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How to Fix Safari Can’t Establish A Secure Connection Error: Eight Ways to Fix It

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Are you trying to visit a website but being constantly blocked by the “Safari can’t establish a secure connection” error?

You’re not alone. This is one of the most common errors that’s faced by almost every Safari user at some point in time, largely because there are many reasons behind its appearance.

But don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. By the end of this tutorial, you’ll not only have this error out of your way but also be skilled enough to deal with it when it appears the next time.

Why Does Safari Say Not Secure Connection?

Safari gives this error when something goes wrong while establishing a secure connection with any website. This is equivalent to Google Chrome’s err_ssl_protocol_error which comes with a similar message that says “this site can’t provide a secure connection”.

Why Won’t Safari Open Websites?

There are a number of reasons why Apple Safari may fail to open websites. Not being able to establish a secure connection with the web server is just one of those problems.  

What You’ll Need to Fix Safari Can’t Establish a Secure Connection Error

You don’t need anything specific if you’re a website visitor who is trying to fix the issue. However, if you’re a website owner whose website is generating the error for a large number of visitors, you may need the following:

  1. New SSL certificate: If your certificate is expired, you may have to purchase a new one.
  2. Server access: The access to your server’s management dashboard (i.e. cPanel) for installing your new SSL certificate.

How to Fix Safari Can’t Establish A Secure Connection Error: Step-by-Step Instructions

If You’re A Visitor

If you’re a website visitor who has been experiencing the error for quite some time (especially on multiple sites, including popular ones like YouTube, Facebook, and Google), then most probably something is wrong with your system or internet connection.

Here are the steps you can take to pinpoint the cause of the error and fix it:

#1. Check Your Date and Time

The first and most common reason why SSL certificate validation fails is because of incorrect date and time configuration on your computer.

If you’re having issues accessing multiple websites, then pay attention to the date and time setting on your computer.

If you’re having an incorrect date, fix it by following the steps outlined below:

  1. Navigate to Apple Menu >> System Settings;
  2. Choose General from the sidebar;
  3. Select “Date & Time”;
  4. Enable the “Set time and date automatically” option and click “Set”;
  5. Choose a network server from where time and date can be synchronized;
  6. Now turn on the “Set time zone automatically using your current location” feature, and you’re done.

Now check if the error has been fixed or not by retrying to visit the websites that were generating the error.

#2. Clear Your Browser Data

If changing the date and time didn’t fix the error for you, the next step is to clear your browser data (especially cache) because that can also be the culprit behind this error.

Here’re the steps to do it in Apple Safari:

  1. Inside Safari, go to Preferences >> Privacy;
  2. Select “Remove all website data”. It may take a minute or two to load, so wait patiently;
  3. Now you can choose the website whose data you want to delete. You can either delete the data for all websites or only for the websites which are giving you a hard time;
  4. Once you’ve selected the website(s) whose data you want to remove, click “Done”.

This will delete your cache, cookies, and other website data (i.e. passwords, autofill data, etc.) from Safari.

The next step is to delete your browser history, and you can do that by navigating to Safari >> History >> Clear history.

Once you’ve cleared the browser data this way, you can try accessing the website that was giving you the “Safari can’t establish a secure connection” error.

#3. Disable Browser Extensions

If the error still persists, the next step to take is to try disabling the extensions you might have installed on your Safari browser.

Many times extensions cause truly unexpected errors, so it’s quite possible that they may be causing this error too. The only solution, in that case, is to disable the extensions and see if the error is fixed or not. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Open Safari, and go to Preferences >> Extensions;
  2. A list of your installed extensions will be populated. You can disable each of them by clicking the checkmark next to it.

Once you’ve disabled the extensions, try to open the website that was generating the error. It should open fine if the issue was because of a browser extension.

Now, if that’s the case, the next step should be to identify the extension that caused the issue.

In order to do that, enable each extension one-by-one, and try to open the website after enabling each extension.

Whenever you get the error after enabling a particular extension, that’s the extension that may be causing the error.

