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.
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 the suggestions in this guide to get Safari running smoothly on Mac again:
In this article you will find the following:
- How to speed up Safari on Mac
- Check if your internet's slow
- Close unnecessary tabs in Safari
- Shut down apps and resource-intensive processes
- Disable unnecessary Safari extensions
- Switch DNS servers for Wi-Fi and Ethernet
- Clear the Safari cache and cookies
- Reset Safari to factory defaults
- Boot your Mac into Safe Mode
- Full steam ahead
Before you start
If you want to speed up Safari on Mac quickly, download MacKeeper. It's an Apple-notarized maintenance utility that helps prevent browser slowdowns and other Mac-related issues.
MacKeeper lets you free up the RAM, delete unwanted Safari extensions, get rid of junk files, and more with considerably less hassle than manual maintenance. You get one fix for free, so don't hesitate to check if it works for you.
Check if your internet's slow
If webpages in Safari take too long to load or fail, it's a good idea to begin by figuring 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.
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 determine if you're dealing with a server outage.
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.
Shut down apps and resource-intensive processes
Tabs aside, Safari will run slowly on the Mac if you have too many applications open. 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.
On the other hand, various apps and related processes can spin out of control and consume too much processing power and memory. Use the Activity Monitor to locate and stop them.
1. Open the Launchpad and select Other > Activity Monitor
2. Sort your Mac's activity using the % CPU column and shut down any third-party processes that use a significant amount of CPU
3. Switch to the Memory tab and stop third-party items that use lots of RAM
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.
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.
- Open Safari and select Safari > Preferences on the menu bar
- Switch to the Extensions tab
- Clear the boxes next to any extensions you want to disable
You must also update your Safari extensions periodically via the Mac's App Store to ensure they run in top shape. If you notice anything suspicious, learn how to remove malicious browser extensions and toolbars from your Mac.
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. Not all DNS providers are fast, so changing your Wi-Fi or Ethernet's DNS settings to a popular service like Google DNS can speed up Safari on Mac. For best results, clear the DNS cache on your Mac before you begin.
1. Open the Apple menu and select System Preferences
2. Select the Network category
3. Select Wi-Fi/Ethernet > Advanced
4. Switch to the DNS tab
5. Enter the following:
6. Select OK > Apply to save your changes.
Clear the Safari cache and cookies
- Open Safari and select Safari > Preferences on the menu bar
- Switch to the Advanced tab and check the box next to Show Develop menu in menu bar
- Select Develop on the menu bar and pick the Empty Caches option
Corrupt, outdated, or privacy-invasive browser cookies can also slow down Safari. If deleting the Safari cache didn't make much difference, try deleting its cookies next.
- Select Safari > Clear History on the menu bar
- Set Clear to All history
- Select Clear
Update the Safari browser
Safari receives occasional bug fixes and performance enhancements from Apple, and these arrive alongside regular macOS updates.
To update your Mac:
- Open the Apple menu and select System Preferences
- Select Software Update
- Wait until the Software Update tool checks for newer macOS updates and select Update Now to install any pending updates
Even if a new macOS update doesn't include anything Safari-related, installing it will still improve general performance across native apps. Make it a point to install macOS updates as soon as possible.
Reset Safari to factory defaults
Corrupt browser preferences and other underlying issues can also play a factor, so sometimes, the only way to fix a slow instance of Safari on Mac is to reset it to factory defaults.
A Safari reset deactivates all extensions and reverts each browser setting to its defaults, allowing you to start over with a clean slate. You will not lose your bookmarks or passwords during the process.
1. Save your work and exit Safari
2. Open Finder, select Go > Go to Folder on the menu bar, and visit the ~/Library/Preferences/ directory
3. Search for com.apple.Safari.plist file and delete it
4. Reopen the Go to Folder box and visit ~/Library/Safari/. Then, delete each item within the folder except the Bookmarks.plist file
5. Visit ~/Library/Containers/, search for Safari, and delete all files and folders that appear among the search results
6. Open Safari and visit its Preferences pane to reactivate any essential extensions. Also, move between tabs and modify your browser settings the way you want
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.
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, you must:
- Shut down your Mac
- Turn it on but keep holding the Power button until you get to the Startup Options screen
- Hold the Shift key and select Macintosh HD > Safe Mode
In Safe Mode, repeat the fixes above if you could not 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.
Full steam ahead
Keeping Safari in top shape is crucial for a great web browsing experience. Avoiding too many open tabs, shutting down unwanted apps and processes, and cutting down on the number of active extensions can go a long way toward making that happen. Occasionally clearing the Safari cache and keeping your Mac up-to-date will significantly minimize browser slowdowns and other issues. If manual Mac maintenance feels like a drag, don't forget to download MacKeeper.