Fix Safari Crashing on iPad and iOS

Jan 29, 2012 - 48 Comments

We’ve been made aware of some ongoing issues with apps crashing constantly on iPads running iOS 5 and later, both iPad and iPad 2 are impacted with Safari being particularly sensitive and seemingly crashing anytime javascript or a video loads and sometimes with just general web browsing. At worst, Safari won’t even launch and crashes immediately, and often the application instability goes beyond Safari and impacts nearly all applications as well. First we’ll focus on resolving the Safari crashes, but if you’re having issues with multiple apps crashing you may want to jump down and go straight for a clean reinstallation of a new version of iOS

Fix Safari and app crashing on iPad with iOS 5

Troubleshooting Tips for Safari Crashes on iPad & iOS

If the majority of crashes are centered around Safari, use these troubleshooting tips and see if the problem is resolved:

  • Update to the latest version of iOS either manually, through iTunes, or using OTA
  • Disable iCloud Bookmark Syncing: Tap on Settings > General > iCloud > switch Bookmark syncing to OFF
  • Clear & Disable Autofill: Settings > Safari > Autofill > Clear All and then turn everything to “OFF”
  • Clear Safari history and cookies: Tap on Settings > Safari > Clear History, Clear Cookies and Data
  • Clear Safari stored data: Tap Settings > Safari > Advanced > Website Data > Remova All Website Data

Try using Safari again, for many users the above solutions help to prevent the crashing. If not, these secondary options may work as well:

  • Disable iCloud Completely: Tap on Settings > General > iCloud > switch all to OFF
  • Disable Javascript: Tap on Settings > Safari > Javascript > OFF

Yes, it’s annoying to not have iCloud or Javascript, but it’s more annoying to not be able to use Safari. If the above tips aren’t working, or if you need javascript, then the next idea is to manually erase and reinstall the latest version of iOS on the iPad, but not restore from a backup.

Performing a Clean iOS Install on iPad

This is the most drastic approach because it will remove all data from the iPad, and the key for this to work is to not restore from a backup. In other words, you will lose all data on the device and have to manually setup things like iMessage again and then re-download apps and content from the iOS App Store.

Update to the latest version of iOS before continuing, but you already did this in the first troubleshooting step though, right?

  1. Connect the iPad to a computer and launch iTunes
  2. Find the iPad in iTunes device list and click on the “Summary” tab
  3. Click on “Restore” under the Version section, and click “Don’t Back Up” when asked
  4. Clean Install iOS on iPad

  5. Let iTunes restore the iPad, this will wipe all content and reinstall iOS
  6. When finished, you will see the familiar ‘Connect to iTunes’ screen, do not restore from a backup, instead choose to “Set Up As New”

Note: Some Apple Store Geniuses are performing the clean install of iOS from DFU mode. You are welcome to try that, although after reading through several threads on Apple’s Discussion Boards it does not seem to make a difference whether the device is restored from DFU or not, it’s more important to avoid the prior backup as it may contain corrupted data causing the crashes.

If you continue to have issues, there’s a slim chance of a hardware problem and contacting Apple may be the best bet. It’s also possible there are some lingering bugs in versions of iOS that impact only the iPad, and a future update will resolve them whenever that is released.

Did this work for you? Is Safari still crashing and quitting randomly? Let us know if it worked, or if you have found another solution.

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Posted by: Matt Chan in iPad, Troubleshooting

48 Comments

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  1. Peter says:

    I wish you had published this about a month ago, I had tons of problems with stability after updating to 5. Personally I found downgrading to iOS 4.3.5 to be the only reliable solution, it’s stable and also a lot faster. I think iOS 5 is to iPad a lot like iOS 4 was to iPhone 3G; slow, crash prone, memory hog. It doesn’t feel like a finished product. Not sure if anyone can still downgrade to 4.3.5, but if so I would add that to the list of things to do.

  2. Glenn McQuaig says:

    Thanks for putting this up. I hope these help. I appreciate you all taking a look into this issue and letting folks know about possible solutions. I think it will help a lot of people.

  3. Jerry says:

    My problem is Safari crashing on Lion (10.7.2) quite regularly, especially when clicking “download linked file as” or “save as pdf” – Please tell me how to fix that!

  4. LeeC says:

    Downgrading would solve a lot of these problems, and I think it’s crazy that they won’t provide a reliable method to do so. If I could do it, I would do so on my iPad 1 & iPad 2. iOS 5 has added nothing useful for me, just lots of problems.

