My iOS 6 iPhone keeps losing its bookmarks, and then won't let me add any more! After a while Safari seems to fix itself. What's the best solution?
iOS 6 brought many benefits, but it had its share of issues too. Most have since been fixed - the worst Maps errors have disappeared, and the YouTube and Google Maps apps have been restored to the App Store - but one rare but persistent problem remains: iPhone users running iOS 6 sometimes find that all of their Safari bookmarks have vanished, and they can't add any new bookmarks either.
Hopefully Apple will address this in a future update (in iOS 7, at the very least) but in the meantime there are various workarounds that should bring back the Safari bookmarks on your iPhone. Don't worry - widespread experience of this common problem show that your bookmarks should be easily recoverable.
Only my iPhone's default bookmarks are left - what's Safari up to?
How to restore lost Safari bookmarks to your iOS 6 iPhone: Restart Safari
The simplest fix is to quit Safari, then restart it. Not the full device, just the app. Double-tap the Home button (just below the screen) and your recent apps tray should pop up from the bottom. This shows your four most recent apps (that are still running), and if you swipe your finger across from right to left, more running apps will appear too.
Since apps running in the background don't significantly affect the performance of your iPhone (at least until iOS 7 brings app multitasking), it's easy to end up with 30 or 40 apps running in the background, so keep swiping until you see Safari's app icon. If you were just running it, of course, it should be near the beginning.
Hold the icon for Safari for a couple of seconds, until it (and the other app icons) start wobbling; little red spots will also appear at the top left of each icon. To close an app, tap this red spot. So tap the red spot on the Safari icon. Now press the Home button again, to exit the recent app tray, and go back to normal usage. Find the Safari icon on your home screen and start it up again. If you had several web pages open these should open up too. Check your bookmarks folder - they should all be back.
How to restore lost Safari bookmarks to your iOS 6 iPhone: Restart the iPhone
If this doesn't work (our experience suggest that is generally will) you can try a restart of the whole device, which is a bit more long-winded. Press and hold the sleep/power button at the top-right of the iPhone until a 'Slide to Power off' slider appears. Do as it says.
After a moment to shut down, the iPhone will have completely powered off. Again, press and hold the sleep button at top-right until the iPhone starts up. Now open Safari and see where you are.
How to restore lost Safari bookmarks to your iOS 6 iPhone: Switch off iCloud syncing
Some users report that the problem seems to happen more often when they have ticked the option for Safari to sync its bookmarks with iCloud - the theory seems to be that bookmarks become inaccessible during the sync process. We haven't found this terribly helpful, but if you want to try everything, head to the Settings app, then scroll down and tap iCloud, then slide the Safari toggle from ON to OFF.
How to restore lost Safari bookmarks to your iOS 6 iPhone: Clear Safari's cache
One last solution that some users swear by is to clear Safari's cache. Go to Settings again, scroll down and tap Safari. Now tap 'Clear Cookies and Data'. Bear in mind that this some cookies are helpful, and you may find that some websites you visit regularly (and allow you to customise the browsing experience) have reverted back to the default settings; other autofills and similar may also need to be entered again.