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Six Tips for Supercharging Safari

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Although Safari improves with every version released, it remains difficult for one browser to cater for everyone’s needs. Firefox has successfully approached this problem through the use of Add-Ons, but Safari continues to lack any widely promoted form of plugin or extension functionality.

Despite this, I still remain a huge fan of Safari’s simplicity and speed and am reluctant to switch to another browser. Fortunately, several different methods remain for enhancing and “supercharging” Safari. Today I’ll be taking a look at six applications and tweaks for getting more out of Apple’s latest browser — from saving passwords more effectively to downloading video content.

1. Banishing Flash

clicktoflashFlash is a web technology that can be used to great effect for enhancing design, displaying video, and offering better typography. Unfortunately it is commonly abused and over-used, leading to a frustrating browser experience.

Click to Flash is a plugin for disabling Flash on every webpage by default, providing a simple placeholder instead. If you’d like the Flash content to display, just click the placeholder. You can also right-click and add a site to your white-list, always automatically displaying Flash content in the future.

Although this may seem like a fairly unusual plugin, it can dramatically speed up the loading times of websites. Flash content is commonly used for advertisements or unnecessary animation and, the small number of times you do actually want to view the Flash content, it’s only one click away.

2. Saving Passwords

1passwordThe default password saving functionality built into Safari is fairly good, but far from perfect. First, it isn’t all that secure — anyone using your computer can login with a saved password. Second, there’s no way to automatically store a password when creating a new account on a website.

1Password is a Safari plugin which can help enormously with password storage, and remains incredibly secure. It allows you to store multiple logins for a site, set a “master password” to unlock all your saved details, and will automatically fill and submit login forms for you.

It’s priced at $39.95, but can save an enormous amount of time. A companion iPhone application is also available, so you can keep all your passwords with you on-the-go.

3. Glims

glimsGlims offers a wide “cocktail” of different features to Safari and can improve many different aspects of the user interface. After using it for a few weeks, you may wonder how you ever managed without it. A few of my favorites are:

  • The ability to add thumbnails to Google (s goog) and Yahoo (s yhoo) search results
  • The addition of full-screen browsing capability
  • Auto-closing of the download window (how many times have you needed to close that pesky window!)
  • Automatically organize downloads by date
  • Adds website icons in each Safari tab

Each feature can be turned on or off as you require. The only downside is that you may notice a slight slow-down in Safari performance. Nothing too critical, but it can be slightly frustrating at times.

4. Easy Tweeting

safari140Although a plethora of desktop Twitter clients are available for OS X, there’s no harm in adding a simple way to tweet in Safari itself. After all, it’s probably where you first encounter a link or website worth sharing with your followers.

Safari 140 adds a basic plugin to Safari, which will auto-fill a new tweet with the current URL (automatically shortened, of course). After setting it up with your Twitter login credentials, it can save a huge amount of time. Safari 140 won’t replace a dedicated desktop client, however — it’s purely for posting quick links.

5. Block Those Ads

Many of us would enjoy browsing the Internet far more without the presence of advertisements. Sure, they’re a vital way for websites to generate income, but occasionally we all need an ad-free day.

Safari AdBlock is a simple, free plugin that aims to strip advertisements from websites as you browse. It works surprisingly well and can lead to a far less cluttered web experience.

AdBlock: Before and After
AdBlock: Before and After

One welcome feature of AdBlock is its ability to clean up a page’s layout after removing the advertisements. This means that a site is not left with large, gaping spaces where sponsorship slots used to be.

6. Easily Download Videos

cosmopod1Much of the web’s video content is served through Flash and can be difficult to download for later viewing. Few plugins are better at assisting with this process than CosmoPod, which works with almost all sites serving video content.

Not only will CosmoPod download video content, but with one click the plugin can download the file, convert it to an iTunes/iPod compatible format, and place it in your iTunes library. Everything integrates with the Safari interface for a seamless downloading experience.

What do you use?

I would be interested to hear any plugins or tweaks you use for enhancing Safari. I firmly believe that it’s the best browser available for OS X, but am enthusiastic about finding ways to make the app perform better and make my life easier!

44 Responses to “Six Tips for Supercharging Safari”

  1. I use pithhelmet to block ads and love it. It offers extensive customization for site preferences, but out of the box I find that it does a fine job. (Except for one major national newspaper site, which is effective in blocking pithhelmet.) I use saft for several nice tweaks (this in Tiger) such as downloading to dated folders; crtl-dragging web pages; closing the downloads window; and tab control. It also offers keystroke assignments.
    I’ve also used applescript to resize windows; to tile topmost two windows side by side, sized to my screen; and have adapted existing scripts to search selected text from Safari in google (in a new window) and to map selected address in google maps. Applescript is key.
    Here is the maps script:

    set targetApp to (path to frontmost application as Unicode text)
    tell application targetApp to activate
    tell application “System Events”
    tell process targetApp
    keystroke “c” using {command down}
    delay 1
    end tell
    end tell
    set mytarget to “” & (the clipboard)
    (* display dialog “my target is ” & mytarget *)
    tell application “Safari” to activate
    tell application “System Events”
    tell process “Safari”
    open location (mytarget)
    end tell
    end tell

    One of my favorite safari scripts is Red Sweater Software’s script to advance to the next page of search results. Fantastic! I also use fastscripts to assign keystrokes to scripts, and have assigned cmd+apostrophe to that script. I have assigned cmd+semi-colon to go to previous page across apps. (With all of the app-specific keystrokes, I try to maintain whatever cross-app keystrokes I can.)

