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Bizarre Bookmark Behavior in Safari

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Several times now, Safari bookmarks have "magically" sorted themselves into an alphabetical listing. It generally happens overnight, when the machine is idle, so it's not some accidental keypress. I have no pets, so no chance of accidental keyboard presses. It is frustrating because I have organized my bookmarks based on how frequently I visit the site, with the most "important" bookmarks on the Favorites bar, the rest in folders by interest. When things get sorted they sort alphabetically in every folder, every location. It happened again last night, which is prompting this post. I've been through all the preference settings multiple times, cannot find anything related to bookmark sorting at all.

So, has anybody else found Safari magically sorting bookmarks? This behavior only started recently, as in the past two months, does not happen every night, just randomly, no other issues with Safari. Searching the internet didn't find anybody else complaining about it.

MBPr, 15", mid-2015, OS 10.15.2, Safari 13.0.4. the only Extensions are 1Password, Ghostery and AdBlockPro. All three of the extensions have been there for years. Nothing new added to the system or to Safari. Etrecheck shows nothing unexpected loading. Logs have no indications. Safari is NOT running when the resorting occurs. The sorting does not appear to sync to my iDevices.

On a related note, can anyone tell me where the bookmarks are stored? I can try restoring the sorted version from a backup to see if that works.

TIA,
 

chscag

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On a related note, can anyone tell me where the bookmarks are stored? I can try restoring the sorted version from a backup to see if that works.
Not sure if this will help Jake, but they're stored at:

/Users/your user name/Library/Safari/Bookmarks.plist

Perhaps you can try restoring that file from your Time Machine backup to see if it works.

I have not had any problems with the bookmarks resorting themselves but that may be because I like to keep mine sorted alphabetically.
 
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Thanks, Charlie. I've tried to do research, but it seems to be that I'm the only person who has seen the behavior. Which tends to make it something I've done or installed, but I'm really stuck with no clue what that may be.
 
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It stands to reason "something" is loaded on your system that is causing this, of course. My first thought would be maybe your extensions aren't playing nice with each other or something, but if it's happening overnight, I assume Safari is closed so they shouldn't be loaded. Or actually, with Safari 13 and extensions required to be part of an app, maybe they are loaded all the time?

You say you are using AdBlock Pro and have been for years? The only AdBlockPro I can find is on the App Store and was released about 2 months ago (about when your issues started). I assume you mean plain old AdBlock?

I suggest trying a process of elimination. Go without AdBlock for a week or 2 and see what happens. If it recurs, turn it back on and turn Ghostery off. Etc.
 
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It's AdBlock Plus, sorry for the confusion. I've had it for years, never had any issue with it. In the control panel it has permission to examine webpage contents for ads and it can see the browsing history. No other controls. As I said, it's been in my system for probably 5-6 years. Ditto for 1Password and Ghostery. I can remove any/all of them, but this doesn't feel like a problem any of them could cause. None of them do anything with bookmarks at all.
 
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A few years ago I had to install an app to enable me to actually sort my bookmarks alphabetically as Safari did not used to do it. I can't remember what it was called. (edit - it was called SafariSort)

Is it possible you installed something similar some time ago and it's still affecting your bookmarks?

Also, how many bookmarks do you have? If it's a huge number is it possible Safari defaults to alphabetical sorting?
 
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Nickyr, I have not ever wanted my bookmarks sorted alphabetically. So I have not ever installed anything to sort them. I'll have a look through to see if anything remotely looks like that. But it would have to launch itself, then close itself, so I'm not sure how that would work. I don't have what I think is huge numbers of bookmarks, just 80 all told. What is really strange is that Safari is not running overnight, I am pretty careful to shut it down every time I'm done with it. I was able to restore the order using Time Machine and restoring the plist, so what seems to be happening is that the plist is being sorted by something. But what on earth would sort a plist?
 
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It's AdBlock Plus, sorry for the confusion. I've had it for years, never had any issue with it. In the control panel it has permission to examine webpage contents for ads and it can see the browsing history. No other controls. As I said, it's been in my system for probably 5-6 years. Ditto for 1Password and Ghostery. I can remove any/all of them, but this doesn't feel like a problem any of them could cause. None of them do anything with bookmarks at all.
Yeah, it doesn't sound like something any of them would be doing. It doesn't sound like something anything other than something designed to do this specifically should be doing, yet here we are. What's even more baffling is the sorting doesn't propagate to your iDevices.

Did restoring the bookmarks file get you back to where they were? If not, there must be something else going on. Some browser display preference or something weird somewhere, maybe in the developer menu?
 
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Yes, I restored to two days ago and all is good for now. I looked at the Developer menu, nothing there about bookmarks at all. And it's random. Doesn't happen every night, or every week. Just randomly. Maybe more cosmic rays?
 

