CNET Reviews MacFixIt

April 16, 2007 3:00 AM PDT

Speeding up Safari: Reducing spinning pinwheels, other performance bottlenecks
by CNET staff
1 retweet Share

Safari is generally one of the fastest browsers for Mac OS X with regard to page rendering. Unfortunately, its also prone to significant slowdown -- including repeated stalls accompanied by the spinning pinwheel progress indicator, slow launch times, and more. There are a few procedures you can use to minimize the occurrence of stalls and eliminate other hindrances, improving the overall speed of Apple's Web browser. Slow launching Clean startup routines There are a number of routines Safari has to perform each time it is launched, and making sure there aren't excessive steps in these routines -by reducing the number of files in certain locations or periodically deleting some folders altogether -- can make for fewer bounces in the Dock. The ~/Library/Safari (the tilde [~] represents the current home user directory) folder is one of the locations you should check, because Safari checks it as well when launching. Here the browser stores bookmarks, recent downloads, form values, history and favicons, the small icons that appear next to the URL for some sites. Favicons, in particular, can cause sluggishness when starting Safari and when loading pages. Try dragging the folder Icons -- where these icons are cached -within the ~/Library/Safari folder to the trash and restarting Safari. Delete .plist file Another file that can be implicated in not only slow but also failed Safari launches is the application's property list (.plist) file, which is located here: ~/Library/Preferences/ . Try deleting it if you are experiencing slow launches, but note that you will lose some easily recoverable settings, such as whether or not tabbed browsing is enabled. Check for errant plug-ins Problematic plug-ins can impede Safari's launch time

The Reset Safari command deletes all personal information and can also clear some files responsible for slowness If you'd rather not invoke a full reset. See the section Plug-in inventory below. Though it's designed to speed loading of oft-visited Web pages when a slow . and others are all potential culprits. but may include lingering.. Safari Magic. Safari Extender. cookies and more -.. Just quit and relaunch One of the quickest. that this command also deletes your browser history. PithHelmet. personal data . other third-party add-ons can prevent Safari from launching quickly. Still. command first. search entries..then check for any speed improvement in Safari.. Inspect each product's documentation for uninstallation instructions. Remove third-party add-ons In addition to plug-ins. Stalls (spinning pinwheels) or slowness when loading pages Like slow launching. The causes for slowdown after extended operation are varied. it's a good initial cleansing step. These symptoms can also be the result of accumulated memory usage and other factors. albeit impermanent solutions for slowness in Safari (as noted by a number of readers) is to simply close then relaunch the browser. stalled or slow page loads can be due to problematic files stored within the Safari architecture. unnecessarily excessive memory usage. Reset Safari A blanket approach to deleting many of the potentially problem-causing items is the Reset Safari.significantly.that you may not want to clear.such as stored login passwords. After removing all third-party add-ons. Note. try using the Empty Cache. you may want to restart your Mac -. some system processes can linger after file deletion -. however. command. available under the Safari menu in Safari.

Change permissions for the ~/Library/Safari/Icons folder by navigating to ~/Library/Safari/ . Drag the ~/Library/Safari/Icons folder to the trash. If you find that routinely deleting the contents of this folder is a drag. you can permanently disable their storage.connection is present. Drag the folder: ~/Library/Safari/Icons to the trash and and relaunch Safari for a potentially significant speed improvement. in effect blocking Safari from writing anything to that location. clicking the Icons folder. name it "Icons" and drag it to the ~/Library/Safari/ folder. a full cache actually generally has a degrading effect on the speed of broadband connections. Monitoring resource usage MacFixIt reader Craig Collins suggests using a utility like MenuMeters to keep tabs on Safari's usage of memory. Plug-in inventory Safari plug-ins can cause slowness for a variety of reasons. Go to the Safari menu within Safari. in addition to causing slow launching (as aforementioned in Slow Launching) can significant delays in loading pages. Clear favicons Favicons. clicking the Icons folder. processor time and other system resources when visiting specific sites. Deselect Enable plug-ins . then create a new blank text file in TextEdit or another application. Under Ownership & Permissions change the You can setting to Read Only. and select Preferences 2. then do one of the following: Lock the ~/Library/Safari/Icons folder by navigating to ~/Library/Safari/ . First clear the contents of the aforementioned folder. Check the Locked box under General. then selecting Get Info from the File menu. The easiest way to check if a plug-in is culpable in your particular case of sluggishness is to do the following: 1. Click on the Security tab 3. then selecting Get Info from the File menu. and you don't care to display favicons at all.

AutoFill clutter Safari can stall when loading pages with forms (or even pages without forms) due to bottlenecks caused by the AutoFill function.4. you may periodically want to click the Edit button next to Other Forms in the same preference tab and delete some or all of the entries (sites for which Safari will attempt to use AutoFill). then again restart Safari and check for speed improvement. try going to the Safari menu within Safari. and select Preferences. If you choose to leave AutoFill options turned on. a plug-in may be to blame. If you are noticing particular slowness on pages with forms. If so. Look in the folders: /Library/Internet Plug-Ins and ~/Library/Internet Plug-Ins . . Remove any extraneous items you think might be causing the slow-down. Restart Safari. Turn off some or all of the options and check for persistence of the slowdown. and see if the slowness is gone. then click on the AutoFill tab.

