Mac Performance

Safari Slow on Mac

Safari is the fastest browser on the Mac, but it isn't immune from slowdowns and performance issues. If web pages take longer to load or site navigation doesn't feel responsive, read on to learn how to speed up Safari on Mac.

Before you start:

 

If you want Safari to run as well as possible, you need to make sure the apps on your Mac are up-to-date. That’s easy with MacKeeper’s Update Tracker:

  1. Download and run MacKeeper.
  2. Select Update Tracker.
  3. Click Scan For Updates.
  4. Select what to update, and click Update.

Yes, it’s as simple as that. Keep your Mac’s apps up to date with MacKeeper, and you’ll save tons of time.

Why is Safari so slow on Mac?

Before we consider the solutions, let’s look at some of the possible reasons that Safari is lagging on your Mac. Understanding these issues will help you to identify them, so you can get Safari working as it should.

 

Common causes for the Safari browser to run slowly include:

  • Your internet connection is running slow.
  • There’s a problem with your Wi-Fi.
  • You have too many Safari tabs open.
  • You’re running too many resource-intensive apps in the background.
  • Safari or macOS is out of date.
  • Faulty or incompatible drivers are interfering with Safari.
  • Your Safari preferences have become corrupted.
  • You’re running out of disk space on your Mac.

In our article, we’re going to look at fixing these issues and more.  

How to speed up Safari on Mac

Is Safari running slow on your MacBook, iMac, or Mac mini? Connectivity issues, unoptimized extensions, cache corruption, and a host of other reasons often cause that. Try these suggestions to improve Safari performance on your Mac:

  1. Check if your internet is slow
  2. Close unnecessary tabs in Safari
  3. Shut down apps and resource-intensive processes on Mac
  4. Disable unnecessary Safari extensions
  5. Switch DNS servers for Wi-Fi and Ethernet
  6. Clear the Safari cache and cookies
  7. Manage and configure autofill
  8. Update your Safari browser
  9. Reset Safari to factory defaults
  10. Boot your Mac into Safe Mode
  11. Fix problems with the Startup Disk
  12. Free up disk space on your Mac

1. Check if your internet is slow

If Safari isn’t loading pages, or it takes too long, it's important to figure out if it's just a matter of your internet being slow. The best way to do that is to use an online speed checker like Fast.com or SpeedTest.net. You can also just type ‘speed test’ in Google to bring an internet speed tester without leaving the search engine.

 

Restart your router if you find that your internet isn't uploading or downloading at a decent rate. If that doesn't speed it up, learn what else you can do to fix a slow internet connection on Mac. Also, don't discount server-side issues. If the problem is limited to a specific site, use a website monitoring tool such as Downdetector to see if that site is experiencing issues. Sometimes, websites go down, and there’s really nothing you can do about it except wait for them to be fixed.

Go to Google and search for 'speed test'. This will bring up an internet speed testing tool, which will let you see if your Mac's connection is okay.
Google's speed test tool

2. Close unnecessary tabs in Safari

Although Safari is adept at handling dozens of tabs, having too many open simultaneously will eventually take its toll on your Mac's memory. That creates delays while loading new pages, and the performance hit could also result in erratic browser behavior.

 

The quickest way to speed up Safari on Mac is to shut down unnecessary tabs as soon as you notice any slowdowns. Getting used to moving between and closing tabs using the Ctrl+Tab and Command+W keyboard shortcuts can make the process even faster.

Having too many tabs open can slow down Safari, causing it to lag. Make a habit of closing down any tabs that you don't need.
Close down Safari tabs

3. Shut down apps and resource-intensive processes on Mac

Tabs aside, having too many applications open can also make the Safari browser slow on Mac. If you find your Mac overheating, that’s a good sign it’s being overworked. This is less likely to be the case with newer Macs, which have fast Apple Silicon processors like the M1 and M2. Nevertheless, you should check your Mac's Dock and quit anything you aren't actively using. Try force-quitting troublesome programs if you can't close them normally.

 

If that doesn’t get Safari up to speed, you may have background processes that are using too much processing power and memory. Use the Activity Monitor to locate and stop them:

  1. Open Activity Monitor from Applications > Utilities. In the CPU tab, sort your Mac's activity using the % CPU column and shut down any third-party processes that use a significant amount of CPU.
  2. Switch to the Memory tab and stop third-party items that use lots of RAM.
Apps and background processes that use a lot of processing power can slow down your entire Mac, including your Safari web browser.
Step 1. Close apps using a lot of CPU
Activity Monitor will show you if there are any background processes using a lot RAM. These can slow down Safari, so it's important to get on top of them.
Step 2. Shut down apps using a lot of RAM

Important:

 

If you always end up pushing the hardware on your Mac to its limits, consider using MacKeeper's Memory Cleaner feature to keep things under control.

