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Safari Bookmarks Disappeared on Mac: 10 Best Ways to Restore Them

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Last updated: September 14, 2023

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Lost your Safari bookmarks on Mac and feel like you’re sailing through the internet without a compass? Bookmarks might disappear for various reasons—system updates, glitches, or a click gone wrong—but they’re not always lost for good.

This guide is your lifeboat, offering you the best ways to restore those missing landmarks and get you back on course. From quick fixes to advanced recovery techniques, I’ve got you covered and by the end of this guide you’ll know how to restore Safari bookmarks disappeared on Mac.

Why Safari Bookmarks Disappeared on Mac?

If your Safari bookmarks have disappeared on your Mac, it can be disconcerting, but there are several reasons why this could happen. Here are some common culprits:

  1. 🆙 Software Update: Sometimes, after a macOS or Safari update, bookmarks may go missing temporarily or be moved to a different location.
  2. ☁️ iCloud Sync Issues: If iCloud is not syncing properly between your devices, bookmarks could disappear or not show up where you expect them.
  3. ❌ Accidental Deletion: You may have accidentally deleted bookmarks or folders containing bookmarks.
  4. 💾 Corrupt Profile: If your Safari profile is corrupt, bookmarks and other settings might not load correctly.
  5. 💥 System Crash: A sudden shutdown or system failure could result in lost data, including bookmarks.
  6. 🛡️ Third-party Software: Security software or system cleanup utilities could mistakenly remove bookmarks.
  7. 🤔 User Error: Sometimes the bookmarks might be moved to a different folder within Safari and are not actually deleted.
  8. 👥 Multiple Accounts: If you have multiple user accounts on your Mac, make sure you are logged into the correct one where your bookmarks were saved.
  9. 🔄 Browser Reset: Resetting Safari to its default settings will erase all your bookmarks.

How to Restore Safari Bookmarks Disappeared on Mac

In the digital realm, data rarely disappears without a trace. More often than not, there’s an underlying cause, and with the right strategies, you can retrieve what’s been lost.

I composed this section to provide you with clear and effective methods to restore Safari bookmarks disappeared on Mac, moving from simpler solutions to more advanced measures.

1. Quit Safari and Restart

Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the most effective. Restarting Safari can resolve minor glitches that might be preventing your bookmarks from displaying properly. Quitting and restarting Safari could be all it takes to refresh the browser and bring your missing bookmarks back to life.

Here’s how to quit Safari and restart it:

  1. Go to Safari in the menu bar and choose Quit Safari, or simply press Command ⌘ + Q.
click safari and select quit safari
  1. Wait for a few seconds and relaunch the Safari app from your Dock.
open safari on your mac
  1. Once Safari opens, check to see if your bookmarks have reappeared.

2. Show Safari Bookmarks

Believe it or not, sometimes your bookmarks aren’t actually missing; they’re just hidden from view. Checking the visibility settings of your bookmarks in Safari can often reveal them once again.

Here’s how to show Safari bookmarks on your Mac:

  1. If it’s not already open, launch Safari by clicking its icon in the Dock or using Spotlight (Command ⌘ + Space and type Safari).
open safari on your mac
  1. In Safari, go to the menu bar at the top of the screen, click Bookmarks, and then select Show Bookmarks.
click bookmarks and select show bookmarks
  1. This will open your Bookmarks list in the left sidebar.

If your bookmarks magically reappear, you’re all set! If not, it’s time to dig deeper with additional troubleshooting steps.

3. Check Your Internet Connection

If your bookmarks are synced via iCloud, an unstable, disconnected, or slow internet connection on Mac can prevent them from appearing. Ensuring you have a solid connection can sometimes resolve the issue instantly.

Here’s how to check your internet connection on Mac:

  1. Make sure you’re connected to Wi-Fi or plugged into an Ethernet cable. Look for the Wi-Fi symbol at the top-right corner of your screen.
click the wi fi icon in the menu bar
  1. Alternatively, go to System Settings > Network to confirm.
click network from side bar
  1. Open a new Safari window and try navigating to a website. If you can’t access the internet, your connection might be the issue.
  2. If you’re experiencing connection problems, try restarting your router by unplugging it for 30 seconds and then plugging it back in.
  3. Once your router restarts, reconnect your Mac to the network and try opening Safari again to see if your bookmarks are back.

4. Restart Your Mac

Sometimes the best way to resolve minor software glitches or system hiccups is a good old-fashioned restart. This can often refresh the system files and services that Safari relies on for displaying your bookmarks.

Here’s how to restart your Mac:

  1. Before restarting, make sure to save any open documents or projects to prevent data loss.
  2. Click the Apple logo located in the top-left corner of your screen.
  3. From the dropdown menu, choose Restart.
click the apple icon and select restart
  1. Allow your Mac to fully shut down and restart.
  2. Once your Mac has rebooted, launch Safari to check if your bookmarks have reappeared.

