Are your Safari bookmarks gone, and do you need them back? We know the feeling since bookmarks, also known as favorites, represent a neat way to keep important URLs at arm’s reach. Losing them suddenly, or even worse, wiping the list yourself, can impact your confidence and workflow. Whether it was a macOS update, a system crash, a hard drive formatting, or a mistake, we can assure you not all hope is lost. Apple provides several ways to keep backups and some are automatic, as long as you opt to use them. Let’s dig into how to recover Safari bookmarks without further ado.
1. Recover Safari bookmarks from iCloud
We must ask first, “Did you log in on a new device or sign in after a while, and hoped to restore Safari bookmarks automatically?” We’re talking about the iCloud service we’ll demonstrate below, and want to clarify that in some cases it’s Apple’s fault. Thus, before you lift your hands in desperation, check the Apple System Status page for any current issues. After confirming its systems are in full swing, follow these steps to restore bookmarks from Safari using iCloud:
- Restart Safari on your device (or the device) to double-check this wasn’t a temporary issue. If it is not, go to the iCloud website.
- Log in with your iCloud email and password.
- Click the Account Settings option from the drop-down menu.
- Scroll down and select Restore Bookmarks in the “Advanced” section.
- Select the deleted bookmark or multiple bookmarks on the list. Sort them via Folder, Name, or Date Deleted. You may see multiple versions of the same bookmark, too.
- Click the Done button once you’re ready to import them. Check Safari afterward.
This method requires you to have turned on iCloud on Mac, iOS, or iPadOS in the past. For Mac, you need to go to the Apple menu, then System Preferences, and click iCloud (on macOS Catalina it’s Apple ID → iCloud). Make sure there’s a checkmark in front of Safari. On iOS/iPadOS, you need to go to Settings → iCloud (or Apple ID at the top → iCloud). Make sure the Safari option is toggled on.
2. Restore bookmarks from Safari via the .plist file
Do you have a .plist backup from before? If you’re unfamiliar with it, you can’t restore from a manual backup. However, the Bookmarks.plist file may have gotten corrupted because both Mail and Bookmarks in Safari use it. We’ll show you how to refresh the file or replace it with yours. Follow these instructions to use a .plist file to recover bookmarks from Safari:
- Go to Finder, then open your main folder for your Mac, usually named Macintosh HD.
- Press Command + Shift + . (period/dot) on macOS Sierra and later versions. Otherwise, you must enter chflags nohidden ~/Library in Terminal.
- The step above reveals all hidden files in the Library folder. Now, click Go in the top menu, then Go to Folder.
- Enter this file path: ~/Library/Safari/Bookmarks.plist and click Go or press Enter.
- Make a backup of the Bookmarks.plist file by moving it to another directory on Mac. A quick copy trick is to press and hold the Options key while dragging the file to another folder. That should refresh the file. Otherwise, you can replace the aforementioned file with the eponymous old file you know contains bookmarks.
3. Use Mac Time Machine to restore Safari bookmarks
Time Machine is a well-known inbuilt tool to back up and restore data on Mac computers. It can restore data from directories or a previous version of your operating system. We’ll cover both methods in case our readers need them.
1. Get old versions of Safari data back via Time Machine
Do you remember the time the bookmarks disappeared? If so, you can easily solve the problems when Safari Favorites disappeared using Time Machine:
- Close Safari.
- Show hidden files in a Library folder using steps 1 and 2, then follow step 3.
- This time, paste only ~/Library/Safari and access the previously hidden folder.
- Use Spotlight by pressing Control + Space.
- Type “time machine” and open Time Machine.
- You can now browse the Safari folder through time. Go to the date and time around which bookmarks were gone, and restore a fitting version of the folder by right-clicking the Bookmarks file and selecting Restore.
- Open Safari and see if your bookmarks are back.
2. Restore from a full Time Machine backup
Did you create a Time Machine backup on a separate storage drive or scheduled automatic backups? If any date before you lost your Safari data, you’re in a great position. Here’s what to do:
- Connect the storage drive or partition that has your Time Machine backups.
- Launch Time Machine from your top menu for Mac.
- Select the Enter Time Machine option.
- Use Timeline on the right-hand side to locate the backup file you need.
- When you find the one before the problem occurred, open it and search inside the backup for the Safari folder. You can also restore the entire backup if it was recent.
- Select the desired file and choose the Restore button.
4. Recover Safari bookmarks with data recovery software
We went over what we think the best data recovery software for Mac is. Whether you pick one we mentioned or another that comes from a reputable data restoration company, you can’t go wrong. They work similarly and have a high success rate. Well, as long as you didn’t transfer a lot of data after losing Safari bookmarks. If the loss was recent, the general steps come down to:
- Find, download, install, and run the data rescue software.
- Select the location. You can pick the entire drive or only the Library or Library/Safari folder to save time.
- Click the Start Scanning or Scan button.
- The scan begins, and its duration depends on the number of files you selected. Once it finishes, you’ll see the results. You may have to click on categories on the left, e.g., Lost Files, Lost Media Files, or file types such as Videos, Images, Documents, and so on.
- Once you find the .plist files or the Safari folder, select them with a checkmark.
- Click the Recover.
- Select the location for the restored files. Use method 1 to replace the Bookmarks.plist file after making a backup of the old one.
- Open Safari to check if bookmarks are back.