4. Disable unnecessary Safari extensions

Running Safari with multiple extensions increases the load on the CPU and RAM. That translates to slower browser performance, so review your list of browser add-ons and disable any items you don't regularly use. Here’s how:

  1. Open Safari and select Safari > Settings on the menu bar.
  2. Switch to the Extensions tab. Clear the boxes next to any extensions you want to disable.
Open Safari Preferences from the Safari menu.
Step 1. Open Safari's settings
Look through the list of extensions, select the unneeded ones and click on Uninstall button to remove it
Step 2. Disable Safari extensions

Note from our team: 

 

We highly recommend you update Safari extensions periodically via the Mac's App Store or MacKeeper’s Update Tracker to ensure they run in top shape. If you notice anything suspicious that might be slowing you down, learn how to remove malicious browser extensions and toolbars from your Mac.

5. Switch DNS servers for Wi-Fi and Ethernet

DNS (short for Domain Name System) is a cataloging system that matches domain names with IP addresses. When you type in the web address of a site, DNS tells your browser which IP address to visit to load the site.

 

Not all DNS providers are fast, so changing your Wi-Fi or Ethernet's DNS settings to a popular service like Google DNS can make Safari run faster on Mac. For best results, clear the DNS cache on your Mac before you begin.

 

Change your Mac’s DNS settings like this:

  1. In System Settings, select Network in the sidebar, then either Ethernet or Wi-Fi, depending on how you’re connected to the internet.
  2. Click Details.
  3. In the DNS section, click the plus button under DNS servers, and add 8.8.8.8. Then do the same with 8.8.4.4, and click OK.
Your Mac's DNS settings can slow down Safari. Go to your System Setting. Choose 'Network' then either 'Ethernet' or 'Wi-Fi'.
Step 1. Choose Ethernet or Wi-Fi
You'll now see your Mac's internet connection details, including the current DNS settings. Click the 'Details' button to change these settings.
Step 2. Click Details
You can now change your Mac's DNS settings. This may help if your Safari browser is running slowly. There are lot of DNS servers, but Google's are popular.
Step 3. Change DNS settings

6. Clear the Safari cache and cookies

Like most web browsers, Safari caches various forms of site data—images, HTML files, and JavaScript code—to improve load times in subsequent visits. However, a bloated or corrupt cache can adversely impact performance and result in Safari working slow on the Mac. You can clear the Safari cache after activating its hidden Develop menu.

 

Corrupt, outdated, or privacy-invasive browser cookies can slow down Safari. Deleting these cookies may help too. Here’s how to clear Safari’s cache and cookies:

  1. In Safari’s settings menu, switch to the Advanced tab and check the box next to Show features for web developers.
  2. Select Develop on the menu bar and pick the Empty Caches option.
  3. Now for the cookies. Select Safari > Clear History on the menu bar.
  4. Set Clear to All History, and click Clear History.
In Safari's settings, you can enable web developer features. This will make a new option appear in Safari's menu bar, entitled 'Develop'.
Step 1. Enable Safari's web developer features
With Safari's developer features turned on, go to the menu bar and select Develop > Empty Caches. This will delete any caches files, which may speed up your browser.
Step 2. Clear Safari's caches
Next, you'll want to clear Safari's history. Again, this may help if the browser is running slowly. Go to the menu bar and select Safari > Clear History.
Step 3. Clear Safari's history
Now you need to confirm how much of your Safari history you want to clear. In the 'Clear' dropdown menu, select 'All History', and click 'Clear History'.
Step 3. Click Clear History

Hint from our experts:

 

You can also clear your Safari cache with MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup. In just a few clicks, it will clean up not only Safari but all your other web browsers and apps, log files, unneeded languages, and more. Run Safe Cleanup and get your Mac in order:

  1. In MacKeeper, select Safe Cleanup, then click Start Scan.
  2. When the scan is finished, choose what you want to delete, then click Clean Junk Files.
  3. Now click Skip Trash or Empty Trash, and MacKeeper will clear out the junk data.
Open MacKeeper, then select 'Safe Cleanup' from the sidebar. Click the 'Start Scan' button to search for junk files you can delete.
Step 1. Run Safe Cleanup
When MacKeeper's Safe Cleanup scan is done, look through the results, and select whatever you want to delete. Click 'Delete Junk Files'.
Step 2. Remove junk files
To confirm the removal of the junk files from your Mac, click either 'Skip Trash' or 'Empty Trash'. Now see if Safari is running any more quickly.
Step 3. Confirm removal

7. Manage and configure autofill

Autofill is a common feature in web browsers, which automatically fills in online forms for you. Information like your name, phone number, email address, and even payment cards are stored, so you don’t have to remember them or type them manually every time. As convenient as this feature is, it can also cause Safari to run slowly.

