How to Recover Lost Safari Bookmarks

Losing your Safari bookmarks can be a heart-stopping moment. Many of us rely on these shortcuts for work, paying bills, and other essential tasks. Don't panic, though. You can easily restore missing bookmarks using Apple's iCloud service or Time Machine. Here's how.

Safari icon on laptop screen
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Why Did Your Bookmarks Disappear?

One possible reason why your bookmarks are gone is a corrupted preference file, or .plist file, that Safari refused to load when it launched. Preference files store rules that tell your apps how they should work. They can become corrupted or broken over time thanks to app crashes, sudden power outages, hard drive corruption, and more.

Problems with .plist files are one of the Mac's Achilles' heels. They seem to be a weak point in how applications are structured. Thankfully, they're easily replaced, causing at most a bit of inconvenience.

How to Recover Safari Bookmarks with iCloud

There are a number of steps you can try to restore your lost Safari bookmarks. We list them below:

This method assumes you have iCloud turned on and you're using it to sync data across devices or to the cloud.

If you don’t have iCloud set up on your Mac, you can follow the instructions in our Setting up an iCloud Account on Your Mac guide. Be sure to select Safari as one of the items to sync via iCloud.

  1. Restart Safari and/or your device and see if the bookmarks reappear. If they don't, continue on.

  2. Go to icloud.com and log in with your credentials.

  3. Open the drop-down menu next to your name in the top-right corner and choose Account Settings.

    The Account Settings icon in iCloud
  4. Scroll to the Advanced section and select Restore Bookmarks.

    The "Restore Bookmarks" command
  5. Choose the bookmarks you want to restore, then select Done.

    Choose the bookmarks you want to restore, then select Done.
  6. Restart Safari if needed, then check to see if your bookmarks are back.

How to Restore Safari Bookmarks with Time Machine

Another common method of restoring Safari’s bookmarks utilizes Time Machine. This built-in backup feature comes with all Mac computers and lets you automatically back up all of your files to an external hard drive. You can use those backups to restore your missing Safari bookmarks and more.

  1. Connect your Time Machine backup drive to your Mac and turn it on. Then turn on your Mac.

  2. Open Migration Assistant. It's in the Utilities folder under Applications.

  3. Select the option to transfer from a Mac, Time Machine backup, or startup disk. Then select Continue.

  4. Select your Time Machine backup, then press Continue.

  5. If you're asked to choose from a list of backups organized by date and time, choose one and select Continue.

  6. Select the files you want to transfer, then hit Continue to begin the process.

  7. Once the transfer finishes, restart your computer and log in.

    The transfer process could take several hours to finish depending on the amount of information you're restoring.