Select our currently used interface (Ethernet. then powering it back on.) from the Show: menu.) on several different sites for consistent slowness. Press the Apply Now button. Here are a few quick fixes you can try in this scenario: Power cycle your network access device (Cable/DSL modem) If you are using a DSL or cable connection. We have a zero-tolerance policy for performance regressions. etc. In order to change this setting. try simply powering off your modem. etc.Clearing AutoFill clutter is particularly useful for otherwise inexplicable. then the person responsible must either back the patch out of the tree or drop everything immediately and fix the regression. Doing so can noticeably speed up network access. a bottleneck affecting all Mac OS X networking may be to blame. We adhere to a simple directive for all work we do on WebKit: The way to make a program faster is to never let it get slower. As stated in the WebKit documentation: "Performance is a top priority for WebKit. If a patch lands that regresses performance according to our benchmarks.. use these steps: 1. waiting a few minutes. Click on the TCP/IP tab.. AirPort.' click on it and change the setting to Off. repeated spinning pinwheel progress indicators Use nightly WebKit builds Though it may lead to decreased stability and other problems. 3. The easiest way to determine whether or not your problem lies with general network speed is a cursory check in other browsers (Firefox. 4. . At the bottom if you see a button which says Configure IPv6. you can replace the WebKit foundation (which is used by Safari and other Mac OS X applications to render Web pages) that is shipped as part of Mac OS X with the latest build available form the WebKit Open Source Project. Open System Preferences and click on the Network pane 2. Toggle IPv6 One of the easiest things to try for general network slowness is toggling your IPv6 setting." Check for overall network slowness If you've exhausted the above options and still don't think Safari is performing up to par.

etc. 3.) from the Show: menu. Select our currently used interface (Ethernet. Try changing your DNS servers via the following process: 1. the second two are from the Open Root-Server Confederation. Here are some choices -.67. AirPort.67. Enter the desired DNS numbers in DNS Servers: field on separate lines (you can have multiple DNS servers listed).220. 208.220 . Click on the TCP/IP tab. 4. Open System Preferences and click on the Network pane 2.Change DNS servers The DNS (Domain Name System) servers your ISP uses by default may have slow response times for various reasons.222.222 208.the first two are from OpenDNS.

As the name implies.1 4.199. MTU is measured in bytes. 5.2. for instance) or use these instructions to manually enter your own ISP's DNS numbers. which may provide a speed boost in some cases.166. so experiment with varied groups and check for any increase in speed Change MTU setting Another potential method for boosting network throughput involves modigying the MTU (maximum transmission unit) packet size setting.166. MTU refers to the largest data packet that can be carried over your network pipe.3 You can also try using DNS numbers from different ISPs (4.10 199.2. so a setting of "1500" would equal roughly 1.2. you can use several individual DNS numbers. click the Apply Now button. After entering the desired DNS numbers.2. setting the MTU at different levels can have a .2 belong to Qwest. For various reasons.31.45 KB per packet. Again.28.

MULTICAST mtu 1500 en0 is the designation for a given network interface -. enter the following command in the Terminal (located in /Applications/Utilities): ifconfig -a You should see output of which a portion looks like: en0: flags=8863 the above case. 5. If you have an Ethernet-based connection.SMART.RUNNING. click Apply Now then test your network setting . setting the MTU is straightforward: 1. a built-in AirPort card. Click the Ethernet tab and choose Manually from the Configure menu. Choose Built-in Ethernet from the Show menu 3. Click the button next to Custom and enter your desired MTU. so it's worth experimenting in order to determine what works best for your particular set-up. Open the Network pane of System Preferences 2.SIMPLEX. To check the current MTU setting of any currently network interfaces. After entering the MTU. 4.dramatic effect on your Internet access speed.BROADCAST.

You will be prompted for an administrator password after entering this command. but it may be eno0 or en2 depending on your specific configuration. 1490. e. Note that en1 is the default for most AirPort cards. first log in as administrator.If you have a wireless (AirPort or other) network. then open the Terminal (located in Applications/Utilities) and enter the following command: sudo ifconfig en1 mtu SIZE where SIZE is the MTU setting you desire.g. Use the terminal command ifconfig -a as aforementioned to get a map of network ports. Here are some good MTU numbers to test right away: 1500 (the general standard for Ethernet connections) 1492 (usually the maximum for DSL-based PPPoE connections) 1450 1300 .

Alternatively. For instance: Bookmark menu If you notice that your bookmarks menu takes an abnormally long time to appear. Miscellaneous slowness Functions other than launching and page loading can be slow in Safari. and click it once more to rename it (as you would a file in the Finder). so keep testing your network speed after modifying the setting even slightly. The second. Resources More from Tutorials .Large variances in speed can occur with changes as small as 25 bytes. is to shorten the names of your bookmarks. and usually more useful. Like what you've found in this tutorial? Get more troubleshooting guidance (updated daily) by subscribing to MacFixIt Pro. Feedback? Late-breakers@macfixit. there are a two relatively obvious fixes. AirPort performance If you're using an AirPort connection. check our wireless troubleshooting tutorial for tips on increasing the speed of your The first is to reduce your number of bookmarks or organize them into a smaller number of folders. hold the control key and click a bookmark (or rightclick) then select Edit Name from the resulting contextual menu. Select Show All Bookmarks from the Bookmarks menu in Safari. then click on the desired bookmark to select it.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful