How to Reset Safari on Mac to Default (Completely – Sonoma)

Last Updated on Aug 9, 2023

Safari is arguably the best web browser for MacBook and Mac computers. This may be attributed to the numerous improvements it has received over the years—especially in security and privacy. However, your Safari browser may start running slowly with time. 

This is often caused by the accumulation of junk and temporary files created by the browser over time. Resetting the browser clears such files, allowing it to run much faster. As you may be aware, the Safari browser on Mac no longer has a Reset button for this purpose. 

However, you can still reset the browser to its defaults by individually clearing the history, caches, plug-ins, and extensions on the browser. Get to know how you can reset the Safari browser on your Mac in just a few steps.

How Do I Reset Safari Browser?

Since the unveiling of the OS X Mountain Lion 10.8, Apple no longer adds a Reset button to the Safari browser. As such, you cannot just reset the Safari browser in a single click as you would other popular browsers.

Instead, you need to clear the following aspects individually:

  • The Browsing History
  • Website Data
  • Browser Cache 
  • Extensions 
  • Plug-ins 

Note: Clearing such temporary files on the Safari browser will cause you to lose important auto-fill data, including usernames and passwords. 

Here are the five things you need to do to reset the Safari browser on your Mac: 

Reset the Safari Cache 

Whenever you visit a web page, the browser saves the media files on that page as caches in a temporary folder—within the Library folder. Leveraging this saved information, Safari can reopen such web pages much faster.

While this is a beneficial functionality, these files accumulate over time and may occupy a significant amount of disk space. If not checked, this may slow or even cause the browser to crash. As such, it is advisable to clear your Safari browser cache as follows: 

Method 1: Clearing the Safari Cache from Its Preferences 

To clear the cache files from Safari preferences, proceed as follows: 

Step 1: Launch the Safari browser from the Launchpad on your Mac.
Step 2: Click on Safari—located towards the top-left corner of the browser homepage.
Step 3: Select Settings/Preferences from the drop-down menu that comes up.

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Open Safari Settings on Mac
Open Safari Settings on Mac

Step 4: Now navigate to the Advanced tab, then click on the checkbox adjacent to the Show Develop menu on the menu bar to enable it. This should display a Develop tab on the menu bar.

Turn on Web Developer Options on Mac
Turn on Web Developer Options on Mac

Step 5: Click on this Develop menu command and choose the Empty Caches for all Profiles option (macOS Sonoma added the Feature of Create Profile in Safari & Save Cache for Different Profile). 

Empty Caches for All Profiles on Safari
Empty Caches for All Profiles on Safari

Alternatively, you could also press the Command + E + Option key shortcut to clear the cache after enabling the Develop tab in Step 4 above. Once the Develop menu command is activated on your Safari browser, you can access it anytime you need to clear the cache. 

Method 2: Manually Clear Safari Cache 

If you are running macOS 10.14 or earlier macOS version on your Mac, you could also clear Safari Cache. These operating systems save all temporary files within the Library folder. To manually clear Safari Caches: 

Step 1: Open Finder Using Spotlight Search on Mac.

Open Finder on Mac
Open Finder on Mac

Step 2: From the top menu Go > Go to Folder.

Go to Folder in Finder Mac
Go to Folder in Finder Mac

Step 3: Navigate to  ~/Library/Caches hit the return and open the Caches folder.

Open Library Caches folders on Mac
Open Library Caches folders on Mac

Step 4: Delete Only Safari Cache folders, use the search box in the finder window > Select Caches folder > Select Folders and Move to the bin.

Note: Be careful while deleting files from the Library folder, as removing essential files may end up damaging the system. 

Delete Safari Caches from Mac Finder
Delete Safari Caches from Mac Finder

Or, select and then remove all the unnecessary files.

Clear All Safari Caches folder from Mac
Clear All Safari Caches folders from Mac

Clear Safari Browsing History 

Just as is the case with other browsers, Safari keeps a history of the web pages you have visited in the recent past. To reset Safari on Mac, you need to clear this History as well. To clear the Safari browsing history on Mac: 

Method 1: Manually Clear the Browsing History on Safari 

The first option is to just wipe the history out manually, as illustrated below: 

Step 1: From the Launchpad, open the Safari browser.
Step 2: From the Menu bar, select the History tab.

Clear History Options in Safari Mac
Clear History Options in Safari Mac

Step 3: Choose the Clear History option from the drop-down menu that appears.
Step 4: Now select the time frame to clear, it is advisable to clear all history

Clear All History on Mac
Clear All History on Mac

In Addition, we can clear the safari cache for specific profiles, Options showing ‘From‘. Select Profile and Clear Cache for Specific Profile.

Clear Safari History for Selected profile on Mac
Clear Safari History for the Selected Profile on Mac

Step 5: Finally, click on the Clear History button to initiate the process. 

Note: If you happen to have enabled Safari in iCloud settings under the same Apple ID, a change in your browser history will be reflected across your other Apple devices using the same ID. Deleting Safari’s browsing history on one device will automatically clear the browsing history on the other Apple devices logged in under the same Apple ID. 

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Method 2: Configure Safari to Clear Browsing History Automatically 

You could also set up the Safari browser in such a way that it automatically deletes your browsing history after a specified period. To do this: 

Step 1: Open the Safari app on your Mac and then open Safari Settings/Preferences.

Open Safari Settings on Mac
Open Safari Settings on Mac

Step 2: Navigate to the General Settings tab on your Safari browser.
Step 3: Select the Set up Remove history items option.

Remove Safari History Automatically on Mac
Remove Safari History Automatically on Mac

Step 4: Select your preferred clearing frequency for the automatic history removal.
Step 5: Once set up, Safari will automatically be clearing your browsing history after the period you selected. 

