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How to Fix Search Not Working on Apple Safari

Authored by:
Support.com Tech Pro Team
This Guided Path® was written and reviewed by Support.com’s Tech Pro team. With decades of experience, our Tech Pros are passionate about making technology work for you. We love feedback! Let us know what you think about this Guided Path by rating it at the end.

Introduction

Searching the web is something we do every day. Whether you are searching from Safari's address bar, or have its homepage set to take you to your favorite search engine's website instead, you've likely gotten accustomed to the way you search on a daily basis. If that search experience has suddenly changed seemingly without warning, that's a clear sign that something is messing with Safari's settings without your knowledge or consent.

This guide will help you make sure that Safari on your Mac is configured properly so that your search experience returns to normal once again.
Close-up image of a browser's address bar.

1 Clear History and Saved Data

The first order of business is making sure that your browser is not holding onto some outdated or bad data in the form of an old cookie, cached version of the website it may be trying to load, etc. Clearing this data allows your browser to load the websites you're asking it to load freshly as if it had never been there before.

  1. Open Safari.
    Apple Safari.
  2. Select the Safari menu, then select Clear History.
    Safari menu with Clear History highlighted.
  3. Select Clear all history, then select Clear History.
    Clear history dialog with Clear All History and Clear History button highlighted.

2 Remove Problematic Extensions

Extensions provide extra features to Safari. Sometimes, these Extensions are not coded well, break after an update, or they change the way Safari works in a malicious way to show you advertisements.

Disabling or removing unneeded or unwanted Extensions can help resolve these problems.

Some pop-ups are created from extensions and add-ons installed on your browser. We will be going over steps to remove the extension.

  1. Open Safari.
    Apple Safari.
  2. From the Safari menu, choose Preferences.
    Safari with Safari menu and Preferences highlighted. Screenshot
  3. The following steps can be repeated to remove multiple browser extensions.
    • Click the Extensions tab. Click on Uninstall for any extensions you want to remove.
      Extensions menu with Uninstall highlighted. Screenshot
    • You will get a confirmation window.  Click on Uninstall to confirm removal.
      Confirmation window with Uninstall highlighted. Screenshot
    • If a new tab opens up, you can close it by clicking the X.

It is a good idea to restart your browser to complete the removal of extensions. If you removed a malicious extension, there's a chance it may have changed your homepage settings.

3 Remove Potentially Unwanted Programs

Potentially unwanted programs, or "PUPs", often arrive bundled with your computer or can tag along with another software program you meant to install. Most times, they are snuck into the EULA as a "Recommended Offer" that many of us are so accustomed to just click right through. Lots of these types of programs end up being junkware that your computer will not benefit from. Unfortunately, some of these programs can add unwanted browser toolbars or extensions that can clutter your browser, track your web browsing, show additional advertisements, or change your search page and other related settings. Usually, unless these types of programs are removed, they will continue causing issues with your web browsing experience.

Example of a PUP installing a search bar

Removing an app may also remove all data for that app. Make sure you have any information you need backed up before removing an app for your Mac.

Remove apps installed from the App Store
  1. Open the Launchpad from the dock.
    Launchpad highlighted
  2. Click and hold on an icon until all icons start to jiggle.
    Shaking icon
  3. Click the "x" on the top left of the icon you want to remove.
    X highlighted
  4. Click Delete to confirm removal.
    Delete button highlighted
Remove apps via Finder
  1. Open the Finder from the dock.
    Finder highlighted on the dock
  2. Click on Applications on the left.
    Application highlighted
  3. Drag the app you wish to remove to the Trash Bin.
    Drag app to the trashcan
  4. Right click on the trashcan and click Empty Trash.
    Empty Trash highlighted

Test your browser after removing any PUPs from your machine. This may require you to restart your browser or your computer beforehand depending on what was removed.

4 Verify Safari Homepage Settings

If your search experience hasn't returned to normal, the next step is to verify that Safari's homepage settings are where they should be in order to provide you with the search experience you're familiar with. If any settings were previously 'hijacked' by a malicious extension and were not reverted back to what they were originally set to, your search experience may still not be right.

Your web browser's homepage settings dictate the website that is loaded when it is opened up.

  1. Open Safari.
    Apple Safari.
  2. From the (1) Safari menu, choose (2) Preferences.
    Safari with Safari menu and Preferences highlighted. Screenshot
  3. Click on the General (1) tab, then ensure that the Homepage (2) is set to the website you would like Safari to load when it is first opened.
    Safari General menu with Homepage highlighted. Screenshot

5 Try Your Search Page Again

  1. Open Safari.
    Apple Safari.
  2. Test things out to see if your search experience has returned to normal.
  3. If your search experience is still abnormal, we recommend that your machine be professionally diagnosed to determine the root cause of the issue.

