Troubleshooting Bookmarks and Reading List

Always begin with the general troubleshooting steps below. If following these steps don’t resolve your issue, then select the section for the application you’re having issues with. For example, if you’re having issues with Bookmarks on your iPhone, once you’ve completed general troubleshooting, skip to the iOS section. If you need assistance troubleshooting iCloud Tabs in Safari 6 or later, see this article.

Note: Prior to troubleshooting, make sure you have backed up any important bookmark data from your devices and iCloud. For additional information on how to back up your data, see iCloud: How to back up iCloud data.

General troubleshooting

  • Make sure there are not any current issues listed in the System Status affecting iCloud Bookmarks or Reading List. iCloud System Status is displayed at the iCloud Support webpage.
  • Make sure the issue you are seeing is not covered in iCloud Help already. To access iCloud Help, visithelp.apple.com/icloud.
  • Keep in mind that iCloud Bookmarks only support the following web browser’s bookmarks:
    • Safari for OS X.
    • Safari for iOS devices.
    • Safari for Windows.
    • Internet Explorer for Windows.
  • Reading List is supported in the following browsers:
    • Safari 5.1 or later for OS X.
    • Safari 5.1 or later for iOS devices.
    • Safari 5.1 or later for Windows.
  • iCloud Control Panel 2.1 or later is required for iCloud Bookmarks and Reading List on a Windows PC.
  • Check your settings and preferences as something may not be set up correctly. For example, having incorrect date and time settings can cause issues that are easily resolved by entering the appropriate settings.

Troubleshooting iCloud Bookmarks or Reading List update or setup issues on OS X Mountain Lion or Lion

Note: For instructions on setting up iCloud Bookmarks and Reading List with Safari, see iCloud Setup. Find instructions for using Reading List with OS X Mountain Lion or OS X Lion.

If you are having trouble using iCloud Bookmarks or Reading List with Safari on a Mac, try each of these steps, testing after each to see if the issue is resolved:

  • Make sure you are using OS X Lion 10.7.5 or later. Click here for help verifying the version of OS X you are using.
  • Make sure your computer is online. Attempt to view www.apple.com and iCloud.com. If you can’t connect to the Internet, your iCloud Bookmarks and Reading List will not update in Safari. Click here for more information about troubleshooting your Internet connection.
  • Open a secure website to test if you are online as is necessary for iCloud Bookmarks and Reading List. This also tests if the ports 80 and 443 are accessible. Safari requires port 443 access to iCloud in order to push and pull updates to and from the iCloud Bookmarks and Reading List servers.
  • Verify that your iCloud membername is entered into the iCloud preferences pane in System Preferences. See iCloud Setup for more information about setting up iCloud on a Mac.
  • If recent changes simply don’t appear, try making Safari refresh by quitting and reopening Safari.
  • Turn iCloud Bookmarks off and back on. (The same preference applies to Bookmarks and Reading List.)
    1. Quit Safari.
    2. Choose System Preferences from the Apple () menu and then choose iCloud.
    3. If you are using OS X 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 has been resolved.
  • Restart your computer. This may sound simple, but it does reinitialize your network and application settings and can frequently resolve issues.

Troubleshooting Bookmarks and Reading List update or setup issues on iOS devices

Note: For instructions on setting up iCloud Bookmarks and Reading List with Safari, see iCloud Setup. iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users can find instructions for using Reading List in their user guide.

If you are having trouble with iCloud Bookmarks or Reading List with Safari on an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch), try each of these steps, testing after each to see if the issue is resolved:

  • Make sure you’ve updated to iOS 5.0 or later (iOS 5.1 if you’re trying to use Reading List) and that your iCloud account is configured correctly in Settings. For instructions on setting up iOS for iCloud, see iCloud Setup.
  • Make sure your iOS device is online. Attempt to view www.apple.com and iCloud.com. If you can’t connect to the Internet, your iCloud Bookmarks and Reading List will not update in the Safari application. Click here for more information about troubleshooting your internet connection.
  • Open a secure website from your iOS device to test if you are online as is necessary for iCloud Bookmarks. This also tests if ports 80 and 443 are accessible. Safari requires port 443 access to iCloud in order to push and pull updates to and from the iCloud Bookmarks servers.
  • Quit and restart the Safari app on your iOS device:
    1. Press the Home button.
    2. Double-press 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 go back to your Home screen. Wait a minute before reopening the Safari app.
  • Turn iCloud Bookmarks off and back on. (The same setting applies to Bookmarks and Reading List.)
    1. Tap Settings > iCloud.
    2. Tap the Safari (or Bookmarks) slider off. Choose to delete data only if your data exists on one or more of your computers. Otherwise, choose Keep Data.
    3. Wait a few minutes before turning the Bookmarks slider back on.
  • Restart your iOS device by holding down the Sleep/Wake button and then swiping the screen when prompted to power off. This may sound simple, but it does reinitialize your network and application settings and can frequently resolve issues.

