Top web browsers have a lot of similarities. In addition to speedy operation and high security, the best web browsers also include extensions or add-ons. These let users expand the functionality of their browser with mini programs downloaded from a central repository. Look at Chrome or Firefox’s extension library and you’ll find a impressive variety, from must-haves like ad blockers to oddball extensions that replace the word “cloud” with “butt.” Apple’s flagship browser, Safari, has its own Safari extensions gallery as well, but it’s not nearly as robust and diverse as Google or Mozilla’s offerings.
The blame for this is squarely on Apple’s shoulders. Safari extension developers must pay $100 to list an extension in the marketplace, in addition to clearing a cumbersome review process. As a result, Safari extension developers say it’s far harder to develop for Safari than for other browsers. Consider Safari users constitute less than 10% of global desktop browser users, it can be hard to justify dealing with the process over Chrome or Firefox.
This is a shame, because outside of limited extension availability, Safari is one of the fastest and most attractive browsers out there for Mac users. If you’re sick of Chrome or Firefox and want to give Safari a spin, you can add these top-notch Safari extensions to improve your browsing experience.
uBlock Origin is a powerful ad blocker and privacy enhancer. It gives users pro-level control over the page elements your browser loads, eliminating ads and tracking pixels without breaking a ton of sites. However, it isn’t available in Safari’s extension gallery. To get uBlock, you’ll need to “sideload” it with a manual installation. Just follow the instructions below to install uBlock Origin for Safari from Github.
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.
We all know that Google makes its money mountain by exploiting personal search data to serve ads. If your sick of your searches included a side order of spying, check out DuckDuckGo. This privacy-focused search engine doesn’t save or track searches, but they still manage to provide workable search. It’s not as powerful as Google, but nothing is. DuckDuckGo aslo includes some unique and exceptionally powerful features, like special escape characters (called “bangs“) that let you instantly redirect your search to a specific website from within the search box. This extension adds the search engine’s capabilities to Safari’s search field.
Dashlane, LastPass, 1Password
A strong password manager takes the pain out of passwords. It remembers all your login details so you don’t have to, generating super-secure passwords and automatically filling them in on the right websites. Once you’ve had a taste of this life of leisure, it’s hard to turn back. Safari, of course, integrates beautifully with Apple’s Keychain, which Apple uses as a system password manager. Unfortunately, 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
I’ve made no secret of my love for Evernote, my brain outside my skull. Evernote is the best note-taking service online, and Evernote Web Clipper is an essential part of making the service work for you. If you’re not familiar, Web Clipper “clips” full web pages into your notebook, removing ads and capturing only the important stuff. Use it to archive websites and collect research material for more powerful papers and presentations. Then go back and use Evernote’s built in tools to highlight, annotate and synthesize. If you take any kind of notes or study any kind of thing, Evernote is a must-have, and Evernote Web Clipper is an essential part of that package.
Most people don’t take a ton of web page screenshots, but if you do, you’ll want Awesome Screenshot. You can use it to capture entire web pages, including non-visible parts. This makes it awesome for bloggers, developers and designers. While it’s not as powerful as the Chrome extension of the same name, Awesome Screenshot is still an essential tool for anyone making a ton of screen captures.
Save to Pocket
The world is large, and full of writing, but it can be hard to keep track of bookmarks that you want to read later. That’s why read-it-later services have become mandatory for web-savvy readers. Use Save for Pocket to save articles for later on Pocket, the most popular read-it-later service. Since everything you save in Pocket can sync offline, you can download posts to your phone or computer to read on the subway or airplane.
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. It can even go beyond identifying spelling errors helping you improve your writing with the right word or phrase. If you’re a writer, student or professional, Grammarly is a great companion for all your browser-based typing.
Stylish is one of the most powerful extensions on this list, but it’s also unique. This extension injects custom CSS into just about any web page. If you know anything about web design, you know that CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, are used to control the visual presentation of a website’s date. By modifying your in-browser CSS, you can dramatically change the presentation of nearly any website. Of course, you can also break a ton of websites, so tweak with caution. Check out the online library at userstyles.org for thousands of user-made themes.
If you want to leave less of an impression on the websites you visit, you can use Ghostery to amp up your privacy. This Safari extension allows users to enable and disable specific website cookies and scripts, granting granular control over how websites can track on you. Users can toggle thousands of services, from obscure ad tracking networks to Google Analytics. 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, but it does require a bit of setup.
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