The 7 best free Safari extensions for the Mac

You can add more useful features to Safari by installing one of these extensions.

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Browser extensions add specific capabilities to Safari by reading and modifying web content to promote an integrated browsing experience that’s tailored to your needs. There are two places to find Apple-approved Safari extensions: The App Store and the Safari Extensions Gallery webpage.

With Safari 12 on macOS Mojave and iOS 12, Apple revised the way its native web browser operates with extensions. Whereas in the past, you could easily download an extension from a developer, today you must download and install a Mac app or an Apple approved extension from the Safari Extensions Gallery page. The gallery is still operative for browser versions as far back as version 9, and is still considered a safe way to download and install Safari extensions. Regardless of the browser version, all apps from the App Store and Gallery page can update automatically.

Safari 12 blocks legacy extensions from third-party sources, and is now in the process of deprecating its own Extensions Gallery. It quit accepting new Gallery extension submissions at the end of 2018, accelerating a transition away from the Gallery in favor of the App Store. Many extensions continue to work just fine in Mohave’s latest browser.

Right now, there’s not much to the browser extension section of the App Store, which you can access via the Safari > Safari Extensions menu. Of the 66 App extensions currently available, only 27 are free. Another half dozen are 99 cents and the rest range in price to $19.99. Here are the best of the free extensions from both sources.

Ghostery Lite

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Ghostry Lite Safari extension

Ghostery Lite is the free version of Ghostery that blocks ads and trackers that transmit and receive user information. Using the browser’s own Content Blocker API, the extension discards content, cookies, and tracking scripts to cut down on the information Safari shares with other websites, without sacrificing performance.

You can customize Ghostery from the toolbar button by choosing either the default setting or individually blocking some ads while leaving others for sites you want to support. You can also use the extension to control analytics, audio or video players, adult content and more.

Translate

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Translate Safari extension

When you come across multi-lingual web content, it’s distracting not to be able to read it in context. Translate lets you translate pages from any language to any other language via either the Microsoft or Google Translate function. You can also choose from a host of other translation services via the toolbar button, contextual menu, or keyboard shortcut. nWithin the settings you can also choose whether to translate pages automatically or manually and choose to set up a preferred service region.

An updated Mac App Store version called TranslateMe costs $9.99.

Zoom

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Zoom Safari extension

Sometimes webpage content is just too small (or large). You can fix such issues with Zoom, a simple extension that lets you adjust the scale of content on any webpage.

Just invoke the app from the toolbar, and you get a slider that spans from 0 to 400 percent, making any size text or images easier to see in a full page context. You can adjust sizes with the slider or the plus or minus buttons. A Default button immediately reverts the page to 100 percent.

TrafficLight

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The web often seems like a giant mirror looking inward at every user, spying and recording most activities for both commercial and nefarious purposes. Bitdefender, the company behind the popular anti-virus program of the same name, offers the TrafficLight Safari extension as an advanced malware protection filter that guards your browsing experience against phishing attacks. It finds hidden trackers that follow and analyze your browsing activity, while a safe search feature specifically monitors search results to warn users about malware and fraudulent websites.

HoverSee

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HoverSee Safari extension

Content scaling can be an issue on some websites, with some images especially difficult to decipher. HoverSee enlarges all images and image-based video links as you hover your mouse over them and shows any available descriptions alongside the preview.

It works especially well on thumbnail images like Facebook and Twitter, links to image galleries, and direct image links. If you hover on YouTube, it will automatically play your video in its magnified mode. You can adjust visual display delay, minimum and maximum zoom, white list or black list certain sites, use a hot key to control zoom on specific images, autoplay or mute videos and more.

DuckDuckGo

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DuckDuckGo Safari extension

Even if you’re not already using DuckDuckGo as your default search engine, you can still take advantage of the search engine’s privacy and security features with this Safari extension. The extension brings up a search interface that lets you search without storing your search history or following you around the web. Just click the icon in the toolbar to get the search box, or invoke it from the right-click contextual menu.

Shortly

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Shortly Safari extension

When you want to include a URL in an email or social media post, it helps to chop long ones into short bits-and that’s where Shortly come in. You can choose your preferred service of Google, Bitly, TinyURL or Custom Endpoint. Just enable the extension in the Safari Preferences, and then click the browser toolbar button or set up a hot key to automatically shorten any URL. Your trim URL appears ready to copy and paste either as a popover or alert window.

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