If you’ve opened up your iPhone – or your Mac – this morning only to find that Safari crashing before you can visit a webpage, well, you’re not alone. Here’s what’s going on and how to fix it.
The Internet was awash in buzz about Safari this morning, and for good reason – if you woke up to find your web browser constantly crashing every time you tried to visit a webpage, well, you’d be cranky, too.
What’s making Safari crash?
It’s related to the browser’s search suggestions – you know, those automatic search results that appear below the address bar when you start typing. You might have seen screenshots of Google results floating around the web:
PDF: The world’s fourth most popular religion.
In Safari’s case, these search results are filtered through one of Apple’s servers. The Safari Suggestions API takes your address bar query, finds relevant search results, and lists them right below the box where you started typing – it’s often a quick way to get directly to where you want to go, without having to go through Google first.
After reading through several hundred comments on Reddit’s /r/Apple subreddit, it appears that somewhere along the line, this communication is breaking down – likely because one of Apple’s servers is down, though this is currently conjecture.
It’s worth noting that while many users noticed the issue after updating their iPhones to the latest iOS update, this problem actually has nothing to do with the software upgrade: it’s affecting users across multiple platforms.
How to fix Safari’s crashing on search results?
Fortunately, there’s an easy fix you can enable without having to wait for Apple to fix whatever issue is happening on their end. All it takes is to disable Safari’s automatic search suggestions. You can do it on both iOS as well as OS X, just by digging around in the browser’s settings.
To fix the issue on the iPhone, you’ll need to go into your iPhone Settings app. Scroll down to the fifth group and look for the listing that says Safari on it. Tap on it, and you’ll find yourself on Safari’s individual settings screen.
The top of the preferences are all related to Safari’s search features, and it’s here where you’ll find the right setting to change. Look for the option that says “Safari Suggestions” (remember how we mentioned the Safari Suggestions API earlier?) – to its right, you’ll see a toggle. Make sure it’s toggled off. That means it should be grey instead of green.
Once you’ve turned that off, restart Safari and start entering queries. You should find that the browser won’t be crashing anymore.
Safari on OS X works in a pretty similar fashion, and so does the fix for the recent crashing issues.
You can access Safari’s settings two different ways – you can click on the Safari entry in the bar on the top of the screen, then find and click on the Preferences menu item. See the little symbol to the right? It shows that you can also access the Preferences for Safari with a keyboard shortcut. Just press the Command and comma keys (⌘ + , ) at the same time, and you’ll see the Preferences pane appear. As an aside, this works for just about any app on OS X; it isn’t limited to Safari.
Once you’ve got your Preferences window on the screen, look for the magnifying glass in the row of icons and click on it. It’ll read Search beneath the icon. This opens up Safari’s OS X Search settings. The second group of options center around Safari’s Smart Search Field, which everyone else calls an address bar. See the option that reads Include Safari Suggestions? You’ll want to make sure that the checkbox for that option is unchecked. Then, restart your browser and you should be good to go.
You may or may not notice Safari’s smart suggestions, or rather, the lack thereof, but they do come in handy. At some point the situation will resolve itself, so you should remember to turn the Safari Suggestions back on sometime later this week.