Safari is the default browser on macOS and iOS devices, and it is specifically built for speed and ease of use. Even though it is simple to use and quite reliable, there may be times when you want to reset Safari settings to default.
As a built-in app, you don’t have the option to re-install Safari outright, so this article will walk you through the steps of resetting Safari to the default configuration.
Resetting Safari Quickly and Easily
You may want to reset Safari to fix a particular issue or return to the initial browser experience. While resetting Safari should not be a regular practice except in specific circumstances, it is still possible.
There was once a menu option to reset Safari settings with one click; however, Apple removed the button in macOS 10.10. This is one of the rare instances where Apple software became less user-friendly and easier-to-use than the alternatives.
These days, you need to complete several steps to reset the Safari web browser. If you suspect a rogue extension, or are having performance issues, follow the steps below to return Safari to its initial state.
Reset Safari Browser on macOS 10.11 and Later
Initializing Safari on Macintosh is a four-step process that first involves enabling the Developer tools, giving you access to the Develop menu. Typically, the Develop menu is only useful to those creating websites or programming web-based applications. However, the Develop menu can also clear all session cache, which we need to do first.
- Emptying Session Cache
To enable the Develop menu, Open Safari and click Safari -> Preferences (or press ⌘,).
In the Safari preferences window, switch to the Advanced category, and select the option “Show Develop menu in menu bar.”
The option takes effect immediately, giving you access to all of the Developer tools from the Develop menu. To reset Safari, we are only interested in one of those tools, which allows us to clear all cache files.
With Safari still open, click the newly exposed Develop menu, and select Empty Caches (or press ⌥⌘E). You will not receive any confirmation or visual feedback of this action, but rest assured that the caches are cleared.
- Clear Website Cache and Cookies
Next, we need to remove all the stored website data and cookies. This is not the same cache cleared from the previous step, as there are some persistent login data and cookies that will remain. To remove the remaining data, click the Safari menu and select Preferences (or press ⌘,).
In the Safari Preferences window, switch to the Privacy category, and click the Manage Website Data… button. In the list of websites that appears, click the Remove All button. You will be asked to confirm this action by clicking Remove Now. Once you confirm the removal, click Done.
- Remove Safari Extensions
Step three to reset Safari is to remove Safari extensions. This step is crucial if you suspect one of the extensions may be malfunctioning (or actual malware ).
To remove all of Safari’s extensions, open the Safari Preferences window again (⌘,) and switch to the Extensions category. You will be present with a screen showing all of your extensions on the left-side pane and extension details on the right-side pane.
Unfortunately, there is no way to remove every extension in one click instantly. You will need to select each extension in the list individually and click the Uninstall… button in the right-side pane.
- Clear Safari Browser History
The final step to resetting Safari is to clear your browsing history. Your history is the list of websites you have visited. If left uncleared, browsing history can go back quite a long time – even a year or more!
To clear your browsing history, click the History menu, and select Clear History… at the bottom of the menu. This option is also located in the Safari menu, which may be easier to access if your History list has many items.
In the Clear History window, select all history from the drop-down list, and then click the Clear History button. Please be advised that this action will also clear the history from all other iCloud connected devices!
Once these steps are complete, it’s a good idea to close and restart Safari Browser. When Safari re-opens, it should be in an entirely pristine state.
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