Fix Safari Slow Page Loading Issue in Mac

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.

After trying out with multiple tricks, here are consolidated list of tips for improving the page loading speed with Safari.

How to Fix Safari Slow Loading Pages in Mac?

  1. Change DNS settings of your Mac
  2. Disable DNS prefetching
  3. Change IPv6 settings
  4. Cleanup Safari preferences file
  5. Clear browsing history
  6. Disable autofilling form data
  7. Check installed plugins
  8. Check browser extensions
  9. Cleanup your memory
  10. Chrome Vs Safari
  11. Check your network settings
  12. Keep the updated version
  13. Change search engine
  14. Reset network service order
  15. Use First Aid to check the drive for error

Let us discuss each option in detail.

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.

Clear your browser’s cache after changing the DNS server settings.

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

Learn more Safari tips to improve daily productivity.

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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.

Change IPv6 Settings in Mac
Change IPv6 Settings in 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.

Delete Safari Preferences File
Delete Safari Preferences File

Safari will automatically regenerate this preferences file when you open next time.

5. Clear History and Website Data

The older version of Safari has a exclusive option called “Reset Safari” to make the browser to its initial factory settings. But this option is removed and no more available in later versions. Now the resetting has lengthy process of removing the cache, history and other saved data.

The browsing history and cache from Safari may sometime causes 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.

In order to cleanup the cache, you should first enable “Develop” menu in Safari. Go to menu “Safari > Preferences” and navigate to “Advanced” section. Enable the checkbox “Show Develop menu in the menu bar” option. Learn more tips for developers in Safari.

Enable Developer Menu in Safari
Enable Developer Menu in Safari

Once the “Develop” menu is enabled, you can clear the cache by going to the menu item “Develop > Empty Caches”.

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.

Disabling AutoFill in Safari
Disabling AutoFill in Safari

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 “Help > Installed Plug-ins”. A new window will open showing all the list of installed plugins on your Safari. Unlike Safari version 10 and lower, you can manage the plugins for each site in Safari 11.

Related:  How to Use Google Chrome Address Bar for Search?

Go to the “Safari > Preferences” and then go to “Websites” tab. Under “Plug-ins”  section, choose the plugin and disable on the site your don’t want the plugin to work. Alternatively you can also “Remove” the plugin completely and check if that helps to load the pages fast.

Manage Plugins in Safari
Manage Plugins in Safari

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.

You can restore the plugin from trash if it does not resolve the page loading issue.

You can also disable all plugins to check the page loading speed and then enable one by one to find which plugin is causing the issue.

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.

Disable Extensions in Safari
Disable Extensions in Safari

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.

Memory Clean App for Mac
Memory Clean App for Mac

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.

Chrome Vs Safari on macOS
Chrome Vs Safari on macOS

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.
  • Ensure the site or any of the services on the site is not blocked in your country or by your ISP. For example, Google services are blocked in some countries and opening a webpage calling any of the Google services like fonts, JavaScript libraries, Google+ link may cause delay in loading the page. In this case Safari as a browser will not have any influence on slow page loading.
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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.

13. Change Search Engine

The default search engine in Safari will vary depending on your country. It is worth to change the default search engines to different one and check the page loading speed is getting affected. You can change the search engine by going to preferences and under the “Search” tab.

Change Search Engine in Safari
Change Search Engine in Safari

14. Change Network Service Order

The latest versions of MacBook does not have ethernet port, hence you only have Wi-Fi option. But on the older version, you still have ethernet and Wi-Fi. In this case, there could be connection problem when you connected to internet via both cable and wireless which may cause slow loading of webpages. You can decide which network you prefer when multiple networks are connected in your network settings.

Go to “Apple” icon on the left top corner and then to “System Preferences… > Network” section. First click on the lock pad saying “Click the lock to prevent further changes”, enter your admin password to enable editing. Select any of the network, click on the gear icon and click “Set Service Order” option.

Change Network Service Order in Mac
Change Network Service Order in Mac

You will see another popup screen in which you can drag the order of your network. After changing the order click “OK” button and then click “Apply” button to save the changes.

