Being the default browser shipped with every Mac, you are very likely using Safari as your main way of accessing the Web. Therefore, if something goes wrong where Safari either loads and runs slowly, crashes on startup, or is otherwise not functioning correctly, then you might find yourself in a bit of a frustrating situation. If you need to reset aspects of Safari in order to regain functionality, then even though the options for doing so are somewhat scattered, you can still use them to regain use of your browser.
Remove site history
Safari has its built-in tools for clearing temporary data that may be causing problems. To do this, go to the Safari menu and choose the option to Clear History and Website Data. If the problem you are experiencing only happened in the last hour or the past day, then you can try choosing the option here for encompassing that timeframe, otherwise you can remove all history data in this menu.
- Go to the Privacy section of Safari’s preferences.
- Click the Details button that appears under the “Remove All Website Data” button.
- Search for your site, and then remove only it from the list.
Clear Safari’s Web caches
Apple has somewhat hidden the options for clearing Safari’s caches (temporary local storage for a number of different settings and configurations), but they are still available:
- Go to the Advanced section of Safari’s preferences
- Click the Show Develop menu in menu bar option
- Select Empty Caches from this menu
Extensions give additional functions to Safari, but may also cause some problems if they contain bugs. Therefore, try going to the Extensions section of Safari’s preferences and sliding the setting to “Off.” Alternatively, you can try disabling plugins on an individual basis (each should have a checkbox for enabling/disabling), but first turning them off globally and then testing Safari will help indicate whether these are contributing to the problem. Also be sure you use the Updates button in these preferences to check for and install any new versions of your extensions.
Disable and manage plugins
Plugins handle specific internet content that sites may try to display for you, but also may cause problems when loading these sites. Therefore, as with Safari Extensions, you can try disabling them to see if this clears problems you are experiencing:
- Go to the Safari’s Security preferences
- Uncheck the Allow Plug-Ins checkbox
- Reload your Web pages, or optionally quit and re-launch Safari
In addition to disabling them in this way, you can manage plug-ins on a per-site basis by clicking the Website Settings button and then adjusting which sites are allowed, denied, or must ask for loading a specific plug-in.
The above approaches should be most of what you need to clear and reset problems in Safari; however, if not then you can take more surgical approaches to clearing out Safari’s configuration data and getting the browser up and running again. Keep in mind that this approach will fully reset Safari and clear out your history, local bookmarks, and other settings, so be sure you make a backup of your system before doing this. Then quit Safari, and perform the following steps:
Remove Safari’s configuration folder:
- Open the Go menu in the OS X Finder
- Hold the Option key and choose the Library option that appears
- Move the “Safari” folder in here to your desktop
Remove Safari’s window state:
- Open the Library > Saved Application State folder
- Locate the “com.apple.Safari.savedState” folder
- Move this folder to the trash
Remove Safari’s application caches:
- Open the Library > Caches folder
- Locate all folders that begin with “com.apple.Safari”
- Move these folders to the trash.
Remove Safari Cookies configurations:
- Open the Library > Cookies folder
- Remove the file called “com.apple.Safari.SafeBrowsing.binarycookies”
Remove Safari’s preferences:
- Open the Library > Preferences folder
- Remove any file that begins with “com.apple.Safari”
Remove user plug-ins:
- Go to the Library > Internet Plug-Ins folder
- Move all items from this folder to your Desktop (or elsewhere)
Remove global plug-ins:
- Go to the Macintosh HD > Library > Internet plug-ins folder
- Move all items out of this folder except the following plug-ins:
Default Browser.plugin iPhotoPhotocast.plugin Quartz Composer.webplugin QuickTime Plugin.plugin
These ones may also be removed for testing your situation, but should be replaced. In addition, if removing plugins does not show any difference in your browser’s behavior, then replace them. However, you can also replace them by downloading the latest versions from their developers’ Web sites.
Great article. Thanks.
How does on go about saving History from Safari if now would want to a reset?
What about the Safari>Preferences> Security> Fraudulent sites: when checked there is a warning that “The Google Save Browsing Service us unavailable. No updates have occurred in 1 day.” I have no idea what that means. Can you explain?
