How to delete Safari on MacOS and iOS

Apple-based devices ship with the Safari web browser preinstalled on them. Rather than just blithely accept it, some users prefer to get rid of Safari and start afresh. If you’re one of them, read on and we’ll tell you exactly how to delete Safari on MacOS and iOS. Be warned though, it’s not an easy process because of the way Apple builds Safari into the operating system.

Although Safari works fine as a browser, you may have a preference for a different, more secure browser. Perhaps one that offers more customization options or that doesn’t track you by default. 

Why you may struggle to fully delete Safari from a Mac

Macintosh computers make use of a technology called System Integrity Protection (SIP) that makes fully deleting Safari difficult. SIP appeared initially in MacOS X El Capitan (version 10.11). SIP limits the ability to make changes to the root account on the Mac, all in an effort to protect the Mac from potential hackers and malware.

This technology also greatly complicates the process of making edits to or deleting certain macOS files, including some files related to Safari. 

If you want to fully delete Safari on a Macintosh computer, you will have to turn off SIP temporarily. This can be a challenging process. We will lay out the steps to follow for this process, but keep in mind that it is not necessarily a process that novices will want to tackle. Making an error with these types of files could damage the computer significantly.

How to delete Safari on your Macbook

How to delete safari on your Macbook

We will lay out the steps required to completely uninstall Safari. However, this involves making use of the Terminal window, which is a text-based command window, and turning off SIP. You also will need administrative access on the Mac to perform this step.

Users without experience with Terminal or who are nervous about making these kinds of changes to the system may want to skip ahead for advice on blocking or hiding Safari without completely deleting it.

Open Terminal in Recovery Mode

Mac recovery mode

Start the Mac in Recovery mode when you turn on the computer. Immediately press and hold the Command key followed by the R key during bootup. Release the keys when you see an Apple icon or a startup screen appear on the display. You may have to enter an administrator password to continue.

In the Utilities menu, select and launch Terminal.

Disable SIP

In the Terminal window, type csrutil disable and hit the Return key. Restart the computer in normal mode.

Delete Safari

Delete Safari

After the computer restarts, open Terminal again. Start by clicking on the Finder icon. Open the Applications folder, followed by the Utilities folder. Double-click on the Terminal icon.

At the prompt, type sudo mount -uw /system/applications at the prompt and press the Return key. This command allows you to edit files in the Applications folder. You may need to enter an administrator password.

At the prompt, type cd /applications/ and press the Return key. The prompt should change to show that you are working in the Applications folder. 

Then type sudo rm -r and press the Return key. This should delete the Safari browser app.

Enable SIP

You then will want to re-enable SIP as quickly as possible. If you leave SIP disabled and if you do not have antivirus protection installed, you could leave your Mac’s system files open to hacking. Even though some people believe Mac computers do not need antivirus protection because they are not susceptible to viruses, this is not true. Macs need antivirus protection.

To re-enable SIP, start the Mac in Recovery mode, as we discussed earlier. Open the Terminal window from the Utilities menu again.

At the prompt, type csrutil enable and press the Return key. Restart the computer normally.

Options other than deleting Safari on a Mac

If you don’t feel comfortable deleting Safari because of having to work with system files, you can take a few other steps to minimize Safari’s impact on your Mac. 

Block Safari

Block Safari

Mac has a built-in feature called Screen Time that will limit the performance of apps on the Mac. You can use Screen Time to block Safari by not allowing anyone to use it. 

Click the Apple menu, followed by System Preferences. Then click on Screen Time. Click Options, followed by Turn On. Click on the Content & Privacy Restrictions tab, and then select Apps. Remove the check mark from the box next to Safari and save your choices.

Deleting Safari-related files in an older MacOS

If you are using a Macintosh operating system that’s older than OS X El Capitan, which is when SIP began appearing, you can attempt to delete most of the files associated with Safari manually. This doesn’t completely delete every Safari-related file, however.

Click on Finder and delete any Safari-associated files from the following folders (while replacing [your-name] with the personalized name associated with your Mac):

  • /users/[your-name]/library/
  • /users/[your-name]/library/address book plug-ins/
  • /users/[your-name]/library/application support/crash report/
  • /users/[your-name]/library/application support/crashreporter/
  • /users/[your-name]/library/caches/
  • /users/[your-name]/library/preferences/
  • /users/[your-name]/library/saved application state/

You may want to empty the trash can or recycle bin to complete the process. You can place the Safari shortcut icon into the trash can or recycle bin too.

Use third-party software to delete Safari from a Mac

As another option, you can make use of third-party software to delete apps that Apple builds into the Mac, such as Safari. You may have to purchase the third-party software, but it can delete the apps faster than what you may be able to do on your own. Some uninstaller apps for Mac include:

  • AppCleaner
  • AppZapper
  • CCleaner
  • CleanMyMac
  • MacKeeper

How to disable Safari from mobile iOS devices

Disable Safari from mobile

The Safari app is built into the iOS on an iPad or iPhone as well, and you cannot completely remove it. You don’t have the option of editing system files on the iOS mobile device without jailbreaking, which is beyond the scope of this article.

You can hide Safari from view (or disable it) and remove the data associated with it on the iPhone, though. These steps then will make it difficult for someone else to access your data related to Safari. These steps also should free up some storage space on your mobile device.

Delete your browsing history

Before hiding/disabling Safari, you should remove your saved settings within the app, including removing any of your search history and login data.

On the iOS mobile device, tap Settings. Scroll down and tap Safari. On the next screen, tap Clear History and Website Data. You have to verify your choice by tapping the Clear History and Data button that appears on the bottom of the screen.

Use Screen Time to disable Safari

As we described earlier with hiding Safari on a Mac, you can use Screen Time on the iPhone or iPad to disable Safari. 

Tap Settings and then tap Screen Time. On the next screen, tap Content & Privacy Restrictions. On the following screen, slide the Content & Privacy Restrictions button to the right to make it green. Then tap on Allowed Apps

On the next screen, scroll down until you see Safari. Slide the button next to Safari to the left to remove the green color.

This will remove the Safari icon from the display screen for mobile device, making it inaccessible.

If you ever want to make the Safari icon visible again and to begin using it again, follow the same steps listed in this section, but move the slider button next to Safari to the right to make it green again.

Deleting Safari FAQs

What are some options to replace the Safari browser?

Some potential web browser alternatives you can use on Apple devices instead of Safari include:

  • Brave
  • DuckDuckGo (iOS mobile version only)
  • Firefox
  • Google Chrome
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Opera

If privacy is important to you, we’d recommend opting for either DuckDuckGo or Brave. Avoid Microsoft Edge as it includes un-removable trackers that share device information and browsing data.

What will I lose if I uninstall Safari?

If you have passwords and bookmarks saved as part of your Safari installation, you would lose this information. If you installed extensions as part of Safari, you would lose these too. Make sure to make a note of login credentials before removing Safari.

Should I uninstall Safari from Windows?

There’s no need, because Apple no longer supports a version of the Safari web browser for Windows, Linux, or other operating systems. Safari only is available for MacOS and iOS. Apple has not made a Windows version of Safari for a decade, so, unless you have an extremely old Windows computer, you will have no opportunity to delete Safari.

If I decide to keep Safari, how can I make it safer?

Although Safari offers a Private Mode, which prevents tracking cookies and other identifiers being stored on the browser. The safest way to operate is to use Private mode in combination with a VPN that works with Safari. The VPN will encrypt the data going back and forth through the Safari browser, making your browsing session much safer. Select a VPN that has an app designed specifically to work with the MacOS and iOS for the best results.