Extend your iPhone’s battery life by closing unneeded Safari tabs

Updated April 29th, 2019.

Many people are surprised to find several (or even “gobs of”) open Safari tabs on their iPhones. This can be a handy feature: click on the tabs button at bottom right in Safari…

iOS Safari's Tabs button
iOS Safari’s Tabs button

… scroll through the list of open pages, and tap the one you want to view. Easy.

Screenshot: open tabs in Safari on an iPhone 8 Plus
Tap any tab to show it in Safari

Bonus Tip #1: swipe up to see the tabs that are open on your other iCloud-connected devices. Maybe you had a web page open on your Mac but you want to finish reading it on your iPhone while standing in line to buy a lottery ticket. Here’s how iCloud Tabs works.

Safari Tabs on iPhone, with iCloud Tabs showing
Safari Tabs on iPhone, with iCloud Tabs showing

Great feature, but… web pages these days have all sorts of battery-draining code on them (tracking code, advertising code, auto-play videos, etc.), and if you have lots of web pages open in Safari tabs it can really impact your battery. After a point, the convenience of having your tabs open is not as valuable as the battery life you lose. Here’s how you close them down. (Even if you’re not concerned with battery life it’s nice to be able to clean up quickly.)

Technically this shouldn’t happen– web pages that aren’t in the front should not be using the battery at all. Some web pages do funky stuff to try to stay “live” at all times and those are the ones we really want to close.

Naturally you can close one tab at a time. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

iOS Safari Tabs, closing one at a time
iOS Safari Tabs, closing one at a time

But, if you have a lot of tabs open, you’re going to want to close them all in an easier way. In fact, there are two easier ways.

How to close all Safari Tabs (Method 1)

1. Press and hold on the Tabs button.

iOS Safari's Tabs button
iOS Safari’s Tabs button

Bonus Tip #2: if you can’t see the Tabs button, scroll the web page until you are looking at the very top of it. The Tabs button will appear.
Bonus Tip #3: you can very quickly scroll to the top of any web page by tapping on the clock at the upper center of the iPhone screen. Your first tap will show the Tabs button, which is what we were trying to do in the first place, and your second tap will scroll to the top of the page.

2.You’ll see a pop-up with an option to close all Tabs. One tap and you’re done.

Close All Tabs (Method 1)
Close All Tabs (Method 1)

How to close all Safari Tabs (Method 2)

Generally speaking, you don’t know how many tabs you have until you are trying to switch between them. You tap the Tabs button and you’re looking at a bunch of Safari Tabs, and that’s when you decide you want to close them all. You don’t have to tap Done, and then tap and hold the Tabs button (although that would work). Instead…
1. Tap and hold on “Done.”

Press and hold "Done"
Press and hold “Done”

2. You’ll get a pop-up with an option to close all Tabs. One tap and you’re done.

Close All Tabs (Method 2)
Close All Tabs (Method 2)

Bonus Tip #4: if you change your mind and want to get some of those Tabs back you can– just tap and hold on the “+” at bottom center and you’ll see a list of recently closed tabs.

iOS Safari Recently Closed Tabs
iOS Safari Recently Closed Tabs

Note: the “close all Safari Tabs” feature has been around at least since iOS 10 but I didn’t notice until now! Sorry for the delay.

Copyright 2008-2023 Christian Boyce. All rights reserved.

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9 thoughts on “Extend your iPhone’s battery life by closing unneeded Safari tabs

Add yours

    1. Hi Andrew. You bring up a good point. I am pretty sure that most Safari background tabs aren’t processed. But I’m also pretty sure that some– the ones that try any method they can to stay “alive” (for example, facebook.com) will continue to run. It’s too big a project for me to test every web page on the internet, but I suspect that most background tabs are not draining the battery. My recommendation to close the tabs is very conservative but certainly won’t hurt! If you have 500 tabs open and 499 are well-behaved but one is not, we’ll get that one by closing them all.

  1. What if I like having accessible tabs available? Will swiping up on the safari app when I’m done accomplish the same thing?

  2. I did it! I’m SOOOoo happy. I was doing one at a time AND kept too many I thought I’d get back to. I never will. You helped me be honest with myself. THANKS!

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