Troubleshooting iCloud Bookmarks or Reading List update or setup issues on Microsoft Windows

If you are having trouble on a Windows PC with iCloud Bookmarks on Internet Explorer or Bookmarks or Reading List on Safari, try each of these steps, testing after each to see if the issue is resolved:

  • If you are unable to use iCloud Bookmarks with Safari, you should test with Internet Explorer and vice-versa.
    • If the issue only affects one of your web browsers while the other updates Bookmarks without issue, you should 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, you should troubleshoot your computer and/or network and continue isolating the cause of the issue with the steps below.
  • It is very important that you back up your Bookmarks data prior to troubleshooting with multiple web browsers.Click here for more information about backing up your iCloud data.
  • Verify that you are using a Windows configuration that is supported by iCloud. Click here for more information about the iCloud System Requirements.
  • Make sure your computer is online. Attempt to view www.apple.com and iCloud.com. If you can’t connect to the Internet, your iCloud Bookmarks and Reading List will not be able to send or receive updates. Click here for more information about troubleshooting your Internet connection.
  • Open a secure website to test if you are online as is necessary for the iCloud Bookmarks and Reading List. This also tests if ports 80 and 443 are accessible. Safari and Internet Explorer require port 443 access to iCloud in order to push and pull updates to and from the iCloud Bookmarks and Reading List servers.
  • Verify that your iCloud membername is entered into the iCloud Control Panel. See iCloud setup for more information about setting up iCloud in Windows.
  • Completely close and reopen the iCloud Control Panel.
  • If you recently made changes in your web browser and they are not moving to your other devices or vice-versa, wait 15 minutes for the changes to fully propagate. Alternatively you can quit and reopen your web browser to trigger a refresh of changes.
  • Turn iCloud Bookmarks off and back on. (The same setting applies to Bookmarks and Reading List if you are syncing with Safari. Reading List is not available for Internet Explorer.)
    1. Close Safari or Internet Explorer. (Any browser you are using with iCloud Bookmarks should not be running during these first three steps).
    2. In Windows 8, move the pointer to the upper-right corner of the screen to show the Charms bar, click the Search charm, and then click iCloud Control Panel on the left. In Windows 7 or Windows Vista, choose Start menu > All Programs > iCloud > iCloud.
    3. Deselect the checkbox next to Bookmarks, and click Apply. Wait about a minute, select the checkbox next to Bookmarks, and click Apply.
    4. Open Safari or Internet Explorer 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.

Troubleshooting duplicate Bookmarks

As noted at the beginning of this article, you should back up your data prior to troubleshooting iCloud Bookmarks. This is especially important if you are troubleshooting any Bookmarks.

As for cleaning up and resolving any Bookmarks issues, in some cases you may be able to remove your duplicate Bookmarks by using the same tools you use to manage your Bookmarks. However, you may need a more robust tool to clean up your data, such as those offered by third-party developers.

Look at your Bookmarks. In Safari you can easily review your Bookmarks by selecting Bookmarks > Show All Bookmarks from the Bookmarks menu. If you are using Internet Explorer on a Microsoft Windows-based PC, you can manage its Bookmarks (referred to as Favorites in Internet Explorer), by clicking the Star icon in the top-right section of Internet Explorer or by pressing Alt + C.

In Safari, unless you are using a custom configuration, you will have a single Bookmarks Bar and a single Bookmarks Menu top level Bookmarks collection. If you have multiple copies of the same Bookmarks collections, those collections may contain the same content. Your Bookmarks could be duplicated simply because you have multiple copies of the Bookmarks Bar or Bookmarks Menu collections. Then, you may want to delete the extra collections.

Note: Any deletions you initiate should push to all other iCloud-enabled Bookmarks clients shortly after your actions, so as noted above, it is very important you have backed up any Bookmarks you want to keep.

If your Bookmarks are duplicated in a way that is not manageable through a few simple changes, or it appears that it will take a long time to manually clean up your Bookmarks, then you may want to use a third-party application to clean up your Bookmarks. There are a variety of third-party solutions for Bookmarks management for Safari as well as Internet Explorer, including Safari Prairiefire, which may provide assistance in cleaning up Bookmarks data.