Fix iOS Web Link Crashing Bug in Safari, Messages, Mail with a Song & Dance Routine

Mar 29, 2016 - 21 Comments

iOS 9.3 links crashing but you may be able to fix it with a solution that looks like this

A large number of iPhone and iPad users are having problems with links not working in Safari, Mail, or Messages after updating their devices to iOS 9.3, and in some cases with iOS 9.2.1 as well. In the worst situations, not only do tapping on links not work, but the Safari browser actually crashes when a URL is attempted to be accessed in one of the impacted apps.

Update: Apple has released iOS 9.3.1 to fix the link crashing bug, available to download now. This is highly recommended to update and install rather than using the troubleshooting steps below.


We originally detailed this issue last week in our extensive troubleshooting iOS 9.3 problems guide, but as the problem has grown to impact a surprisingly large volume of users we wanted to directly address this specific matter and offer a few workarounds for the interim until Apple releases a patch to resolve the problem. As mentioned, the second build release 13E237 of iOS 9.3 does not address the link crash problem, it only addresses the activation error that some users experienced.

And yes, Apple is aware of the link crashing problem in iOS 9.3 (and iOS 9.2.1) and supposedly working on a software fix, though there is no known timeline for a release. We’ll be sure post when a legitimate software fix has been released from Apple.

Fixing the iOS 9.3 Link Crashing Problem

The latest attempt in resolving the link saga is quite a song and dance routine, but a good number of users have reported success with this method outlined below. You will need a computer with the latest version of iTunes, and a USB cable. It does not matter if it’s a Mac or Windows PC, either will work. This is an odd routine, but according to mixed reports online it may work for some users:

  1. Delete the “Booking.com” app from your device if it is installed – this app is apparently one of the problematic apps that causes the issue to begin with
  2. Turn on Airplane Mode
  3. Quit all apps that are running on the iOS 9.3 device by going to the multitasking screen and swiping up on every app until they are closed
  4. Plug the iOS device into the computer with a USB cable and launch iTunes
  5. Turn the iPhone or / iPad OFF by holding down the Power button
  6. Wait about 15 seconds, then turn the iPhone/iPad back on again
  7. Download the Booking.com to iTunes on the computer (but NOT the device we just removed it from)
  8. From iTunes, sync the Booking.gom app you just downloaded to the iOS device by selecting it from the iTunes app, going to the Apps section, locating Booking.com and installing it to the problematic iOS device
  9. Launch the Booking.com app on the iOS device, then force quit it by double-tapping the Home button and swiping up to exit the app, then launch Safari in iOS and do the same quit procedure
  10. Delete booking.com from the iOS device
  11. Turn off AirPlane mode
  12. Launch Safari and try tapping a few links, they should work fine now without crashing the app

This admittedly somewhat ridiculous set of steps is an amalgamation of comments on InfiniteDiaries, what bencollier.net detailed based on a twitter post, user resolutions offered in our own comments section, and what has been found on the Apple Discussion Boards, and…. despite it’s absurdity it appears to actually work. Some have reported there is time sensitivity to the matter, in other words you have to complete the steps reasonably fast, otherwise it doesn’t work and you have to try again, but your mileage may vary.

Workarounds for the iOS 9.3 Link Crashing Problem

While the above method apparently works for many users, it’s admittedly complicated. The other two options available are workarounds:

  • Disable Javascript in Safari on iOS
  • Use an alternate iOS web browser, like Chrome or Yahoo
  • Wait for Apple to issue a new software update to address the problem for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

Unfortunately neither of those approaches will help fix the link crashing problem on Mail or Messages, as they only apply to the web browsers.

If your update to iOS 9.3 went without a hitch then obviously none of this applies to you. If this fixed your link issues but you’re having other problems, take look at our troubleshooting iOS 9.3 problems guide, which covers many of the other common problems encountered with the unusually buggy iOS 9.3 software release.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

21 Comments

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  1. Barry J. Dachis says:

    I was able to fix this by completely resetting my iPhone and setting it up as new, then selectively downloading apps over and NOT including the Booking .crap app that has caused the problem, then using a third party app to delete all system caches. I then had to manually sync photos over again to the iPhone, and used iCloud to sync my Notes and Health data. It was NOT an easy process. I am tech savvy, so I can do it, but can you imagine explaining this to people who are not?

    Several people in the office had to reset their iPhone as new and set it up as new, they didn’t have time for the complex stuff. And Apple twiddling their thumbs for a week to get a fix out is inexcusable… and the patch is still not here.

    Who at Apple is in charge of this stuff?? Our iPhones are WORK devices and PERSONAL devices, they get a lot of USAGE. Having web links NOT WORKING is NOT ACCEPTABLE. This is an AMAZING screw up from such a big company that is losing a lot of faith from their user base who pays the highest prices in the market to be a part of THIS software quality? How did this happen? You mean to tell me no Apple beta tester or no Apple engineer had this app installed on their device during the 4 month beta testing period and it’s only discovered in the wild? Hard to believe. Someone should be fired or at least demoted to work at Apple phone support for the next year, and a team who knows what they’re doing needs to be hired.

    • curmudgy says:

      This is a ridiculous set of steps. Should I wear a magic hat too?

      Apple needs to release iOS 9.3.1 NOW and should have several days ago.

      Can’t trust their software updates anymore. Shame.