  5. Mike C says:

    I needed to do a restore about a week after I upgraded to 5.0.1 my ipad1 locked up sold one day. the restore helped a little I’m still getting crashes every so often

  6. Martin Bloom says:

    In early Janurary I went onto the Apple Community discussion board because of my iPad 1 continually crashing after updating to IOS 5.  Specifically Safari would crash on sites rich with images and/or imbedded videos (techcrunch, techradar, etc).  Also iTunes wouldn’t stay open. And using the back arrow on sites like CNN and other news sites would bring up an old front page rather than the newer page.  

    At first I was just a viewer until some people, who were rudely dismissive of people’s crash problems, said that only signed in complaints were indicators of the breadth of the problem and the number of  ”views” didn’t count. So i signed in to: Re Safari crashes on iPad after ios 5 update. 

    I related that I had the same problems since ios 5, that I tried every fix written about to no lasting improvement, and that I sent a letter with a printout from the discussion thread to Tim Cook.  Next day I recieved a phone call and email from Apple’s Corporate Executive Relations Office. They were very empathetic and committed to work with me.  They listened to my background in the industry and my list of issues that were also expressed by others on the Apple Community under several separate discussion threads. The main issue being that Apple, apparently didn’t read the threads or was ignoring them.  I expressed that the single most helpful thing they could do would be some type of communication to the groups that they understand, they cared, and are doing everything to find a set of solutions. 

    They (Corp Exec Relations) assured me that they do look at the discussions, have replicated the problems in tech support and engineering. They also acknowledged a culture of keeping all work close to the vest and this could be hurting them by creating a perception of not caring about the user experience in a “post Jobs era”. They hooked me up with high level tech support and offered to work with me step by step to a resolution.  I said that working with me as an “one off” would deflect resources from solving the overall problems, since they have been documented and replicated.  I told them I would relate this conference with Apple to the discussion threads. These talks and emails with the Corp Office was over several days with much discussion about the impacts of the problems. This included losing the confidence in the reliability of Apple products since many of the iPad purchases and complaints were from PC platform crossovers who moved to Apple’s “because it just worked”. These new users, including corporations who bought hundreds for employees who were saying “never again”. 

    I then posted my discussions with Apple on the Community thread and was accused by a long time member of my post being a false, and self serving rant. He said he and other long timers took pride in reporting my abuse of the Community rules and had my post removed and my account banned.  I wrote back to the Corp Exec Relations office on the “irony of it all” since this had been a “keep the hope…..they do care” post. The Corp Office got me back on, removing the ban.  But now, no matter what I write, the discussion thread’s monitor removes it saying it is “off topic”. 

    I have not gotten back to Apple’s Corp Exec Relations regarding my posts being removed and am just waiting for the yet to come, update release with prayers of a fix for all affected users, and for Apple.  Yes, I am still a first in line fanboy. 

    Marty Bloom, Walnut Creek CA

    Sent from my iPad

    • dave breakey says:

      I bought the extended warranty when I purchased my iPad almost 2 years ago. I use it alot and I have had it replaced last November for a possible battery problem and since I have restored it twice and also put it back to factory settings and ran several days without restoring my data.
      It still crashes and I believe it is safari related. Since I missed all my data and the factory reset did not clear the problem – I restored my data. One Apple Tech I was working with on these crashes told me that the onboard Diagnostic log is only sent to Apple if I permit it and it does not help him to resolve my problem. The log shows alot of “low memory” and also safari crashes. My unit is a 64gb wifi+3g

    • Glenn McQuaig says:

      I’m one of those people over on the discussion boards, and have to again thank Martin for his perseverance in sending the message to Apple Corporate. Martin was unfairly flamed by someone on those boards, who apparently has no clue what’s going on.

      I was the one who wrote to OSX Daily, in hopes this would spark some more legitimate discussion of the issue, and they have obviously come through like champs for us. So thanks to you guys, too!

      An update on my case: I was back in the local Apple Store today, showing them the continued crashes, crash logs, etc. Again demonstrated them in the store to the genius bar people and the store manager. I was ALSO on the phone with Apple Customer Support simultaneously, so they could be in on the proceedings. At their request.

      I think through patient, but tenacious perseverance and remaining calm while Apple deals with this, we will eventually get this fixed.

