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Fanbois howl over 'hang a lot' Safari 5

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Complaints about Apple's recently released Safari 5 continue to mount, but we've got a few suggested fixes — which, depending upon your situation, may be godsends or may be totally useless.

Some of the reported problems, such as those involving misbehaving add-ons (aka plug-ins) are relatively simple to fix. Others – such as the ones encountered by users on the "Safari 5 hangs a LOT so far" and "Some websites don't load" threads on Apple Discussion forums, and others on Mac-centric websites such as MacInTouch – have yet to be sussed out.

We suspect webpage-hanging problems may be related to issues with Safari 5's new DNS prefetching — although with no proof whatsoever — but it may be worth trying some tried-and-true troubleshooting steps as outlined below. But note that we said "may be".

Sufferers of one particular problem — "Safari 5 crashes on networked home users" — seem to have discovered a workaround that will slow Safari down, but as one poster put it: "It's better than no Safari at all". As to that comment, remember the old Latin maxim: "De gustibus non est disputandum," which, roughly translated, means you can't argue taste.

The workaround that seems to help crashing on networked home users is to move back to 32-bit mode and run Safari in Rosetta mode — the PowerPC translator for Intel-based Macs. To do so, quit Safari 5, select its icon in the Finder, then press Command-I. In the dialog that appears, click the General disclosure triangle (if necessary), then select the checkboxes for both Open in 32-bit Mode and Open using Rosetta. Close the dialog, relaunch Safari — and wait for version 5.0.1.

To attempt to dig your way out of other Safari 5 problems, you can, of course, perform a series of straightforward fixes — that is, after you've done the most basic of the basics: reinstalling Safari 5 and deleting the com.apple.Safari.plist preferences file from user/Library/Preferences. The Reg thanks AppleToolBox for a nice summary of possible Safari 5 fixes, though we suggest a different order of attack.

But before you begin, remember that you might spend a goodly amount of time attempting to get Safari running smoothly only to be right back where you began when you're done — meaning Safari 5 may still be problematic. And if you've chosen to reset Apple's ill-behaving browser, you'll have lost a load of favicons (website icons), cached pages, cookies, and the like.

To be frank, unless you can't live without the new Safari Reader feature, you might well be better off downloading and installing a copy of Firefox, Chrome, or Opera — or IE8, of course, if you're a Windows user. Also, every right-thinking web surfer should have at least two browsers, in case one decides to act up.

First, as we've reported, add-ons have cropped up in some forums as likely culprits. So if you happen to have any, first check to see if developers have released Safari 5–compatible updates — you do have more than one browser, right? If your add-on developer has released a fix since Safari's Monday release — and they've done a good job — you're in luck; install it.

If that doesn't work, turn off all your add-ons at Safari > Preferences > Security > Web Content > Enable Plug-ins, quit Safari, and relaunch it. If turning off your add-ons improves your surfing life, one or more of them is likely wonky. So delete them one by one to find the bad guys — SafariStand, Conduit (CTLoader), and CosmoPod have been reported to be culprits, but there may be others. New versions of both SafariStand and CosmoPod that their devs say fix the problems are now available — download them from their respective sites.

If that doesn't help, open user/Library/Caches, find the folder named com.apple.Safari, and delete it — don't worry, it'll be recreated when you next launch Safari, and refill itself as you surf.

Still no luck? Navigate to Safari > Reset Safari and, well, reset Safari. You can either use the nuclear option and reset all 11 resettables at once, or work your way through the list selectively. Yes, this will dump some potentially useful but rebuildable info such as website icons and cookies, but no pain, no gain.

If the whole freaking Safari 5 repair process either doesn't work or seems simply too much of a pain in the synonym-for-donkey, you may simply want to go back in time to Safari 4.0.5. Unfortunately, Apple's "forward at all costs" attitude towards software installation makes that an equally painful task — reverting to a previous version of an Apple app is often a bear.

But it you have some free time, here's how: first download Safari 4.0.5 from Apple's support site (it's still there as of Thursday morning), then download a copy of Pacifist ($20 shareware) and follow AppleToolbox's instructions. If you're an honest soul who believes in supporting shareware authors but doesn't want to pay the $20 shareware fee for Pacifist, AppleToolbox also suggests the good ol' Archive and Install Mac OS X reinstallation method — but that's a royal pain. (Caveat: we've had no problems whatsoever with Safari 5, so we haven't tested the Pacifist-based Safari 4.0.5 reinstallation method.)

If you've read this far, and if you're thinking of working your way through these steps to nudge your misbehaving Safari 5 back into line, do remember what we said a few paragraphs ago: that you may perform this entire dance to no avail whatsoever. If so, don't come crying to us.

Ah, the Mac: "It Just Works". ®

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