Speed Up Safari in macOS and Fix Slow Loading Webpages
Safari is the default browser on macOS for browsing and viewing certain type of web files like CSS. The performance of Safari will be very good when the Mac is new but over the period of time undoubtedly the pages will start loading very slowly. Notably the same page loading slow in Safari will load very fast on other browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox on the same Mac.
1. Change DNS
Though DNS servers are not directly related to the browser as such, one of the main reasons for slow page loading is the caching problems due to DNS servers. Safari obtains DNS servers from your ISP’s through default settings. You can change the DNS servers to any reliable public servers like Google Public DNS servers and try loading the page again. Learn more about changing DNS in macOS.
2. Switch Off DNS Prefetching
Besides DNS servers, Safari also do DNS prefetching to resolve the domain names to IP addresses for all resources on a webpage. For example, if a page has 10 links and 3 images, then Safari proactively will try to get the server IP address of each of the links and images (10 + 3). This will help to load the links and images faster if clicked upon, but may cause slow loading of the current page you are trying to view. So you can disable the DNS prefetching option and check whether the page can be loaded faster. In Mac the DNS prefetching needs to be disabled using “Terminal” application as explained below:
Open “Terminal”, paste the below command and press enter.
defaults write com.apple.safari WebKitDNSPrefetchingEnabled -boolean false
This will disable DNS prefetching and you can enable it anytime later using the command:
defaults delete com.apple.safari WebKitDNSPrefetchingEnabled
3. Change IPv6 Settings
Generally the IPv6 is configured as “Automatically” which you can change to “Link-local only” and check the page speed. You can change the IPv6 settings under “System Preferences > Network > Advanced > TCP/IP > Configure IPv6“. You should have admin access to access advanced network settings on a Mac.
4. Delete Safari Preferences File
Safari uses preferences file to control the settings and the corrupted preferences file may also cause slow loading of web pages. You can delete the file and check whether the pages can be loaded faster. In order to delete the preferences file, launch “Finder”, press “Command + Shift + G” and go to “~/Library/Preferences” folder. Find the file “com.apple.Safari.plist” and delete it.
5. Clear History and Website Data
One of the simple option is to clear all browsing history and cache from Safari which sometimes cause slow page loading. You can clear the history under the menu “History > Clear History…”.
Webpages will tend to load slower after cleanup the history as the cached scripts and CSS files are removed from the temporary browser storage. Hence, conclude the speed after using sometime instead of deciding immediately after clearing the history.
6. Disable AutoFill
AutoFill enables you to store the data like usernames and password and fetch them when the page is loaded on Safari. You can disable this feature by navigating to “Safari > Preferences” and disable all AutoFill web forms options under “AutoFill” tab.
7. Check Your Plugins
Plugins are external program affecting Safari’s behavior thus have a chance to slow down the performance. Check installed plugins by navigating to the menu “Safari > Preferences”. Go to the “Security” tab and under “Internet plug-ins” click on “Website Settings…” button. If you see warning and alert messages then you can update or delete the plugin.
In order to delete any plugin causing issues go to “Finder” and press “Command “Shift + G” to open “Go to folder” box. Enter “~/Library/Internet Plug-ins” where you will find all the active plugins. Right click on the plugin and click “Move to Trash” option to delete it.
8. Check Your Extensions
Extensions are also external programs similar to plugins altering the behavior of Safari browser. Go to “Safari > Preferences” to view and manage all your extensions. You can also disable all extensions and re-launch Safari to check the page loading speed.
9. Check Memory Usage
All applications including Safari will be slow when your Mac is running out of memory. There are free apps to check the memory consumption and release the locked memory. Dr. Cleaner and Memory Clean are two such apps you can download freely from App Store. These apps will also show which applications consuming more memory so that you can close that when you are using Safari.
10. Chrome Vs Safari
Google Chrome is undoubtedly a wonderful browser on Windows based platforms. But on Mac it is popular for consuming more resources and slowing down the performance. Especially when you have Chrome and Safari installed on your Mac, you can expect the dead performance from Safari. As Safari is a platform dependent browser only works on Apple platforms, we highly recommend using it as a default browser on your Mac. Delete any other browsers like Google Chrome and restart the Mac to give a try on Safari. Below is the “Activity Monitor” status showing the memory usage of Chrome and Safari when the same webpages are opened.
11. Check Your Network
Sometimes the slow network could be the root cause for slowing things down:
- Check your router works properly by removing the power cable and restarting.
- Check with your ISP whether they had done any changes in network settings.
12. Keep the Updated Safari and macOS Version
Above all the points, ensure to update the OS and Safari to the latest versions. The latest macOS High Sierra with Safari v11.0 has additional options to improve the performance of page loading compared to previous versions. For example, Safari v11.0 will stop the automatic playing videos with audio which essentially will improve the loading speed of the pages with embedded videos.