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Archived - Mac OS: Web Browser Quits Unexpectedly or Stops Responding

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Symptoms

Use the steps presented in this document to troubleshoot situations in which a Web browser unexpectedly quits or stops responding ("hangs" or "freezes").

Note: This document focuses on browsers other than Safari. If you are using Safari, stop here and go to technical document, "Safari: Safari Unexpectedly Quits".

    1. You encounter an alert message similar to "An error of Type -2 has occurred" when using Microsoft Internet Explorer.
    Note: Users of Mac OS 8 or Mac OS 9 who encounter this message should try removing a particular preference file before proceeding with the more general troubleshooting presented in this document. See technical document, "Microsoft Internet: 'Error of Type -2' When Opening Explorer, Outlook Express, or Entourage".

    2. When you are using a Web browser, it unexpectedly quits. An alert box with a message such as this appears:

    "The application Internet Explorer has unexpectedly quit."

    3. After the Web browser is affected, it may immediately quit on subsequent attempts to open the application; or it may quit immediately if you attempt to reload the Web site that was being viewed when it quit the first time. Note: This symptom is less common than the first and second.


Symptoms 2 and 3 tend to occur only on certain Web sites, or when certain types of active content are present, such as:

  • Java
  • ActiveX
  • Scripting
  • Files that use Plug-in software (such as Macromedia Shockwave Flash, iPix, or Windows Media)

Resolution

Web browser concepts

Before you begin troubleshooting, here are four key points to help you understand why Web browsers sometimes do not work as you expect them to.

A. Browsers react differently to Web standards that change frequently

The webmasters that design the sites you visit on the Internet do so in accordance with standards, or rules, that change over time. When converting data into the pages and images that you view, different Web browsers react in different ways to these changing standards. Not all browsers are made to adhere to all of the varying standards that you can encounter on the Internet. Discrepancies may be as insignificant as a difference in line spacing or tabs. It may be that tables and frames display correctly in one browser but not in another. Or it may be as significant as causing your browser to quit unexpectedly. No single Web browser is fully compatible with every page on the Internet. In addition to the troubleshooting steps presented below, you are best prepared by being familiar with at least two Web browsers, and having at least two installed on your computer. Some Web sites are designed only to work properly with a particular browser, and some will even state this. When all else fails, try a different Web browser for a given Web site.

B. Updating your Internet software increases your compatibility

Keeping the Internet software that you use up to date maximizes the chance that the content you encounter on the Internet will be compatible. This includes several major categories:

  • Web browsers
  • Java software
  • Plug-in software (such as Shockwave Flash, iPix)
  • Media players (such as QuickTime, RealPlayer, Windows Media Player)


Note: Media players also install plug-in files.

C. A browser's cache file may store bad data

When you view sites on the Internet, some files must be temporarily stored (or "cached") on your hard disk. These cached files are automatically erased over time, as the cache file reaches a certain size limit. If the browser will not open at all, or if it continues to quit unexpectedly, as described in Symptom 3 above, you may alleviate the issue in many cases by removing the browser's cache file before opening the application.

D. Types of Web content - active, inactive, media

When you experience issues on the Web, watch for types of content that you can associate the behavior with, particularly active and media content. Try troubleshooting or updating the specific software components that facilitate that type of active content or media content.

"Inactive" Web content is best represented by the text you read on Web page, which is written in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). Once rendered, this content is static and invariable. It does not invoke any other processes in your Web browser application.

"Active" content is a broad term that includes many different technologies. Generally, it invokes another process in your Web browser. It may cause a new advertising window to open every 30 seconds; it may be an application that appears in your browser, such as a chess game; or it may interface with a Web-based application, such as online banking.

Media content relies on your browser's ability to utilize plug-in software to read different types of media, such as sound, pictures, and movies. Plug-in software is that which adds capabilities to your Web browser that it did not originally have. Internet Explorer, for instance, does not have the innate ability to display Flash movies. But with the Flash plug-in installed in the correct folder, the Flash movie is automatically displayed as part of a Web page.


Troubleshooting

I. Locate preferences, cache, and plug-ins

This document uses Microsoft Internet Explorer as an example. These steps hold true for almost any Web browser, though the locations of preference files and plug-in files does vary with other Web browsers. You may need to take a few moments to familiarize yourself with where your Web browser stores its preference and plug-in files on your hard disk. You may use Sherlock to do this. Files are described in this document using "pathnames," which are a way of simultaneously noting an item's name and location. For help reading a pathname, see technical document, "Mac OS: About Folders, Directories, and Pathnames".

For Mac OS 8, Mac OS 9

Plug-in files are generally stored in the same folder as the browser application.

Preferences and the cache file are generally stored here:

Macintosh HD: System Folder: Preferences: <Browser_Name>:

For example:

Macintosh HD: System Folder: Preferences: Explorer:

For Mac OS X 10.0 and later

Plug-in files are stored in this location:

/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/

Preferences and cache file are generally stored in this location:

/Users/<User_Name>/Library/Preferences/<Browser_Name>/

For example:

/Users/hubert/Library/Preferences/Explorer/

You may access this location easily by clicking the Home icon in the Finder window's toolbar, then opening your Library folder.

