How to fix iOS 9.3’s broken Safari, Mail and Messages links

Update: iOS 9.3.1 is now available which fixes this issue:

Settings -> General -> Software Update


If you’ve been hit by the iOS 9.3 broken links you can follow these steps to fix the issue whilst we wait for a full update from Apple. Unfortunately you’ll need to hook your iPhone or iPad up to your computer and sync with iTunes.

  1. If you still have it installed, delete the Booking.com app from your device
  2. Turn on Airplane Mode
  3. Plug your device into your computer and open iTunes
  4. Turn your device off and on
  5. Make sure you have the Booking.com app in iTunes on your computer – download link
  6. Keep Airplane Mode on!
  7. In iTunes, sync the Booking.com app to your device
    1. Select your iOS device in iTunes
    2. Change to the Apps tab
    3. Search for Booking.com and press install
      itunes-9.3-safari-fix
    4. Press Sync
  8. Wait for the sync to finish, then open the Booking.com app on your device
  9. Force close the Booking.com app by double tapping the home button and swiping up
  10. Force close Safari by double tapping the home button and swiping Safari up
  11. Delete the Booking.com app
  12. Turn off Airplane Mode
  13. Open Safari – your links should work again! It’ll also fix any problems with links from other apps like Mail or Messages.

You may need to try this a few times for it to work, it seems like a specific timing needs to occur for the correct caches to clear.

Thanks to Booking.com quickly fixing their side! You should be able to safely reinstall their app again after confirming these steps worked.

(Thanks to Wojtek Pietrusiewicz who’s guide led me in this direction.)

Now you’re back in action – here are some tips for using Universal Links.

30 thoughts on “How to fix iOS 9.3’s broken Safari, Mail and Messages links

  1. Works for me thanks. We issued a fix yesterday for the app but were unable to reset Apples cache on universal links

  2. Will this also solve the problem of not being able to open links in emails, or just the Safari problem (which I have managed to solve – for the time being, anyway – by using Bing as the search engine)?

  3. Okay, links in Safari are working again after this workaround. But no links at all in Mail etc.
    So I could live without Safari (Puffin…), but my links in emails and messages have to work without Jailbreak!

      • How can I find out which apps have the issue? It happened after I downloaded the booking.com app and haven’t downloaded anything else recently, other than a Shanghai subway map today, well after the problem had presented . . .

        Another thing – my battery life (iPhone 5) seems to have reduced quite considerably since this started to happen; could there be a connection?

  4. No luck for me. And Safari isn’t what I need, it’s mail, twitter, etc. 🙂 Safari is fixable via changing to Bing or whatever…

  5. Partially worked for me – just Safari. Mail still not working (same as above commenters). Force quitting mail didn’t help.

  6. Firstly many thanks Ben and Booking.com for trying to resolve this.

    Unfortunately I have tried this a few times and still no joy (on IOS 9.2.1 iPhone 6 btw). Have force closed all apps each time and have also tried rebooting a few additonal times between steps along the way as well but still no dice.

    Wonder if the timing thing you alude to, Ben, is the key here? Is there any way we can find out when the Shared Web Credentials thing re-reads its cache so we can anticipate the right time to punch it in the guts? 🙂

    As an aside I have also experienced an increase in battery usage like Tony but put this down to Firefox which I installed yesteday to get around the Safari problem. Obviously Firefox hasn’t dealt with the bigger issue which I think is what most people are miffed about – that of links in mail etc not working…

    Anyway, thanks again for all your effort guys!

    • Update – after a few more tries, I seem to be able to open links successfully from Google within Safari (previously unable) but touch-hold (to open in a new tab) still hangs Safari, and still no joy with following links from Mail, Messages etc.

  7. Also general slowdowns, and hanging is resolved so it appears the fix posted above has improved everything significantly.

  8. Doesn’t work for me. My issue is slightly different from anything else, so maybe this might provide other clues to someone who knows what they’re doing.

    iPhone 6, problem started in 9.2.1 and 9.3 didn’t fix it.

    Clicking links within messages in Mail app freezes app for a few minutes then it crashes.

    Google Chrome app, search result links don’t open unless I long-press and select ‘open in New Tab’. Links in pages are the same.

    Safari search result links don’t work at all. Long-press freezes and crashes app.

    I have Booking.com but haven’t opened it for about a year. I only opened it when I read it might be a problem earlier today.

    I only noticed the problem after I installed Face Swap Live (lite) the paid version. Could be unrelated, but tit’s the only change I’ve made, so worth mentioning.

  9. For me it helped to actually try doing a search for booking.com in safari after doing everything else in the above example. Although I am still not getting mail links.

  10. I tried this many times, and it didn’t work.

    Then I made a couple of changes and it WORKED, one of which may (or may not) have contributed to it working.

    1. I started Xcode and viewed the device console log while I did the procedure you described.

    2. I turned Wifi on my laptop (where I’m plugging my iPhone/iPad into) OFF. This is because I believe the iPhone will make use of the laptop’s internet connection if it’s available (it will talk to the internet via the USB cable to the PC, and then make use of the PC’s internet connection). Turning OFF Wifi on the PC (as well as enabling Airplane mode on the device) ensures 100% that the iPhone/iPad cannot talk to the internet during this process.

    As I said, this worked for me. I fixed both my iPhone and iPad after doing the above (in combination with your steps), after several failures with your steps alone.

    Maybe it was a coincidence (that the “timing” was right on my last attempt), or maybe my idea of blocking internet access through the PC contributed to it working.

  11. Pingback: How To Fix IOS 9.x Safari/Mail Link Bug [updated] | Infinite Diaries

  12. Pingback: Oto jak naprawić bug z linkami w iOS 9! [uaktualniono!] | iMagazine

  13. No luck for me. I’ve tried this and several similar “fixes” to no avail. If anyone has any other ideas, I’m all ears.

  14. Tried both recipes five times each, no luck with anything…Safari links, mail, map links etc. I think its about time Apple steps up and gives us a real update on this situation.

  15. “7. In iTunes, sync the Booking.com app to your device […]”
    This step would force me to sync the iPhone with iTunes and re-download 10+ GB of apps. It is possible to skip it and reinstall the Booking.com app from the phone instead? Thanks

  16. Sadly, this does not work for me. Given that so many 3rd party apps may have been playing this local file game, is there really any way of ensuring we clear out local cache files given we do not even know how many apps were affected?

  17. Following up, no dice on iOS 9.3 13E234, iPhone 6s, but I am running 283 apps on a 128GB device so there’s a ton of different apps that could be causing chaos. Looking forward to this getting patched soon.

  18. Pingback: Fix iOS 9.3 Web Link Crashing Bug in Safari, Messages, Mail with a Song & Dance Routine

  19. Yes, it’s working, from the first attempt! Thank you very much! 😉

  20. Unfortunalty it doesn’t work for me…. Maybe because I have a lot of app (around 270!!!) and an other app introduce the same issue like Booking.
    I’m very sad because my iphone is really “buggy”. Links in safari but also Chrome, Firefox, Notes, Mail, Message and other doen’t open and do a crash of the app.
    I don’t know what I can do now 🙁

  21. Thanks Ben, your solution seems to have fixed some links in Safari, but not all. No joy in emails though. Chrome seems to work OK without having to open new tab, so that’ll do for now. Nice to see people trying to solve this problem rather than just whining about it in CAPITALS! 😃

  22. I tried this about 7 times within the space of an hour, still didn’t work. thanks for writing this up, it seems to have helped a lot of people.

Comments are closed.