Safari helps you feel at home while browsing the web on a Mac. The latest iterations of Safari always bring improvements, but no browser is perfect. Over time, Safari tends to slow down, become sluggish, and feel unresponsive.
While Chrome and Firefox pack a reset button, this feature is missing from Safari. We will show you how you can reset Safari to default settings on your Mac.
First, Back Up Your Bookmarks
After you’ve used Safari for a while, you probably have a lot of sites saved in your Bookmarks and Favorites. It’s a good idea to make a copy of your Bookmarks before you proceed. Since you’ll remove every bit data related to Safari, you probably don’t want to erase all your bookmarks.
To do this, launch Safari, select the File tab in the top menu bar, and click Export Bookmarks. You can either set a new name or let it use the default one if you don’t mind it. Click Save to save a copy of those bookmarks.
You may also want to edit, organize, and manage those bookmarks that you’ve collected over years.
After you’ve reset Safari by following the methods below, you can import the HTML copy of your Bookmarks by going to File > Import From and selecting Bookmarks HTML File. Make sure to save the file somewhere safe in the meantime.
Clear the Browsing History in Safari
To start, you should run Safari’s built-in history cleaner. This will remove cookies and other browsing data from everywhere you’ve visited. Thankfully, the process to remove your browsing history manually from Safari is quite straightforward.
After opening Safari, click on the Safari item in the top menu bar and select Clear History. A window will pop up; select All History from the dropdown list. Then click on the Clear History button to erase all that data from Safari.
Remove the Temporary Files and Cache
To improve your browsing efficiency, Safari stores the data for sites that you visit regularly as cache on your Mac and uses that to load elements faster than downloading them again. That cache takes up disk space and often contributes to Safari’s performance woes.
It’s thus a good idea to get rid of that old data when you’re resetting Safari to its defaults. Here’s how to clear Safari’s temporary files and cache:
- While you have Safari running, open Safari > Preferences from the menu bar.
- A window will pop open. Head to the Advanced tab and select the check box for Show Develop menu in menu bar.
- The Develop menu will appear next toBookmarks on the menu bar. Select Develop > Empty Caches or use Option + Cmd + E to quickly clear the web cache.
Delete All Cookies
Like other browsers, Safari stores site cookies whenever you visit websites. These cookies contain details about your interactions with the site, such as registration and form data, your cart contents, and similar. It’s a good idea to remove those cookies when starting fresh.
Here’s how you can clear all cookies from Safari:
- Launch Safari and in the menu bar at the top of the screen, go to Safari > Preferences.
- In the window that pops up, go to the Privacy tab and click the Manage Website Data button. That’ll pop open a window showing the list of cookies in Safari.
- You can hold down Cmd to select cookies to remove individually, or click Remove All to delete the entire list.
Turn Off Website Access/Delete Safari Plugins
While Apple builds Safari for efficiency, some outside plugins and website access rules can cause Safari to slow down. It’s best to ensure that those plugins ask you before Safari runs them. You can also confirm which sites can access your Mac’s camera, microphone, and other settings.
With Safari open, go to Safari > Preferences in the menu bar on the top of the screen. Go to the Websites tab and check each item in the sidebar for website access. We recommend disabling Auto-Play, Camera, Microphone, Location, and Pop-Ups, unless you have some reason not to do so.
If you’re using an older version of Safari that doesn’t have these options, you can head to Safari > Preferences and click on Security > Plug-In Settings. Then set all the plugins to Ask before Safari runs them, and disable the ones you don’t need.
Disable or Uninstall Safari Extensions
Unlike Chrome and Firefox, Apple allows only a handful of extensions to work with Safari. Even with this filtering, some of them might impact your browsing performance and slow everything down. Whether you use extensions for saving articles to Pocket or applying dark mode on every website, they could affect Safari.
You can disable these extensions by going to Safari > Preferences and clicking the Extensions tab. Uncheck each extension listed to disable it. To remove all of them, you’ll need to select each extension and click on the Uninstall button in the adjacent pane.
You can always find and install new Safari extensions later after resetting the browser. Try to only install high-quality ones you absolutely need.
Reset Safari Using Terminal
Even after removing cookies, cache, browsing history, and extensions, Safari still has some underlying metadata. To wipe everything in a true sense, you can use the Terminal app.
Using the Terminal to reset Safari to its default state means you’ll have to use a series of commands. Refer to our beginner’s guide to the Mac Terminal for using it effectively.
To reset Safari using Terminal:
- Open the Terminal app (you can find it easily using Spotlight with Cmd + Space).
- Next, open the Apple menu at the top-left corner of your screen. Click Force Quit and select Safari to completely close it.
- Enter the below commands commands, one line at a time. After you run each command, the Terminal will prompt for confirmation to delete said files. Type y to confirm, then hit Enter.
mv ~/Library/Safari ~/Desktop/Safari-`date +%Y%m%d%H%M%S`;
rm -Rf ~/Library/Cache/*;
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/*;
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/Safari/*;
rm -Rf ~/Library/Safari/Bookmarks.plist;
rm -Rf ~/Library/Saved Application State/com.apple.Safari.savedState;
Reset Safari for a Fresh and Fast Browser Experience
Now you know how to effectively reset Safari to factory settings. It should feel faster after this—though all the sites you visit at first will take a couple of seconds to load completely, since they’ll create new cookies and cache.
To get even more out of Safari, make sure you’re applying the best Safari tweaks for a better experience.