Fix Many Common Safari Issues in Mac OS X with a Simple Reset
Web browsers generally work fine on the Mac, but every once in a while Safari in OS X will misbehave in some way or another. The most common of these issues encountered are typically things like random pages inexplicably being inaccessible or displaying oddly, stale cache being delivered (in normal person terms, that means an old version of a web page loads rather than the newest version), persistent notification warnings and dialog boxes, slow scrolling, or even just generally sluggish performance that doesn’t seem to have a particularly obvious cause. That, amongst other things is what we’re looking to resolve.
A simple solution to many common Safari issues is simply to reset all data in the browser, which is a fairly wide reaching task that includes a variety of procedures that basically gives Safari a clean slate and takes everything back to default settings. This includes clearing all browser history, resetting the Top Sites list, resetting all location warnings and preferences, resetting all website notifications and warnings (like domain redirects and SSL certificate dialogs), remove all website data including files and locally stored caches, clear the downloads window, and close out all existing Safari windows. It only takes a moment to reset Safari and the result is usually a fully functioning web browser again, back to speed with everything working as expected.
- Open the Safari browser as usual, then pull down the “Safari” menu and choose the “Reset Safari” option
- At the “Reset Safari” screen, keep every checkbox checked for the best results, then choose “Reset”
Optionally, but recommended is to quit and relaunch Safari for the reset to take full effect.
There isn’t any confirmation dialog with resetting, and the effect of clicking on “Reset” is typically instantaneous unless there are tons of windows and tabs open in Safari, you’re low on RAM, or the Mac is very slow in general.
Assuming you kept every box check, relaunching Safari gives you a clean slate, and aside from saved bookmarks everything is back to how it was the very first time you opened the app. This means no stored caches, no stored history of browsing, none of the Top Sites (you can disable the Top Site thumbnails completely if interested), no cluttered Downloads list, and a fresh start to approving the variety of location services and notifications that appear throughout the general web usage experience. Certain settings will stick around, but exceptions to Flash and other plugins like Java may need to be adjusted again.
Finally, don’t forget to keep Safari updated to the latest version available. This is done easily through the Apple menu’s “Software Update” option, and can resolve many problems caused by software bugs. Separately, updating individual browser plugins regularly is also a good idea and can prevent issues.
If some issues persist with a given web page, you may want to try and narrow it down to a specific URL by using Activity Monitor. Once the culprit is identified, it could be worthwhile to try visiting the page with a different browsing app to see if the problem persists. Though Safari makes a perfectly great default choice, Chrome and Firefox are also excellent, and each app may perform differently depending on the given site or web experience.