iPadOS 15 and Safari surface old "reading list" articles

iPadOS 15 in general has been pleasant enough to use since I upgraded this week; it does take a little time to get used to widgets being presented on the home screen, but I absolutely believe that Apple fixed the unusable split screen options by implementing an actual control for them.

My iPad Air 2 is my morning reader—news and blog stuff. I’ve had it since (I think) 2016 or so.

I noticed this morning that Safari has now surfaced a long list of “reading list” items from the year 2012 and later…items from before I replaced my original iPad with this one. There’s no obvious way to clear the entire reading list other than one by one.

I’m not happy that items are surfacing that I didn’t plan to save in the first place (I generally do not keep a “reading list”), and that are not even based on usage of my current device. I don’t use the start page. I notice that the MacOS version of Safari I’m using has a contextual popup allowing me to clear the entire list, but that doesn’t appear to be present in iPadOS.

Any tips for clearing the list? And short of going into perpetual “private browsing” mode, is there a setting that definitively keeps this information from being collected?

Strange. The list is empty on my system.

If you use Safari on MacOS, the reading list you manage there is shared with your mobile devices. If you accidentally typed CMD-SHIFT-D (add to reading list) instead of CMD-D (add to bookmarks), then that might be where these items came from. (On iOS, both are done via the Share menu).

To delete them on iOS, tap the bookmarks icon (the one that looks like a book). Select the Reading List tab (the icon looks like a pair of glasses). Tap Edit, select them all (which could take a while if you have a lot), then tap Delete.

It’s much easier on macOS. View the reading list (View → Show Reading List SIdebar). Right-click in the side-bar and select “Clear All Items…”. They will be sync’ed to your iPad if Safari is configured to sync with iCloud.

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In edit mode,you can use two fingers to drag down the list to quickly select them.


I know, strange. As it happens the list on MacOS is empty. I know the items in the iPadOS list came from iPad use, but the issue is that these items did not appear to be present in iPadOS Safari until I applied the v 15 upgrade. They could very well be from iCloud, but as far as I can tell not because of anything on my Macs.

Excellent! And of course another iPad gesture to remember… thank you Doug.

Perhaps before v15 you had “Safari” turned off in the list of things that iCloud should share, and the upgrade turned it on? I’ve seen settings like that amazingly changed after updates.

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Yes, and this two finger drag gesture works in many lists of the same format, such as in the Mail app after you choose “Edit”. And on the iPhone as well.


Could be, Dana. That is one of the “downsides” of an upgrade, and it makes sense that the developers might want a known state for the platform after a rollout like this. There is that whole thing with translucent menubars, for example…MacOS user preferences have sometimes been reset when a major version is released so that we can once again behold the beauty of unreadable menu headings and items. :slight_smile: