How to Disable Safari Tab Previews on Mac

Mar 5, 2021 - 11 Comments

Safari for Mac

The latest versions of Safari for Mac show a thumbnail preview of webpages as you hover the cursor over tabs. Some users may find the hover thumbnail previews to be distracting, and may want to turn them off. While Safari has many options and preferences, curiously the ability to disable Tab Previews on Hover is not available in the standard Safari options on the Mac. Nonetheless, you can still disable tab previews in Safari, you just have to go through a few extra steps to get it done.

To turn off Tab Previews on Hover, you’ll need to first enable the Debug menu in Safari, which is separate and different from the Developer menu, being enabled from the Terminal rather than Preferences as the latter.

Safari tab previews are available in version 14 and later

How to Turn Off Safari Tab Previews on Hover in macOS

Disabling Safari Tab Previews currently requires a few extra steps:

  1. Quit Safari
  2. Go to  Apple menu > System Preferences > Security & Privacy > and choose the Privacy tab
  3. Select “Full Disk Access” from the left sidebar list, and then click the + sign and add “Terminal” application to the list
  4. Open the Terminal and enter the following command:
  5. defaults write IncludeInternalDebugMenu 1

  6. Hit Return to execute the command, then relaunch Safari for Mac
  7. Pull down the newly accessible “Debug” menu and go to “Tab Features” and select “Show Tab Preview on Hover” so that it’s unchecked
  8. Quit and relaunch Safari for the change for tab hover previews to take effect

Now regardless of whether you hover the cursor over tabs in Safari, the tab preview will not render or show up.

If you always have a ton of Safari tabs open (like I do with many dozens), disabling this feature can be less distracting as you hover the mouse cursor over the tabs, possibly even speeding up the browser a tiny bit or even reducing its memory footprint since tab previews are not being generated or shown.

Optionally, to disable the Debug menu in Safari again, enter the following in the Terminal:

defaults write IncludeInternalDebugMenu 0

Again you’ll need to relaunch the Safari browser for the change to take effect.

How to Re-Enable the Safari Tab Hover Previews

You can reverse this at any point and return to the default, which is showing the Tab Previews on Hover.

Simply repeat the steps above to re-enable the Safari Debug menu, then choose to “Show Tab Preview on Hover” from the Debug menu, relaunching the browser again as necessary.

Whether or not you want to keep the Safari tab hover previews enabled or disabled is entirely a matter of user opinion


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. John White says:

    Love the article, really good !

  2. Elise says:

    The Debug menu does not show any “Tab Features” item. Same problem as someone else here commented on. Any help available for this? Thanks!

  3. Floyd says:

    does this no longer work? (4july); i get the debug menu, but no “tab features” in the new menu…

  4. Dan says:

    What is the benefit of disabling it? I mean that it just give you a glimpse of the page that the link goes to.
    When I check my website for faults I only need to hoover above the anchor text and see if the link yields a 404 message or not

  5. Kay Gray says:

    How do I install PDF files without buying acrobat?

  6. Pierre Poulin says:

    I tried the workaround (authorizing full disk access to Terminal), AND IT WORKED !

    Thank you !

  7. Pierre Poulin says:

    Tried twice. I carefully followed instructions and debug menu does NOT appear after applying terminal command and tab previews still show when I hover.

    Safari 14.0.3. Big Sur 11.2.2

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