Use Tabs in Apps in Sierra

We’ve all become accustomed to opening Web pages in separate tabs in Safari, Google Chrome, and Firefox. And in OS X 10.9 Mavericks, Apple gave us the capability to open different folders in tabs in Finder windows, making it easy to work in multiple folders with limited screen real estate.

In macOS 10.12 Sierra, Apple has gone one step further, building tab support in system-wide so you can open windows in tabs in most Mac apps. Tab support is “free” for apps; developers don’t need to do anything to support it and you won’t need to download an update to take advantage of it in most of your apps. (Some apps based on older code don’t support tabs at all, but those will be few and far between.)

So how do you get started with tabs and how can you use them in your everyday work?

First, to determine whether Sierra was able to add tab support to a particular app, look in that app’s View and Window menus. If you see View > Show Tab Bar and tab-related commands in the Window menu, you’re good to go.

Next, if Show Tab Bar doesn’t have a checkmark on the View menu, choose it to reveal the tab bar, which appears between the app’s main toolbar and the document itself. You’ll see a tab for the current document or window, and (in most apps) a + button at the right side of the tab bar. Here we’re showing three tabs in Maps.


One final setup step: By default, documents open in separate windows. To make them open in tabs, open System Preferences > Dock, and choose Always from the “Prefer tabs when opening documents” pop-up menu. This setting applies both to existing documents and those you create by choosing File > New.


Now that everything is configured, here’s what you can do:

  • Create a new, empty tab: Click the + button in the tab bar.
  • Move between tabs:
    • Click the desired tab.
    • Choose Window > Show Next Tab (to the right) or Show Previous Tab (to the left).
    • Press the Control-Tab (next) and Control-Shift-Tab (previous) keyboard shortcuts.
    • Choose Window > Tab Name.
  • Merge multiple windows into tabs in one window:
    • Drag a document’s tab from one window’s tab bar to the tab bar in another window.
    • Choose Window > Merge All Windows.
  • Move a tab to its own window:
    • Drag the tab out of its tab bar until it becomes a thumbnail of the document.
    • Choose Window > Move Tab to New Window.
  • Rearrange the order of tabs: Drag a tab to the desired position in the tab bar.
  • Close a tab:
    • Hover over the tab to see the X button at the left side of the tab. Click the X.
    • Choose File > Close Tab.
    • Press Command-W.

Getting used to tabs may require a little adjustment, but if you configure your Mac to always prefer tabs when opening documents, using tabs will quickly become second nature, just as it is in Web browsers.

Rearrange Menu Bar Icons in Sierra

Have you ever wanted to rearrange the menu bar icons that breed like bunnies at the top of your screen? Some of that has been possible in the past, but macOS 10.12 Sierra finally lets you configure your menu bar the way you want it. To move a menu bar icon, hold down the Command key and drag the icon to a new position. This works with every icon except the Notification Center icon in the rightmost spot; it has to stay in that location.


Copy Phone Numbers from Incoming Calls

Have you ever needed to copy the phone number from an incoming call that’s not associated with one of your contacts? In the Phone app’s Recents screen, you can’t select the number to copy it, but there’s a hidden workaround. Tap the i-phone-app-inline button next to the call, and then press and hold the number for a second or two until a Copy button appears. (It’s not a 3D Touch press, just a normal press without removing your finger right away.) Tap Copy and you can then paste that phone number into Mail, Messages, Notes, or any other app. To paste, tap where you want the number to go and tap the Paste button that appears.


Read Song Lyrics in iTunes 12.5 with Apple Music


We’ve all misheard song lyrics, such as the famous “Hold me closer, Tony Danza” instead of “Hold me closer, tiny dancer” in Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” If you’re an Apple Music subscriber and using iTunes 12.5, you can check to see whether what you heard is really what the artist wrote by clicking the Lyrics button in either the Up Next popover or the MiniPlayer window. Alas, Apple can’t show lyrics for every song, so you may not always get an answer to “Did he really say that?!?”


Take Screenshots to Aid Tech Support

If you experience something weird on your Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch, it’s essential to get a record of what happened. That way, when you talk to a more experienced friend or tech support rep, you can share exactly what you saw. The best way to do this is to take a screenshot, which makes a picture of the screen showing whatever it is that has gone wrong. On the Mac, press Command-Shift-3 to put a screenshot on your Desktop. On an iPhone or iPad, press the Home and Sleep/Wake buttons simultaneously to take a screenshot and put it in your Photos app. On the Apple Watch, press the digital crown and side button simultaneously; its screenshots also end up in the iPhone’s Photos app. You can share your screenshots via Messages, email, or any other method of transferring a file.


Shop Faster by Autofilling Forms in Safari

While supporting local businesses and benefiting from their expertise is always best, if you cannot find what you are looking for from a local business, like ours, (of course). Online shopping can be faster, easier, and less stressful than braving the crowds at big box stores. But having to enter your name, address, and credit card information in each different Web cart is tedious, and if you’re still doing that, it’s time to learn how Safari’s AutoFill feature can simplify your life. Put simply, AutoFill remembers details you give it and enters that information automatically when requested.

To enable AutoFill, choose Safari > Preferences > AutoFill and select the desired checkboxes. In most cases, you’ll want all of them checked so AutoFill can fill in details for contact and credit card information, as well as usernames and passwords for Web sites you log in to and other Web forms.


Then, open the Contacts app, find your own contact card (or create it, if necessary) and choose Card > Make This My Card. That teaches Contacts, and thus Safari, who you are.

The next time you come to a Web form that’s asking for your name, address, and phone number, you can autofill your information in three different ways:

  • Choose Edit > AutoFill Form to make Safari fill in all the fields with whatever information it knows. This is the fastest and easiest method.
  • Click in the first field in the form, click the silhouette autofill-silhouette-inline button, and click “AutoFill your contact info” in the dropdown menu. (Clicking the first item fills just that field with the displayed data.) Then click the AutoFill button in the popover that displays your contact information.
  • Type the first few characters of your name in a name-related field, pause briefly for the AutoFill dropdown menu to appear, click the name you want to use, and click the Autofill button in the popover. This is also how you can autofill details for someone else in your contacts.

No matter what method you use, Safari fills in the fields it can identify, highlighting them in yellow. If Safari doesn’t recognize a field (if the Web site hasn’t named it properly) or if you don’t have matching information (such as a company name), it leaves those fields blank. Should Safari guess wrong about what information to enter into a field, you can change it manually.


If Safari doesn’t already know your credit card info, you can teach it in one of two ways. The easiest is just to enter your name, credit card number, and expiration date into a Web form and then let Safari remember the details when it prompts you. (Safari never stores the credit card security code for, well, security reasons!)


Alternatively, if you want to enter credit card details manually, or if you want to check what Safari has remembered, choose Safari > Preferences > AutoFill and click the Edit button to the right of Credit Cards. That brings up a dialog that lets you add, edit, and remove credit cards (just click a field to edit it).


Once you take a few minutes to set up AutoFill with the right details, it’s a breeze to use and makes entering data in Web forms both easier and more accurate. So if you haven’t been taking advantage of AutoFill, give it a try today!