What to do when Safari Web Content quits unexpectedly

Having a browser crash on you is always frustrating. But if Safari has crashed and the following error message has popped up, you may have been left scratching your head:

Safari error message

Luckily, you haven’t done anything wrong to cause this to happen. Here, we’ll go over what Safari Web Content is, what the pop-up means, and how to fix the problem.

What does the “Safari Web Content quit unexpectedly” pop-up mean?

WebKit is a browser engine developed by Apple that’s responsible for rendering browser content, such as HTML and CSS. Safari Web Content is a software library that uses Apple’s WebKit browser engine to display web content. It runs as a separate process on your Mac and is primarily used by Apple’s Safari browser and the iOS browser.

If something goes wrong with either WebKit or Safari Web Content, the browser won’t be able to do its job properly and may freeze, restart, or crash (as is the case when this pop-up appears).

How to fix the problem?

There are a few different possible fixes for when Safari Web Content quits unexpectedly. Start with the first solution, and if that doesn’t solve the problem, give the next one a try.

Check for updates

The first — and most straightforward — potential fix is to make sure that your Mac and browser are completely up to date. Download the latest version of Safari and install any updates to macOS. Then, try launching Safari again after your computer has restarted.

Clear your history, website data, and cache

If updating your OS and browser doesn’t work, you’ll want to try clearing your browsing history, site data, and cache. Luckily, doing so is easy.

To clear your history, select History from the menu bar. Click Clear History…, then simply select how far back you’d like your history cleared.

To clear your site data, go to Safari > Preferences > Privacy > Manage Website Data. You can then clear individual sites’ data or select Remove All to clear all website data.

To clear your cache, you have two options. The first (and easiest) is a keyboard shortcut. Pressing [OPTION] + [COMMAND] + [E] will automatically empty your cache.

You can also manually clear your cache. Here’s how:

  • Go to Safari > Preferences (or use the keyboard shortcut [CMD] + [,]) > Advanced.
  • Check the Show Develop menu in menu bar box at the bottom of the window. A new item will now appear in the menu bar called Develop.
  • Select Develop > Empty Caches. Reload the page you’re on, and you’ll be good to go.

Or, more easily, delete it with a special tool

If you’re anything like me, however, you’ll agree that clearing all your data and history manually gets tiring. CleanMyMac X has seemed to offer the best solution to this problem. What I love about this software (aside from the fact that it just makes my life easier) is that it lets me take control of my browsing history without worrying about deleting necessary items by accident.

CleanMyMac X is notarized by Apple, which means it’s a legit tool, unlike other “fake” cleaners.

To delete your cache using CleanMyMac X:

  1. Download CleanMyMac X (a free version is available here)
  2. Launch the app and click on Privacy
  3. Select Safari from your list of browsers
  4. Select what data from your cache you would like to remove
  5. Click Remove to clean your cache

After clearing your history, website data, and cache, quit Safari and restart it to see if that solved the problem.

While you’re still in the app, click on the System Junk tab. Click the scanner tool that will find all the user cache files for Safari and other browsers. The described steps takes about a minute and by then you should have solved your Safari Web content error.

Clear Safari’s cache manually

If the previous fixes don’t solve the problem, clearing Safari’s cache may help. To do this, go to Finder. In Finder:

  1. Select Go from the menu bar and hold down the Option key. A new item, Library, will appear in the drop-down menu.
  2. Go to Caches > com.apple.Safari. In this folder, find Cache.db and move it to the Trash (click and drag to the Trash Bin or [CTRL] + [click] and select Move to Trash).

After deleting this file, restart Safari and see if you experience any more problems.

Delete Flash files

Another potential solution to Safari Web Content quitting unexpectedly is deleting your Flash Player files.


Flash Player will no longer be supported after December 31, 2020.

To do this, go to Flash Player via System Preferences in the Apple menu. (If you don’t see Adobe Flash Player in your System Preferences, no need to worry — you don’t have it installed, so you can skip this step.)

From here, go to Flash Player > Advanced > Delete All… Finally, check the box marked Delete All Site Data and Settings and select Delete Data.

Disable third-party extensions

In some cases, third-party plugins and Safari extensions can be the culprit when your browser continues to crash. In order to determine which particular extension(s) are to blame, you’ll need to turn all extensions off then turn them on one by one.

To turn extensions off, you’ll need to open Preferences:

  1. Launch Safari and go to Safari > Preferences… in the menu bar. (Hint: you can also access Preferences with Safari open with the keyboard shortcut [COMMAND] + [ , ]).
  2. Go to the Extensions tab.
  3. Check the box next to an extension and click Uninstall. Click Show in Finder when prompted and move the extension to the Trash Bin.

Repeat this process with each extension until you find the one that has been causing problems (you no longer see the pop-up after it’s been uninstalled). Once you locate the culprit, check for any available updates to see if getting the latest version of the app solves the problem.

Check your Mac for malware

Malicious files can cause your Mac to act in all kinds of unexpected ways, including causing Safari to crash, freeze, or restart. If malware that’s gone unnoticed may be causing Safari Web Content to crash unexpectedly, you’ll want to find a good option for malware removal.

You’ve got a lot of options for malware removal software, but I again found CleanMyMac X to offer the most streamlined solution. Its Malware Removal module allowed me to perform a deep clean of my Mac and helped me detect files I didn’t even know were there.

Laptop with CleanMyMac
CleanMyMac X

Your Mac. As good as new.