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
Flash 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
The 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.
Glims 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 and Yahoo 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
Although 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.
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
Much 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!