Three years ago, I asked why do Mac users use Firefox? The answer was very clear – extensions. And having used Firefox for a while now having been forced to use Windows at work, I do see the merit of this sort of flexibility. (Well, mainly to block Flash).
With the release of Safari 5.01 and the official Apple Safari Extensions Gallery, lists are popping up all over about favorite Safari extensions, as Apple has brought this Firefox-esque attributed to Windows and Mac versions of Safari. Tidbits posted a list of five essential extensions, and Macworld 25 of their favorites. So, below are some of my favorites, mostly culled from those lists:
- AutoPagerize – This one doesn’t work on every site perfectly, but in theory this will automagically load the next page of annoying sites that artificially create page breaks (Slate, I’m looking at you.)
- AutoComplete – Be a bit careful with this one, it’ll let you use Safari’s saved password entry feature on any site, and ignore those financial institutions and other places that forbid autocompletion of forms. Useful on your home computer, perhaps it’s best if your work computer can’t save you bank password, etc. (Many people, including Kelle, are big fans of OnePassword, which saves/syncs passwords on multiple computers, and works in various browsers.)
- NoMoreiTunes – This will keep web pages from launching iTunes. You’ll just get the web-page based preview of the song or movie.
- Reload Button – Brings back a reload button in the toolbar.
- Open in Papers – I haven’t used this one but it’s a replacement for the Papers bookmarklet, let’s you open any page inside the popular Papers program to manage, um, papers, journal articles, etc.
- This is funny. Either eliminate Comic Sans entirely or make it be everywhere. I’m surprised there isn’t an extension that replaces Arial with Helvetica (though I guess Windows computers don’t have Helevtica, do they?)
- The awesome Click To Flash is a Safari plug-in, so Mac OS X only. I briefly used a plug-in blocker extension, but now, low and behold, a Safari Extension Version of Click to Flash exists. On a Mac, the plugin is better, I think. But the latter works on Windows too.
- ClickToPlugin – Similar to the extension that kills Flash, this knocks out any <embed> tag so that would stop things like Silverlight, Quicktime (I think), etc.
Oh, and why do I use Safari in general? It’s a real, Mac-like application, that uses Mac user-interface controls, and interfaces with built-in Mac OS X features like the address book, keychain, spell checker, etc. Firefox UI pieces don’t feel right because it’s all based on XUL, not native UI (Camino, however, has a truly native UI.) Firefox is an excellent cross-platform browser, but its cross-platform roots show.
Safari also is pretty good about standards compliance, and supports HTML5 and H.264 video, which Firefox currently says they won’t do. Also, maybe Safari is faster, but that’s not why I use it. When I use a Mac, I want it to feel like a Mac – that’s the real reason. Clearly, not every Mac user has this opinion, but for me the choice is clear. (Strictly speaking, I use the nightly builds of Webkit.)