back to article Outlook bombards Safari users with endless downloads

Attention, Mac users who access Outlook with Safari: something's broken, and it's causing an empty TokenFactoryIFrame file to be downloaded every few seconds for as long as you remain there. Microsoft hasn't said what's causing the problem, though it did acknowledge the ongoing blunder in this support message-board thread on …

  1. Blackjack Silver badge

    How strange the bug is only for Safari, really strange indeed.

    1. captain veg Silver badge


      The article states that it also affects (all three) users of Microsoft Edge on iOS.


      Yes, I know that third party browsers are forced to use a crippled library version of WebKit to render.


      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: <pedant>

        Safari is the only browser on iOS.

        Everything else is just a skin.

        There's a court case and everything

      2. Falmari Silver badge

        Re: <pedant>

        The article states it may also affect browsers on iOS using Safari's WebKit engine and then uses Microsoft Edge as an example of IOS WebKit browsers.


        So it may not affect those 3 MS Edge IOS users. ;)

    2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      I recall Safari thinking it's so smart that it can ignore the HTTP Content-Type and Content-Disposition headers in favor of it's own analysis. Instead of rejecting invalid responses, it poops out files with clever new names.

    3. fidodogbreath Silver badge


      I'm just amazed that anyone still uses Safari on Mac. Recent versions are slower than plate tectonics, especially on Intel Macs. Firefox is exponentially faster.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Slowfari

        Most people use the default, unless and until it annoys them "too much"

        On macOS there's the added thing that you're forced to use Safari on all your iOS devices, so there's a strong incentive to use Safari on your Mac as well so passwords sync and websites are broken in the same ways.

        1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

          Re: Slowfari

          Safari used to perform reasonably well for me, but somewhere during the Big Sur point updates it started slowing down. On Monterey Safari can take 5-10 seconds (or more) to launch, and generally feels laggy in use. The usual suspects (cache/history/cookies, removing extensions) haven't made any difference.

          MS Office app launch times have also gotten markedly longer over the same time frame, but those run fine (or at least, as well as they ever did) once they drag themselves off the ground.

          What's odd is that most other first- and third-party apps I use regularly on the same machine (e.g. Firefox, Reaper & other music prod software, various image editors, etc.) have not exhibited any slowdown.

          BitDefender solves the password sync issue admirably.

          2015 Retina MBP, i7, 16GB RAM, SSD. Admittedly not Tim Apple's latest & greatest, but it runs most things just fine.

      2. 45RPM Silver badge

        Re: Slowfari

        That’s not my experience. Admittedly, I haven’t tried it on a low end Intel Mac, but on a high end Intel Mac or Apple Silicon Safari really flies. I’ve found it to be the fastest browser - and Firefox to be the one that bogs down.

        Perhaps this is a matter of pick the tool that works for you - and be glad that there’s a choice. On the Mac at least.

        As for iOS and iPadOS, I do find it objectionable that only WebKit is available for rendering. I like WebKit, I probably wouldn’t use the alternatives, but I’d like to have the choice.

  2. WolfFan Silver badge

    Reason #12769

    To never, ever, use webmail.

    1. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: Reason #12769

      Webmail is great. I've got RoundCube running on my personal web server, connected to my personal MX, and it's really handy for when I can't use a device using client software of my own choosing.

      If you mean that third party webmail should never be used, well, I wouldn't know. Could be.


    2. runt row raggy

      Re: Reason #12769

      outlook itself brings my Mac to a crawl, largely due to excessive memory use. owa on the other hand is well behaved, at least in chrome. not using o365 version, though.

      but this is just my personal experience vs your unsubstantiated, general claim. can you explain why webmail is bad, but a dedicated client, likely using http under the covers, is good?

      1. WolfFan Silver badge

        Re: Reason #12769

        Webmail is annoying.

        1. Most webmail systems, including MS, time you out relatively quickly. A mail client is live 24/7. Webmail with 2FA is a major pain to log into. One webmail system I must use logs out after 30 minutes of ‘inactivity’ and requires 2FA EVERY SINGLE TIME that I log in. For some reason I don’t log in very often. This means that email sits there for days/weeks until I get around to logging back in.

