"Safari Can't Connect to the Server"

Problem: Click a link in Safari
– page comes back “Failed to open page”
– Message that appears in mid-screen is “Safari Can’t Connect to the Server” and then it shows the whole link and names the server as the opening web address in the link.

Can’t say exactly when this started but certainly throughout Big Sur including latest release (11.4) on an M1 mini.

The message has nothing to do with internet connection. The exact same link works instantly in Chrome or Firefox and not before or after in Safari.

It appears to be related to the link going to or through some tracking server
– it happens almost exclusively on links in emails, but NOT all email links
– happens regularly on links in newsletter where they acknowledge “we get a commission if you follow the link”
– but also in some links from non-profits relating to donation
– the links are always long and filled with codes not words
– it is NOT related to the email program (Mailplane) or email provider (Google suite)
I can copy the link, paste it to a pure text program. then copy is again and paste it in Safari and get the error message and paste the same link in Chrome and it works.

I assume it is some privacy or tracking block Apple has decided is good for me.
But I cannot find any Safari setting that seems relevant – even with all privacy setting off.

It is frustrating because it means I have to switch browsers regularly.
It has gotten irritating enough that I was just about to switch default browser entirely, but figured I’d ask here first ;-))

Thanks for any help.


I see this too, but I’ve attributed it to a content blocker/filter extension.

I’ve gotten this with one particular site.
When I go to that site with another browser and keep that other browser open then when I recycle Safari it connects.
Somewhat weird performance.


Very reasonable
– I just don’t have any such extensions installed in Safari.

Weird – agree – but weird is often a solution :wink:
So I just checked for that effect-- not happening for me.

– Safari – error;
then Chrome – opens the link;
then back to Safari – recycle page or try to reopen link again – still error


I’m having the same issue, and haven’t found a solution.

Ok – Here is the solution on my system – but I can’t explain all the details.
I know that finding a server is the function of DNS, but I had delayed getting into that because I was only having the issue with Safari and that seemed to argue against DNS

I had used OpenDNS for years without problems and only switched when they went to Cisco. I had no reason other than I got the concern that “big brother” was watching.

I got a pitch from NextDNS and went with them 6-12 months ago and had no problem.

The Safari problem started long after. When I couldn’t find a solution, I posted here. After the initial entirely reasonable responses didn’t fit my case, I went back to hunting again.

I went into NextDNS configuration and must have changed something – I don’t remember what – and right after that any site that Safari couldn’t reach, suddenly neither Chrome nor Firefox. That change in behavior convinced me NextDNS was a the source of the problem.

Uninstalling NextDNS was so complicated that also convinced it had to go.
– There was no Uninstall program obvious or mentioned at the web site.
– A computer wide search found lots of files scattered widely – as expected for something working deep in the OS. In fact there were a few in /priivate/var that I couldn’t touch.

But after I deleted all the files I could, the program seemed totally inactive, the website confirmed my computer was not using their software, and … most importantly … the problem of “could not connect to server” was … gone!

So the one piece I cannot explain is why at least initially NextDNS cause a problem for Safari but not for Chrome or Firefox. My skills do not permit me to tackle that one.

Thanks to everyone for pitching in.

I hope this bottom line helps the next person.