Can’t change Safari homepage in Sierra, even with no profiles managing homepage

So I came across something weird that's affected only my 10.12.4 clients (none of my 10.11.6 clients seem to be affected by this). Even though I have only one Safari profile enabled, which is set-once and doesn't manage the homepage, my 10.12.4 clients are unable to change the homepage in Safari manually. Whatever the homepage was is stuck like that. If you enter a new homepage in the Safari preferences, it will just not take and revert back to the old homepage once you hit Enter or click out of the address entry field.

The only workaround I've found for this is to delete all profiles (again, even though I don't have any profiles managing the Safari homepage):

sudo profiles -D
Are you sure you want to delete all configuration profiles? [y/n]:y
reboot the computer, and then reinstall (via Munki) all the previously installed profiles (yes, including the set-once profile for Safari that was installed before)... and then I'm able to change the homepage on the client manually. Very bizarre.

Also, after testing on a couple of other clients, there do seem to be situations in which the Safari profile was never set at all, and you still can't modify the homepage, even after deleting any other profiles and rebooting, and it's not account-specific either (freshly created account experiences it, too). It's a real head-scratcher.

22 thoughts on “Can’t change Safari homepage in Sierra, even with no profiles managing homepage”

  1. I’m experiencing the same thing suddenly.

    I need to test more to confirm, but so far it’s limited to Open Directory accounts. Local user accounts are fine.

    I noticed this after upgrading my OS X Server box to Sierra from El Capitan. Profile Manager had never been turned on until I did so just now to see if I could find something lurking in there. Nothing found.

    I use JAMF Pro, but I’m seeing this with boxes not enrolled in either JAMF Pro or any MDM.

    The sudo profiles -D command did not fix it.

  2. Hi guys, I’ve been battling with this for awhile now and it’s driving me insane. At first I thought there was something wrong with my image so I ended up formatting a drive and reinstalling macOS from the recovery partition. A fresh copy of macOS was downloaded from Apple. Once I went through the welcome/setup screens, I launched Safari and tried to change the homepage. It won’t let me do it. I’ve noticed this on 10.12.5 and 10.12.6. I’m chalking it up to a bug at this point.

  3. Hi guys, I had exactly the same problem, called Apple, and eventually found a fix that works for me:

    Restart in Safe mode (restart with the Shift key pressed)
    Once restarted, go to Safari preferences and change the homepage. This time, the address should stick and NOT revert back to the Apple website.
    Close Safari Preferences window.
    Restart the mac.
    Now the homepage address in Safari should be the one you set.
    W0rked for me.
    Good luck.

    iMac with OS Sierra 10.12.6, 4.2 GHz Intel Core i7

  4. Someone on the Mac admins Slack posted this solution, but I haven’t had a chance to try it or Laurent’s yet:

    * In Safari, choose Preferences from the Safari menu.
    * In the window that opens, click the General icon (if necessary)
    * Enter your desired home page in the “Homepage” field, but DO NOT press return!
    * At the top of the window, click any of the other icons (eg, Tabs, AutoFill, etc).
    * You may see a prompt asking for confirmation for changing the home page. If so, confirm.
    * Switch back to the General page and check to make sure the home page has been changed.

    1. Yep, I found out about this one after banging my head trying to figure out why an almost instinctual behavior of “type what you want and hit enter” ceased working. Not sure who thought it makes sense that changing tabs or closing the Safari preferences window is allowed, from a UX standpoint, to substitute for hitting ENTER or a Save button.

  5. Seems that Safari’s homepage-setting respects (or avoids) setting the homepage if there’s a current Apple Remote Desktop session in play, and maybe other keyboard and mouse-mimicking software. Possibly avoiding “synthetic” user input like Keychain dialogs did for a while in 10.11? The minute I walked up to the computer and changed Safari’s homepage, it worked perfectly.

    Google says that the warning logged is/was:

    Ignoring user action since the dialog has received events from an untrusted source

    1. Thank you very much, this obsessed me for a couple of days. I have a main mac (10.13) and test stuff on it.
      A friend asked to look for malware on his mac. Searching oddities in browser preferences I found out a different home page that could not be changed. I did all the anti malware routines but this could not be solved.
      I tried to replicate the problem on my main mac there it was, can’t set the homepage…umh, I do not even use a homepage, just a blank one!
      This is my work in progress mac, lots of OS upgrades in the past (lots of backups), so I began to investigate and also checked on my other 2 older macs (10.12, 10.11) and ALL had the same problem.
      Big headache!
      And here we are: solved the problem on my main mac thanks to this post and ALSO solved the problem on ALL the macs because I was checking those using Apple Remote Access!

      So thanks for the post and all the comments.

      I can add that as soon as you close the session and also restart Safari, the home page can be set again.
      As for my friend’s macs, now that I am thinking about it, all the malware eradication was done via teamviewer so maybe I was part of the problem, I could not change his homepage because of the remote connection. I’ll check in the next days.

      thank you again!

    2. I have to thank everyone that wrote here, but this one deserves a special thank. I was checking a mac for malware infections and got rid of everything but still could not solve the homepage problem.

      As a matter of fact I was working via TeamViewer on the client’s mac and I was making tests on my personal macs via Apple Remote Access (client’s mac is on El capitan so I had to test on an old machine of mine).

      I can confirm that Apple Remote Access can’t change the home page in safari on a controlled mac and neither can TeamViewer

      While I can understand TW, what surprises me is ARA and that error message log “Ignoring user action since the dialog has received events from an untrusted source” as I can do every other thing using ARA itself (remotely) like inserting passwords every time I’m asked for and logging in at startup.
      To me it makes no sense, I mean, I can fill a password prompt with an admin credentials but cannot change the home page in safari?

      Anyway, learned another useful thing and problem solved: BIG BIG THANKS

      cj

      1. Sorry but the first post (as cj) did not appear for a day, so I wrote it again. If you want you can delete it.
        Cheers
        Claudio

  6. Solution might be easier to just remove the ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Safari.plist

    Seems that file tends to get corrupted doing upgrades. It was a plain text file and then it was converted to a binary file.

    File is owned by the user, so no sudo is necessary. You can either “Go to Folder” and type “~/Library/Preferences/” and then search for the file or just open up terminal and type:

    rm ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Safari.plist

    Relaunch Safari.

  7. all the solutions i’ve seen only work in some situations like the profile thing or require extra steps like deleting the preference file and rebooting etc.

    this one always works and is just one step.
    open terminal paste in the command below, substituting your own username for USERNAME and if you don’t want it to be google, change that to what you want, but keep the quote marks.
    Then reboot the computer.

    sudo dscl . mcxset /Users/USERNAME com.apple.Safari HomePage always -string “http://google.com”

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