Back up or Move Your Safari Bookmarks to a New Mac

Easily back up or share your bookmarks with any Mac you use

What to Know

  • Navigate to Home Directory/Library/Safari. Then, hold down the option key and drag the Bookmarks.plist file to a new location.
  • You can also right-click the file and select Compress Bookmarks.plist. This creates a .zip file you can move anywhere on your Mac.
  • To move the file to a new Mac, email it to yourself or use a cloud storage service like Dropbox or iCloud.

This article explains how to backup your Safari bookmarks for safe-keeping or move them to a new Mac without using the Bookmarks manager to sort through the imported bookmarks and manually putting them where you want them.

Backup Safari Bookmarks

Safari stores bookmarks as a plist (property list) file named Bookmarks.plist. It's located under Home Directory/Library/Safari. Bookmarks are stored on a per-user basis, with each user having their own bookmarks file. If you have multiple accounts on your Mac and want to back up or move all of the bookmarks files, access the above directory location for each user.

To back up your Safari bookmarks, copy the Bookmarks.plist file to a new location. You can do this in one of two ways.

  1. Open a Finder window and navigate to Home Directory/Library/Safari.

    With OS X Lion, Apple hid the Home Directory/Library folder, but you can still access the Library folder in a variety of ways. Once you gain access to the Library folder, you can proceed with the instructions below.

  2. Hold down the option key and drag the Bookmarks.plist file to another location. By holding down the option key, you ensure that a copy is made and that the original stays in the default location.

    Bookmarks.plist file in Safari folder on Mac
  3. The other way to back up the Bookmarks.plist file is to right-click the file and select Compress "Bookmarks.plist from the pop-up menu. This command will create a file named, which you can move anywhere on your Mac without affecting the original.

Illustration of bookmarks between two Safari logos on monitors
Lifewire / Miguel Co

Restore Your Safari Bookmarks

All you need to restore your Safari bookmarks is to have a backup of the Bookmarks.plist file available. If the backup is in the compressed or zip format, you will need to double-click the file to decompress it first.

  1. Quit Safari, if the application is open.

  2. Copy the Bookmarks.plist file you backed up earlier to Home Directory/Library/Safari.

  3. A warning message will display: "An item named "Bookmarks.plist" already exists in this location. Do you want to replace it with the one you're moving?" Select Replace.

    Replace button in Copy dialog box on Mac
  4. Once you restore the Bookmarks.plist file, launch Safari. All your bookmarks will be present, just where they were when you backed them up. No importing and sorting required.

Move Safari Bookmarks to a New Mac

Moving your Safari bookmarks to a new Mac is essentially the same as restoring them. The only difference is that you will need a way to bring the Bookmarks.plist file to your new Mac.

Because the file is small, you can easily email it to yourself. Other options are to move the file across a network, store it in the cloud using a storage solution such as Dropbox or iCloud, or put it on a USB flash drive or external hard drive.

Once you have the Bookmarks.plist file on your new Mac, use the steps outlined above to make your bookmarks available.

iCloud Bookmarks

If you have an Apple ID, you can take advantage of iCloud's bookmarks feature to sync Safari bookmarks across multiple Macs and iOS devices. To gain access to the iCloud-synced bookmarks, you need to set up an iCloud account on each Mac or iOS device that you wish to share bookmarks between. 

For sharing bookmarks, make sure there is a checkmark next to the Safari item in the list of iCloud services. As long as you're signed in to your iCloud account on each Mac or iOS device you're using, you should have all of your Safari bookmarks available across multiple devices and platforms.

When you add a bookmark on one device, the bookmark will appear on all devices; more importantly, if you delete a bookmark on one device, all the devices that are synced via iCloud Safari bookmarks will also remove that bookmark.

Use Safari Bookmarks on Other Macs or PCs

If you travel a lot, you may want to bring along your Safari bookmarks. One method is to store your bookmarks in the cloud, so you can access them from anywhere you have an internet connection. This is helpful when you need to access your bookmarks from a public computer.

When you use Safari's Export Bookmarks option, the file Safari creates is actually an HTML listing of all of your bookmarks. You can take this file with you and open it in any browser, just like a normal web page. Of course, you don't end up with bookmarks per se; instead, you end up with a web page that has a clickable list of all of your bookmarks. Though not as easy to use as the bookmarks in a browser, the list can still come in handy when you're on the road.

Here's how to export your bookmarks.

  1. Select File > Export Bookmarks.

    Export Bookmarks item in Safari File menu
  2. In the Save dialog window that opens, select a target location for the Safari Bookmarks.html file, then select Save.

  3. Copy the Safari Bookmarks.html file to a USB flash drive or to a cloud storage system.

  4. To use the Safari Bookmarks.html file, open a browser on the computer you're using and either drag the Safari Bookmarks.html file to the browser's address bar or select Open from the browser's file menu and navigate to the Safari Bookmarks.html file.

  5. Your list of Safari Bookmarks will display as a web page. To visit one of your bookmarked sites, just select the corresponding link.

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