5. Turn Off iCloud Bookmarks and Turn It Back On

If your bookmarks are synced via iCloud, toggling the iCloud bookmarks option can refresh the sync and possibly bring back your missing bookmarks. Here’s how to turn off iCloud bookmarks and turn it back on:

  1. Click the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your screen and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click the Apple ID at the top-right corner and select iCloud from the sidebar.
click icloud in apple id
  1. In the Apps Using iCloud section, scroll down to find Safari and toggle it off. Confirm any prompts to turn off Safari bookmark syncing.
toggle off safari syncing to icloud
  1. Give it a few seconds to process. This will remove the bookmarks from your Mac but keep them in iCloud.
  2. Then, toggle on the Safari switch in the iCloud settings to turn bookmark syncing back on.
toggle on safari syncing to icloud
  1. Open Safari and wait a few minutes for iCloud to sync your bookmarks back into the browser.

6. Check Your Account Details

Sometimes the issue of missing bookmarks can be tied to the Apple ID you’re using. If you have multiple Apple IDs or recently changed your account details, your bookmarks may not sync correctly.

Here’s how to check your Apple ID details on Mac:

  1. Click the Apple menu and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click Apple ID at the top-right corner to view your account details.
click the apple logo system settings apple id
  1. Make sure the Apple ID displayed is the one you usually use for iCloud and syncing bookmarks.
  2. If there’s a discrepancy, consider signing out and signing back in with the correct Apple ID.

Make sure to backup your data on Mac before signing out.

  1. Launch Safari and wait for a few minutes to see if your bookmarks sync back into your browser.

7. Restore From Bookmarks Library in Finder

If you’ve tried the easier methods with no success, you can look for backup files directly in your Mac’s Finder. Safari stores bookmark backups you can manually restore.

Follow these steps to restore your Safari bookmarks from the bookmarks library in Finder:

  1. Make sure Safari is closed before you proceed. You can quit Safari by going to Safari in the menu bar and choosing Quit Safari, or simply press Command ⌘ + Q.
click safari and select quit safari
  1. Click the Finder icon in your Dock.
click finder in your dock
  1. With the Finder window open, click Go in the menu bar and hold down the Option ⌥ key. This will reveal the Library option; click on it.
click library under go in the context menu
  1. Within the Library folder, find and open the Safari folder.
navigate to safari and move the folder to the bin
  1. Search for files named Bookmarks.plist or any backups like Bookmarks-1.plist, Bookmarks-2.plist, etc.
delete all files except bookmarks plist file
  1. Copy the most recent backup file and paste it into the same folder, renaming it to Bookmarks.plist if necessary.
  2. Open Safari to see if your bookmarks have been restored.

8. Restore Safari Bookmarks From Back Up

Another definitive way to turn back the clock and restore Safari bookmarks disappeared on Mac is backups. Whether it’s a Time Machine backup or another form of saved state, restoring your Mac to a point where your bookmarks are intact is like hitting a digital “undo” button

Below, I’ll guide you through the steps to restore your Safari bookmarks from different types of backups.

a. Via Time Machine Back Up

Time Machine is a built-in backup feature of your Mac that can be a lifesaver when things go awry. If you have been regularly backing up your Mac with Time Machine, you can restore your Safari bookmarks to a point in time when they were still available.

Here’s how to restore deleted files on Mac using Time Machine, including Safari bookmarks:

  1. If your Time Machine backups are stored on an external drive, make sure it’s connected to your Mac.
  2. Quit Safari by pressing Command ⌘ + Q or selecting Quit Safari from the Safari menu to ensure the app is fully closed.
macbook pro command q
  1. Click the Apple menu and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click General and select Time Machine.
click on time machine
  1. In the Time Machine window, use the timeline or arrows to go back to a date when your bookmarks were still present.
  2. Navigate to your user Library folder by following this path:
~/Library/Safari/
  1. Look for the Bookmarks.plist file and click the Restore button.
  2. Time Machine will overwrite the current version with the selected backup.
  3. Open Safari to see if your bookmarks have been successfully restored.

b. Via Automatic Back Up

Another approach to recover missing Safari bookmarks is to utilize the automatic backup feature if it is available. Here’s how to restore lost Safari bookmarks via automatic backup:

  1. Click the Finder icon in your Dock.
click finder in your dock
  1. Click Go in the menu bar and hold down the Option ⌥ key. This will reveal the Library option; click on it.
click library under go in the context menu
  1. Within the Library folder, find and open the Safari folder.
navigate to safari and move the folder to the bin
  1. Identify the file named AutomaticBookmarksBackup.html.
  2. To simplify the restoration process, copy this HTML file and place it on your Desktop for easier access.
  3. Launch the Safari browser and import the HTML backup file from the original Safari folder or your Desktop.

Be aware that this automatic backup might not include your most recently added bookmarks.

c. Via Manual Backup

If you’re among those who prefer the good old-fashioned way of manually backing up important files, this could be your ticket to restoring your missing Safari bookmarks. If you routinely save your Safari bookmarks as HTML files, restoring them will be a straightforward process. 

