Safari is one of the fastest browsers around, both on the desktop and mobile, but over time it can become a little clogged up. Keeping things ship-shape involves a touch of maintenance now and then, so here are a few tips to ensure that Safari stays as quick as it can be.
If you're experiencing problems with your Mac being sluggish overall, then you might also want to take a look at How to speed up a slow Mac guide. And there's also How to speed up a slow iPhone for those on iOS.
Safari on iOS
Reboot the app
The easiest solution for an underperforming app is often to shut it down and load it back up again. To do this, double-click on the Home button to bring up the recently used apps menu.
iPhone X users have a different method, which involves swiping the little bar at the bottom of the screen upwards then holding onto it until the recently used apps appear.
Now swipe up on Safari to close it. Tap the Home button once more to get back to the Home screen, or swipe up from the bottom on the iPhone X, then launch Safari. If things go well, it should now be back to its former glory.
Clear the History
One quick thing to try if you find your iPhone or iPad are struggling with Safari is to clear the history. As you use the browser it stores information about sites it visits, and this can build up over time. A good clean now again can improve performance and speed things up.
To clear the history, open the Settings app then scroll down until you find Safari. Tap on this, scroll down again, and you should see Clear History and Website Data written in blue.
Tap this, and when you see the popup menu appear select Clear History and Data.
With this done, launch Safari again and hopefully the sluggishness will have disappeared.
Close all the open tabs
In theory, the open tabs shouldn't affect things too much, as they are all kept in a suspended state when not selected. But, as is the way with electronic devices, sometimes closing them can return a happy surprise in terms of performance.
To shut down the old tabs, open Safari then tap and hold on the two squares in the bottom-right corner. A menu will appear, from which you should select Close All [X] Tabs.
Update to the latest version
Updating iOS is also another good idea, as Apple patches various problems that crop up in its apps, which could include anything that's wrong with Safari.
Go to Settings > General > Software Update, and see if there is a download available for iOS. If there is, tap the Download and Install option at the bottom of the screen.
It's worth remembering that Apples aren't the only fruit, so if you want to try out a different browser then it would worth reading our Best iPhone browsers guide.
Safari on macOS
Clear the cache
Just like on iOS, Safari stores information about sites you've visited. While this can make things speedy to begin with, after a while the bulk of information can become a drag factor.
Clearing the cache is a quick and easy way to remove some of the clutter that could be causing the snail-like performance.
Open Safari on your Mac, go up to the menu bar at the top of the screen and click on Safari. From the drop-down menu select Preferences.
Make sure the Advanced tab is selected on the window that appears, then click on the Show Develop menu in menu bar tick-box.
At the top of the screen you should now see an option for Develop. Click this and then from the drop-down menu select Empty Caches.
Reboot Safari and see if this has had the desired effect.
Update your extensions
Safari allows a number of plug-in programs that can add functionality to the browser. These can be ad-blockers, privacy protection, password managers, or a number of other things. Of course, the more parts there are in a system, the more things to go wrong.
Checking that your Extensions are up to date is a good way to avoid any pace-sapping problems.
Open Safari, click on Safari in the menu bar at the top of the page, then click on Preferences.
In the window that appears, select the Extensions tab.
In the lefthand column, you'll see a list of the Extensions you have installed, beneath which there will be a notification if you have any that require updating.
Click on the Updates notification and you'll see all of the ones now available displayed in the main pane. Click the Update button beneath each one's name and Safari will take care of the rest.
If this doesn't solve the problem then you can try disabling each Extension one by one to see if there's a rogue element hiding in your browser. To do this simply click the blue tick-box to the left of the Extension name in the lefthand column.
Just like the apps themselves, macOS needs to be kept up to date if things are to run smoothly. Open the App Store on your Mac and then click on the Updates tab in the menu along the top of the window.
If you see a listing for macOS (it's usually down as Software Update) then click on the grey Update button on the right side of the screen. You may need to restart your Mac afterwards, but then hopefully Safari will be a free-flowing beast once more.
Of course, if you fancy a complete change, then you should check out our Best Mac browser 2017 guide for a few alternatives.