 

Changing your Safari browser’s autofill settings can stop it lagging:

  1. Open Safari’s settings, and go to the Autofill tab. To disable a category of autofilled data, use the checkboxes. Click one of the Edit buttons for more precise configuration.
  2. If you decide to edit the Credit cards autofill settings, for example, enter your password and click Unlock.
  3. You can then add or remove credit cards. Now do the same with the other autofill settings.
In your Safari settings, go to the 'Autofill' section, then look through the list of autofilled data types. Deselect them to disable them. Otherwise, click 'Edit'.
Step 1. Choose what to autofill
When you're editing your Safari autofill settings, you may be asked to enter your Mac's password. This helps to protect sensitive data like credit card numbers.
Step 2. Enter your password when asked
If you're changing your credit card autofill settings, you can add and remove credit card details. If you don't want a card to be autofilled in Safari, remove it from here.
Step 3. Set up your autofill options

8. Update your Safari browser and macOS

Like many software companies, Apple regularly releases new updates for its apps, including Safari, and they arrive alongside regular macOS updates. These include bug fixes and performance enhancements, so you should make sure your browser and operating system are always on the latest supported version. Updating may be enough to fix a slow Safari browser. To update your Mac:

  1. In System Settings, select General from the sidebar, and then click Software Update.
  2. Wait until the Software Update tool checks for newer macOS updates and select Update Now to install any pending updates.
You should always keep macOS up to date. If there are any updates for Safari, they'll be bundled in with the macOS updates. Go to System Settings > Software Update.
Step 1. Open Software Update settings
If there are any updates available, you'll see an 'Update Now' button. You can also click 'More info' to find out more about what's in the update.
Step 2. Install any available updates

Even if a new macOS update doesn't include anything Safari-related, installing it will still improve general performance across native apps. Whether your Mac is running slow or not, make it a point to install macOS updates as soon as possible.

9. Reset Safari to factory defaults

Corrupt browser preferences and other underlying issues can also play a factor. There’s no way to repair your Safari preferences, so sometimes, the only way to fix a slow instance of Safari on Mac is to reset it to factory defaults. Here’s how:

  1. Save your work and exit Safari. Open Finder, select Go > Go to Folder on the menu bar, and visit the ~/Library/Preferences/ directory.
  2. Find the com.apple.Safari.plist file and delete it.
  3. Reopen the Go to Folder box and visit ~/Library/Safari/. Then, delete each item within the folder except the Bookmarks.plist file.
  4. Visit ~/Library/Containers/, search for Safari, and delete all files and folders that appear among the search results.
Start by going to Finder, then selecting Go > Go to Folder from the menu bar at the top of your Mac's screen. You can then visit your Library folder.
Step 1. Open Go to Folder
Look for the Safari preferences file, then delete it. Send it to your Mac's trash and then make sure to empty your trash to delete the file.
Step 2. Delete Safari's preferences file
Use 'Go to Folder' to visit the '~/Library/Safari/' folder. Delete everything there other than your bookmarks. Don't forget to empty your trash afterward.
Step 3. Keep your bookmarks
To finish resetting Safari, go to the Containers folder in your Library folder and search for anything related to Safari. Delete it all.
Step 4. Remove anything related to Safari in Containers

Next time you open Safari, you’ll need to set it up again to your liking. For example, you’ll need to visit its Settings pane to reactivate any extensions you want.

 

If you’re worried about security, check our guide on how Safari can get a virus.

10. Boot your Mac into safe mode

If none of the fixes above help speed up Safari, try booting your Mac into and out of safe mode. That helps flush out various forms of temporary data that can interfere with Apple's browser. It can also help you work out if third-party apps or drivers are hurting your Mac’s performance. These don’t load when you’re in safe mode, so if you think such programs are causing issues, you can uninstall them.

 

On an Intel Mac, you can get to safe mode while holding down the Shift key during the reboot phase. However, if you use an Apple Silicon Mac, follow these steps to get your computer into safe mode:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Turn it on but keep holding the Power button until you get to the Startup Options screen.
  3. Hold the Shift key and select Macintosh HD > Continue in Safe Mode.

Important

 

In Safe Mode, repeat the fixes above if you cannot complete them earlier. Then restart your Mac normally. To delete additional forms of temporary data that can slow down Safari, learn how to delete your Mac's application and system caches.

