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iCloud: Troubleshooting iCloud Bookmarks and Reading List

Symptoms

If you encounter an issue using iCloud Bookmarks or Reading List, follow the steps in this article to help you troubleshoot.

Resolution

Always begin with these general troubleshooting steps. Before troubleshooting, make sure you have a copy of your bookmarks.

  • Check the System Status page to make sure there aren't any issues affecting iCloud Bookmarks or Reading List.
  • Check the iCloud system requirements to make sure that you're using a web browser that works with iCloud Bookmarks and Reading List.
  • Check your settings and preferences. For example, incorrect date and time settings can cause issues that are easily resolved by entering the appropriate settings.
  • If you need help troubleshooting iCloud Tabs in Safari 6 or later, follow the instructions for using and troubleshooting iCloud tabs.
  • If new and deleted bookmarks are being kept up to date, but are not displayed in the same order across multiple devices, determine how many bookmarks are in the bookmarks folder. If you add or move bookmarks in a folder containing 500 or more bookmarks, the order of bookmarks may not be the same on all of your devices.

If these steps didn't resolve the issue, follow the instructions below for the operating system you're using—iOS, OS X, or Microsoft Windows.

Troubleshooting on iOS

First, confirm that you’ve turned on iCloud Bookmarks:

  • On iOS 6 or iOS 7, go to Settings > iCloud and check that Safari is turned on.
  • On iOS 5, go to Settings > iCloud and check that Bookmarks is turned on.

Next, try each of these steps, testing after each step to see if the issue is resolved:

  • Try installing the latest version of iOS supported by your device.
  • Go to Settings > iCloud and make sure you are signed in to the same iCloud account that you are using on your other supported devices.
  • Make sure that your iOS device is online by attempting to view www.apple.com. If you can't connect to the Internet, iCloud Bookmarks and Reading List will not update in the Safari app. If necessary, review the instructions for troubleshooting your Internet connection.
  • Open a secure website to test if ports 80 and 443 are accessible. Safari requires port 443 access to iCloud to push and fetch updates to and from the iCloud Bookmarks and Reading List servers.
  • If you're using iOS 7, quit and restart the Safari app:
    1. Press the Home button twice to see preview screens of the apps you have open.
    2. Find the Safari preview screen and swipe it up and out of preview to quit the application.
    3. Press the Home button to return to your Home screen. Wait a minute before opening the Safari app.
  • If you're using iOS 5.1 to iOS 6.1.4, quit and restart the Safari app on your iOS device:
    1. Press the Home button.
    2. Double-click the Home button to open the multitasking menu.
    3. Tap and hold the Safari icon until it jiggles.
    4. Tap the "X" to remove Safari from the list.
    5. Press the Home button to return to your Home screen. Wait a minute before reopening the Safari app.
  • Turn iCloud Bookmarks off and back on. The same setting applies to both Bookmarks and Reading List:
    1. Go to Settings > iCloud, then turn off Safari (or Bookmarks). Choose to delete data only if your data exists on one or more of your computers. Otherwise, choose Keep Data.
    2. Wait a few minutes before turning Safari (or Bookmarks) back on.
  • Restart your iOS device. This may sound simple, but it does reinitialize your network and application settings and can frequently resolve issues.
    • Turn device off: Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button for a few seconds until the slider appears, then drag the slider.
    • Turn device on: Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button until the Apple logo appears.

Troubleshooting on OS X Lion or later

First, confirm that you've turned on iCloud bookmarks:

  1. Choose Apple () menu > System Preferences, then click the icon for iCloud.
  2. Make sure that the checkbox labeled Safari (or Bookmarks) is selected.

