How to Use and Manage Safari Extensions on Mac

Leverage the power of extensions to get more out of Safari!

by: - Last updated on: December 21st, 2020

Key Takeaways

  • One of the most notable highlightings and the biggest app update in macOS Big Sur comes for Safari, which now gets (improved) support for third-party extensions.
  • The latest version of Safari (version 14) comes pre-loaded with macOS Big Sur but you can get it on a lower version (Mojave or Cataline) by updating the Safari app from the Mac App Store.
  • Extensions are basically modules (or tiny apps) that allow you to add an extra bit of functionality to the browser and get more out of it.
  • For more such how-to guides, check out our How-To Guide hub.

Apple introduced a host of new features and performance improvements with its latest iteration of the macOS operating system, the macOS Big Sur. The new macOS version features a major design overhaul, which is a much-needed visual change, overdue ever since macOS X, that breathes life into the overall appeal of the interface. Not just that, the update also brings along changes to Apple’s native apps and services, such as Messages, Maps, Safari, Music, Notes, etc. Of these changes, one of the most notable highlightings and the biggest app update comes in for Safari, which now offers improvements in performance and privacy and gives users more customization options than before.

Safari Extensions on Mac

Aside from a new start page, support for favicons and page preview, improved translations (with on-the-fly translation), and enhanced privacy measures, the revamped Safari also gets a much-requested feature — (improved) support for third-party extensions.

Extensions are basically modules (or tiny apps) that allow you to add an extra bit of functionality to the browser. For instance, you can use extensions to save items to your read-it-later app, block ads on websites, translate text between different languages, or even change certain aspects of the browser itself.

Safari Extension (Google Translate)

Popular web browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox are known for their extensive extension libraries, which at large, manage to cater to a large set of user requirements with their offerings. However, unlike these browsers, extension support on Safari has always been limited in terms of options and capability. And with its latest update, Apple is trying to address this problem using the WebExtensions API. The WebExtensions API is intended to increase support for extensions on Safari and present users with a wider catalog of extensions than ever before.

So, if you plan on checking out new Safari extensions yourself, here’s a guide to help you use (install, manage, and delete) extensions on Safari.

What macOS versions support Safari 14?

The latest version of Safari (version 14) comes pre-loaded with macOS Big Sur. So, if you update your Mac machine to the Big Sur, you get access to the latest Safari version right away. On the other hand, if you are on a lower version of macOS (Catalina or Mojave) and do not wish to update to Big Sur yet, you can still get Safari 14 by updating the Safari app from the Mac App Store. As for versions lower than Mojave, Apple does not offer support for Safari 14 on older versions.

Where to find Safari Extensions?

Safari Extensions (Mac App Store)

The Apple way (a.k.a the ideal way) to find Safari extensions is via Apple’s very own Mac App Store. If you are a Mac user, you are already aware of the App Store and use it to get apps on your machine. And now, with the Big Sur update, you can even find extensions on the store. However, that said, it is likely that not every extension you think of (or use) is available on the App Store. And therefore, in such a scenario, what you can instead do is head over to that service’s website to look for the extension and download it from there.

How to Download and Install Safari Extensions on Mac?

As mentioned in the previous section, there are two ways to get extensions on Safari. You can either get them via the Mac App Store or download them as a (.dmg) app from the service’s website. In the case of the latter approach, all you need to do is download the .dmg and double-click on it to install it on your machine. Once done, you need to enable it. [More on this in the following section.]

On the other hand, if you take the Apple route, here’s how to install extensions on Safari.

1. Open Safari.

2. From the Safari menu, click on Safari Extensions.

Installing Safari Extensions

3. You will now be taken to the Mac App Store, where you can find extensions, both free and paid, organized into different categories.

4. Once you find the extension you want, click on it, and hit the GET button.

Installing Safari Extensions

As soon as you do that, the extension will now start downloading, and subsequently will automatically be installed on Safari. If you have the browser open, you will get a banner notification (on top) giving you the option to view or enable the extension. You can click on it and install the extension. However, in case you do not get a notification, you can refer to the steps in the following section to enable the downloaded extensions.

How to Enable Safari Extensions on Mac?

When you download an extension from the App Store, it gets installed automatically. And as mentioned in the previous section, if you have Safari open, you get a banner to enable the downloaded extension right away.

Enable Safari Extensions extensions pop-up

However, in case you download and install an extension from some other source, or if you do not see the banner, you can use the following steps to enable extensions on Safari.

1. With Safari open, select Preferences from the Safari menu.

Enable Safari Extensions

2. In the Safari Preferences window, click on the Extensions tab.

3. Here, you will find all your installed Safari extensions on the left pane.

Enable Safari Extensions

4. To enable an extension, tick the checkbox next to it. And in the pop-up confirmation, hit Turn On.

Enable Safari Extensions

How to Use Safari Extensions on Mac?

Once you enable an extension, it will appear in the Safari toolbar on the left of the address (URL) bar. If you have multiple Safari extensions installed, you can organize these extensions to your preferred order. To do this, hold the command key while you click on an icon and move it around. You can place extensions anywhere in the Safari toolbar.

As for using these extensions, depending on what extension you use and what functionality it offers, the way you use them differs from extension to extension. However, in general, most extensions would require you to click on their icon (next to the URL bar) to run them or expand the functionalities that they offer.

How to Disable and Uninstall Safari Extensions?

As mentioned initially, unlike browsers like Chrome and Firefox, extensions on Safari are installed as apps, which means not only does the installation involve installing just the extension utility, it also downloads an app for the same on your Mac. As a result, if you intend to uninstall an extension, you also need to remove its app to get rid of it completely.

To do that, check out the following steps.

1. Select Preferences from the Safari menu.

2. In the Preferences window, click on the Extensions tab.

3. Now, in the left pane, uncheck the checkbox next to the extension you want to disable.

3. Once the extension is disabled, click on the extension, and in the right pane, hit the Uninstall button. When you do that, you get a pop-up suggesting that you need to remove the extension app first. To do this, click on the Show in Finder button (in the pop-up).

Uninstalling Safari Extensions

4. You will now get a new Finder window with a list of all the installed applications on your Mac. Here, select the app for which you want to uninstall the extension, right-click on it, and select Move to Bin from the available options.

Uninstalling Safari Extensions

5. Lastly, you need to enter your account password to proceed with the uninstallation. Enter your Mac’s password and click OK.

As soon as the app gets deleted, its extension is uninstalled too, and it no longer appears under the Extensions tab in Safari.

That is pretty much everything you need to know about using Safari Extensions on Mac. Using the steps listed for each operation, you should be able to install, enable, and use extensions to customize your experience or add to the browser’s functionality. And, in case you do not find an extension helpful, you always have the option to disable and uninstall it.

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