Remove it and you’ll be good!

#4. Disable IPv6

For a large part of its existence, the internet as we know it has relied on TCP/IP version 4 protocol, also known as IPv4, to provide connectivity across the world.

With time, however, the need was felt for a better protocol that can be more secure and cater to the ever-growing demand for unique IP addresses for each device.

That’s why IPv6 was born.

However, the thing is that IPv6 is not fully compatible with all systems.

On many devices and system configurations, it generates various kinds of errors, including this secure connection error that we’re trying to resolve for Safari.

To find out if that’s the case we need to disable IPv6 and see if that fixes the issue.

Here’s how it can be done:

  1. Go to Apple menu >> System Preferences >> Network;
  2. Select your active network connection, then click on “Advanced”;
  3. Under TCP/IP tab, choose “Manually” for Configure IPv6 option;
  4. Click OK.

Now check whether the error is fixed or not.

#5. Check Keychain Access Configuration

The macOS Keychain Access app serves an important purpose for Mac computers — it stores all the passwords, login details, and website certificates to speed up your web browsing experience.

However, in some rare situations, it can also cause various types of errors, including the “Safari can’t establish a secure connection” error.

Fortunately, it’s easy to bypass the Keychain and fix the error if it’s caused because of this particular reason.

Here are the steps to do so:

  1. Open the website that’s generating the error;
  2. Next, click on the padlock icon before the website URL, and click “View/Show Certificate”;
  3. Click on “Details”;
  4. Hit Ctrl+Space bar on your keyboard;
  5. A Search bar will appear in the top-right corner of your screen. Use it to search for “Keychain”;
  6. Click System Roots in the sidebar on the left side;
  7. Search for the website certificate in the bottom-right window of the Keychain app;
  8. Once you find the certificate, click to open it and navigate to the Trust section;
  9. For the “When using this certificate” option, choose “Always Trust”.

Now try again to open the website. The error should not appear and the website should load fine now.

If You’re A Website Owner

If you’re a website owner and this error is appearing for your website, denying others to access the site, then it means something is wrong with your SSL certificate.

Here are three things you can do to fix it:

#6. Check for SSL Issues

The first step is to make sure that your SSL certificate is installed correctly. Thankfully, it’s not difficult because of the multiple SSL checker tools available nowadays.

You can easily check the state of your SSL installation using tools like Why No Padlock and DigiCert SSL Certificate Checker.

These tools can tell you everything regarding the state of your SSL installation, and how can it be fixed if something is wrong.  

#7. Reinstall SSL Certificate from a Reputed CA

If something is wrong with your SSL installation, or if you’re using a self-signed certificate, we’d advise that you reinstall your certificate.

How to do that exactly would vary depending on your host and hosting configuration (managed hostings make it simpler), but keep in mind that there’s no excuse nowadays to use a self-signed certificate.

Always choose a certificate from a reputed certifying authority (CA) such as VeriSign, Comodo, or GeoTrusrt.

Or if you want free SSL certificates, get one from Let’s Encrypt — but never install a self-signed certificate.

#8. Renew Your SSL Certificate

Finally, if your SSL certificate has expired, it’s time to renew it. When you perform the SSL installation check using any of the SSL checker tools outlined in step #1, you can easily find out if your certificate has expired or not.

SSL certificates generally come with a one-year duration, so they require periodic renewal.

Of course, there’s an option to get the certificate for durations longer than a year but you should avoid that because it’s not considered a best practice for various reasons.

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Wrapping Up

Safari may not be among the most popular browsers in the world, but for Apple users and diehard Apple fans, it’s still the browser of choice.

Therefore, it’s important to know about its error messages and how they can be fixed, which was the main reason why we wrote this tutorial.

We hope we were able to explain everything properly and now you’re able to visit the website(s) that were generating the “Safari can’t establish a secure connection” error.

Do share your feedback about this guide in our comments section below. And if you found the information shared on this page useful, also share this guide on your social media channels.

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