Customize Safari. From adding favicons to your tabs to changing how Reader Mode looks, Apple’s web browser is way more flexible than you think.
If you’re used to Firefox, or even Chrome, you might find Safari pretty inflexible. With the right tools and knowledge, however, you can customize it in a surprising number of ways.
If you’ve recently switched to Safari, here are the best tools and settings for customizing your new favourite browser. Everything in this article works with Safari 8 in Yosemite, as of this writing – your mileage may vary.
SafariStand: Add Missing Features To Safari
If you really want to customize Safari, this app is where you should look first. From seeing favicons on your tabs/sidebar to adding a quick search to the context menu, Safari Stand offers a surprising number of tweaks. It’s been around a long time: we actually reviewed it way back in 2008. Features have come and gone since then, but it’s still one of the best customization tools out there for Safari.
Get everything installed and you’ll find a new item in Safari’s menubar: Stand.
Head to the settings to really get started customizing things.
- Switch between tabs using the scroll wheel, the way it works in other browsers.
- Customize how big tabs and the address bar get.
- Add favicons to your tabs, and the bookmarks sidebar (pictured above).
You can also customize what shows up in the Context Menu, seen when you right-click highlighted text or anything else on a web page. Here are those settings:
A few things you can do here:
- Search for highlighted text, using any search engine.
- Copy the title of a link along with the URL.
- Quickly run a Google Image search for any image.
- Remove anything from the context menu, such as the useless “Add To Dashboard” option.
SafariStand offers a few more features, such as a fast history/bookmark search and a sidebar showing your tabs. Note that SafariStand isn’t a browser extension: it’s a patch. You need EasySIMBL, a Mac plugin system to install SafariStand.
Extensions Let You Add Even More Options
SafariStand does a lot, but you might not have found the options you’re looking for. Happily there are plenty of extensions out there that let you tweak all kinds of things about Safari.
We showed you the best Safari extensions for productivity; here are the best ones for customizing Safari.
- Ultimate Status Bar: Add a Chrome-style status bar to Safari, so you can quickly check where any URL points.
- Stylish: Safari version of the famous addon for using custom styles on any website. Make the web look however you want.
- CustomReader: Change the font, colours and more in Safari’s Reader mode.
- TabOptions: Get more control over how tabs behave in Safari.
- Actually, you should probably check out almost everything Canisbos offers.
- HelveticaTheWorld: Change the default font on every site to Helvetica. It’s stupid, but I thought I’d mention it because there are plenty more minor tweaks like this over at the official Safari extensions page. Explore!
Customizations Built Into Safari
It’s worth noting that you can customize quite a bit about Safari without software or extensions. Here are a few highlights.
- Edit the toolbar: Right-click the toolbar, then click “Customize Toolbar”. You can now drag and drop icons however you like.
- Change the URL display: By default Safari’s addressbar doesn’t show the full URL, but you can change this. In Safari’s preferences, click “Advanced” then toggle “Show full website address”.
- Search engines: While you’re in the preferences, you should check the search settings. You can pick between Google, Bing, Yahoo and DuckDuckGo – and also decide whether you want to see Spotlight suggestions.
- Notifications: If some sites are showing notifications constantly, and you wish they wouldn’t, disable them in the Notifications screen of the preferences.
- Developer Menu: In “Advanced” you can toggle the Developer menu, which lets you switch your user agent and do a lot more.
What Did We Miss?
I tried to find as many Safari customizations as possible, but I’m sure I missed a few things. For example: Glims for Safari adds all kinds of features, but is yet to work with Yosemite or Safari 8 as of this writing.
I want to know what else I missed. How do you customize Safari? Let me know in the comments below – I’m looking forward to the conversation.