Next, try each of these steps, testing after each step to see if the issue is resolved:

  • Make sure that you are using OS X Lion v10.7.5 or later. If necessary, review the steps for finding your OS X version information.
  • Make sure that your computer is online by attempting to view www.apple.com. If you can't connect to the Internet, iCloud Bookmarks and Reading List will not update in Safari. If necessary, review the instructions for troubleshooting your Internet connection.
  • Open a secure website to test if ports 80 and 443 are accessible. Safari requires port 443 access to iCloud to push and fetch updates to and from the iCloud Bookmarks and Reading List servers.
  • Choose Apple () menu > System Preferences, then click the icon for iCloud. Make sure that you are signed in to the same iCloud account that you are using on your other supported devices.
  • If recent changes don't appear, try making Safari refresh by quitting and reopening Safari.
  • Turn iCloud Bookmarks off and back on:
    1. Quit Safari.
    2. Choose Apple () menu > System Preferences, then click the icon for iCloud.
    3. If you are using OS X Mavericks or Mountain Lion, deselect the checkbox next to Safari. If you are using OS X Lion, deselect the checkbox next to Bookmarks.
    4. Close System Preferences and wait about a minute.
    5. Open System Preferences and choose iCloud.
    6. Select the checkbox next to Safari (or Bookmarks). Click Merge.
    7. Close System Preferences.
    8. Open Safari and test to see if the issue is resolved.
  • Restart your computer. This may sound simple, but it does reinitialize your network and application settings and can frequently resolve issues.

Troubleshooting on Microsoft Windows

If you are having trouble with iCloud Bookmarks on a Windows PC, try each of these steps, testing after each step to see if the issue is resolved.

  • Verify that you are using a Windows configuration and web browser that is supported by iCloud.
  • If you installed a new web browser after you installed iCloud Control Panel, it will not appear in the Options list until you close and reopen the iCloud Control Panel.
  • If you are unable to use iCloud Bookmarks with Internet Explorer, test with Firefox or Google Chrome. But make sure that you have a copy of your bookmarks before troubleshooting with multiple web browsers.
    • If the issue affects only one of your web browsers, while the other browser updates bookmarks without issue, confine your troubleshooting to the browser that does not work. If you are unable to resolve the issue specific to that browser, you may wish to use your other browser as a workaround.
    • If both web browsers are affected, troubleshoot your computer and network and continue isolating the cause of the issue using the steps below.
    • If you changed the location where your Internet Explorer Favorites (bookmarks) are saved, your Favorites will not automatically update on your other iCloud devices. To correct this issue, open the iCloud Control Panel, click the Options button next to Bookmarks, and deselect Internet Explorer. Click Ok, then click Apply. Change the location of your favorites folder back to the default location (usually C:\Users\username\Favorites). Then return to iCloud Control Panel and turn automatic updates back on for Internet Explorer.
    • Bookmarks in Google Chrome may not update as quickly as in Internet Explorer or Firefox, because Google Chrome limits the number of updates that can be made in a short period of time.
  • If you're using Internet Explorer 10 or Google Chrome, your browser must be in desktop mode for full compatibility with iCloud Control Panel bookmarks updating.
    • To make desktop mode the default in Internet Explorer 10, click the Tools icon. Then select Internet Options > Programs > Open Internet Explorer tiles on the desktop. Choose "Always in Internet Explorer on the Desktop" from the menu and click OK.
    • To make desktop mode the default in Google Chrome, click the Chrome button. Then select Relaunch Chrome on the desktop.
  • If you're using Firefox or Google Chrome, make sure that the browser add-on or extension is enabled:
    • In Firefox, depending on the version of Firefox you're using, select Firefox > Add-ons > Extensions, or select Tools > Add-ons > Extensions. If the iCloud Bookmarks add-on has been disabled, click Enable.
    • In Chrome, click the Chrome button. Select Settings > Extensions. Make sure the the Enabled checkbox is selected next to iCloud Bookmarks.
  • Make sure that your computer is online by attempting to view www.apple.com. If you can't connect to the Internet, iCloud Bookmarks will not be able to send or receive updates. If necessary, review the instructions for troubleshooting your Internet connection.
  • Open a secure website to test if ports 80 and 443 are accessible. Safari and Internet Explorer require port 443 access to iCloud to push and fetch updates to and from the iCloud Bookmarks and Reading List servers.
  • Open the iCloud Control Panel and make sure that you are signed in to the same iCloud account that you are using on your other supported devices.
  • Close and reopen the iCloud Control Panel.
  • If you recently made changes in your web browser and those changes are not moving to your other devices or vice versa, either wait 15 minutes for the changes to take effect, or quit and reopen your web browser to trigger a refresh of changes.
  • Turn iCloud Bookmarks off and back on:
    1. Close any browser that you're using with iCloud Bookmarks.
    2. In Windows 8.1, go to the Start screen, click the down arrow Down arrow in the lower-left corner, then click the iCloud app.
    3. In Windows 8, open the iCloud Control Panel by clicking the iCloud tile from the Windows Start screen.
    4. In Windows 7, choose Start menu > All Programs > iCloud > iCloud.
    5. Deselect the checkbox next to Bookmarks and click Apply. Wait about a minute, select the checkbox next to Bookmarks, and click Apply.
    6. Open your browser and test to see if the issue has been resolved.
  • Restart your computer. This may sound simple, but it does reinitialize your network and application settings and can frequently resolve issues.