How can I only clear History, not web site data?
If you re-read your article thoroughly, you are not distinguishing clearly enough between the Global Library and the ~User Library, I would expect people who don’t understand the hierarchy thoroughly to be confused…
Deleting site history for one site (www.mcmaster.com) fixed a long-standing critical problem that was forcing me to use Firefox to access it. Thanks, Topher! Great article that I will keep for future reference.
This article gives good information, however, if you cannot open Safari you cannot get to the safari menu. Then what?
if you cannot open Safari?? how are you reading this page about Safari and leaving a reply??????WTF Man?
Probably like Im doing……on another computer
Use another browser!!
If I cannot open safari, I cannot get online to get another browser.
If this happens, you can download the OS X installer for Chrome, Opera, or Firefox on another Mac or PC, and then transfer it to your current Mac via file sharing or a USB drive. Most browser applications are self-contained, so you may also be able to just copy the application from another Mac as opposed to You can also use the OS X Terminal to download these files using the “curl” or similar command on a Web URL to the installer file for one of these programs, if you are familiar with that environment and know the specific URL. You can also have a colleague download the installers and share them with you via Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, or similar.
Thank you — this resolved my problem! I had to do the manual method because whenever I opened Safari it froze with a fraudulent pop up and I couldn’t use the Safari menus.
Easy to follow and fixed my computer — relieved.
I used the manual method after updating to El Capiton safari would get stuck at an alert page and I would have to force quit to get out of it. This method reset safari and it is now functioning as new. There must be something that the upgrade doesn’t like when integrating the data from the previous version. Thanks for the help.
All looks like there are fuzzy expectations on what the browser should show after using the going “restore” functions. For me the benchmark is still the “Reset” function in main menu of Safari 6. With a single click it wipes out everything not explicitly saved (so unless Bookmarks etc. saved) , and with all options checked can immediately restart the browser with default page specified at any time you want. This may appear brutal, but it was easily configureable to individual needs (What to keep after reset). I just went to el captain for a single app I needed to keep going after api update, but decided to go for a new mac to test this out in order not to compromise my experience with the otherwise perfectly running 10.8 machine.
To me, the latest (10.11) “browser reset” works in no way different than on a Win 7 machine, and frankly speaking, the objective of the reset browser reset feature (Internet options there ) is totally failed…
Tropher, I wonder what to do with the Safari folder on the desktop after the manual reset? Trash it? I’m not certain if you are replying to questions asked here, but this would be nice to know. Thanks for the article.
Open a terminal and enter the following commands to fully wipe out all of your old Safari settings:
mv ~/Library/Safari ~/Desktop/Safari-`date +%Y%m%d%H%M%S`; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Caches/Apple\ -\ Safari\ -\ Safari\ Extensions\ Gallery; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Caches/Metadata/Safari; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.Safari; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.WebKit.PluginProcess; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Cookies/Cookies.binarycookies; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/Apple\ -\ Safari\ -\ Safari\ Extensions\ Gallery; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Safari.LSSharedFileList.plist; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Safari.RSS.plist; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Safari.plist; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.WebFoundation.plist; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.WebKit.PluginHost.plist; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.WebKit.PluginProcess.plist; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/PubSub/Database; \
rm -Rf ~/Library/Saved\ Application\ State/com.apple.Safari.savedState
I have been unable to find a menu on Safari
Thank you so much for this article! I was experiencing issues with the search bar and also the URL looked like there was text overllaping other text. It was really odd? This article solved all my problems. Thanks!
I also have the same question about the Safari folder on the desktop. I followed the “Manual” instructions, then after restarting Safari, I put the 2 internet plugins back. So far it is working, but something is clogging up the works, so I will not know for a couple of days if a web page won’t load in Safari (and I have to go to Firefox, which I don’t want to do). Also when I took all of the items out of the HD (Go to the Macintosh HD > Library > Internet plug-ins folder) it only ‘copied’ them; it did not delete them from the original folder. Open for suggestions – thanks
Best explanation ever!!! Thanks for this.