCloud syncing and re-enabling it again works to fix the issue of Safari Tabs not syncing between devices.

Here are the steps to disable and enable safari sync for iCloud:

  1. Open up the Settings app on the iPhone/iPad.
  2. Tap on Signed-in Apple ID and select iCloud.
  3. To disable the sync, toggle OFF the Safari option.
  4. Toggle ON the Safari option again to enable iCloud sync.
    iCloud Safari Enable Sync in iPhone iOS

For Mac users, you will have to go to System Preferences > iCloud, and then you will have to enable Safari.

Bottom Line: Safari Tabs Sync Devices

Other than these methods, you can clear cache and cookies from the safari browser.

Lastly, you can also try rebooting your device. This works most of the time; switch off your iOS or macOS device and then turn it on again. It would probably fix the Syncing issue.

Moreover, you must also check your internet connection. Slow internet connectivity can cause an issue. If both devices have the same WiFi connection and Bluetooth enabled, then sync tabs between devices work great.

If you’re facing any issues with tabs syncing, you can alternatively use the send link to devices on Safari.

Lastly, here are the recommended web browsers for computer and mobile phone that you should give a try.

WindowsMacOSiOSAndroidLinux
Chrome WindowsChrome MacChrome iOSChrome AndroidFirefox Linux
Firefox WindowsSafari MacSafari iOSEdge AndroidChrome Linux
Edge WindowsFirefox MacEdge iOSSamsung InternetEdge Linux

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9 thoughts on “How to Fix: Safari Tabs not Syncing between Devices?”

  1. Thank-you for your post. I am not “shooting the messenger”. I followed the instructions to turn on the Safari debug menu; quitting Safari, running the terminal command to turn on the Debug menu and yet in Safari I don’t have a debug menu. And I know I typed the command in correctly because I am familiar with the terminal environment (Unix shell). I don’t know what gives with this syncing problem between Apple devices. We shouldn’t have to be using Terminal commands. On my iPhone and Mac, I have the latest iOS and OS and I am using the same iCloud account with plenty of storage, am in my house on the same WiFi network. According to the community this problem has been going on unresolved for at least five years. Any ideas or should I call Apple Support?

    1. Hi Scott, if you’ve done troubleshooting with the guide and everything seems okay at your end, then please contact Apple Support. I don’t think you should be facing this problem unless any misconfiguration.

  2. I’m on Mojave, Safari 14 and this worked for me:

    1. Completely quit Safari (cmd Q)
    2. Go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Full Disk Access (Unlock the padlock)
    Click the plus sign, find terminal (under Utilities folder in Apps)
    3. Delete this file: ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Safari.plist
    4. Launch terminal and type this:
    defaults write com.apple.Safari IncludeInternalDebugMenu -bool true

  3. I do not have a Mac. I have iPhone 13 Pro, iPad Air 3, and iPad Mini 5th generation.

    Safari tabs for all used to be visible, but no longer. I have followed your instructions for devices to no avail.

    It’s very frustrating and I do not know what to do next.

    1. I feel the same, I just upgraded to iPhone 13 and upgraded my iPad and no longer see Safari tabs for each device. Very frustrating as I am always moving from one to another and loved this feature.

  4. It just doesn’t work, whatever I do. Reset it multiple times on all devices and did a ton of reboots. I’m using chrome now.

  5. The following worked for me:
    1. On the MacBook click 3 dots next to the tab group.
    2. Click “share tab group.”
    3. Click “messages.”
    3. “Preparing” message will pop up and messaging app will open. No need to actually share.
    4. Repeat share tab group steps for each tab group.
    In my case after performing these steps my new iPad started to sync. safari tabs.

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