Follow these steps to restore Safari bookmarks from manual backup:

  1. Launch Safari and click File in the menu bar.
open safari and click file in the menu bar
  1. Hover your mouse over Import from and select Bookmarks HTML File from the submenu.
hover your mouse over import from and select bookmarks html file
  1. Locate the HTML backup you’ve previously created and select it. Then click Import.

Note that the Bookmarks HTML File import option actually accommodates both HTML and PLIST bookmark files.

9. Restore Safari Bookmarks From iCloud

iCloud provides a useful feature for restoring files, data, and settings, including Safari bookmarks. If you’ve been using iCloud to sync your bookmarks, you can try restoring them directly from iCloud’s website.

Here’s how to restore Safari bookmarks via iCloud:

  1. Make sure Safari is closed to prevent any syncing conflicts. Quit the application by pressing Command ⌘ + Q or choosing Quit Safari from the Safari menu.
macbook pro command q
  1. Open a different browser and navigate to www.icloud.com and click the Sign In button.
open icloud website and click the sign in button
  1. Sign in using your Apple ID credentials or Touch ID.
sign in to icloud using your apple id or touch id
  1. Once logged in, click the grid-like icon in the top-right corner next to your account picture.
click the grid like icon in icloud
  1. Select Data Recovery from the context menu.
select data recovery from the menu
  1. Click Restore Bookmarks in the new Data Recovery.
click restore bookmarks in icloud
  1. If you have bookmarks backed up on your iCloud, a window will pop up displaying a list of bookmarks backup points.
  2. Choose the most recent backup where you know your bookmarks were still intact.
  3. Click Restore next to the chosen backup point. Confirm any prompts that appear.
  4. After the restoration process is complete, open Safari to check if your bookmarks have been successfully restored.

10. By Using Third-Party Recovery Software

When traditional methods don’t yield the desired results, reputable third-party recovery software can serve as your safety net for restoring lost Safari bookmarks. These specialized programs are engineered to recover a variety of lost or deleted files, including browser bookmarks.

Third-party recovery software can be a powerful tool in your data recovery arsenal, but use it as a last resort and always from reputable sources.

Here are a few reputable third-party options for restoring Safari bookmarks:

  1. Disk Drill: Known for its user-friendly interface and robust recovery features, Disk Drill is a popular choice for macOS users.
  2. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard: This software offers both quick and deep scans, allowing you to tailor the recovery process to your needs.
  3. Stellar Data Recovery: Trusted by many, Stellar offers advanced features like disk imaging for severe data loss situations.
  4. Wondershare Recoverit: With a high recovery rate, this software is another reliable option for Mac users.
  5. iBoysoft Data Recovery: This is a simpler tool that offers a straightforward recovery process, ideal for users who may not be as tech-savvy.

Where Are Safari Bookmarks Stored on Mac?

Safari bookmarks are stored in a file called Bookmarks.plist within the Safari folder inside your user Library folder. To navigate to this folder manually, you can follow these steps:

  1. Click the Finder icon in your Dock.
click finder in your dock
  1. In the menu bar at the top of your screen, click Go.
  2. Holding down the Option ⌥ key will make the Library folder appear in the drop-down list.
macbook pro option key
  1. Once you see Library, click on it to navigate to the Library folder.
click library under go in the context menu
  1. Inside the Library folder, scroll down to find the Safari folder and open it.
navigate to safari and move the folder to the bin
  1. In the Safari folder, you’ll find a file named Bookmarks.plist. This file contains all your Safari bookmarks.
delete all files except bookmarks plist file

Remember, editing or deleting this file will directly affect your Safari bookmarks, so proceed with caution. Always make sure to backup important data before making changes to system files.

Restore Safari Bookmarks on Mac

Losing your Safari bookmarks can be a frustrating experience, but as I’ve demonstrated, you have a variety of methods at your disposal to restore them. From the basic steps of restarting Safari and checking your internet connection to more advanced strategies like utilizing iCloud or third-party software, there’s likely a solution that suits your situation.

Here are a few more tips to enhance your Safari experience on Mac:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What to do if my iCloud or Safari bookmarks aren’t syncing?

    If your iCloud or Safari bookmarks aren’t syncing, start by checking your internet connection to ensure it’s stable. Then, verify that you’re signed into the correct iCloud account on all devices. If issues persist, try disabling and re-enabling iCloud sync for Safari in your device settings. Finally, consider restarting your devices.

  2. How do I export Safari bookmarks for safekeeping?

    To export Safari bookmarks for safekeeping, open Safari and go to the menu bar at the top. Click File, then choose Export > Bookmarks. A dialog box will appear; select your desired location and file name. Click Save to complete the export. This will create an HTML file containing your bookmarks.

  3. How can I recover deleted bookmarks if I don’t have a backup?

    If you’ve deleted bookmarks and don’t have a backup, you can recover them by checking the Recently Closed option under the History menu in Safari. If that doesn’t work, consider using reputable third-party recovery software as a last resort.

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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