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Fix: Pictures Not Loading Properly in the Safari browser

If Safari's having trouble displaying images correctly, learn how to troubleshoot and fix the issue, ensuring your browser renders images properly again.

The Safari browser downloads the webpage content and images from the online server.

However, the images might not load correctly or be scrambled due to rendering issues.

In such cases, you can downgrade the display settings, clear outdated cache, disable conflicting extensions, and keep checking for system updates for the fix from Apple.

FIX: Images not loading Properly in Safari browser

The Safari browser is known for its stability and 100% compatibility with macOS. However, there can be a few unavoidable issues the software can encounter.

One such issue is with loading images or pictures on the web browser. The users have reported that Safari cannot load images or render a scrambled or distorted picture that is not recognizable.

The browser downloads images from a web server and displays them using the rendering engine (like WebKit for Safari) to provide a full user experience. But, any conflicting setup or bug with the rendering process can cause the pages and images to be distorted.

The following guide will help you to troubleshoot with image loading problem and help you get a better user experience on the Safari browser.

Basic Troubleshooting

It’s always recommended to start with fundamentals when troubleshooting browsers or technical issues. Most of the time, a simple device restart can help in resolving the issue.

If the Safari browser cannot load images, you should consider restarting your Mac.

Apple Mac Restart menu under Apple Logo

You can also check if the network connectivity is good to load heavy images and files. You can try to ping example.com to check if there are any packet losses.

The network bandwidth speed is another step that you should check to ensure enough browsing speed.

You can find mentioned and a few other first-hand troubleshooting guides in detail to get started with before moving to advanced steps.

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Note: Taking a system backup using Time Machine before proceeding with any advanced troubleshooting methods is recommended to avoid any unforeseen data loss.

Downgrade Display Settings

If Safari is loading textual content and the problem lies with only images or pictures rendering, your device display settings also play a significant role. Especially when the images are scrambled or distorted or only loading a part of the picture.

When your display settings are set to the highest possible settings (XDR, ProMotion, Retina, True Tone, etc.), Safari tries to render the images that match the setup using the most system memory. In such cases, the rendering engine fails, sometimes resulting in an awkward image like this:

Scrambled or Distorted image load issue on Safari browser

A quick solution- downgrade the display settings to suppress the image rendering process. Here are the steps:

  1. Click on the Apple apple logo in the menu bar and select the System Settings menu.
    Apple Menubar with System Settings highlighted
  2. In the left pane, scroll down to select Display settings.
    It will open the Display setup page.
  3. Depending on your Mac device, customize it to lower performance.
    MacBook Default Display Settings

On Macbook 14 M1 Pro, I can:

  • Turn off the True Tone
  • downgrade Refresh Rate to 60 Hertz and
  • change the Preset level to Apple Display (500 nits) instead of XDR Display (1600 nits).
    MacBook Downgraded Display Settings

It will significantly reduce the system performance stress and render images typically but with a compromised display feeling.

Similarly, you can customize your device display settings to have minimal effect on performance without much compromise.

Update Safari browser

If you’ve started encountering the issue after a macOS or Safari update, then the upgrade to the code might have broken the image rendering functionality of the Safari browser. In such cases, we need to wait for Apple to release another update with a patch fix. Here are the steps to check for updates:

  1. Click the Apple apple logo menu and select System Settings from the drop-down menu.
    Apple Menubar with System Settings highlighted
  2. Switch to the General tab in the left pane, and select the Software Update option.
    Software Update menu under General tab on macOSThe program will check for software updates if any are available.
  3. Click on the More Info.
    More Info option with Software Updates Available on macOS
  4. Select the Safari updates, if any are available, and hit the Install Now button.

After you install the updates, make sure to restart the Mac machine. It will ensure the backend broken code is cleared.

Empty Cache Data

The Safari browser stores the images and other static assets as a browser cache in local storage. It helps quickly load the sites and assets instead of downloading from the server.

However, the data may get corrupted or outdated, resulting in issues with images or even the site loading. Flushing the cache ensures that outdated cache and data are removed.

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Note: Clearing the cache will lead to slow site loading performance for a few instances, and may also log out from the account. Keep your account passwords in sync with Keychain and iCloud.
  1. Launch the Apple Safari on your Mac.
  2. Click on the Safari menu, and select the Settings sub-menu.
    Apple Safari Settings menu
  3. Switch to the Advanced tab and enable the check box for the Show Develop menu in the menu bar option.
    Show Develop menu in menu bar on Safari macOSIt will enable a new Develop menu in the Safari menu bar.
  4. Click on the Develop menu on the menu bar.
  5. Select Empty Caches from the drop-down menu.
    Empty Caches from Develop menu in Safari browser

After you have cleared the cache, restart the browser as a fresh one. The Force Quit or Activity Monitor option can kill Safari’s background processes.

Turn Off Extensions

There are multiple browser extensions to add functionality to the Safari app that does not readily exist. However, these extensions can conflict with basic functionality like page rendering resulting in a distorted image load. You should consider temporarily disabling the extensions to identify the bad actors.

  1. Open the Safari app on your Mac computer.
  2. Click on Safari from the menubar and select the Settings menu.
    Apple Safari Settings menu
  3. Switch to the Extensions tab in the Settings window.
  4. In the left pane, uncheck the checkbox to Turn Off the corresponding extension.
    Enable or Disable Extension in Safari on macOS

If you find the culprit, you can use the Uninstall command button to remove the Safari extension.

If disabling extensions does not fix the issue, then you can Turn On the extensions.

Use Alternative Browser

If none of the troubleshooting methods worked, and you cannot get your work done without proper images, switch to Safari alternatives for macOS.

There are multiple browsers, like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, etc., that are fully compatible and offer a great browser experience for your Mac computer.

Meanwhile, you can keep checking for updates on your system and, after a successful update, switch back to Safari if required.

Bottom Line

We cannot anticipate the exact reason for the image loading issue on the Safari browser. However, the above troubleshooting methods can rule out some of the most common problems that can inflict the rendering engine.

If the issue is widespread, the Apple Developers will eventually release an update to fix it. You can report the issue from your end to get notified as soon as the issue is resolved. Else wait for the next update; until then, the alternatives are always handy.

Lastly, if you've any thoughts or feedback, then feel free to drop in below comment box. You can also report the outdated information.

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Kushal Azza

Kushal Azza

Kushal Azza is a Google Certified IT Professional, Digital Content Creator, and Go-To Digital Marketer with Engineering Degree. He has over a decade of experience solving tech problems, troubleshooting, and innovating digital solutions. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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