How to crash Safari by typing simple words

27 February 2017, 12:12

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There’s a handful of basic words and letters that when typed into the URL field will instantly crash Safari on the Mac. Versions of Safari on iPhone and iPad don’t seem to be affected.

Here’s a list of those found so far that crash Safari – type any into the URL/search field of Safari and Safari will instantly quit, and then report a crash error dialog box, before reopening.

rp s
joe r

There are likely to be others. As for what’s going on, well, the crash log points to the following:

Dispatch queue:

… which perhaps suggests it’s a URL parsing issue to my untrained eyes. However, these are fairly innocuous phrases and far from even looking like malformed URLs. It’s certainly very strange. If you’re better able to understand the crash log then post your thoughts in the comments below.

Curiously, typing any of these into the Spotlight search tool will also cause it to crash – although it immediately recovers. I imagine this will happen anywhere within macOS where a web preview or lookup is generated. The crashing bug is also present in the Safari Technology Preview. I tried to speak the phrases to Siri on the Mac to see what happened, but it kept mishearing me – Joe R was heard variously as “you are” and “Joe are”. Similarly, “tymal” consistently came out as “timer”. You might have better luck!

UPDATE: As mentioned by reader “MB” in the comments below, this bug can be deactivated by turning off Safari suggestions: open Safari’s preferences (Cmd+comma), click the Search tab, and remove the check from the Include Safari Suggestions box. To avoid Spotlight crashing when the words or letters are typed, open System Preferences, click the Spotlight icon, then the Search Results tab, and remove the check alongside Spotlight Suggestions.

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I came across this yesterday at one of my client sites. MacOS 10.12.3 and safari 10.0.3.
Turning off suggestions has stopped it.

— MB · Feb 27, 12:49 PM · #

Bug is not present in the MacOS beta with Safari 10.1

— John · Feb 27, 01:11 PM · #

Bug is absolutely still present in macOS 10.12.4b (16E183b). Just tried with Safari 10.1 (12603. and it crashed.

Peter Steinberger · Mar 9, 02:18 PM · #

Works (no crash) for me in macOS 10.12.4b (16E183b) and Safari 10.1 (12603. Hope you entered a bug report.

— Mark · Mar 9, 02:59 PM · #

But Spotlight does crash…

— Mark · Mar 9, 03:00 PM · #

I remember seeing this issue last year with “how to m” crashing Spotlight on iOS.

As far as I can see it’s still an open bug, 23946139, within Apple’s Bug Report system.

Kyle Seth Gray · Mar 9, 05:19 PM · #

Strangely enough typing that into Safari search field 10.0.3 (11602. on El Cap 10.11.6 (15G1217) Italian works.

Safari does a lookup search and shows Wikipedia entry for Joe Ranft.

— Andrea · Mar 10, 12:10 AM · #