Friday, March 10, 2023

Working Around Stuck Safari Tabs Syncing

Jesse Squires:

Aside from tabs not syncing, the biggest problem I’ve had is that tabs from my Mac get “stuck” on my iPhone and iPad. These “ghost tabs” are ones that have been closed on my Mac — often for weeks or months — yet they continue to appear as open tabs on my iOS devices. Most recently, a tab appeared on my iPhone that was supposedly open on my Mac for a project on GitHub that I haven’t worked on for over a year! I’ve tried deleting/closing these ghost tabs on my iPhone, but they always reappear.

He disables syncing on all devices, keeping the data only for the Mac, reboots each device, and then launches Safari for Mac first.


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Sadly I forget where I found this tip, but this has fixed the phantom tabs every time they've appeared for me.

Turn off iCloud tabs on iOS and macOS
On macOS:
cd ~/Library/Containers/
rm -r Caches Safari/CloudTabs* Safari/SafariTabs*

As always, Apple denies us the ability to troubleshoot anything from the GUI (even delete bad caches) because they simply do not admit they could ever do anything wrong!

You don’t have to delete the cache, just turn off iCloud tabs, turn them back on, and wait 2-5 minutes for current tabs to resync to your devices.

Never mind the fact that the syncing doesn't work--what about the UI? The new UI is absolutely hideous. You used to be able to manage your synced tabs in the tab views on Mac and iOS, but not anymore; now it's all part of this Start Page nonsense. And the only half-way usable UI on macOS is a menu that's accessible through a toolbar button that's not in the toolbar by default! And you'll never believe it, but in modern Safari, you can't use VoiceOver to drag a toolbar button from the pallet and drop it into the toolbar ......

But perhaps worse is the failure of imagination. Why shouldn't tabs also sync alongside state for the site, including navigation history and cookies? Why shouldn't it be literally possible to just carry on your web browsing on another device, not just hand off the active tab, or visit tabs sans state? It's just awful, really. Awful. Chrome, for all its problems, doesn't suffer any of these limitations. You just need to give all your data to Google first. :(

Thanks Joshua. I previously tried different variations of disabling Safari iCloud syncing, restarting Safari, and rebooting my devices, but the zombie tabs persisted. Deleting CloudTabs* and SafariTabs* did the trick.

I have been searching for a solution to this problem for years across four or five major versions of iOS and MacOS. This is the only fix I've ever tried that actually worked and for me it was just the CloudTabs* aspect. My issue was that my MacOS/Safari would persist and repopulate phantom tabs indefinitely even after I closed them (and even re-opened/closed them) on my iOS device.

So thanks...way better support than can be found in Apple's community site.

I'm a total noob when it comes to this stuff, but I have the same problem. Could someone please give detailed instruction on how to fix ghost tabs?

Joshua's solution is what finally worked for me, I had tried everything I could find on the subject.

(Turn off iCloud tabs on iOS and macOS
On macOS:
cd ~/Library/Containers/
rm -r Caches Safari/CloudTabs* Safari/SafariTabs*)

Thanks Joshua Ochs!

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