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

Jan 9, 2014 - 34 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

34 Comments

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  1. vdiv says:

    The best way to fix Safari is…

    to not use it in the first place. :)

    http://firefox.com

    • James Harrison says:

      What a completely useless comment.

      All browsers have their issues and Firefox is by no means perfect.

      Just like most humans.

      • Benny says:

        This is completely useless post! My Safari loads and the next second it closes. I am not a super man to reset safari properties in a micro second. So, alternate browser can only be be the solution!

  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/Safari.app

    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 “http://www.example.com/category/product/productname/dl” instead of “http://www.example.com/category/product/productname/dl#reviews”.

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

    Can anyone throw a feasible solution.

    Thanks
    InAdvance.

  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.

    Thanks

    • fads says:

      You may have installed the “VSearch” trojan, perhaps under a different name. Remove it as follows.
      Malware is constantly changing to get around the defenses against it. The instructions in this comment are valid as of now, as far as I know. They won’t necessarily be valid in the future. Anyone finding this comment a few days or more after it was posted should look for more recent discussions or start a new one.
      Back up all data before proceeding.
      Triple-click anywhere in the line below on this page to select it:
      /Library/LaunchAgents/com.vsearch.agent.plist
      Right-click or control-click the line and select
      Services ▹ Reveal in Finder (or just Reveal)
      from the contextual menu.* A folder should open with an item named “com.vsearch.agent.plist” selected. Drag the selected item to the Trash. You may be prompted for your administrator login password.
      Repeat with each of these lines:
      /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.vsearch.daemon.plist
      /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.vsearch.helper.plist
      /Library/LaunchDaemons/Jack.plist
      Restart the computer and empty the Trash. Then delete the following items in the same way:
      /Library/Application Support/VSearch
      /Library/PrivilegedHelperTools/Jack
      /System/Library/Frameworks/VSearch.framework
      ~/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/ConduitNPAPIPlugin.plugin

      Some of these items may be absent, in which case you’ll get a message that the file can’t be found. Skip that item and go on to the next one.
      From the Safari menu bar, select
      Safari ▹ Preferences… ▹ Extensions
      Uninstall any extensions you don’t know you need, including any that have the word “Spigot,” “Trovi,” or “Conduit” in the description. If in doubt, uninstall all extensions. Do the equivalent for the Firefox and Chrome browsers, if you use either of those.
      Reset the home page and default search engine in all the browsers, if it was changed.
      This trojan is distributed on illegal websites that traffic in pirated content. If you, or anyone else who uses the computer, visit such sites and follow prompts to install software, you can expect much worse to happen in the future.
      You may be wondering why you didn’t get a warning from Gatekeeper about installing software from an unknown developer, as you should have. The reason is that this Internet criminal has a codesigning certificate issued by Apple, which causes Gatekeeper to give the installer a pass. Apple could revoke the certificate, but as of this writing, has not done so, even though it’s aware of the problem. This failure of oversight has compromised both Gatekeeper and the Developer ID program. You can’t rely on Gatekeeper alone to protect you from harmful software.
      *If you don’t see the contextual menu item, copy the selected text to the Clipboard by pressing the key combination command-C. In the Finder, select
      Go ▹ Go to Folder…
      from the menu bar and paste into the box that opens by pressing command-V. You won’t see what you pasted because a line break is included. Press return.

  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.

  13. Tamie says:

    Safari will not open on my computer. No menu, zip, nada. OS X Yosemite. What do I do to get Safari back online?

  14. Greg Hofmann says:

    ‘Reset Safari’ does not appear in any menu.
    A useless suggestion.

    • Heg Groffman says:

      If you don’t follow the written instructions, you won’t be able to complete the action and find the reset safari menu item.
      A useless comment.

      • Meg Griffin says:

        Wow. Did you know that there is no longer a “Reset Safari” option? So your rude reply is completely useless.

      • Crusty Pete says:

        Well Heg. How does it feel to still have your extremely rude and useless comment still being read by people still having this problem? Thank heavens for people like Dave who can offer solutions rather than insults. Have a long hard look at yourself and change careers.

  15. Grant says:

    Step 1: Open the Safari browser as usual, then pull down the “Safari” menu and choose the “Reset Safari” option

    —-

    Issue: There is no “Reset Safari” option. Heg what is step 0?

  16. Cissi Milford says:

    This is how I fixed my issue. In Safari, turn on the Develop menu (Preferences > Advanced >. Uncheck any Disabled … that might be checked.

  17. Akash Soni says:

    Hello,

    My safari is not opening. it’s giving a error on starting.

    Please Help me how to fix it.

    I have MacBook Pro 16gb mid 2014.

    • Matt says:

      I imagine it’s a problem, barely if at all related to Safari. In order, this is what I’d do to troubleshoot. :

      1: Restart in Safe Mode. If not sure how, google…super easy.

      2: Restart in Disk Utility….same as above. Run “Verify Disk,” then go ahead and run “Repair Permissions.” You can repair with the desktop on, but better and more thorough from disk utility.

      3: I’d try Malwarebytes.org. Download it, run it, keep it and run it any time anything funny happens.

      4: People will say it’s unnecessary, and maybe it is…but sure doesn’t hurt. I run it and it does put items into quarantine occasionally… Grab AVG for Mac….free version is plenty. When it’s installed, run it and see what it says….it may fix a few things. Free, quick….nothing to lose in trying…I’ve seen it work plenty. Someone will likely insult me and say I’m an idiot and you shouldn’t do this because it’s not necessary…..but I own 4 Mac’s in my home now, I keep them all running in tip-top shape…have for a decade. I’m recommending what I personally would do, in that order.

      5: Lastly…reload the operating system OSX….many tutorials online, either simple way or the right way which is a clean install, but make sure you back up your hard drive if you have anything you want to keep on there.

  18. Dave M says:

    For those with Safari 9 for which there is no Reset Safari Option.
    I would go to a site and the page would just hang for minutes.
    What worked in my case was to
    1. Goto Safari Menu
    2. Select Preferences
    3. Select Advanced Menu
    4. Down at the bottom check the “Shoe develop Menu in Menu Bar
    5. Close preferences Box. The Develop Menu should now be in your Menu Bar.
    6. Select Develop Menu
    7. Select Empty Caches.

    I tried this after experimenting with several preferences items to identify the cause. Cleared off a lot of cookies and plug-ins I had no idea what they were. But the problem did not get cured until I did this step.

  19. thabet says:

    safari cant establish asecure connection and he didnt say whers the problem i try evry things but nothings

  20. Lucinda Dalton says:

    This advice doesn’t help one bit. There is no “Reset Safari” option in my drop down menu. What next?

  21. sanjeevini says:

    I am unable to select text in safari browser .how to fix this problems

  22. Simon says:

    Thank you Dave.M..Years of tears gone in seconds…legend

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