Warning: Before removing or relocating any browser-related files, remember that some of them contain data that you may consider valuable. Files with names such as "favorites.html" or "bookmarks.html" contain your lists of bookmarked Web sites. Some browsers, Netscape for example, also store email or contact information in their preferences. The only preference file removed in the troubleshooting steps below is your browser's cache file. Be sure to use caution when removing any preference file.

II. Be sure your Web browser is up to date

Check the version of your Web browser. In Mac OS X, choose About Internet Explorer from the Explorer application menu. In Mac OS 8 or 9, you would choose About Internet Explorer from the Apple menu. If you cannot get the browser to open, select the application in the Finder and then choose Get Info (Mac OS 8,9) or Show Info (Mac OS X) from the File menu.

Go to the Web site of your browser's publisher. If a later version exists than the one you have, download and install it.

Note: Internet Explorer for Mac OS X is an exception to this. Updates are distributed via the Automatic Software Update feature found in the System Preferences application.

III. Update Java software

Some Web browsers, Netscape 4.7 for example, include their own Java software. For these browsers, updating the browser itself updates the Java software. Other browsers use Java software provided by Apple with Mac OS. In Mac OS 8 and 9, this is MRJ (Macintosh Runtime for Java). Mac OS X includes Java as part of the operating system. Internet Explorer is an example of a browser that uses Apple Java software.

You may update Apple Java software using the Software Update control panel in Mac OS 9, or using the Software Update pane in System Preferences in Mac OS X. Software is available for download at Apple Software Downloads (http://www.apple.com/swupdates/).

IV. Update plug-in and media player software

Open the plug-ins folder and look at which software you are using. Go to the Web sites of the plug-in publishers and check for latest versions. If necessary, download and install new versions of the plug-ins.

V. Remove the browser's cache file

Your browser may offer a button for deleting the cache. In Internet Explorer, this is located in the Advanced pane of Internet Explorer Preferences.

If the browser stops responding or will not open, then you may perform this in the Finder. Follow these steps:

    1. Quit the browser if it is open. If the browser does not respond to the Quit command, you may attempt to force quit the browser by pressing the Option-Command-Escape key combination.
    2. Drag the browser cache file that you located earlier to the Trash.
    3. Reopen the browser.


Note: Internet Explorer has additional cache-related files with the ".waf" filename extension. Your browser may or may not use such additional files. These files may not be located in the same folder as the primary cache file, as they are not in the example of Internet Explorer.

Example - Explorer in Mac OS 9

Remove these two files:

Macintosh HD: System Folder: Preferences: Explorer: Download Cache
Macintosh HD: System Folder: Preferences: MS Internet Cache: cache.waf

Example - Explorer in Mac OS X

Remove these four files:

/Users/<User_Name>/Library/Preferences/Explorer/Download Cache
/Users/<User_Name>/Library/Caches/MS Internet Cache/cache.waf
/Users/<User_Name>/Library/Caches/MS Internet Cache/IE Cache.waf
/Users/<User_Name>/Library/Caches/MS Internet Cache/IE Control Cache.waf

VI. Disable active content

If the previous steps have not resolved your issue, try viewing the affected Web site with active content disabled in your Web browser. This is done by deselecting types of content in your browser's preferences window. For Internet Explorer:

    1. Choose Preferences from the Edit menu (Mac OS 8,9) or from the Explorer application menu (Mac OS X). The Internet Explorer Preferences window opens.
    2. Select the Web Content pane from the list on the left side of the window.
    3. Deselect the checkboxes for "Enable scripting", "Enable plug-ins", and "ActiveX".
    Note: ActiveX is not an option in the Mac OS X version.
    4. Select the Java pane. Deselect the checkbox for Enable Java.
    5. Click OK.


VII. Try a different Web browser

If you cannot resolve an issue with your preferred Web browser, try a different browser. You may locate software using these Web sites:

Macintosh Product Guide
http://www.guide.apple.com

VersionTracker
http://www.versiontracker.com/
Tip: Click the tab for your version of Mac OS then search on "web browser".

VIII. Send site feedback

Even if you cannot successfully connect to an affected Web site, you may still attempt to send site feedback via email. You can try common addresses such as:

webmaster@<affected_domain_name>.com
postmaster@<affected_domain_name>.com
feedback@<affected_domain_name>.com

Give the administrator a brief description of your computer's configuration, which operating system you use, which Web browser you use, and the issue.

Additional information

You should seek additional support information from documents included with third-party software, from Web-based help at the software manufacturer's Web site, or by contacting the third-party's support personnel when applicable.

Mention of third-party Web sites and products is for informational purposes only and constitutes neither an endorsement nor a recommendation. Apple assumes no responsibility with regard to the selection, performance or use of information or products found at third-party Web sites. Apple provides this only as a convenience to our users. Apple has not tested the information found on these sites and makes no representations regarding its accuracy or reliability. There are dangers inherent in the use of any information or products found on the Internet, and Apple assumes no responsibility in this regard. Please understand that a third-party site is independent from Apple and that Apple has no control over the content on that Web site.

Last Modified: Jan 19, 2012
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  • Last Modified: Jan 19, 2012
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