How to Factory Reset Your Browser on Mac Featured Image

How to Factory Reset Your Browser on Mac: Safari, Chrome, and Firefox

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Last updated: October 18, 2023

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TL;DR

To factory reset your browser on Mac, you must follow specific steps for each browser. Resetting Safari involves clearing history, cache, and cookies, removing extensions, deleting bookmarks, and removing plug-ins. Advanced users can also use Terminal commands to reset Safari.

To reset Chrome, click the three dots > Settings > Reset settings > Restore settings to their original defaults > Reset Settings. To reset Firefox, click the three horizontal lines > Help > More troubleshooting information > Refresh Firefox twice.

Key Points

  • Resetting browsers boosts performance, fixes errors, removes malware, declutters data, and restores default settings.
  • The process clears cache, cookies, history, disables extensions, reverts settings, and may delete bookmarks and passwords.
  • It’s crucial to back up essential data before proceeding, as a reset will erase personalized settings and saved information.

Ever felt your browser acting like it’s dragging a ton of bricks? Clogged with data, or just misbehaving? Just as you occasionally need a fresh start, so does your browser.

Whether you’re a Safari surfer, a Chrome cruiser, or a Firefox flyer, this concise guide is your quick fix to factory reset your browser on Mac. Let’s get started and get your Mac browsers to perform better.

Why Factory Reset Your Browser on Mac?

Browsers are prone to accumulating clutter over time. And just as our physical spaces benefit from periodic decluttering, our digital spaces need occasional refreshing, too.

Here’s why you might consider a factory reset for your browser on Mac:

  1. 🚀 Enhanced Performance: Over time, excessive cache, cookies, and browsing history can slow down your browser. A reset can make your browsing experience smoother and faster.
  2. 🔧 Fix Glitches: Encountered unexpected crashes, rendering issues, or unresponsive pages? Resetting can resolve such unexplained errors.
  3. 🛡️ Security: Malware and unwanted extensions can compromise your browser. Starting fresh eliminates potential threats.
  4. 🕵️ Simplified Troubleshooting: Not sure if an extension is causing an issue? Resetting provides a clean slate, making it easier to pinpoint problems.
  5. 📚 Data Overload: Overloaded bookmarks, saved passwords, and filled auto-forms can be overwhelming. Begin anew for a more organized digital experience.
  6. 🌱 Fresh Experience: If you’ve tinkered too much with settings and are missing the default browsing experience, a reset can take you back to the browser’s original state.

Remember, while a factory reset offers numerous advantages, backing up vital data is essential, as the process will erase your personalized settings and saved information.

What Happens When You Reset Your Browser on Mac?

Resetting your browser is like giving it a digital detox. But what exactly happens under the hood when you hit that reset button? Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty:

  1. 🌪️ Cache Clearing: All the cached images, files, and site data that browsers store for faster loading get wiped out. This means websites might take slightly longer to load the first time post-reset.
  2. 🍪 Cookie Cleanup: All cookies are deleted. You’ll need to re-login to sites where you were previously auto-logged in.
  3. 📜 History Erasure: Your browsing history, including the websites you visited and search queries, is removed.
  4. 🔌 Extension Exits: Extensions, plugins, and add-ons get disabled or removed, depending on the browser. You might need to reinstall or re-enable them.
  5. ⚙️ Reset Settings: Any custom settings (homepage, tab behavior, download location, etc.) revert to their default state.
  6. 🔐 Bookmarks & Saved Passwords: Depending on the browser and reset options chosen, these might be retained or deleted. It’s always wise to back up this data.
  7. ⬇️ Download List Deletion: The list of downloaded files within the browser gets cleared. (The actual downloaded files on your Mac remain unaffected.)
  8. 👾 Personalized Themes & Appearance: If you’ve customized the look of your browser, it will return to the default appearance.