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Maybe more cosmic rays?
Those doggone cosmic rays took out my water heater last Friday to the tune of $1400.00! They're getting worse Jake, we need more tinfoil. :laugh
 
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Yes, I restored to two days ago and all is good for now. I looked at the Developer menu, nothing there about bookmarks at all. And it's random. Doesn't happen every night, or every week. Just randomly. Maybe more cosmic rays?
It must be a macOS Vista thing. :giggle

FYI, just for laughs, I made a test bookmarks folder and after it synced, I sorted it by name, and the sorting synced to my iDevices. So yeah, this is weeeeiiiird. I'd have to say there must be some local preference file independent of the bookmarks themselves, either for Safari or an extension that's controlling this and getting corrupted. If/when it happens again, check the modification date/times of the plists for anything related to Safari and your extensions.

I realize that this shouldn't be the case, but I had something bizarre and seemingly unrelated happen to me a long time ago. I was using a banking app that had a Dashboard widget that let me quickly enter my debit card purchases into my ledger for tracking, but it wasn't syncing to the app, or something else buggy (I forget the details). I was engaged with the developer in their forum and we couldn't figure it out so I set myself to rooting out the problem myself. It was a bit of a process (I started out by literally deleting my entire user Library to let it rebuild from scratch, then restoring bits and pieces), but I definitively traced the culprit to a hidden system file in ~/Library that shouldn't have been causing the problem; made no sense in this context; made no sense to the developer either; yet it was the culprit.
 
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I did check the date on the plist as I was restoring from TM. It had been changed about 10 pm the night before I noticed the issue. But I had not added or edited any bookmarks, so there was no reason for the plist to have been changed at that time. When I look at it now, it shows that the plist was created and last modified today at 10:49AM, which really makes no sense at all. I'm going to keep an eye on it to see if I can catch on to what is creating/modifying it.
 
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I did check the date on the plist as I was restoring from TM. It had been changed about 10 pm the night before I noticed the issue. But I had not added or edited any bookmarks, so there was no reason for the plist to have been changed at that time. When I look at it now, it shows that the plist was created and last modified today at 10:49AM, which really makes no sense at all. I'm going to keep an eye on it to see if I can catch on to what is creating/modifying it.
I just took a look at the create/modify times of my bookmarks plist and on my MacBook Air, it correlates to today @ 6:28a, the time I woke my MBA up from sleep and hopped on the internet. I then took a look at the same plist on my iMac, which had been on all night, and the date/time for that was today at 6:40a (just a few minutes ago). I didn't do anything to change my bookmarks, so what we are seeing is just iCloud constantly syncing, presumably when certain events are triggered like my MBA waking up from sleep or Safari being launched. Still doesn't quite explain your situation. I think something is happening randomly when the bookmarks sync back to your Mac and they get sorted by name in the process. Why that is, I have no clue, though again why that doesn't re-sync back to everything else is also a mystery.
 
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I noticed that the creation date on the plist is changing every day about the time I first open Safari. It could have gotten sorted that way, but as you say, not syncing is verrrrry strange. And the decision to recreate the plist at each opening is kind of strange, I think. Why not have the plist, update as needed, leave it if it's not changed? Why re-create it every day?
 

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Is the plist actually being recreated every day or is the modification date changing? It sounds like it's being recreated based on your description but I have no idea why it would be doing that. I can't see why synching should require a new plist.
 
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Here is what Finder shows for it:
Screen Shot 2020-01-18 at 3.25.03 PM.png

From that, it was created this morning.
 
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Is the plist actually being recreated every day or is the modification date changing? It sounds like it's being recreated based on your description but I have no idea why it would be doing that. I can't see why synching should require a new plist.
The plist on my Macs show the creation and modification date/time being the same on each machine. I mean each machine may be different, but the 2 stats are always identical on each individual one.
 

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From that, it was created this morning.
It appears the Safari bookmarks.plist file is recreated the first time you open Safari after a reboot. I just checked the creation date on my file and it shows a new date (today) after I rebooted.

@Jake:

Check to see if that may be what's happening on your machine. Save your old plist file first, then reboot and open Safari. Check the creation date.
 

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Just to add to what I said above.....

I rebooted my machine and then accessed Safari. Sure enough, Safari created a new plist file with the exact date and time of my accessing it after the reboot.

Hopefully this will help Jake to keep his bookmarks in the order he desires.
 
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Charlie, my system is creating the plist every day, as you said. Even without a reboot. And not at the time I open Safari, either. Today's opening was at 8:02AM, when the system was asleep. I got on about 8:30. So it's creating the plist independent of any action on my part.

Nothing is scheduled for 8AM on my system. No reason for a file to be created. Nothing in the logs.
 
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