Monday, April 9, 2012

Downgrading Safari in Snow Leopard

How many of you are sick and tired of the bugs and problems that afflicted Safari since the 5.1 update? I sure have. I have wanted to go back to 5.0.5, which was much more stable than the current version. Apple has updated it 5 times now at 5.1.5, and it has only partially helped.

People have told me that you can't downgrade it; Safari is so integrated into the OS that the normal method of tossing the app and installing a previous version simply doesn't work. In Lion, this is true because Lion started with 5.1. Snow Leopard, however, used to load 5.0, and the final version for 10.6.8v1.1 installed 5.0.5.

Well, I succeeded. I have a Mini running Snow Leopard and Safari 5.1.2, and I finally got it to go backwards. This is what I did:

First, you need to make invisible files and folders visible. The simplest way to do this is to download a Dashboard widget that toggles invisibility off or on. Install it and you get a tiny window that says "Hidden Files" with a single button: Show.

To go back later to hiding them, that button becomes a Hide button when invisibles are showing. There is a Terminal command that will do the same thing, but this is simpler, especially for those who are wary of messing about in Terminal.

Next, Trash Safari from the Applications folder. Then go into the Home Library and move the Safari folder to the Desktop. Then open the main Library at the top level of your hard drive. Open Application Support, Apple, then look for the shaded, formerly-invisible files titled .Safari_Leopard, .SafariArchive.tar.gz and .SafariPath. All those files, and all other invisible files (not necessarily folders) begin with a dot. That is why you can't deliberately begin filenames with a dot; that tells the Mac that it is invisible.

Trash those three files. Then restart the Mac.

At first, I thought I could simply install Safari by running the Safari 5.0.5 DMG installer. But when I tried, the installer told me that "This file requires OSX 10.6.7 or later." Well, I had 10.6.8. None of the installers would work. However, I simply reran the OSX 10.6.8 v1.1 Combo Updater, which I had originally used to update from 10.6.7, and lo, there was a shiny new copy of Safari 5.0.5 and it ran perfectly.

Strangely, all my history and bookmarks were in place! They should have still been in that folder on the Desktop but when I looked inside, I found the contents had moved into the one in Library, and the fresh, empty stock bookmark files had wound up in the one on the desktop.

I can't guarantee that would happen to you, so you want to be prepared to do it manually: Move these files into the Safari folder in your Library: Bookmarks.plist, Configurations.plist.signed, Downloads.plist, Form Values, History.plist, and History Index.sk. The folders and other files you can leave behind; they will update themselves as needed. But if the Installer did it for you, skip this step entirely.

To get the final 10.6.8 Combo Updater, get it from Apple. It's okay to run it on top of your existing version of 10.6.8, and if you never ran the v1.1 updater to that, you also get some important bug fixes that afflicted the original 10.6.8 update.

1 comment:

Chris Miller said...

Wonderfully clear and helpful post, and I thank you for it. Out of any number of lengthy articles and discussion threads complaining about the problems with Safari 5.1, this is the only piece with a clear focus on what I needed to do to downgrade.

Unfortunately, Apple seems determined to stymie the effort! It seems that whenever I install an OS upgrade — even a seemingly innocuous security patch! — for some reason it also upgrades my Safari installation back to 5.1. It's happened to me twice now!

You'd think that if Apple is so determined to have us use the latest version of its browser, they might at least put a little effort into making it *usable*. I'm a longtime Apple loyalist, but the problems with the recent versions of software from Cupertino (not just this, but iPhoto and iTunes as well, among others) are inexcusable.