Note: To stop automatically updating bookmarks in Firefox or Google Chrome, use iCloud Control Panel to disable the iCloud extension or browser add-on:

  1. Open iCloud Control Panel.
    • In Windows 8.1: Go to the Start screen, click the down arrow Down arrow in the lower-left corner, then click the iCloud app.
    • In Windows 8: Go to the Start screen, then click the iCloud tile.
    • In Windows 7: Choose Start menu > All Programs > iCloud > iCloud.
  2. Click Options next to Bookmarks.
  3. Deselect the Chrome or Firefox checkbox. Click OK.
  4. Click Apply, then click Remove.
  5. If you turned off Chrome in the iCloud Control Panel, the extensions tab will open in Chrome. Click the checkbox next to the iCloud Bookmarks extension to disable automatic updates, or click the trash icon to remove the add-on.
  6. If you turned off Firefox in the Control Panel, the Firefox Add-ons Manager will open. Next to the iCloud Bookmarks add-on, click Disable to disable automatic updates, or click Remove to remove the extension.

Learn more about using using iCloud Bookmarks with Firefox or Google Chrome for Windows.

Troubleshooting duplicate bookmarks

When you are troubleshooting or deleting duplicate bookmarks, it's especially important to make sure you have a copy of your bookmarks.

You may be able to remove duplicate bookmarks using the same tools you use to manage your bookmarks.

  • In Safari on a Mac, review and edit your bookmarks by selecting Bookmarks > Show (All) Bookmarks. Unless you are using a custom configuration, you will have a single Bookmarks Bar and a single Bookmarks Menu collection. If you have multiple copies of the same bookmarks collections, those collections may contain the same content. Your bookmarks could be duplicated because you have multiple copies of the Bookmarks Bar or Bookmarks Menu collections. If so, you may want to delete the extra collections.
  • In Internet Explorer on a Windows-based PC, you can manage bookmarks (known as Favorites in Internet Explorer), by clicking the Star icon in the upper-right section of Internet Explorer, or by pressing Alt+C.
  • In Firefox on a PC, click the bookmarks menu button, then select Show All Bookmarks (Ctrl+Shift+B).
  • In Google Chrome on a PC, click the Chrome button, then select Bookmarks > Bookmark Manager (Ctrl+Shift+O).

If your bookmarks are duplicated in a way that isn't manageable through a few simple changes, or if it appears that it will take a long time to manually clean up your bookmarks, you may want to use a third-party application. There are a variety of third-party solutions for bookmarks management for Safari, including Safari Prairiefire. See the Firefox Add-Ons page or the Chrome Web Store for third-party solutions for those browsers.

Note: The default bookmarks sets for each browser will also push to all your devices. If you are using the same browser on multiple devices, you may see more than one copy of the default bookmarks set appear on all your devices.

Important: Mention of third-party websites 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 websites. 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 risks 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 website. Please contact the vendor for additional information.
Last Modified: Sep 5, 2014
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  • Last Modified: Sep 5, 2014
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