How to reset Safari on a MacBook

If Safari on your Mac runs very slowly, takes far longer than it should to load pages, or crashes often, you might need to reset it. However, resetting Safari is not something you should do without care, as it makes significant changes to the experience of using it. In fact, Apple removed the one-click Reset Safari menu option. Possibly, for that reason.

When you reset Safari on Mac, it:

  • Removes installed extensions
  • Deletes browsing data
  • Gets rid of cookies
  • Forgets saved login names and passwords
  • Scraps autofill data

The result is that Safari is clean and should behave as if you’ve just installed it. If you use iCloud Keychain, login names and passwords can be retrieved from there, and if you use iCloud Contacts, autofill data will be taken from there. So, while resetting Safari is a big step, it’s not the completely clean slate or inconvenience it used to be. However, you will notice that there’s nothing in the History menu, and if you’ve left items in a checkout trolley at an online store, they will no longer be there.

How to reset Safari on Mac

Now that the Reset Safari button is gone, it takes several steps to achieve the same result.

Step 1: Clear Safari history

If you want to clear the history manually, follow the steps:

  1. Open Safari and click on the Safari menu.
  2. Select History > Clear History…
  3. Click the menu next to clear and choose a time period — if you want to completely reset Safari, choose all history.
  4. Click Clear History.
Tip
There is an easier way to clean up Safari — CleanMyMac X’s Uninstaller tool allows you to quickly view each browser you have installed and, by selecting a box, revert them to their original state. To use it, open CleanMyMac X and click on the Uninstaller tool. Use the search box to find the app you want to reset and click on it. Now, click on a small arrow next to the app logo. Click the Application Reset button.
Safari reset selected in the Uninstaller module in CMMX

Step 2: Clear Safari cache

  1. With Safari open, click the Safari menu.
  2. Choose Settings.
  3. Click the Advanced tab.
  4. At the bottom of the window, you should see a checkbox labeled Show Develop menu in menu bar. Select it.
  5. Click on the Develop menu and choose Empty Caches.

Step 3: Remove Safari extensions

Extensions are third-party add-ons that provide additional functionality to Safari, such as saving web pages to Evernote or Pocket or downloading videos from streaming sites. However, they can also cause problems, particularly if you let them get out of date or the developer stops updating them, so here’s how to remove them.

  1. In Safari, click on the Safari menu and select Settings.
  2. Click on the Extensions tab.
  3. In the window that opens, you’ll see a list of installed extensions. To completely reset Safari, select each extension in turn and click Uninstall.

Step 4: Delete Safari bookmarks

  1. In Safari, click on the sidebar button from the toolbar.
  2. Click Bookmarks. 
  3. Select all bookmarks you want to remove, right-click, and select Delete. 

For alternative ways to delete Safari bookmarks, check out this article

Step 5: Delete plug-ins

To delete plug-ins completely, you’ll need to manually move them to the Trash. macOS stores plug-ins in two places, your user Library folder (~/Library) and your Mac’s main system Library folder (/Library). In both cases, plug-ins are stored in a folder called ‘Internet Plug-ins.’ 

If you think you might want to use the plug-ins again at a later date, you can move them to another folder (maybe create one called ‘Disabled plug-ins’) and move them back when you need them. However, given that it’s very important to keep plug-ins up to date, you’d be better off deleting them and then reinstalling them from the developer’s website if you need them again.

  1. In the Finder, click on the Go menu and select Library. If you can’t see it, try holding down the Option key when you click; or in the Go menu, select Go to Folder and type ~/Library
  2. Click on the Internet Plug-ins folder in Library.
  3. Drag the plug-ins you want to delete to the Trash.
  4. Click on the Go menu in the Finder again and select Computer.
  5. Click on the name of your Mac and select the Library folder; or Click the Go menu, select Go to Folder, and type /Library (note, there’s no ‘~’ this time).
  6. Repeat steps 2 and 3 above.

Pro tip: Reset Safari with Terminal

If you are comfortable with using Terminal, you can run several commands to reset Safari. Here are the steps:

  1. Quit Safari. 
  2. Go to Applications > Utilities and open Terminal. 
  3. Paste the following commands one at a time and follow the on-screen instructions to complete each step: 

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

Important

Be extremely cautious with the rm -Rf command. It is safer to go to Library and manually send files located under those paths to Trash.

As you can see, it’s not difficult to reset Safari and return it to its original state. And thanks to iCloud Keychain and Contacts, doing so doesn’t mean that your saved logins or autofill data is gone for good. It is a significant step, however, and you should think carefully before you proceed.