The present study aims at proposing an innovative phase control methodology for semi-active tuned mass dampers (SA-TMDs) that intend to minimize the off-tuned problems associated with passive tuned mass dampers (P-TMDs). The phase control algorithm is first developed, the essential of which is to apply the variable friction force to slow down the mass block at specific moments when the phase lag of the SA-TMD with respect to the structure is different from 90°, resulting in the SA-TMD back to the desired phase lag, i.e., -90° phase deviation, so that the SA-TMD has the maximum power flow to reduce the structural vibration. The feasibility of the application of the phase control in SA-TMDs is verified by performing numerical analyses of a simplified Taipei 101 structure model with a SA-TMD subjected to sinusoidal loads and design level wind loads. The numerical simulation results show that the SA-TMD implemented with phase control can enable the mass block to vibrate in a manner with a phase lag close to the -90° when the structure model is under sinusoidal excitations with frequencies different from the structural fundamental mode. The SA-TMD with phase control not only exhibits better performance than the optimal P-TMD in terms of suppressing the structural vibration, but also enhances its robustness, particularly when the SA-TMD is off-tuned to the structure.