  2. I’ve had a major prob. with ClickToFlash, which I should let the developer know about. It works amazingly – but one day, it started slowing down browsing, and it got slower and slower – everything was clean – cache – limited history, computer fast, etc… I knew it was the Plugin. Eventually it completely ruined Safari… it literally could not do anything, even when I took Safari off my Mac, and re-downloaded it, it still was a mess, so I took it off again, and trashed ClickToFlash, and re-downloaded Safari… everything is like it was… super fast. I have a feeling other people might have this problem. It almost felt like a virus got through somewhere, I dunno.

    But the idea of ClickToFlash is A+, just has some bugs to get worked out. Maybe I’ll try it again after a few updates.


    I know Safari’s “Top Sights” has gotten some iffy reception, atleast from what I’ve read, I think it’s sweet, but takes an incredibly long time to load the first time you use it, and sometimes there-after. It makes Safari look bad when a new Mac user tries Safari the first time – clicks on “Top Sights” and it just sits there with weird empty windows – even the preset “Top Sights” take forever to load. I helped my brother get his new MacBook Pro up, and when I saw this happening in Safari… it was embarrassing, really. I’m telling him how amazing everything is, and then this comes along.

    BUT: to make it run a little quicker – just click “large” on the bottom right of the “Top Sights” page (after you click “edit” on the bottom left), it only has to load 4 top sights instead of like 30. Though after long term use – “Top Sights” gets a little quicker for some reason as it gets to know you – but for some reason as well, it has trouble opening Youtube – if you have a YouTube account, and it’s in your “Top Sights”, it very often is blank and just shows a white box in the middle of it, even if you sit a wait for a sec. The same with Google Maps too, I dunno, might just be a random thing. Great posting though, much thanks !


    Safari has never crashed for me before – but after a friend sent me this page I loaded a bunch of them and now it crashes everytime I run safari for more than a few pages…. Anyone have a solution? Anyone know how to restore to before I added these apps or how to delete them?

    In FIREFOX – you just have “add-ins” and they are easy to remove.


  4. I really like SafariStand. It’s does some things that Glims does, but not everything. I particularly like the sidebar tab thumbnail previews (like OmniWeb).

  5. This isnt a plug-in really, but I use X-Marks!! It is awesome. I have a PC and a Mac. On the PC it syncs my firefox and windoze explorer bookmarks (if i ever use my PC haha) and on my mac, it sycs my firefox and safari bookmarks. So essentially, it syncs up all 4 of my internet browsers so i always have any bookmark!

  6. I don’t use any plugins yet, but I’ve never cared for the bookmarking of Safari, especially with Firefox 3 doing such a good job. Would try bookmarking plugins for Safari if there are any good ones.

  7. Frudov

    Here’s a few things I’ve done that seem to greatly speed up Safari:

    1. I do this *constantly*, and eventually wrote an applescript for it–it speeds up launching Safari from 5+ jumps in the dock to 1-2. Trash this folder:


    I forget exactly what it does and I don’t care–there’s no negative side to trashing it that I can tell. (It’s some kind of cache, keeps coming back, is unnecessary, and if you haven’t removed it before it could be very, very large)

    2. Used glims to get rid of the Favicons.

    3. Even though I keep trying, I am always disappointed how badly Cooliris slows down Safari. If you’ve installed it try removing it if you’ve got speed problems.

  8. Daniel Folsom

    I wish there was a simple plugin JUST for full-screen browsing; I occasionally use web-apps that really call for full-screen Safari in order to be fully useful.

  9. JohnnyC

    My favourite plug-in for safari is Cool Iris ( )

    It is hands down, the fastest way to search and navigate results when looking for images, and video, from many different popular sources.

    Forget about clicking “next” for the subsequent pages of results. One continuous silky smooth cover-flow is all you need. It’s saved me a lot of time for both work, and personal use.

  10. Hey, thank you for the hints. As a far more serious adblocking service I recommend GlimmerBlocker – it installs system-wide, thus blocking ads in every browser and SSB. It works as a proxy, but is really simple to set up.

  11. anonymous

    You can set a master password without using 1-password.
    You just directly go to Applications –> Utilities and open Keychain,
    where all the passwords entered through Safari (and 1-password) is kept.
    You can then set a master password, etc.
    I think Keychain is rather under-appreciated by the community.

  12. After Inquisitor stopped supporting Google search, I switched to Glims, which is significantly better. The UI might not be as nice, but it’s really feature packed. I too love the auto-close download window feature!

  13. Wow, as a fellow Safari user I really appreciate a bunch of these. Ban Flash. Count me in; Click to Flash is just what I’ve been looking for! I already have 1Password for my iTouch and thinking of upgrading to Pro and OSX version. Also Safari 140, Safari AdBlock, and CosmoPod are going to be fantastic enhancements.