How to Factory Reset Your Browser on Mac

In this section, I’ll walk you through the steps to factory reset different browsers on your Mac. The specifics vary slightly between browsers like Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. So, I’ve shared the steps for these three popular browsers. Let’s dive in!

a. Factory Reset Safari on Mac

Previously, factory resetting Safari on Mac was a one-click affair. However, the Reset Safari button is no longer available to Mac users. Due to this, it now takes several steps to factory reset Safari on Mac.

Here are the steps to follow:

Step 1: Clear Safari History

Here’s how to delete Safari history on your Mac:

  1. Launch Safari by clicking its icon in the Dock.
open safari on your mac
  1. Once Safari is open, click History in the menu bar, and select Clear History…. It’s at the bottom of the menu, and you may have to scroll down.
click history in the menu bar and select clear history
  1. A dialog box will appear, asking you to specify the time range for which you want to delete history. You can select last hour, today, today, and yesterday, or all history.
choose a time range to clear safari history
  1. Select all history from the menu and click the Clear History button. This will also clear your browser cache and cookies for the specified time range.
click the clear history button
  1. For the changes to take effect, close all Safari windows and relaunch the application.

Step 2: Clear Safari Cache and Cookies

Here’s how to clear cookies on Mac in Safari:

  1. Launch Safari by clicking its icon in the Dock.
open safari on your mac
  1. Click Safari in the menu bar and select Settings.
click safari and select settings
  1. Select the Privacy tab and click the Manage Website Data button.
select the privacy tab and tap the manage website data button
  1. Click Remove All to clear all website cookies completely.
click remove all
  1. You’ll be prompted to confirm if you choose to remove all cookies. Click Remove Now to proceed.
  2. Alternatively, you can select individual websites and tap Remove.
select a website and click remove
  1. Click Done when you have deleted all cache files.

To clear Safari cache on your Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Safari in the menu bar and select Settings.
click safari and select settings
  1. Select the Advanced tab and check the box next to the Show Develop menu in menu bar if it is unchecked.
check the box next to the show develop menu in menu bar
  1. Once the Develop menu is enabled, you’ll find it in the menu bar at the top of your screen.
  2. Click Develop in the menu bar and select Empty Caches from the dropdown menu.
click develop in the menu bar and select empty caches

This will clear all your Safari cache on Mac.

Step 3: Remove Safari Extensions

Here’s how to remove browser extensions on Mac from Safari:

  1. Open Safari on your Mac.
  2. Click Safari in the menu bar and select Settings.
click safari in the top menu bar and select settings
  1. Click the Extensions tab to view all the installed extensions.
click on the extensions tab to view all the installed extensions
  1. Find the extension you want to remove and click it.
find the extension you want to remove and click on it
  1. Click the Uninstall button to confirm that you want to remove the extension.
click the uninstall button to confirm that you want to remove

Step 4: Delete Safari Bookmarks

There are two methods to delete bookmarks on Mac in Safari:

Method 1:
  1. Launch Safari from your Dock.
open safari on your mac
  1. Click Bookmarks in the menu bar and select Edit Bookmarks.
click bookmarks and select edit bookmarks
  1. A new window will appear, showing all your bookmarks. Right-click a bookmark you want to remove and select Delete.
right click a bookmark and select delete

To remove several bookmarks at once on your Mac, hold down the Command ⌘ key while clicking the bookmarks you wish to delete, and press the Delete key.

Method 2:
  1. Click the sidebar icon in the Safari toolbar (next to the green expand icon).
click the sidebar icon in the safari toolbar
  1. A sidebar will appear on the left of your Safari window. At the bottom of the sidebar, select Bookmarks.
click bookmarks at the bottom of the sidebar
  1. Right-click the bookmarks you aim to remove and click Delete.
right click the bookmarks you aim to remove and click delete

Step 5: Delete Safari Plug-ins

Follow these steps to delete Safari plug-ins on Mac:

  1. Ensure Safari is completely closed.
  2. Click the Finder icon in your Dock.
click finder in your dock
  1. In the Finder menu, click Go and select Go to Folder.
open finder click go menu and select go to folder
  1. Type the following path:
/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/
Enter LibraryInternet Plug Ins
  1. In this folder, you’ll find various plug-ins. Drag the ones you wish to remove to the Bin.
click the java apple plug in

It’s important to be cautious and only delete the ones you recognize and are sure about to avoid affecting Safari’s functionality.