Select Duration to Clear History Automatically from Safari Mac
Select Duration to Clear History Automatically from Safari Mac

Reset Your Safari Website Data

Having cleared the cache and browsing history, now you should reset the website data to reset the Safari browser on Mac. To clear your Safari website data, you should: 

Step 1: Launch the Safari browser on your Mac.
Step 2: Click on Safari—towards the top-left corner of the Safari homepage.
Step 3: Select the Settings/Preferences option and then navigate to the Privacy tab. Next, click on Manage Website Data 

Manage Website Data on Safari Mac
Manage Website Data on Safari Mac

Step 4: before clicking Remove All—at the bottom-left corner.

Remove All Website Browsing Data from Safari Mac
Remove All Website Browsing Data from Safari Mac

Step 5: Finally, click on the Remove Now button to confirm this operation.

Remove All Stored Data from Safari Mac
Remove All Stored Data from Safari Mac

Reset, Uninstall, or Disable Safari Extensions and Plug-ins 

Both extensions and plug-ins add to the functionality of the Safari browser. However, some may malfunction and affect the functioning of the browser. When that happens, you need to troubleshoot and uninstall or disable problematic extensions or plug-ins. 

To fully reset Safari, you need to get rid of the extensions and plug-ins that have been added to the browser as well. 

To Remove Extensions on Safari: 

Launch the Safari browser then click on Safari—positioned on the top-left corner. Next, select the Settings/Preferences option then open the Extensions tab. This should display a list of extensions that are currently installed on Safari. Click on any one of them then click the Extensions button. 

Remove Safari Extension from Mac
Remove Safari Extension from Mac

Follow on-screen prompts to uninstall the extension. Repeat this for each extension until you have uninstalled all the extensions on this list. 

To Remove Safari Plug-Ins:

Launch the Safari browser, then click on Safari—on the top-left corner of the homepage. Select Preferences and then navigate to the Security tab. Click on the Allow Plug-ins option to untick it. 

How Do You Reset Safari on Mac Terminal?

If you fancy running some commands in Terminal, you can use this method to reset the Safari browser to default settings on Mac. If you’d rather use Terminal to reset Safari on Mac, here is how you should go about it: 

Step 1: Launch a new Terminal window on your Mac as follows: Applications > Utilities > Terminal 
Step 2: To avoid losing data, you could save your bookmarks before resting Safari. In this regard, you need to run the following command on the new Terminal window: 

cp ~/Library/Safari/Bookmarks.plist ~/Desktop/Bookmarks.plist

Step 3: You can now begin resetting Safari by force quitting the browser. To do this, run the following command on the Terminal: 

killall Safari;

Step 4: With this method, you also need to clear Safari cookies, Cache, and folders to reset the browser. You can do that by running the following commands, one after the other, on your Mac Terminal: 

rm -Rf ~/Library/Cookies/*;

Press the Return key to run the command. 

rm -Rf ~/Library/Cache/*;

Hit the Return key to run it.

rm -Rf ~/Library/Safari/*;

Press Return to run this command. 

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Step 5: Now that you’ve cleared your Safari cookies, cache, preferences, you can proceed to clear the more stubborn files. To accomplish this, run the following commands on your Mac Terminal, one after the other. 

Note: Remember to press the Return key after entering each of the commands into Terminal and them wait for it to execute before running the next command. 

These are the commands you should run to reset the Safari browser using Terminal: 

rm -Rf ~/Library/Caches/Apple\ -\ Safari\ -\ Safari\ Extensions\ Gallery; 
rm -Rf ~/Library/Caches/Metadata/Safari; rm -Rf ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.Safari; 
rm -Rf ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.WebKit.PluginProcess; 
rm -Rf ~/Library/Cookies/Cookies.binarycookies; 
rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/Apple\ -\ Safari\ -\ Safari\ Extensions\ Gallery; 
rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Safari.LSSharedFileList.plist; rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Safari.RSS.plist; 
rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Safari.plist; 
rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.WebFoundation.plist; 
rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.WebKit.PluginHost.plist; 
rm -Rf ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.WebKit.PluginProcess.plist; 
rm -Rf ~/Library/PubSub/Database; 
rm -Rf ~/Library/Saved\ Application\ State/com.apple.Safari.savedState;

Copy and paste each of the lines onto Terminal separately and run it before entering the next line. 

Step 6: At this point, the browser should have been successfully reset to factory settings. Now you can restore the bookmarks you saved in step #2 above. However, this step is optional. If you’d like to restore your saved bookmarks, run the filling commands: 

rm -Rf ~/Library/Safari/Bookmarks.plist;

Press Return to execute this command. Once your Mac is done running this command, copy and paste the following onto your Mac Terminal: 

cp ~/Desktop/Bookmarks.plist ~/Library/Safari/Bookmarks.plist;

Press Return to run this command. 

You have successfully reset Safari on Mac Terminal. Launch the Safari app and start afresh as though it was newly installed onto your Mac. 

Final Verdict 

With time, the temporary files created by Safari may accumulate on your Mac or become corrupted. This may cause the browser to malfunction. For instance, it may cause the browser to become slow and sluggish, or even crash. 

To fix such issues, you need to reset the browser to its default settings. Since Safari no longer has a built-in Reset button, you just have to do it manually. In this regard, you need to clear Safari preferences, extensions, plug-ins, cookies, and cache files separately. 

This may sound painstakingly slow, but this guide includes the commands you can use to reset Safari on Mac Terminal.

HowToiSolve Staff
HowToiSolve Staff

Jaysukh Patel is the founder of howtoisolve. Also self Professional Developer, Techno lover mainly for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and iOS, Jaysukh is one of responsible person in his family. Contact On: jaysukh.pharma@gmail.com [OR] admin@howtoisolve.com

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