Safari is a browser app that comes with iPhone as part of iOS. This is a default browser iPhone to open links from Mails, Messages and other apps. Though Safari offers useful features like tab grouping, voice search and extensions, the problem comes with the loading speed of webpages. If you are stuck with slow Safari on iPhone, here are some options to improve the performance of the app.
Note: Similar to iPhone, MacBook also comes with a Safari browser app as part of macOS. If you are looking for improving Safari performance in Mac, then check this article.
Safari Settings Page in iPhone
iOS offers a backend page for each app where you can finetune available settings and optimize performance of the app. You can access the Safari browser’s settings page by tapping on “Settings” app and then navigating to “Safari” section. Most of the below explained fixes are available within Safari settings page, though few settings can be accessed within the app or from other locations. Hence, we recommend you going through the Safari settings page and understand the functions before tweaking.
1. Close All Open Tabs – Auto Schedule or Manual
Closing all open tabs is one of the first things to do when you notice the browser loads webpages slowly. Most smartphone users continue to open new tabs and access webpages without closing previously opened tabs. Though Safari will work fine with 20 to 30 open tabs, it will either crash or work slow when you have more than 30 tabs. Unfortunately, simply closing the app will not close open tabs and they will be in open state when you launch the browser again. The problem is that Safari will try to refresh the webpage on the open tab whenever you launch the app. This will not only slow down the performance but also waste your time in viewing same old page which you have already visited. You have the following two options to deal with open tabs:
- Manually closing tabs – simply tap on the tabs icon in Safari and close all your open tabs.
- Scheduling automatic closure of tabs – go to Safari settings page and tap on “Close Tabs” option showing under “Tabs” section. Select one of the schedules from the list as “After One Day”, “After One Week” or “After One Month”. This will automatically close all your open tabs and keep the browser clean as per the selected schedule.
2. Restart the Browser and iPhone
Restarting is one of the unharmful solution that you can try with any software problems.
- Restart Safari – when you are in Safari app, swipe up from the bottom to open App Switcher. Hold and move the Safari screen up to close the app. Remember, this will not close open tabs and you should follow the above-mentioned methods for closing your open tabs.
- Restart iPhone – go to “Settings > General > Shut Down” and swipe the “Slide to power off” button to shut down your iPhone. After that, press and hold the side power button to restart.
3. Disable Experimental Features
Apple silently enables some experimental features with Safari app in iPhone. Though these are experimental features, most of them are enabled by default. Go to Safari settings page, scroll down to the bottom and tap on “Advanced” option. Tap on “Experimental Features” and disable all or the suspected items. Do not worry if it creates some problem, you can scroll down to bottom of the “Experimental WebKit Features” page and select “Reset All to Defaults” option. This will help to reset all the features like before.
4. Disable Safari Suggestions and Preload
Getting automated suggestions can easily annoy when you type in Safari app. For example, preloading option will force Safari to check in your history and bookmarks whenever you try to open a website in the address bar. This will slow down the browser when you have huge list of reading list, bookmarks and history. You can try disabling the following automated suggestions from Safari settings page and check whether it helps to load pages faster.
- Search Engine Suggestions
- Safari Suggestions
- Preload Top Hit
5. Stop Processes Running in Background
The processes running in background can easily affect the entire performance of your iPhone. It could be an app download from other device, an app update or a content refresh in apps. For example, if an app with 1GB size is getting updated in the background, obviously it will affect the performance of other apps like Safari which you may be using in the frontend. You can disable automatic updates and background app refresh using the following instructions:
- Automatic App Downloads – go to “Settings > App Store” and disable “Automatic Downloads” for apps and app updates. Also make sure this option is disabled for “Cellular Data” for saving your mobile data usage.
- Background App Refresh – go to “Settings > General > Background App Refresh” section and choose “Off” for “Background App Refresh” option.
6. Delete Browsing History
- When you are in Safari settings page, scroll down and tap on “Clear History and Website Data” option. You will see a pop-up from bottom and select “Clear History and Data” to confirm deleting all cached data from the browser.
- Tap on “Advanced” option and then select “Website Data” to view all stored website data in Safari. Generally, clearing browsing history will delete all these data as well. Otherwise, you can tap on “Remove All Website Data” option to delete them manually.