  2. S.H says:

    Newly reinstated Iphone user due to upgraded job along with new workphone (6s). according to the phone it was no upgrade to this day. Just bought Sony Xperia Z5 Compact when i got the Iphone =o/ Had it for 2 weeks now and of course i updated to 9.3 and of course i had the booking.com app installed and obviously i can now not use links in safari and mail. I have used the booking app a long time on my Android and never had any issues, its been perfekt on our unplanned roadtrips. And i loved the Sony. I liked my earlier iphones and the latest one too but this silence of when or how a fix will come, that i dont like! So please you face and nameless guys at Apple (see url below), skip the breakfast-burrito and fix this because all this running to my work-PC to check mail-links makes me miss my breakfast-meatballs.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3s-qZsjK8I
    Sorry for bad swenglish, have a great day anyway

  3. Chad says:

    Nope, doesn’t work. None of these “connect to iTunes/sync booking.com app” variations work.

  4. anonymous says:

    Not working. iOS 9.3 / iPhone 6s.

  5. anony says:

    This actually worked for me, when similar variations did not. Thank you for helping – I would have ended up smashing my phone to bits in frustration otherwise!

  6. Kay says:

    None of the suggested fixes are working for me. If I touch a link within an email the screen freezes. If I touch a link on a website, it doesn’t freeze but it does nothing and the link goes nowhere. I also can’t open a link from a text message.

    The Apple helpdesk advise I got was to disable Java (wtf do they even know how many websites will not function on an Ipad without Java?) and to change my brower. I don’t have the energy to try the steps in this article, at least not this evening. And why would anyone doing the steps suggested want to reload the booking.com app at the end after this fiasco if it was to blame? I looked and did have it on both my devises, but don’t remember ever using it. It is now deleted.

    This whole thing has been really draining. I spent most of last weekend reading blogs and seeking help. By Monday it was back to work with my heavily used Iphone 6 and Ipad Air 2 work tools both on the blink. I get a lot of work related emails and texts with links and can’t even look at them till I get back to my office and desktop computer.

    If they don’t hurry with a fix for this, the best option I am seeing is sitting at the conference table watching several of my co-workers on their slick new Surface Pros, while my now useless Ipad is laying closed on the table…..might be time for a brand change.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

    • josephine says:

      This solution works, if you don’t have the energy to try it then you can’t say it isn’t working for you. You have to follow the instructions exactly, despite it being a bit of a patty cake routine, it works, that’s why it is here.

      You can buy a Surface, you will like it. They are quite good.

  7. squee says:

    Y’all need to chill out. Yeah it sucks that this issue is occurring but I think some people are a little over dramatic about it. Software is complex and well sometimes things fall through the cracks. It happens. Software Engineers are people and people are NOT perfect. Im sure everyone here has made a mistake and it affected others. S#*t happens. Whipping out a dot 1 update isn’t as easy a snapping ones fingers. I’ve used Apple products for a very long time and I can still say I’ve had far less issue than other products I’ve had to use for business. As mentioned in the post, Apple is aware of the issue and is working on a fix.

    The issue affected my iPhone as well. I did research and discovered I wasn’t the only one. What did I do? Restored my iPhone and setup as a new device. What did I lose? Text Message history and Call history. Yeah I had to input my email accounts back, and download my apps. But lets be honest, it really does give you the opportunity to delete all the crap apps you don’t use. Since I use iCloud Photo Library, all my photos came back. Really it didn’t take that long to set my iphone up again and it fixed my issue.

    Moral of my comment. Things could be much worse and we could have the FBI hacking our products and gaining personal data. But yet we complain about one small little bug and compare it to our world ending.

  8. DocR says:

    Tim Cook is obviously more interested in LGBT issues than solving a problem that his company has caused. It may be time for Apple to look to other leadership as they continue to fail in providing a product that works. I find it hypocritical that people are always more hostile to Microsoft when they have some of the same issues. maybe the company needs to be called AppleSoft.

  9. ckermo says:

    Tried twice, doesn’t work at all on an iPhone 6s. Waiting for a fix. Incredible bug, thanks Apple.

  10. KevinE says:

    Don’t know how this bug came about as it was not present in all the Beta versions that I used.
    I had to reset my phone eventually.

  11. Nancy Johnson says:

    Tried the “song and dance–no resolution to the problem. If the beta testers who have responded did not experience the issue, which seems to have surfaced “suddenly”, I’m wondering if the cause is some sort of recent virus or malware that Apple does not want to acknowledge? It seems very strange to me that no one in the beta group had the presumably offending app booking.com installed during testing….and that no one in beta had the problem.

    • no virii says:

      Nancy, this is the only method that works for resolving the link crashing bug for now. It works, but you must do it quickly and follow the steps accordingly.

      There are no viruses in iOS or so few for Mac OS X that it’s not worth mentioning. Malware must be installed deliberately and is also rare.

      It’s a bug, it’s that simple. It’s a bad bug, but it’s a bug. Apple has a new habit of releasing buggy software.

  12. rc says:

    This worked in fixing the safari links. But mail still crashes when clicking a link inside an email

  13. Miller. R says:

    I have a few apps that I couldn’t get to stop crashing, after a few times of trying to update the app and many many restarts of my phone etc, I have had to delete them… I always get a little paranoid with apps that keep crashing, thinking that it may effect my phone…

  14. Stjepan says:

    Didn’t work for me. :(

    Tried the fix procedure 2 times, pretty fast I believe, links in Safari still not working.
    iPad Pro 120 GB 4G Model ML3N2B/A

  15. L.H says:

    This fix didn’t work. Booking.com hasn’t been a problem before so it’s clearly Apple that’s the issue. Recent OS and iOS updates are proving to be flawed and possibly not thoroughly tested with real users.
    Re-setting my phone is not an option right now, and not being able to use Apple’s own browser is ridiculous. Just rubbish.

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