        2. Every webmail system that I have tried allows only one account to be live at once. You must log out the live account before you can check mail in another. I have three Office Live accounts and used to have three Gmail accounts. All of them would be live in my mail clients, including Outlook and Apple Mail. I really hate logging out and logging back in, over and over and over. In theory I could have different accounts live in different browsers, but in fact trying that causes both MS and Google to get all paranoid; there’s a reason why I no longer have Gmail accounts.

        3. Webmail makes it difficult to turn off HTML and pix and the like. My clients run with max security, including no HTML. They are far more secure than webmail.

        4. Certain organizations insist on webmail and make it difficult to use a client. One organization that I must deal with insists that if I use a client, I must give the all kinds of power, including the ability to remote wipe the device. This ain’t ever happening. This means that I use their email quite rarely, because it’s a major pain to log into their webmail. (See point 1 above) I associate webmail with assholes, those idiots aren’t the only ones to have that attitude they’re just the only ones that I have to put up with.

        1. Solviva Bronze badge

          Re: Reason #12769

          Gmail fully supports multiple accounts open in the same session. Each account gets assigned an id so you end up with e.g.

          etc, no conflicts there. No forced logging out either, log in once and that's it for months/years/till you clear cookies.

          1. WolfFan Silver badge

            Re: Reason #12769

            Interesting. I was never able to log into more than one account at a time without problems. And after some time usually 24 hours, unlike MS’s crap which was typically 30 minutes, I would get logged out and have to log back in.

            That said, it’s been a while since I had a Gmail account. Google hated my using ‘less secure’ clients, such as Apple Mail and Outlook, and decided that they weren’t sure that I was me and locked one account. I promptly killed the others and went elsewhere.

      2. WolfFan Silver badge

        Re: Reason #12769

        And, oh, if Outlook causes your Mac to slow to a crawl… I usually use a 2012 Mac mini. Outlook is fine there. And on an even older iMac. I should be getting a nice new M1 Mac Real Soon Now.

    3. Totally not a Cylon Silver badge

      Re: Reason #12769

      I agree!

      Webmail is an abomination which makes Chrome running on unpatched XP look secure...

      Email should be accessed by a client program using either imap or pop3.

      Email is an OFFLINE activity which only needs to connect to send or receive, how can that even work when in a web browser?

      1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

        Re: Reason #12769

        Very little is actually an offline activity these days. Checking the weather used to involve looking out of the window, but now you need to open an app which will download that information from the internet to tell you.

        Email CAN be stored and accessed offline, if you choose, but can also be handled online. The two are not mutually exclusive, so if you happen to work in the offline mode most of the time but need to unexpectedly access your email from somewhere else, you can do that through webmail.

        IMAP, by the way, generally involves an open connection to the server and thus should be considered 'online' in your diatribe. POP3 is essentially an obsolete protocol now (and thank $dog for that).

        Personally, I use proper email clients most of the time but have (a self-maintained) webmail available for contingencies.

    4. J. Cook Silver badge

      Re: Reason #12769

      I dunno, I find that it's a fantastic diagnostic for people who think all I do is sit around and screw up random people's mailboxes and/or network accounts- I don't. (I offloaded that years ago to the provisioning group. :D )

      support team: "[customer]'s client won't connect | doesnt want to behave! Did you guys screw up their account!?"

      me: "I dunno, I'm pretty busy- can you get to [url of the webmail front end for exchange] and login there?"

      support team: "Well, yeah and it works, but you guys did something!!!111oneoneone"

      ::sighs and remotely interrogates machine, then hands the a link to the word document on how to fix the problem that was written two years ago and is something the support team really should know about because this is the 88457521th time I've sent them the link to the document ::

      Me: "Try that, and see if it works."

      -twenty minutes later-

      support team: "Hey, that fixed it. You should let the rest of the support team know about this document!"

      Me: ::face plants keyboard hard enough to break it in half::

    5. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Reason #12769

      You misread the article - its a reason to never, ever, use for your email service.

      I wonder whether the problem also affects users of Microsoft 365 email service...

      1. WolfFan Silver badge

        Re: Reason #12769

        I only use because certain people, including, unfortunately, the office, use Exchange/Office365/Microsoft365. I now have _four_ Outlook accounts. Personally, I will be getting my own domain and emails Real Soon Now.