Remember, deleting history or website data will NOT delete your bookmarks, reading list or passwords. However, you may feel the websites are loading slower when opening first time as the browser needs to request all static files from the server without previously stored cache. This will come to normal when you start using the browser visiting your favorite pages. In addition, you can also use private browsing mode to speed up webpage loading time in Safari.
7. Run Software Update
As mentioned, Safari is part of iOS and gets the update along with the iOS updates. Sometimes, Apple will release bug fixes for Safari app as part of the iOS release. Go to “Settings > General > Software Update” section and check whether you have any pending updates. You can read the release notes to understand if the release has any Safari related fixes. Tap on “Download and Install” option to get the latest iOS version and check if that helps to improve the performance of Safari app.
Remember, it works other way round that sometimes an iOS update can affect the performance of Safari app. This is especially the case with the release of major iOS versions where the app will get new features. Make sure to disable automatic iOS update and always wait for a week time to get feedback from users whenever Apple releases new iOS versions. If there are any major problems, Apple will release a patch immediately and you can update the iOS after understanding there are no major glitches to default apps.
8. Reset Network Settings
Sometimes, resetting your network settings can help to speed up the browsing in Safari.
- Go to “Settings > General” section.
- Tap on “Transfer or Reset iPhone” option.
- Select “Reset” option and then select “Reset Network Settings” from the list.
- Enter your passcode and wait for the process to complete.
This will reset all your network related settings like Wi-Fi password. Therefore, make sure to keep the password ready for reconnecting again.
9. Change to Public DNS
Resetting network and deleting browsing history will help to fix the Safari problems from your side. However, this will not fix if your ISP filter the browsing or using corrupted DNS setup. Since iPhone by default uses DNS from your ISP, any problem at the ISP end will impact your browsing experience also. The best solution to overcome ISP related problems is to change the default ISP provided DNS and public DNS from Google or OpenDNS.
- Open “Settings” app and tap on “WLAN” option.
- Tap on your Wi-Fi network that is currently connected.
- Scroll down on the page and select “Configure DNS” option.
- By default, this should have “Automatic” setting and select “Manual” option.
- Delete existing DNS servers and tap on “Add Server” option.
- Add 126.96.36.199 and then 188.8.131.52 (these are Google Public DNS server IPs) and tap on “Save” option showing on top right corner of the screen.
Now open Safari and check if the webpages are loading faster with new DNS servers. Similarly, you can tap on “Configure IP” and change to static IP address which you can obtain from your ISP.
10. Use Proxy or VPN
If your ISP really throttles or blocks websites or services, it could make Safari slower. For example, countries like China completely blocks services from Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. In this case, opening a page with a YouTube video will load forever till the time the request for video times out. The solution here is to use a proxy server or VPN app to unblock the free internet.
- Proxy – when you are on the Wi-Fi settings page, scroll down to bottom and tap on “Configure Proxy” option. On the next screen, enter your proxy server details and save the changes.
- VPN – you can find plenty of reliable VPN apps in App Store. For example, ExpressVPN is a premium app which you can try to unblock free internet. When you open the app, it will install the configuration profile and allow you to bypass the ISP connection.
11. Blocks Ads and Trackers with Content Blockers
Nowadays, almost all websites use advertisements, analytics and social tracking. The problem is that all these features will slow down the browser and affect the loading time, Fortunately, Safari app will automatically block trackers and show you the privacy report on the home page whenever you open app.
If you want to block advertisements, then you can use reader mode or use ad block extensions from App Store. These extensions will use content blockers feature in Safari and help to block intruding ads on the pages thus speed up the browsing experience.
We hope the above options helped to fix slow Safari on iPhone and speed up your browser. it is a good idea to schedule automatic closure of tabs and delete browsing history in regular intervals. If none of the above options work, then you can try resetting the iPhone as a last resort. This will delete all your customizations and reset the phone to factory settings. So, do this only if you are prepared to setup your iPhone from the scratch. Otherwise, you can always switch the default browser to Google Chrome, Firefox or Edge and remove the Safari app from your phone.