Safari 5 Extensions

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:

  • Javascript BlackList – By far my favorite, this blacklist can kill just about any annoying script on any page.  From Tynt (shame on Wired for using it) to the Meebo Sharebar to all those annoying ads based on keywords with the double-underlined green text.  Essential. If you download only one extension, make it this one.  Much simpler than Firefox’s NoScript, which is entirely too complicated for my needs.
  • 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.

Ok, that does it for my handful of ideas.  Include your favorites in the comments.  One note about adblockers, of which I’m sure there are many.  Don’t use them.  Blocking Flash and obnoxious javascript keyword ads is one thing – they are buggy, slow, extra-annoying.  But most sites depend on ad revenue to keep them in business.  So killing all their ads deprives them of income that allows the site to exist. Lord knows newspapers and magazines are struggling, the last thing they need is their one, already inadequate, online income stream made worse.  Killing Flash and keyword ads just encourages people to use less onerous advertising.

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.)

4 comments… add one
  • Charon Aug 27, 2010 @ 14:50

    Of course, both Firefox and Safari have the Mac-only problem of putting the “back” button immediately adjacent to the “close the window” button. It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally I will click the latter instead of the former, and lose a window with ~15 tabs (yes, I should find a way to remember papers I want to read other than just leaving them open in a tab).

    FreeBSD, Linux, etc. don’t have this problem. (As I recall, Windows doesn’t either, but that’s it’s own little level of hell.) I don’t know why OS X feels the need to keep putting the window control buttons on the left…

  • Tom Aug 29, 2010 @ 23:00

    @Charon: In Safari, go to the Preferences -> Tabs, and check that “Confirm before closing multiple tabs or windows” is ticked – this prevents inadvertently closing 15 tabs in one go.

  • John Aug 30, 2010 @ 5:40

    Of course, you can do the same in Firefox (Preferences -> Tabs -> “Warn me when closing multiple tabs”). And if you manage to close them all anyway, you can go to History -> Recently Closed Windows to get them all back again easily.

  • sitharus Sep 17, 2010 @ 5:44

    After my latest update comic sans be gone can now replace Arial with Helvetica. It was the most requested feature!

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