On June 7, 2010, Apple released Safari 5, the latest version of their web browser. In addition to performance increases, better HTML5 support, and Safari Reader (which I wrote about earlier), Safari 5 also offers support for extensions. Extensions allow third-party developers to add new features and functionality to Safari in an Apple-approved method that doesn’t require hacks. (Other browsers, e.g., Firefox and Chrome, have had similar functionality for awhile.)
Since Safari’s release, dozens of extensions have been released that add features ranging from ad blocking to Facebook modifications to browser tab management. Some are humorous, while some tackle significant and serious issues. Below is a list of my favorite Safari 5 extensions, the ones that I never knew I needed until they came out.
- Beautifier — Beautifier adds extra text-smoothing to websites using the “-webkit-font-smoothing” CSS property. Your mileage may vary, though: overall, the “beautified” text looks nice but the extra smoothing can make smaller text a little too light and thin.
- Defacer — Defacer hides the Facebook “Like” buttons and links that are on websites everywhere these days.
- Facebook Zen — This extension removes some of the Facebook-related clutter that is so prevalent on the web these days. For example, it disables the list of ads and suggestions that appear in the right column on your Facebook page.
- HelvetiReader — A port of script previously developed by Hicksdesign (see the original), HelvetiReader turns Google Reader’s interface into something more streamlined and minimal — and Helvetica-centric.
- Oldschoogle — Oldschoogle allows you to disable to left and right columns that Google added to search results. I’ve disabled the right column, which means no more ads.
- Shortly — Adds a button to your toolbar that, when clicked, will automatically shorten URLs for usage in Twitter, e-mail, etc. YouTube URLs will be shortened using “youtu.be”, Flickr URLs will be shortened using “flic.kr”, and all other URLs will be shortened with “bit.ly” or “goo.gl”.
- View Background Image — Adds an item to your contextual menu that displays the background image of any element in a new browser tab.
New extensions are being added all the time to the Safari Extensions blog (Apple’s official extensions gallery will open later this summer). Here are a few that I hope to see added in the near future:
- Faviconize — The FaviconizeTab extension for Firefox seems trivial until you actually use it. If you’re one of those users that has lots of tabs open, being able to collapse those tabs to display just the favicon — and thereby freeing up space in the browser window (for more tabs) — is quite nice.
- HelvetiMail — HelvetiMail is currently availabe to Safari only if you have Greasekit and SIMBL installed. It’d be really nice to see it reborn as a native Safari extension, if only so that my Gmail and Google Reader screens match.
- Web Developer — According to this random tweet, the incredibly useful Web Developer extension will be making its way to Safari (a Chrome version was recently released). If you’re a web developer, this extension is a must-have, giving you a Swiss Army knife-like array of functions that can aid in development, testing, and debugging.
- Coda Notes — Panic announced this extension shortly after Safari 5’s release, but it’s not yet available. Coda Notes lets you annotate, mark up, and draw on the website that you’re currently looking at, and then e-mail a screenshot with your annotations. Not only could this prove really useful as a communications tool between developers and clients, but given that this is Panic we’re talking about, I’m sure it’s going to look and function great.
Am I missing any extensions? What extensions do you find useful, and which ones would you like to see developed?
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.