Starting your Mac in safe mode can help you diagnose problems with your Mac. It may also be enough to clear our Safari and get it working properly.
Start your Mac in safe mode

11. Fix problems with the Startup Disk

Your startup disk is where macOS is stored, so if there are any issues with it, your Mac may not run as you expect. Apps like Safari may be affected, causing them to run slowly or freeze up. Fortunately, macOS contains tools that can help you diagnose problems with your disk drives:

  1. Turn your Mac off completely.
  2. If you’re using an Intel Mac, power it up while holding down Command+R. When you see the Apple logo, you can let go.
  3. If your Mac has an Apple Silicon chip, press and hold the power button. Keep it held down until you see the startup options screen. Click Options > Continue.
  4. This will put your Mac in recovery mode. Select your account, then click Next. Enter your password.
  5. Choose Disk Utility > Continue. Select your Mac’s main system drive, and then click First Aid.
  6. Now click Run. If Disk Utility finds anything wrong with your hard drive or SSD, it’ll try to fix it.
Put your Mac into recovery mode, then open the Disk Utility tool. Click 'First Aid', then check your disk for possible issues.
Run Disk Utility's First Aid tool

Pro tip from us: 

 

Diagnosing hardware-related issues can be tricky, and the tools built into macOS can only take you so far. If you need more help, check out our Premium Services. We offer expert help, 24/7, for all your technical issues—not just those related to Macs.  

12. Free up disk space on your Mac

It’s never a good idea to let your Mac’s storage get too full. The less space you have, the more your computer will struggle, and that could be why Safari is lagging. Whether you have an iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Air, or any other Apple computer, an overflowing hard drive or SSD is a big no-no.

 

How do you free up space on your Mac? Just do as follows:

  1. In System Settings, go to General > Storage. Next to Applications, click the info icon.
  2. Click Last Accessed to sort the column and put the least used apps at the top. Select an app and click Delete.
  3. Click Delete to remove the app. Enter your password and click OK.
  4. Now, work your way through all the Storage settings like this, removing any files you don’t need.
In your Mac's System Settings, you'll find lots of ways to manage your storage. You'll find them under General > Storage.
Step 1. Select Storage in your System Settings
In the 'Applications' part of your Mac's storage settings, you can look at all the apps you have installed and see when they were last used and how big they are.
Step 2. Remove unneeded apps
Delete any apps that you haven't used for a long time, especially if they're taking up a lot of your Mac's storage space unnecessarily.
Step 3. Confirm removal of apps

How to prevent Safari from running slowly on Mac

Keeping Safari in top shape is crucial for a great web browsing experience. There are a few ways to make sure Safari doesn’t start running slow:

  • Avoid having too many open tabs.
  • Shut down unwanted apps and processes.
  • Cut down on the number of active extensions.
  • Occasionally clear your Safari cache.
  • Don’t let your Mac’s system drive get too full.
  • Keep your macOS and Safari up to date.

It’s also important to keep other apps up to date as well, as they can also potentially cause Safari to slow down. If you’re looking for an easy way to update your apps, try MacKeeper’s Update Tracker. It will update all your favorite apps with a single click, saving you time and effort.

Full steam ahead

It’s no fun having a slow web browser, so hopefully, one of the fixes in our guide has helped you to get Safari back up to speed. If you’re still struggling, then give MacKeeper a try. It’s packed with features that can help you identify and fix issues with your Mac, and its Update Tracker means you never need to worry about out-of-date apps slowing you down.

FAQ about Safari performance on Mac

1. How do I make Safari work better?

There are many different ways to improve Safari’s performance, including:

  • Clearing Safari’s cache
  • Removing unnecessary extensions
  • Resetting Safari’s preferences
  • Closing down unnecessary Safari tabs
  • Updating Safari and macOS
  • Changing your DNS servers
  • Configuring Safari’s autofill settings

2. Why is Safari being extremely slow?

If your Safari browser is slow, it might be caused by a slow internet connection. Check that first with a speed testing site. If that shows your internet connection is fine, then other causes for Safari to run slowly include:

  • Too many tabs being open
  • Lots of background processes holding back your system
  • Out-of-date apps
  • Problematic extensions
  • Too much cached data in Safari

3. How do I accelerate Safari settings?

To fix a slow Safari browser, you should:

  • Clear your Safari cache.
  • Close all unnecessary tabs.
  • Shut down any apps you’re not using.
  • Close background processes with Activity Monitor.
  • Update Safari and macOS.
  • Change your DNS settings.
  • Turn off or manage autofill.
  • Reset your Safari to factory settings.
  • Free up disk space on your Mac.
  • Run First Aid on your system drive.

4. How do I stop my Safari from lagging?

Ideally, you want to prevent Safari from ever getting slow in the first place. Some steps to follow:

  • Don’t open loads of tabs at once.
  • Shut down apps after you’re finished with them.
  • Don’t install loads of extensions.
  • Make sure to clear your Safari cache every now and then.
  • Try not to let your Mac’s storage get too full.
  • Make sure you keep macOS, Safari, and all other apps up to date.
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