If you look at all the top web browsers, you’ll notice a couple commonalities. One crucial shared feature is extensions or add-ons which let users expand the functionality of their browser. There’s a wide variety of extensions available, from must-haves like ad blockers to oddball extensions that replace the word “cloud” with “butt.”
Unfortunately, Safari lacks that, with an extremely limited marketplace. This is mostly Apple’s fault: it costs $100 to list an extension, and the extension must pass a cumbersome review process. Thanks to this, extension developers say it’s far harder to develop for Safari than for other browsers because of Apple’s lack of support for devs. And considering Safari’s sliver-sized user base, it’s hard to justify such effort.
But still, there are great extensions out there! You can get your basics covered with solid ad blockers, privacy options, password managers and additional features. Let’s check out some useful Safari extensions you should try.
It’s no secret that Google makes a ton of money by exploiting personal search data to serve ads. Understandably, this freaks some people out a little. If you want to search without spying, check out DuckDuckGo. They don’t save or track searches, and they provide a pretty respectable search service. It’s no Google, of course, but that’s no surprise. It even includes some unique and extremely useful features, like special characters (bangs) that let you instantly redirect your search to a specific website from within the search box. This extension adds the search engine to Safari’s search field.
uBlock Origin is a powerful ad blocker and privacy enhancer, giving you granular control over the elements your browser loads without breaking a ton of sites. However, it isn’t available in Safari’s extension gallery, so you’ll need to sideload it and install the extension manually. Fortunately, that’s not hard.
1. Download the extension from GitHub.
2. Double-click the downloaded extension to open it.
3. Click “Trust” in Safari’s pop-up.
That’s it! You’ll need to update the extension manually, but it works significantly better than other ad-blocking options.
Dashlane, LastPass, 1Password
A good password manager is essential for modern security. Safari, of course, integrates beautifully with Apple’s Keychain, but iCloud Keychain sync is so notoriously buggy that many users simply avoid it. Other services accomplish Keychain’s in-browser fill-in through browser extensions. Dashlane is a particularly excellent password manager, but it’s not the only one available. You can also find Safari extensions for LastPass and 1Password, both user favorites.
Evernote Web Clipper
Evernote is the best note-taking service online, and Evernote Web Clipper is an essential part of making the service work for you. It lets you “clip” full web pages into your notebook, cleverly removing ads and capturing only the important stuff. This way you can preserve websites or collect material for more effective research. It’s a must-have for students and writers.
Take better screenshots with Awesome Screenshot. You can use it to capture entire web pages, including non-visible parts. It’s not as powerful as the Chrome version of the same name, but it’s an essential tool for anyone who needs to capture full website screenshots.
Save to Pocket
There’s too much cool stuff online to read in one sitting. Use Save for Pocket to save articles for later on Pocket, the most popular read-it-later service. Everything you save in Pocket can sync offline, so you can save things on your phone or computer to read when you don’t have a data connection.
Grammarly is like super spell-check for your entire browser. It replaces in-browser spell checking with its own more powerful version, vastly expanding the built-in browser capabilities. Grammarly even goes beyond just identifying errors, also helping users find more appropriate words and avoid clichéd phrases. If you’re a writer, student or professional, Grammarly is a great companion.
If you want to customize the CSS on the sites you visit, you can use Stylish to inject custom CSS into just about any web page. This means you can adjust interfaces, change colors, modify fonts and more. Check out the online library of thousands of user themes for inspiration.
If you want to leave less of an impression on the websites you visit, you can use Ghostery to amp up your privacy. It lets users enable and disable specific cookies and scripts, granting granular user control over how websites can spy on you. It includes switches for thousands of services, and you can completely block or selectively whitelist sites and services based on your needs and specific concerns. It’s a must-have for users that care about privacy.
Safari offers just about the best browsing experience out there for Mac users. But the lack of customization holds it back significantly. If the extensions above cover your needs, however, be sure to give Safari a serious try. You just might find your new default browser.