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Safari Crashing on iPhone & Mac: Quick Fix

Is Safari giving you a hard time? Apple’s browser in iOS 9.2.1 and current versions of Mac OS X has been running into severe trouble lately. Users report issues with Safari suddenly crashing for no apparent reason. The trigger is typically tapping the address bar on the iPhone or clicking the address bar on a Mac. Apple has yet to acknowledge the issue and fix it on their side, as it appears to be a server-related issue affecting many users. An update should fix the problem very soon, but until then, we have a couple of workarounds for the Safari crash issue that should at least get the browser back up and running for you.

Affected devices:

Apparently most of the devices running the following operating systems are affected:

  • iOS 9.2.1
  • Mac OS X 10.11.3

Users still on Yosemite and other versions have complained of similar problems as well, which means that the problem appears to not be exclusive to the latest OS versions.

On the other hand, we were unable to reproduce the issue with some of our devices on iOS 9.2.1 or the latest Mac OS X – it appears to be a matter of having the “right” constellation of software and settings enabled on your machine.

How to fix the Safari crash problem

As the issue is most probably happening from the server side of things, we can isolate the problem by taking simple precautions. We need to effectively disable the problem-causing factor in the equation, which can be narrowed down to the Google search suggestions. By disabling these keyword/query suggestions, we can avoid the crash.

How to disable Google search suggestions on iPhone

Settings > Safari > Safari Suggestions

Go to your “Settings” app on your iPhone and select the section titled “Safari”. Then disable the “Safari Suggestions” toggle. This should fix the problem for you.

Some suggest that switching your default search engine to DuckDuckGo helps as well and is overall a great idea for privacy reasons.

How to disable Google search suggestions on Mac OS X

Safari > Preferences

Open up the “Safari” browser on your Mac, then click its title in the menu bar. Select “Preferences” and click “Search” to get to the appropriate settings page. Then uncheck “Include Safari Suggestions” to stop Safari from contacting the Apple server that is causing all of this trouble. Your browser should now be free of any crash issues.

Enable private browsing to avoid a crash

You can also turn on the private browsing feature to keep Safari from contacting the currently dysfunctional Apple search suggestion server. In Private Browsing Mode, no data is sent to Apple’s servers. This effectively circumvents the problem, but leaves you with no recording of your browser history and you will have to log back into any website that requires a login, as your session is not preserved from the regular browsing mode.

Safari > Tabs > Private

Tap the “Tabs” symbol in the bottom right corner of your Safari app on the iPhone. Then select “Private” to toggle private browsing.

Safari > File > New Private Window

The same works on a Mac as well, but instead of accessing the feature through the tabs, we simply employ the following keyboard shortcut:

⌘ + Shift + N

Or click our way through the menu bar by going to “File” and then clicking “New Private Window”. This should prevent any crashing until Apple addresses the issue in a fix.