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Resolving ‘A problem repeatedly occurred…’ error in Safari

Yesterday, after updating to Safari 14 on my Mojave-running iMac, I noticed a big problem: I couldn't load many sites that contained either a login dialog or a shopping cart. For example, I could load Target's main site, but when I tried to open the shopping cart, it wouldn't work.

I'd briefly see the page, then it would clear and reload once or twice more, and then I'd be left with an error message:

A problem repeatedly occurred with "https://www.target.com/co-cart"

This was happening on many, but not all, sites—I could login on Amazon and my bank, but not on most of our credit card sites or typical retail shopping pages. Given this happened just after installing Safari 14, I assumed it was somehow related to the new browser version—the same pages that didn't load in Safari loaded fine in every other browser I tried. But they loaded fine on Safari 14 on my Catalina MacBook Pro, so then I knew I had a Mac-specific issue…the worst kind of issue to troubleshoot.

While troubleshooting, I found that I wasn't alone, nor was this a Safari 14 issue—there are lots of reports of the same problem over many years.

After tweeting about my troubles and what I'd done to try to troubleshoot the problem, Jeff Johnson of Lapcat Software got me on the right track by suggesting that my Safari install was broken. He suggested I check the date on this Safari framework...

/System/Library/StagedFrameworks/Safari/libwebrtc.dylib

When I did, I found that the version on my iMac was much older (Jul 13, 2020) than the version on my MacBook Pro (Sep 15 2020), where Safari 14 worked as expected.

It seemed that the fix might be as simple as reinstalling Safari 14…but Apple doesn't make it easy to do that, as you can't reinstall an installed update, and they don't include recent Safari versions on their download page.

After some searching, I found MacUpdate's Apple Safari page, which contains direct links to many versions of Safari—scroll down to the section titled "What's New in Apple Safari," expand it, and you'll see download links for Safari versions back to 13.0.3.

I downloaded the Safari 14 installer1And kept a copy, just in case!, let it do its thing, and the problem is solved. The date on the framework I checked now reflects a mid-September date, which matches the same file on the MacBook Pro.

I'm annoyed that Apple's installer didn't report any issues, and I wonder what a "typical" user might have done to resolve this issue—I only got it fixed thanks to Jeff's tip and the installer links on the MacUpdate page. I can't imagine how long I would have had to talk to Apple Support before they figured out that it was a bad Safari install, and not some app or utility or other "you caused this" issue on my Mac.

So thanks, Jeff and MacUpdate, for helping me find and fix this very annoying problem with my Safari install!

6 Comments

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  1. "I wonder what a "typical" user might have done to resolve this issue"

    Probably just stop using Safari, period. "It doesn't work with websites I need to get to"

    This is what I see in my IT day job at a university. Pretty much all the students using Macs use Chrome as their default browser.

    1. Glad that worked for you, but in my case, none of those things helped (cache, history, delete prefs, reboot...). For whatever reason, the updater missed at least one framework file. No fixing that without a reinstall of the update.

      I miss it, too, but the Mac world has moved on...

      -rob.

  2. Thanks for posting this solution! I've been searching for similar reports because it seemed like a problem with Safari 14, but with so many similar problems with past versions, the recent posts are not surfaced.

    It might be helpful to add the details on what library was out of date to this post -- it took me a little while to find the reference in your tweets.

    Great find, tip of the hat to Jeff as well, and thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Good point on the framework—I rewrote that bit and added the full name and path to the file I checked, thanks to Jeff's direction.

      -rob.

  3. I experienced the very same problem. Outdated framework to July 14th and fixed after reinstalling safari.
    Thanks Rob.

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