Safari Profiles confusion

Is anyone using this new feature?
I’ve tried it for a week or so, but I’ve generally been in a confused mess, trying to open new windows in one profile or another, not knowing which I’m in etc.
So, I’ve gone back to using Safari for my general, personal stuff (not Google),
and Edge with profiles to separate my Google Work from my Google Personal.

In other words, profiles in Edge just make sense to me and I’ve used them for a couple of months, but profiles in Safari just don’t click for me.

What’s your experience? Am I doing it wrong?

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I’m in the same camp, I find the UI for profiles is somewhat confusing, it didn’t stick with me. Although it is simple enough I found myself doing exactly as you: opening the wrong window. Perhaps Tab Groups and Profiles are fighting for screen real state and the metaphors are not obvious --or perhaps are more obvious and I am not the audience for the features. I’ve seen colleagues happily using the feature, but I find Arc to be the best.

I’m also confused about them.

Seems like you can only “switch” between profiles when the current page is empty? (Or via the Window menu)

I have one personal profile and two for work. I would like to switch between them using the profile button, but I only manage to do so via the Window menu.

Tab groups annoy me because the ‘default’ tabs are not in a group and do not sync. I think it should be all or nothing. Furthermore, if you’re in a tab group when you click a link in another application, Safari opens a new window, which also has the tab groups, but the new page is not in any of them.

Now add in web site as app, also introduced in Sonoma. That has other weird edge cases, like what happens if you Cmd-click on a link in one.

I played briefly with profiles, but also found it confusing on how it was supposed to be used. (I don’t really need them anyway so ran away quickly.)

See also Stage Manager versus widgets versus Spaces versus files on the desktop. :crazy_face:


I switched from using Safari for personal and Chrome for work. At first it was confusing, but I think that was because I was overthinking it. I’m currently running a Personal and Work profile, and the key to sanity for me at least is to keep it simple. Open a new window in whatever profile you want, then just keep using that window, or create more, however you like to roll.

It’s so simple it seems complicated.

For tab groups, what clicked for me was to think of them as a working set. These are the tabs I care about right now. Having them open in the vertical sidebar is also a big improvement—you can see a whole bunch of tabs at a glance and not have to try to find the right one by its favicon!

For me profiles and tab groups are working great once I realized the implicit simplicity and stopped trying to overcomplicate things. Might be a lesson in there somewhere for me.

I’m glad it works for you, and you’re right, some of us might be over thinking things. Certainly I find the longer I use something the more I resist it changing.

However, I do still believe there are these nonsensical edge cases, like an externally clicked link opening a new window only when your (only) Safari window is currently displaying a Tab Group tab.

In other words, all these features work really well in really simple scenarios. That, I think, is the basic thrust of everything Apple does — see “iCloud always syncs and you don’t need to worry about it.”

Yes! I have noticed that when the sidebar is closed, the button with the current profile becomes confusing to me because it’s so prominently there that I expect itto allow me to switch to the other profile window, but it doesn’t! You can only switch between windows the old way.

This makes sense in Apple-way but the metaphor I have probably from using Arc, Orion and so on is that the profile button in the Safari toolbar should switch to the latest tab group for that profile in the same window. But probably this would confuse other users.

I too, have a “Work” and “Personal” profile set up, but wish the default tab set synced. That said, I’ve foudn the following to help:

  1. Set up keyboard shortcuts to open the profile window you want. (Hyper-P for Personal, Hyper-W for Work)
  2. Use the website preferences to set certain websites to only open in one profile or the other. This means things like Quickbooks only ever open in Work, while, say, gocomics only ever opens in Personal
  3. Customize the start page and favorites for each profile

I still wish there was a keyboard shortcut to switch a current window’s profile, but maybe the better solution is a keyboard activated shortcut that hides one profile’s window and opens/unhides the the other profile’s window.

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Reading this all and thinking back to my own use, I don’t think I was over-thinking things, it’s just that the way Edge handles it I don’t have to think at all.
Somehow I know which Profile I’m in, pages open where I expect them to, and it’s relaxing.
I still use Safari for general browsing, but Edge for Google, Facebook, and work. Anywhere I want to have fine control over log ins.

Thanks for those tips!

How did you set up those keyboard shortcuts?

(In particular: which actions should be invoked?)

EDIT: Where can I find those website preferences? (Maybe that requires macOS Sonoma?)

No idea how they work and haven’t made any effort to learn and doubt if I will. For what I do I don’t really have any bottlenecks regarding the browser and haven’t since Catalina at least. In fact I am quite tired of what now feels like a chore when a new system comes along and introduces a new learning curve.
Apple gear is still the best though and I am trading in soon my hugely overspecced MacBookPro for a M2 13 inch 8 GB to run the internet and library sites and so on I need with DEVONthink 3, Keyboard Maestro and the free ware MacTex suite I now have returned to for LaTeX.

Yes, I have the same question. I am using Better Touch Tool and if I try to activate a specific window by name, I have found that once you switch to a Tab Group, the window gets the name of the Tab Group and thus loses the name of the Profile it is in.

I created the keyboard shortcuts just using the system:

System Settings > Keyboard Shortcuts > App Shortcuts

  • Use the “+” button to create a new shortcut for Safari.
  • For the Menu title enter New [Profile Name] Window exactly as it appears in Safari’s File > New Window submenu.
  • Then enter the keyboard shortcut of your choice.
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These are available a few places:

  1. You can add the website settings button to your toolbar (looks like a gear) OR
  2. Safari > Settings > Websites > Open Links With Profile (shows a list of all websites open in current window and gives you a pop-up to assign which Profile they should open in)

And yes, I believe these features (including Profiles themselves) are new in Sonoma, though you can also set them/use them in iOS/iPad OS 17.

I have profiles in Ventura, but don’t see the options you mention.

Guess I need to wait until IT allows me to upgrade.

Tried it, but as I expected this opens yet another new Personal/Work window…

I want 1 Personal window (with multiple tabs) and 1 Work window (with multiple tabs) and switch between them (not open additional windows).

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If I already have one of each window, i just use command-` to switch between them.

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Keyboard Maestro to the rescue…

(and similar for Work)


Yes, I tried a similar solution with Better Touch Tool, but the issue here is that if you also use Tab Groups, the containing Window gets renamed from the profile name to the name of the Tab Group. That would force you to prefix your Tab Groups with something related to the profile, which is not very convenient (I am already prefixing my tab groups with a three letter description of the project).

Woa, would you believe it? Today I noticed this menu entry that allows you to “Switch to…” an already existing window with the other Safari profile. I swear I hadn’t seen it before!

Screenshot 2023-10-30 at 09.11.46