On a safari to nowhere
October 17, 2011 1:38 PM   Subscribe

Safari redrawing every tab – is this a known problem?

I'm on OS X 10.6.8 with the latest Safari. I need to have a bunch of tabs open all the time for my blog. Maybe 20-25 tabs. This wasn't a problem till recently – I was working this way for years.

But now, once or twice a day Safari suddenly has to redraw every tab. This is annoying, especially as it occasionally redraws the tab I'm working in and I lose things I've written.

I have Flash turned off, I have AdBlock and OpenAtEnd plugins on, but that's all for extra bells and whistles. I think this may have come with the most recent Safari update, but neither plugin has offered me an update recently.

I could use a different browser, but until recently Safari's has been perfect for my blogging purposes. I'd like to get back to that.

Anyone offer me any clues?
posted by zadcat to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've been having this problem too, though for me it's been on 10.7.1 (just updated to 10.7.2, so I can't claim that it still happens yet). I'm curious about this myself. Just for one more data point, is Private Browsing turned on?
posted by invitapriore at 1:50 PM on October 17, 2011

It was for me on 10.7.1, 10.7.2 fixed it.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:50 PM on October 17, 2011

It's a widespread problem. Supposedly fixed with the recent update. I "fixed" it a while back by switching to Chrome. It's much better.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 1:59 PM on October 17, 2011

I didn't have Private Browsing on – it's my home computer, no need.

Unfortunately, I have reasons not to go to 10.7 quite yet.
posted by zadcat at 1:59 PM on October 17, 2011

I believe (but don't know) that this is related to the push to bring iOS features to the Mac. On iPhone and iPad, Safari very aggressively removes pages from memory when it gets low. I believe the desktop browser is now doing the same thing when app memory usage gets too high. Having a lot of tabs open definitely does cause browser memory usage to balloon, and Safari's memory usage has been much lower since this started happening.

As far as I know, there's no way to turn off this feature. I'd second the suggestion to give Chrome a try if the tab reloading is driving you nuts -- it's definitely the next best thing on a Mac these days.
posted by duien at 2:05 PM on October 17, 2011

Oh, I just noticed you mentioned it's happening in your current tab. That, I haven't seen before and sounds like a bug.

You can submit it to Apple. From the 'Safari' menu, 'Report Bugs to Apple...'
posted by duien at 2:10 PM on October 17, 2011

Here is the Apple discussion, and a possible explanation and workaround.

What’s going on here?

So what is a “multi-process window” anyway?

One of the new features in Safari 5.1 is a major new version of the underlying engine — WebKit2. Under WebKit2’s new process architecture, Safari consists of two separate processes — the “UI process” (the Safari application itself, including the address bar, toolbar, bookmarks bar, menus, etc.), and the “web process” (an independent process that loads and displays actual web pages).

Apart from other goals, the purpose of this is to provide some measure of crash protection. While it does prevent the entire Safari application from crashing (at least as far as I’ve seen), it doesn’t protect you from losing anything you’ve typed into text fields in web pages. All web content is handled by a single web process, so if any page malfunctions and causes the web process to crash, all open tabs will be reloaded, and anything you had typed into any of those pages will be lost. Furthermore, any downloads that were in progress will also be halted; you might be able to resume some downloads, but many will have to be started over. This can be very frustrating when downloading large files.

For that reason, the benefits of the new multi-process architecture are somewhat dubious, at least until Apple manages to address the issue of spontaneously reloading tabs (assuming it’s even possible to prevent this behavior without redesigning the overall architecture of WebKit again).

posted by b1tr0t at 2:11 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

When I upgraded from Safari 5.0.5 to Safari 5.1.0 (also on OS 10.6.8) it became nearly unusable—several times a day it would offer to reload all my tabs because something wasn't responding, but would would usually (not always) start responding again without having to accept that reloading after 30 seconds to a minute. Less disruptive to typed text in progress but still interrupting the smooth use of the browser was the more frequent need to redraw all my tabs and windows (they all go white when I switch to them, but get re-drawn with all the text in progress, etc. intact). That would prevent me from using or even reading anything in Safari for between a second to a minute or more, often triggered by switching tabs while waiting for a slow-loading page.

Fortunately, I'd waited a bit before upgrading to Safari 5.1.0, so I didn't have to wait long before Safari 5.1.1 came out earlier this week, just before I gave in and switched browsers. That seems to have solved all my problems. Are you sure you have the latest of the latest version of Safari?
posted by JiBB at 2:43 PM on October 17, 2011

(Also, I believe that the Safari 5.1.0 -> 5.1.1 update was part of the OS 10.7.1 -> 10.7.2 update several posters mentioned above. So you don't need to switch to Lion for that fix, if it is the fix for you.)
posted by JiBB at 2:45 PM on October 17, 2011

The Lion version of Safari often uses an insane amount of memory - I've seen mine go up over 6GB with a few tabs open.

I don't know if dumping tabs from memory when needed is a new feature (Chrome and Firefox do the same, don't they?), but Safari certainly would have more occasion to do that these days.
posted by The Lamplighter at 2:59 PM on October 17, 2011

I'm already using Safari 5.1.1, so that's not a fix. I think I may have to transfer all my blog links and stuff to another browser, since the response indicates I'm probably dealing with a feature, not a bug. Thanks all!
posted by zadcat at 3:01 PM on October 17, 2011

The feature means that a page is crashing your web process. This indicates some sort of memory leak. Is there one page which you keep open fairly constantly?
posted by bitdamaged at 3:48 PM on October 17, 2011

I open two dozen media sites every day for my blog and if one of them is the problem, it'll take some finding.
posted by zadcat at 4:51 PM on October 17, 2011

I don't know how well it will work under Lion, but if you want to revert to Safari 5.0.5 you can download Safari 5.0.5 for Snow Leopard and use Pacifist to install it. (Leave the “use administrator privileges” box checked and click "Replace" whenever asked.)
posted by nicwolff at 8:07 PM on October 17, 2011

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