The hardcore and QUICK guide to resetting Safari

15 April 2016, 11:00


I love using Safari on my Mac but it’s like an old jalopy in that it can be temperamental and sometimes inexplicably slow. Fortunately, unlike an old jalopy, we can hit a few keys and click here and there to reset Safari. Below are the steps I use. They take around 10 seconds to complete. In other words, they’re rough and ready, but quick.

They will clear the Safari caches, remove extensions, and remove any Safari configuration data. This can lead to speed boosts and remove mysterious problems.

Important note: You’ll need to have iCloud syncing for Safari turned on if you don’t want to lose your bookmarks or cookies (such as those cookies that usefully keep you signed into various sites). It’ll need to be activated on at least one of your iPhones, iPads or other Macs too. iCloud syncing is activated by default if you’re signed into iCloud, but you might’ve turned it off at some point.

You can turn on iCloud syncing on a Mac in System Preferences > iCloud – just put a check alongside Safari – but you’ll need to wait 30 minutes after activating the feature to be sure syncing has taken place. On an iOS device you can open Settings, tap the iCloud heading, and activate the switch alongside Safari. Again, wait 30 minutes to ensure syncing completes.

Here are the steps to quickly and ruthlessly reset Safari:

  1. Start by quitting Safari completely.
  2. Open a Terminal window, which you’ll find in the Utilities folder of the Applications list, and paste in the following before hitting Enter – note that this is a single command, even though it might appear as several lines in your browser:
    rm -rf ~/Library/Safari/;rm -rf ~/Library/Saved\ Application\ State/com.apple.Safari*;rm -rf ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.Safari*;rm -rf ~/Library/Cookies/com.apple.Safari*;rm -rf ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Safari*
  3. Start Safari again, and enjoy the Welcome text and animation.
  4. Open System Preferences, click the iCloud icon, and remove the check alongside Safari in the list and click it again so that the check reappears there. In other words, you’re turning off iCloud syncing and immediately turning it back on again.

After the last step your bookmarks should reappear in Safari, and your cookies will be restored in the background too. If you want to prune your cookies manually you’ll need to open Safari preferences (hit Cmd+comma while it’s running), then click the Privacy tab and select the Details button that appears after a few seconds alongside the Remove All Websites button.


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