Drag to Change Order
Drag to Change Order

15. Check Error on SSD Drive

Low storage space not only slow down Safari but the entire Mac. So ensure to have sufficient storage space on your Mac. Besides the space, there could be errors on the volume which might cause glitches. Go to “Disk Utility” application and use the “First Aid” option to check the errors on your volume. It will also repair the errors so that you can check that helps to load the pages faster.

Use First Aid to Check Hard Disk
Use First Aid to Check Hard Disk

Wrapping Up

We hope one of the above mentioned solutions should fix Safari slow loading pages on your Mac. Also we strongly recommend to upgrade to the latest browser and OS versions. If nothing works out for you then try Chrome or Firefox as default browser.

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26 thoughts on “Fix Safari Slow Page Loading Issue in Mac”

  1. I’ve tried this and other procedures for speeding up Safari—without success—and finally found one the sped it up 500%. I changed the default search engine from Google to DuckDuckGo.

    Mostly, I don’t load pages from the URL (who does?) but via Google. And it’s Google that’s been slowing things down.

    Give a try.

    Reply
  2. I dont believe having chrome or any other browser on my computer with them not being open has any effect on safari. Agreed Chrome takes a lot more resources than safari but not if it is open so deleting them makes no sense.

    The worst problem is the latest firefox is much faster and uses less resources than safari. I open a folder every day with about 15 websites on it. Safari chokes on it, Firefox runs it with no problem. I can see the usage direclty via iStat.

    I want safari to work so im trying some of your ideas (ive tried the rest without any change to safari) like dns preloading. Hopefully they will help.

    Reply
  3. I had the same issue but a bug in Dropbox turned out the be the culprit. I had to limit Dropbox Upload bandwidth to 50KB (seems to go faster but nothing else works) to get any responsive network access at all. I’m on MacOS 10.13.6. Hope this helps anyone else.

    Reply
  4. Thanks, man. You solved my problem.
    I’ve switched to DuckDuckGo search engine and installed its Safari extension.
    After I had read your article, I went ahead and removed that extension. And everything is flying again!

    Thanks again!
    Cheers

    Reply
    • That’s always problems with third-party extensions on browsers. Sometimes they are not updated and not compatible with the browser causing slowness.

      Reply
  5. In the point number 10 you’ve been a bit inaccurate and didn’t include the calculations of the safari tabs, they are not marked as Google does Google Chrome Helper, but instead, those are just a links like the ones visible on the screenshot you’ve provided. I some test on my iMac 2012 and will agree that native Safari feels better and consumes 30% less compared to the Chrome.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your inputs. At the end, it is speed vs power and Chrome definitely loads the pages faster than Safari but consumes more power.

      Reply
  6. Just use Chrome. Its so much quicker than Safari its no comparison. Launches in a third the time. No stalls on loading web pages. No extensions problems with websites, compatible with YouTube. I switched a few years ago and never looked back.

    Reply
    • Already explained about Chrome in the article, it consumes resources compared to Safari. But for a normal usage you will not find any difference.

      Reply
      • Actually, right now I’m having better luck with Firefox. It’s not a hog like Chrome and it’s not getting hung up like Safari.

        The Safari thing is still annoying, though.

        Reply
  7. Apple also recommends upgrading router firmware or switching routers, and offers instructions for re-enabling DNS prefetching if a firmware update or router switch resolves the issue.

    Reply
  8. Thanks so much. I’ve been having this problem for a couple days. I really appreciate your help fixing it so I can get back to work! Kudos for you expertise.

    Reply
  9. My Macbook Air had similar problems loading images on certain websites like CNN and CNBC. Text would load with blank areas left for the missing images until they finally loaded as much as a minute later. I tried all of the techniques on this and other sites including loading a new copy of El Capitan (I did not wipe the drive first) with no success. I seem to have solved the problem by disconnecting from my Airport Extreme router and logging into a Personal Hotspot created with my iPhone 6S Plus. The sites loaded instantly when connected to my phone and continue to load instantly after I connected back to my Airport Extreme.

    This is pretty easy to try if anyone else is having similar problems. Note that my Mac Mini connected to the same Airport Extreme worked fine through the whole time so I have no idea why this happened or why it now works.

    Reply

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