Bugs & Fixes: Using Safari to solve Safari problems

My relationship with Safari remains a rocky one. Overall, Safari admirably meets my requirements for a web browser. Plus, as it is an Apple product, I appreciate its tight integration with Apple’s OS X and iOS operating systems. But then there’s Safari’s “dark side.” All too often, something goes haywire. Web pages fail to load or the app crashes or something.

One of the more common quirks on the Mac is the “Webpages are not responding” force-reload message, a topic I covered at length previously. The good news is that Apple appears to have been working to fix this glitch, as I get the error significantly less often than previously.

On the other hand, I recently had a related problem where an opportunity to successfully force reload would have been welcome. Using my Mac Pro, I had a Safari window open with about eight tabs. Inexplicably, the content of every one of the tabs no longer showed up if I started scrolling down the page. That is, as soon as I started scrolling, all I saw was blank white space.

Copying a URL and pasting it into another Safari window did not help. Selecting to reload a page had no effect either. Actually, it often made the situation worse, resulting in a completely blank page with the URL of the page gone from the address bar. Finally, quitting and relaunching Safari did not restore the pages to normal.

I knew from experience that if I closed all the open tabs, Safari would function normally again. But I was hoping to avoid this, as I still wanted to read or otherwise save the content of most of the tabbed pages. So I wound up seeking more “creative” ways to recover the pages.

One thought was to copy each of the URLs to a text document, close all the tabs, and then start pasting the URLs back. This would likely work, but it seemed a bit tedious. I had a similar negative reaction to pasting the URLs into another browser. Plus, as I noted above, some of the URLs were now “lost.”

Focusing first on the lost URLs, I tried checking Safari’s History to locate them. However, several of the pages had been open for so long that they no longer showed up in recent History items. So I would have to search to hunt them down. Making matters more complicated, some pages originated from sources such as Twitter, where the URL in History would be an unidentifiable shortened version.

Here’s where I tripped over a feature of Safari that came to my rescue. Even though the URL was missing from the Address bar, the name of the webpage was still in the titlebar above. If I created a new tab and began typing the name of a desired page, Safari’s auto-complete kicked in, including a dropdown menu of suggested URLs. I knew about this. But I had not previously paid attention to the fact that the menu included a Bookmarks and History section. This listed every webpage in my History, no matter how old, that contained the text I had typed. It also listed URLs by their full name—even if they were listed as shortened URLs in the History menu. Using these lists, I was able to recover every missing URL. I know this feature will come in quite handy for any future situation where I want to find a webpage buried in my History.

“Bookmarks and History” can save the day when looking for a "lost" webpage.

With or without the URLs, the pages were still not loading properly. While I could now copy and paste these URLs, as described above, I was hoping for a quicker way to reload and save the web pages. That’s when I remembered that I had a MacBook Pro as well as a Mac Pro. I opened my MacBook Pro and went to Safari. As I had enabled iCloud Tabs, I could easily see a list of all the tabs in Safari on my Mac Pro and open them in Safari on my MacBook Pro. The pages all opened correctly! From here, I could re-read or save the pages without any further hassles. Now I could go back to my Mac Pro, close all the tabs and get Safari humming again. Problem solved. If you don’t have a second Mac but have an iPad, you can accomplish the same basic feat, although saving webpages will be more work.

So, yes, while Safari retains some irritating glitches, it also has some very helpful features that allow you to work around them.

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