      Thanks to all who have posted and kept this in the light of day for others (and Apple) to see.

  7. Preston says:

    Clean install worked

  8. Len says:

    Sorry, these do not fix the problem. Apple replaced my ipad so i tried using Safari with no apps, almost everything turned off. Crashed continually.

    If you want to test your ipad try this link, if ok at first reload. Interested in results. What is upsetting is the silence from Apple. We are all wasting so much time on it.

    Test link:

    http://gizmodo.com/5819418/mac-os-x-lion-this-is-not-the-future-we-were-hoping-for

  9. Lyle H says:

    We own two iPad 2′s running iOS 5.0.1 (one for me and one for my wife). Both were clean installs – no restore from backups as they are both brand new and there were no backups to restore from.

    Safari crashes constantly – 10-20 times a day even with all other apps closed. The only way to bring stability is to disable JavaScript but with JavaScript disabled, it’s useless for accessing our university and research web sites (we’re in medical research). Either way, Safari is badly broken and our iPads are useless for what they were purchased for.

    This is our first experience with the iPad. We heard that they were a solid product. Needless to say, our experience is quite the opposite – they’re far worse than the Windows 7 laptops we tried to migrate away from and are now forced to continue using. Lesson learned and money wasted!

    • Edwin says:

      To be fair, the iPad is not a laptop replacement as it is quite inadequate to do much more than read the paper or play a game or two. Get a MacBook Air if you need to do work, it will blow the Windows 7 laptops out of the water.

      • Lyle H says:

        I realize the iPad is not a laptop replacement. We are using the Windows 7 laptops mainly to access hospital and university web sites as we do medical research. Since web site access was the primary use of our laptops on the road we thought the iPad would be an ideal, light weight, solution to having to lug heavier laptops around, boot them up, run low on battery and hunt down an outlet, etc…

        Unfortunately, using the iPad to access the web sites is a huge fail. Half the time it crashes immediately upon accessing the sites. The other half of the time it crashes while entering form data and all work is lost. So until Apple fixes the problem, it is more productive to lug around the laptops.

        • Nathan says:

          Its unfortunate that we are having these problems with the ipads running on the new iOS5. I have two ipad2 myself for the same reasons you wish to use them. i only upgraded one of them to iSO5 to see what its like and now experience these annoying dilema. However i dont find it a complete and total loss since safari is just one of many web browsers you use on the ipad (ie: dolphin, atomic, etc) that you find using your itunes from your laptop. Its not a complete solution though.
          Inaddition, the other ipad 2 running on 4.3.3 that i didnt upgrade has never failed me so far, leading to conclude that its not the hardware that you bought that is failing you just the software; much like any pc running a crappy OS.

  10. Edwin says:

    Clearing Safari data and then keeping Javascript disabled has been effective for me, but you lose some web experience without Javascript.

  11. Max says:

    For me, this happened with in-app WebViews as well as Safari on my original iPad after upgrading to iOS 5. I took it to the Genius bar, and they did a factory reinstall, using a fresh image of the OS, and no restore of personal data. It didn’t work. When I took it back, they apologized, and gave me a new iPad (iPad 1), even though I didn’t have AppleCare. I thought this was very generous, and was sure it would fix the problem. Still the same. I guess it can’t be the hardware. I know people say disabling JavaScript may help, but not sure how that’s any kind of solution since most of the web apps I use rely on JS function as intended, or function at all. Not sure what to do, since this seems to be a problem on the iPad 2 as well. This has been my first real disappointment with an Apple purchase. What a shame.

  12. Andrew says:

    The only solution for me was selling my iPad. Here’s how I used my iPad – music app open and listening to music, and surfing with safari or reading flipboard. That was 80% of my iPad use.

    I could not listen to music – as app crashed every other track; safari crashed incessantly, and flibboard was sluggish. I tried every method of reinstallation, from DFU, from recovery mode, turning off iCloud, but nothing. That was the deal for months until I gave up and sold the iPad 32GB for $250, and Gave Up on the idea of IOS devices. Not only was it enough to deny iPad 1 users many features which ios5 gave iPad 2, but they really messed up the experience.

    I contemplated buying an iPad 2 initially, but upon realizing it only has 512mb ram, I decided not to. As soon as iOS 6 is out, iPad 2 is sure to meet the same fate.

  13. Julianna says:

    Long time Apple fan here, and I have to say, with this crashing iOS update, things are souring considerably.

