Fix Many Common Safari Issues in Mac OS X with a Simple Reset

Jan 9, 2014 - 15 Comments

Safari icon for Mac 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. Here is what you should do:

  1. Open the Safari browser as usual, then pull down the “Safari” menu and choose the “Reset Safari” option
  2. Reset Safari to defaults

  3. At the “Reset Safari” screen, keep every checkbox checked for the best results, then choose “Reset”
  4. Reset all Safari settings

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.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting


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  1. vdiv says:

    The best way to fix Safari is…

    to not use it in the first place. :)

  2. Rombaldi says:

    This is a great tip but it forces a few log-ins.

    Is there a way to have Safari ask again to store a password after you have already said ‘No’ to a particular web site?

  3. Sohil Memon says:

    If this is the trick then what about my data? I have to do “reset” every time? Please, do find some useful trick so that I can be with default data stored in Safari!

  4. jeremy says:

    Here is how I “fixed” Safari

    sudo rm -R /Applications/

    noob warning – if you don’t know want this really does don’t do it.

  5. mahesh says:

    Hi Guys,

    I’m facing Issue with Safari browser particularly in one scenario i.e. when an anchor tag contains hash tag in href, safari browser is removing that hash tag from url.

    For Ex :
    Read Reviews

    Onclicking the above link it redirects to “” instead of “”.

    Tried in many ways by placing “/” before the hash tag like Read Reviews, but no use.

    Can anyone throw a feasible solution.


  6. Val Lee says:

    After installing Yosemite, turn on your wifi by hitting your wifi symbol on top left tool bar, next to speaker.

  7. Abhishek says:

    Hello All,

    Whenever I click anywhere on my safari browser, a new tab opens by itself opening an unknown url. This happens everytime when i click. It really irritates a lot. I guess this is happening after I deleted by mistake one of the safari plugins. Kindly help me fix it.


  8. Nicole Duleyrie says:

    Trying to reset Safari but the Menu underneath it, does not show “Reset” at all…Please help

  9. george cooper says:

    Whenever I click anywhere on my safari browser, a new tab opens by itself opening an unknown url. When I try to re-set Safari – there is no RESET on the drop down menu

  10. Anne Moore says:

    I also have no RESET available on Safari drop down menu.

    • Kay says:

      Me neither. Also I’m sure ‘Private Browisng’ used to be there too.
      I have the new tabs and ads and everything popping up too. I’ve tried lots of troubleshooting for the last 4 hours, deleting all sorts of files etc and this is the 100th website I’v visited looking for help. But getting desperate so I’m writing my own comment now!! Thanks to whoever may take the time to help our poor souls.

  11. Susanne.A says:

    I have no Reset Safari anymore either, updated to Yosemite some time ago.. So frustrating..

  12. grigory says:

    After updated Yosemite two months ago Safari became slow and locks showing a message to call a 800 number for help.
    No controls available when this message is up.
    No Reset button in the list of safari options.

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