Tackle Web pages not loading in OS X

SafariIconXArguably Safari, Firefox, Chrome and other Web browsers are perhaps the most commonly used applications on your Mac, so when browsing various sites, you might be frustrated if pages suddenly stop updating with content you know is new, or stop loading at all.

At times these can be server-based issues that you simply have to deal with, but at other times it can be a hiccup in your Mac’s configuration that causes the problems.

Safari cookies button

Click this button to access Safari’s cookies manager.

First, you should attempt browser-specific fixes like clearing the browser’s cache and cookies for the specific sites you are having problems with. This can be done in Safari by going to the Privacy preferences and then clicking the Details button that will appear next to a metric of the number of stored cookies and other data. When you click this button you can search for the domains that give you trouble, and then select and remove the stored data for them. Next, go to the Advanced preferences and check the box to enable the Develop menu. From this menu, you can choose the option to delete Safari’s caches.

Next, you might simply be refreshing your browser too much, especially if a DNS-based change was made for the site, or for some of its contents. In these instances, you might simply need to wait for the DNS system to populate with the new addresses for the content, which can take a few hours to a couple of days. Additionally, if you refresh your browser too much, then you may simply be re-loading cached DNS information instead of new addresses. In these instances, you might benefit from using different DNS servers on your Mac:

DNS server settings in OS X

Add new DNS servers to this list to replace those supplied by your ISP.

  1. Go to the Network system preferences and choose your active internet connection.
  2. Click the Advanced button.
  3. Go to the DNS tab.
  4. Click the plus button under the DNS server list, and add the following server addresses:

These addresses are Google’s public DNS servers, which should be different from those supplied by your router and ISP. Be aware that some programs and online services may use DNS information to identify your location, so you might have to address these accordingly.

Another detail that might affect Web content is any network monitoring or security software you might have installed, especially reverse firewalls like Little Snitch or NetBarrier. These may inadvertently block content from specific domains or servers, so be sure the configurations for these are not blocking desired content. If you have an extensive rule set for these built over time, then you might consider clearing it out and rebuilding it from scratch.

Finally, try addressing the problem at your networking hardware, by resetting your router and disabling and re-enabling your Wi-Fi connection. Routers will cache address information, especially if you are regularly accessing it, and resetting it should clear this stored information out and allow the router to refresh it. The same goes for your Wi-Fi radio, where nondescript connectivity issues with your current connection to router may be contributing factors in your inability to connect or load some content, and this can sometimes be fixed by turning Wi-Fi off in your menu bar, followed by turning it back on again.


5 thoughts on “Tackle Web pages not loading in OS X

  1. Jim Bethin

    Cookie blockers usually cause the problem for me. For some sites you just have to turn them off.

  2. Michael Bach

    One solution that works for me most of the time ist to switch browsers: copy URL (command-L, command-C), switch to FireFox (or Chrome), then command-L and command-V. This could be automated, of course, but it occurs so rarely…

  3. GS

    Chronic problem I have is Safari loading blank pages (content does not load), or having to click twice on a link to get the page to load. I have had this issue with different ISP’s, Macs, Different DNS servers etcetera.

  4. darrenoia

    Anyone who can tell me how to fully and completely get rid of the effects of Abine’s “DoNotTrackMe” extension in Safari will be my hero for life. I’ve disabled it, uninstalled, rebooted… nothing works. It still prevents some sites (e.g., asana.com) from loading properly without a click on the DoNotTrackMe toolbar icon. It’s got to be changing some setting somewhere, but darned if I can find what it is.

  5. B. Jefferson Le Blanc

    Thanks for the tip. I’ve encountered just such a problem on a friend’s computer. A rather basic sight loads just fine in Chrome and Firefox, but loads without and CSS layout information in Safari. I didn’t dig deep enough for a solution. Your tip will help me with that.

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