As an Apple user, you’re probably already familiar with Safari. But you might not be familiar with all the browser extensions you can use to improve and expand Safari’s functionality.
In this article, we’ll explain what Safari extensions are, along with how to install and use them on your Mac. We’ll even explain why you won’t find as many extensions for Safari as you do for other browsers, like Chrome.
- 1 What are Safari extensions?
- 2 How do I use Safari extensions on a Mac?
- 3 What extensions should I install on Safari?
- 4 How do I manually install Safari extensions?
- 5 Downgrade to an older version of macOS
- How to downgrade from macOS Catalina
- Lights off extension for Safari, Chrome, Firefox
- Protecting your privacy and security on Safari, How-to
- macOS Mojave to kill many Safari extensions: Here’s what you should know
What are Safari extensions?
A browser extension is a small app that changes the way your web browser looks or the way it works. You can install extensions for almost every web browser: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari.
Unlike other apps on your Mac, after you install an extension you don’t need to do anything else to use it. The extension appears in Safari’s toolbar ready for you to access whenever you browse the web.
Some of the most popular browser extensions let you block ads, find discount codes, manage passwords, enable dark mode for websites, and check your spelling.
We’ll list some of the best Safari extensions a little further down.
Are browser extensions safe?
A lot of browser extensions request permission to view the websites you visit and to watch what you do on those websites. Sometimes they can even save your passwords or access your camera.
A good extension only requests permission to do these things if it’s necessary. For instance, a password manager needs to access your passwords.
However, bad extensions might take advantage of this access to sell your data to the highest bidder. It’s even possible someone could use an extension to install malware or computer viruses on your system.
For this reason, it’s very important that you don’t install untrustworthy extensions on your web browser. Doing so can put your privacy at serious risk.
Are Safari browser extensions safe?
With that said, Safari extensions are a little bit different because Apple reviews and signs off on every extension before letting you install it.
This is a relatively recent change for Apple—Safari extensions used to be as open as any other browser—and it means there are fewer extensions for Safari than there are for other browsers.
As a result, any extensions you download and install for Safari should be safe to use.
Does Safari have extensions like Chrome?
There are far more browser extensions available for Chrome than there are for Safari. This is because Apple doesn’t allow you to install unsafe extensions whereas Google simply gives you a warning for them.
Still, many of the same extensions are available across both browsers. Any that aren’t, usually have similar substitutes you can install instead.
How do I use Safari extensions on a Mac?
After you install a Safari extension on your Mac it appears as an icon in the Safari toolbar at the top of the window. You should see it alongside the search bar or next to the share button.
Click this icon to activate that extension or adjust its settings. Sometimes you don’t even need to do anything because it starts working in the background as soon as you install it.
How do I install Safari extensions from Apple?
Since you can only install Apple-approved extensions on Safari, the only place to get them is from the Mac App Store. This means every Safari extension is safe to use and automatically updates with other apps on your Mac.
Open Safari and go to Safari > Safari Extensions from the menu bar. This opens the Mac App Store on a page with every available Safari extension.
You’ll find a mix of free and paid extensions to use with Safari. Click any one of them to learn more about what it does and how to use it. Then click Get or click on the price and enter your Apple ID details to install it.
Some extensions come as part of a larger app, such as Todoist or Day One. You can access these apps from the Launchpad or Applications folder after downloading and installing them.
How do I manage Safari extensions?
After installing an extension from the App Store, it should immediately be available for you to use from the Safari toolbar. If it isn’t there, go to Safari > Preferences > Extensions from the menu bar.
In this preferences page, you can view information about all the Safari extensions on your Mac. Use the checkboxes to turn extensions on and off. Or select an extension in the sidebar and click Uninstall to get rid of it for good.
Disabling or removing extensions can make Safari faster, which is a good thing to do if you notice a dip in your browser performance.
You can also rearrange the extension icons on your Safari toolbar by holding Cmd while you click and drag them to new locations. This is a great way to put them in an order that makes sense for you.
What extensions should I install on Safari?
You can find a range of Safari extensions on the Mac App Store. They cover everything from password managers to ad blockers, and much more.
Here are some of the best extensions you might want to install.
Ecosia search engine
Safari offers a few built-in search engines in the preferences. But if you want to save the planet with your searches you might want to install the Ecosia extension instead.
Ecosia is a search engine dedicated to planting trees to protect the environment. If you switch to Ecosia instead of using Google, all that ad revenue from your searches could go to a truly good cause.
Download: Ecosia (Free)
1Password and Dashlane password managers
It isn’t easy to keep track of all your passwords these days. Especially when you’re encouraged to use totally a different secure password for every account. Fortunately, password managers exist to make it easier.
You can use the 1Password or Dashlane extensions to create, save, and manage all your passwords without compromising your security.
In fact, you’re usually safer using a password manager than trying to remember everything yourself!
Download: 1Password 7 (Free, in-app purchases available)
Download: Dashlane (Free, in-app purchases available)
1Blocker and AdBlock
The most popular type of browser extension is probably an ad blocker. We all get frustrated waiting to skip YouTube ads, clicking out of pop-ups, or trying to ignore banner ads at the top of a website. With a good ad blocker, you don’t need to worry about it anymore.
Of course, some websites don’t let you access them if you use an ad blocker, since it reduces their revenue. But these extensions are still useful because most of them stop trackers from following you around the web as well.
Download: 1Blocker (Free, in-app purchases available)
Download: AdBlock for Safari (Free, in-app purchases available)
Grammarly is a great tool to make sure your spelling and grammar are up to scratch. It looks for typos, bad punctuation, and even poorly structured sentences to help you write better.
You can use Grammarly anywhere you write on the web: social media, comments, contact forms, or even in WordPress. It almost always finds a way to improve your writing.
Download: Grammarly (Free, premium subscription available)
Honey discount finder
Honey is possibly the best Safari extension to download on your Mac because it can save you money. It works by searching the Internet for valid discount codes whenever you’re about to check out at an online store.
Honey even tests each of the codes for you so you don’t need to copy and paste them yourself. It finds the best discount every time and starts saving you money immediately.
Download: Honey (Free)
How do I manually install Safari extensions?
Thanks to Apple’s heightened security requirements, you might find there are far fewer browser extensions for Safari than other browsers, like Chrome or Firefox.
This might be because Apple doesn’t allow particular extensions due to security concerns. Or it might be because an extension developer is unwilling to jump through hoops for Apple when they don’t need to for other companies.
Either way, you might find yourself wondering how to manually install Safari extensions outside of the Mac App Store…
Sadly, you can’t.
The only way to install Safari extensions in the latest version of macOS is using the Mac App Store.
Downgrade to an older version of macOS
One option to manually install Safari extensions would be to downgrade your Mac. Revert to an older version of macOS (such as Mojave or earlier) from before Apple implemented these security requirements.
You could then install other Safari extensions following the developer’s particular instructions. These usually involve dragging the extension into your Safari preferences box or saving it to your Library folder.
Follow these instructions to downgrade your Mac to macOS Mojave or earlier. However, remember that if you every upgrade in the future you will lose your unlicensed Safari extensions again.
Dan is a freelance writer based in South West England.
He spent two years supervising repairs as a Genius Admin for Apple Retail and uses that knowledge to keep our troubleshooting guides up to date.
Long before that, Dan turned to Apple products from a musical background. Having owned iPods for years, he bought a MacBook to learn sound recording and production. It was using those skills that he gained a first-class Bachelor of Science in Sound Technology.