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Searching the web is something we do every day. Whether you are searching from Safari's address bar, or have its homepage set to take you to your favorite search engine's website instead, you've likely gotten accustomed to the way you search on a daily basis. If that search experience has suddenly changed seemingly without warning, that's a clear sign that something is messing with Safari's settings without your knowledge or consent.

This guide will help you make sure that Safari on your Mac is configured properly so that your search experience returns to normal once again.
Close-up image of a browser's address bar.

The first order of business is making sure that your browser is not holding onto some outdated or bad data in the form of an old cookie, cached version of the website it may be trying to load, etc. Clearing this data allows your browser to load the websites you're asking it to load freshly as if it had never been there before.

  1. Open Safari.
    Apple Safari.
  2. Select the Safari menu, then select Clear History.
    Safari menu with Clear History highlighted.
  3. Select Clear all history, then select Clear History.
    Clear history dialog with Clear All History and Clear History button highlighted.

Extensions provide extra features to Safari. Sometimes, these Extensions are not coded well, break after an update, or they change the way Safari works in a malicious way to show you advertisements.

Disabling or removing unneeded or unwanted Extensions can help resolve these problems.

Some pop-ups are created from extensions and add-ons installed on your browser. We will be going over steps to remove the extension.

  1. Open Safari.
    Apple Safari.
  2. From the Safari menu, choose Preferences.
    Safari with Safari menu and Preferences highlighted. Screenshot
  3. The following steps can be repeated to remove multiple browser extensions.
    • Click the Extensions tab. Click on Uninstall for any extensions you want to remove.
      Extensions menu with Uninstall highlighted. Screenshot
    • You will get a confirmation window.  Click on Uninstall to confirm removal.
      Confirmation window with Uninstall highlighted. Screenshot
    • If a new tab opens up, you can close it by clicking the X.

It is a good idea to restart your browser to complete the removal of extensions. If you removed a malicious extension, there's a chance it may have changed your homepage settings.

Potentially unwanted programs, or "PUPs", often arrive bundled with your computer or can tag along with another software program you meant to install. Most times, they are snuck into the EULA as a "Recommended Offer" that many of us are so accustomed to just click right through. Lots of these types of programs end up being junkware that your computer will not benefit from. Unfortunately, some of these programs can add unwanted browser toolbars or extensions that can clutter your browser, track your web browsing, show additional advertisements, or change your search page and other related settings. Usually, unless these types of programs are removed, they will continue causing issues with your web browsing experience.

Example of a PUP installing a search bar

Removing an app may also remove all data for that app. Make sure you have any information you need backed up before removing an app for your Mac.

Remove apps installed from the App Store
  1. Open the Launchpad from the dock.
    Launchpad highlighted
  2. Click and hold on an icon until all icons start to jiggle.
    Shaking icon
  3. Click the "x" on the top left of the icon you want to remove.
    X highlighted
  4. Click Delete to confirm removal.
    Delete button highlighted
Remove apps via Finder
  1. Open the Finder from the dock.
    Finder highlighted on the dock
  2. Click on Applications on the left.
    Application highlighted
  3. Drag the app you wish to remove to the Trash Bin.
    Drag app to the trashcan
  4. Right click on the trashcan and click Empty Trash.
    Empty Trash highlighted

Test your browser after removing any PUPs from your machine. This may require you to restart your browser or your computer beforehand depending on what was removed.

If your search experience hasn't returned to normal, the next step is to verify that Safari's homepage settings are where they should be in order to provide you with the search experience you're familiar with. If any settings were previously 'hijacked' by a malicious extension and were not reverted back to what they were originally set to, your search experience may still not be right.

Your web browser's homepage settings dictate the website that is loaded when it is opened up.

  1. Open Safari.
    Apple Safari.
  2. From the (1) Safari menu, choose (2) Preferences.
    Safari with Safari menu and Preferences highlighted. Screenshot
  3. Click on the General (1) tab, then ensure that the Homepage (2) is set to the website you would like Safari to load when it is first opened.
    Safari General menu with Homepage highlighted. Screenshot
  1. Open Safari.
    Apple Safari.
  2. Test things out to see if your search experience has returned to normal.
  3. If your search experience is still abnormal, we recommend that your machine be professionally diagnosed to determine the root cause of the issue.