  1. As a final step, right-click the Bin icon and select Empty Bin to remove those plug-ins permanently.
right click the bin and select empty bin

For Advanced Users: Reset Safari Using Terminal

If you’re comfortable with Terminal, you can employ various commands to factory reset Safari on your Mac. Follow these instructions carefully to reset Safari using Terminal:

  1. Ensure that Safari is not running.
  2. Navigate to Finder > Applications > Utilities and launch Terminal. You can also search for it in Spotlight search.
type terminal in spotlight search
  1. Enter each of the commands below individually. After pasting each command, press Enter and follow any on-screen prompts:
mv ~/Library/Safari ~/Desktop/Safari-`date +%Y%m%d%H%M%S`
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

🚨 Caution: The rm -Rf command can be dangerous and permanently deletes files. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable with Terminal, manually navigate to the Library and move the files mentioned in the paths above to the Bin. This manual method is considered safer.

b. Factory Reset Chrome on Mac

Over time, Chrome can slow down with all the added extensions and stored data. If you’re facing issues or just want a fresh browser experience, a factory reset is a good idea.

Below, I’ll walk you through the steps to reset Chrome on your Mac:

  1. In Chrome, click the three vertical dots and go to Settings.
click three dots and select settings
  1. In the next window, click Reset settings in the left sidebar and select Restore settings to their original defaults.
click reset settings and tap restore settings to their original defaults
  1. A pop-up window will appear. Click Reset settings, and it will restore your Chrome settings to default.
click reset settings

c. Factory Reset Firefox on Mac

Just like any browser, Firefox can accumulate clutter over time. If you’re noticing lags or unwanted extensions or simply want to start from scratch, resetting is the way to go. In this section, I’ll guide you through the process of resetting Firefox to its original state on your Mac:

  1. In Firefox, click the three horizontal lines and go to Help.
click the three horizontal lines and select help
  1. Select More troubleshooting information.
click more troubleshooting information
  1. On the right, you’ll see Refresh Firefox. Click it.
click refresh firefox
  1. When you click Refresh Firefox, a pop-up will appear at the top of the page. Click Refresh Firefox again.
click refresh firefox on the pop up

Start With a Clean Slate on Your Mac Browser

Resetting your browser can achieve a smoother, faster, and more secure online experience. Whether using Safari, Chrome, or Firefox on your Mac, knowing how to return to a fresh state ensures you’re always in control of your digital environment.

Here are some more tips to enhance your browsing experience on Mac:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Will I lose all my bookmarks and saved passwords when I reset my browser?

    When you reset your browser, you will lose bookmarks and saved passwords if you don’t create a backup before resetting. Many browsers offer options to retain this data during a reset. Always back up important information before proceeding to ensure no essential data is lost.

  2. How often should I reset my browser?

    You should only reset your browser when encountering persistent issues or noticeable slowdowns. For optimal performance, consider doing it once a year or when problems arise, ensuring you always back up essential data first.

  3. Is clearing cache and cookies different from a full browser reset?

    Yes, clearing cache and cookies is different from a full browser reset. Clearing cache and cookies only removes temporary data, improving loading times. On the other hand, a full browser reset reverts settings, disables extensions, and provides a more thorough refresh, giving the browser a clean slate to operate from.

  4. Can I undo a browser reset on Mac?

    No, you cannot undo a browser reset on Mac. Once you’ve reset your browser, the action is typically irreversible. Before resetting, always back up essential data like bookmarks and passwords to avoid potential loss.

  5. Will resetting my browser log me out of all my accounts?

    Yes, resetting your browser typically clears sessions and cookies, which means you’ll likely be logged out of most, if not all, of your online accounts. You’ll need to re-enter your credentials the next time you visit those sites.

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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