    So, not only are we half-crippled on the web without Flash, we must also disable JavaScript?

    That’s not a solution for a machine made for surfing the web.

  14. Robert says:

    The iPad2 has been a great change for me. However one of the only problems I’ve had is this business with Safari crashing. It happpens exclusively, it seems, to me when I’ve got my Logitech Zaggcase keyboard bluetoothed and am working in bulletin board forums and on blog commenting field (…not yet here.)

    My solution is to type a paragraph, select all, copy, and then keep typing. This lets me “recover” much of what I’ve lost when it crashes. Since my interactions on BBs is fairly extensive (they’re professional/technical conversations) this has been a necessary evil. I’ve taken several steps (including the above to clear things out and that is only a temporary fix.

    The crazy thing is this never happened under the old iOs. Only after I updated to iOs5, and a resulting Safari update, did it start. Part of the challenge of technological progress. But again, this is the only problem I’m having with my iPad2.

    Sad to hear others’ having such a difficult time with Apple and their support mechanism. It is a foreboding thing if they are becoming institutionally sheltered as they grow and push out more products. Hopefully they’ll realize this is their moment to win it and go, or be, again, overtaken by more reliable PC based systems.

  15. Emerys says:

    @Len: with your link it’s a 100% crash for me, and I lose my tabs too in the process.

    I’m so disappointed with this problem… It’s worse and worse with time passing, I thought it would be a temporary bug, quickly resolved by apple, and now I can’t see the end of it.

    My father have no problem with his ipad1, the same as mine, 32go 3G, and I told my mother to let her ipad2 on ios4.
    I wish I could safely go back to ios4 myself…

  16. John says:

    The best solution for the problem is just buy an Android tablet.

  17. allenwd says:

    I had the same issue with my wife’s iPad. I tried everything I could find with no avail. This finally worked

    Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings

    Ipad works perfect now !!

    I’m not sure if it was a combination of all troubleshhoting above or just what I did here. Either way it is working fine now.

    Thanks !!

    • Alan says:

      The problem just started on my two month old ipad2 reset all settings worked for me

      • Matt says:

        My wife’s iPad 1 was crashing frequently when she used Safari. The “Reset All Settings” appears to have fixed the problem (waited 24 hours before posting this reply).

  18. MNDaveC says:

    I too have this problem with my iPad one. Restored the O/S twice at the Genuis bar.. still crashing and running slow!

  19. melanie says:

    I went thru the first set of fixes and my ipad 1 doesn’t crash anymore. However, being without cookies or autofill is really ticking me off. With the new upgrades to the playbook, it’s getting harder for me to defend Apple to my Blackberry loving husband. The new ipad was released today and it did not come with ios 6! When will they fix the crashing with out depriving customers of necessary functions?

  20. Richard says:

    Unfortunately, iOS 5.1 did not solve this problem for me.

  21. peter says:

    just updated to 5.1 a few minutes ago. The gizmodo link above now works fine, loads a bit slow, but safari doesn’t crash. Promising!

  22. Lyle H says:

    Updated to iOS 5 a few days ago. Safari still crashes constantly. I took my iPads to the Genius Bar to demonstrate the problem. I even showed them that Safari crashes on their own in-store “stock” iPads. They said that the web sites were not iOS 5 compatible and need to be redesigned to support iOS 5.

    … and they said it with a straight face!

  23. waqe14 says:

    man thanks alot
    the first tip works for me :)

  24. Ph1l says:

    I have had these same problems. I have an iPad 1, I use it at home a lot and as a pilot I often found it useful with some approved apps, and my wife often uses it for doing our shopping and bits like that.

    I bought an iPad3 as I use it so much and was going to anyway for the new display and it works fine, however the iPad1 had become an expensive paperweight, my wife gave up using it and always either used the computer or waited until I’m around to use the 3.

    I tried all the suggestions I have found online and eventually went back to IOS 4.3.3 a few days ago. And now it works properly! I was quite a faff to do it, but worth the effort.

    In my opinion, don’t waste your time trying to find a fix for IOS 5, it doesn’t seem to exist only alleviate some of the symptoms, the real fix is go to a known working IOS for the device.

    It is however the same situation as the iPhone 3G becoming unusable, forcing users to buy the new kit. A very underhand trick and if Apple keep it up they will loose many loyal customers. Heres hoping its not a tactic as it appears, but if my iPhone 4 stops working properly when the 5 comes out then I won’t be buying anymore Apple products.