  3. heyrick Silver badge

    Until Microsoft determines the cause of the problem

    Clearly something changed recently. Don't they have CVS or Git or something so they know what changed? Or was the PHB fiddling with the scripts on the live server again?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Until Microsoft determines the cause of the problem

      There's nothing like proper testing and this is nothing like proper testing.

  4. ecofeco Silver badge

    Microcrap as always

    Microsoft gonna Microsoft.

  5. Fair Play

    Revert to using DOS until Microsoft can work out how to fix it...

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Looks like Pegasus Mail works in an MS/PC-DOS environment :-)

      Of course, you could always go console-only with FreeBSD or Linux and have a wider choice of console based email clients :-)

      1. Korev Silver badge

        I Pine for Linux console email programmes

        1. swm Silver badge

          Or alpine.

  6. Peter 39

    Who expects Microsoft to test their stuff against Safari ??

    1. ITS Retired

      What's their excuse with the breakage of their own stuff when they change or update something else?

    2. TonyJ Silver badge

      Who expects Microsoft to test their stuff? against Safari ??


  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Alternatively, use a different browser"

    Oh come on, on a MAC ? There is no other browser, you know that.

    1. Tessier-Ashpool

      Re: "Alternatively, use a different browser"

      You’re thinking of iOS. On a Mac you can still install the latest Google funkery (if you want to make life easy for trackers).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Alternatively, use a different browser"

      I use Firefox -- much, much better.

  8. Grumpy Rob

    Why does this remind me..

    ..of the old days when Micorsoft deliberately made the Netscape browser crash out on Windows 3.1?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Why does this remind me..

      This is the malace/incompetence thing.

      Windows 3.11 was released a year before Netscape 1 so it couldn't have been deliberate, however Netscape chewed up memory and Windows' memory management was woeful.

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Re: Netscape chewed up memory and Windows' memory management was woeful

        IE3 also chewed up memory and tended to crash Windows somewhere around the twentieth web page (and that was on mid-1990's lightweight* web pages). We advised people to go back to using Netscape until we'd managed to upgrade everyone to Windows 95/8.

        * in comparison with today's CDN/crap overladen stuff.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Netscape chewed up memory and Windows' memory management was woeful

          A mid-1990's lightweight web page is most probably considerably lighter than many modern "lightweight" web pages.

    2. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Re: Why does this remind me..

      I also remember the time they made IIS 4 incompatible with IE 4, while Netscape chugged on perfectly happily. Good times.

  9. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "Günter Born, an engineer and community moderator for Microsoft"

    The same Günter Born who wrote the magnificent 1995 File Formats Handbook and (according to which) "worked as a software developer and project engineer in the German sapcecraft and chemical industires in 1979"?

    1. gborn

      Re: "Günter Born, an engineer and community moderator for Microsoft"

      Well, I shall should stand by this, I'm the guy wrote that Fileformats handbook. The original manuscript and the first (German) copies are still standing within my bookshelf here in men offfice ;-). But it was a long time ago - last millenium - and isn't no more true ;-).

      BTW: As I supposed, it was a (server side) Microsoft flaw with Safari/OWA - they have fixed it now (confirmed by German blog reader and a Microsoft forum moderator). See my addendum to:

      Side note: The reason for the sentence "I've linked this article within my post in Microsoft Answers forum and asked the forum moderators to forward the issue to the responsible Microsoft product group – that's all I can do," is simple. I don't have the appropriate forum roles in Microsofts US forums (only on German MS Answers Windows forums) to reach the right guys directly.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Günter Born, an engineer and community moderator for Microsoft"

      yes, it's the guy who wrote that File Formats Handbook ;-) Long, long ago

  10. MJI Silver badge

    Bring back Hotmail

    My old hotmail accounts go to outlook now, at first it looked like Hotmail had been hijacked!

  11. Someone Else Silver badge

    Microsoft hasn't said what's causing the problem, though it did acknowledge the ongoing blunder in this support message-board thread on Microsoft Answers that a DDoS attack on Safari specifically was a good move to force recalcitrant Mac users to Edge.

    There, FTFY

  12. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    What do they mean by ...

    "OWA was back in working order."

    Implying it was once?

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