  25. Morgan says:

    5.1 fixed it, crashed on the above mentioned link. Now its ok

  26. Nick says:

    I have an iPad 2 with 64gb of ram. I was on iOS 4.3.5, and OH how I wish I had stayed right there!

    I took in all the available tips for upgrading to iOS 5, took a deep breath and did it.

    What a debacle! Safari spends more time dead than alive and even my ios5 compatable apps mostly don’t load beyond the initial screen. The other apps using a pvevious os, dont wprk at all, even after delete and reinstall
    Also the whole operating speed seems to have slowed about 30%.

    So now i assume my only fix will be to downgrade to the old iOS 4.3.5, if I can. I estimate about 20 hours wasted on this disastrous ‘upgrade’,, as well as lots of stress.

    My advice – avoid ios5 like the plague!

  27. Simon P says:

    Apple: it just works. Yeah right. My girlfriend is having all kinds of trouble with her iPad 2 with Safari instantly crashing whenever she tries to open it. The really annoying thing though is that we’ve had to put up with it for four months! We’re backpacking through SE Asia and we don’t have good enough internet access to do a complete restore.

    It’s incredibly frustrating that so many people rave on about the iPad and yet my Windows 7 netbook – half the price of an iPad 2 – continues to be our only working computer. And so far we’ve yet to fix the problem and all the suggestions – other than a complete restart – don’t seem to work.

  28. Liz says:

    To say this is frustrating is an understatement – I want to throw my iPad out the window! Truly I do. I have a first generation and didn’t have any problems with Safari until I upgraded to iOS 5 – it constantly crashes and I’ve tried every tip I’ve read about to fix the problem – nothing is working. What a COMPLETE waste of my hard-earned money. Apple sucks for not fixing this problem. Last Apple product I buy.

  29. Jeremy says:

    I had so many crashes my iPad 1 was not even usable. I have the top of the line iPad 1 3G + 64gb that I bought in Singapore for $1200+ so I don’t want to go drop more cash on the iPad 3 for better image quality and a camera.

    However… it seems to be working fine now… i turned off all email accounts (me.com, y mail.com and hotmail.com) deleted a bunch of my apps (many of which I paid for but seldom use) and then reset all cookies and web browsing history etc.

    It works again…. so great.

    Happy with the outcome, but disappointed I had to give up so many apps etc.

  30. JZ says:

    Gret suggestions, this problem has been driving me nuts. Many sites crashing even with all apps closed and one single window open, regardless of the browser (tried many). Disabled java, cleared history, and now no crashing. Sites are even loading much faster!! Thanks!

  31. TC says:

    Glad that you continue to work on this. I check back from time to time. I also get app crashes, mostly safari, but also HootSuite, YouTube, and many other iPad apps on my iPad1. I typically restart. Once in awhile an app will not restart without a hard reboot. Again thanks for yours and Martins persistence on this.

  32. TC says:

    Some people have problems and others do not. It sounds like some of us may have downloaded apps that are not cleaning up memory properly… For those that know how to get at the iPad crash reports, are they referencing any specific apps other than Safari?

  33. [...] you’re troubleshooting app crashes, beta testing an app, or you just want to help an iOS developer out after you’ve discovered a [...]

  34. Ernst says:

    I tried all the suggestions and none of them worked. My Safari crashes became even more frequent fare upgrading to IOS 5.1.1 (iPad 1).

    I finally turned cookies off and have not had a single crash in a week. JavaScript is on, it doesn’t seem to cause a problem.

    I do a lot of tabbed browsing which seemed to aggravate the problem.

    Turning cookies off also improved page loading times.

    E

  35. Erik says:

    I wish I’d known about this before updating to iOS 5. My iPad is now useless to me, crashes constantly, and nothing seems to fix it. First and last apple purchase, I promise. What a way for them to make a first impression. Nexus here I come. Anybody want a used iPad?

    • Mophilly says:

      Oh please. Trading one set of problems is not news. If you have nothing useful to contribute, don’t post. There is enought self serving, incorrect crap on the web as it is.

      I am going to try leaving JavaScript on and disable cookies.

      Long run? I would be soon happy if apple released a stable iOS for out-of-date devices so we can give them to our kids/nephews/nieces and buy the latest model. :-)

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