Safari is sleek, powerful, intuitive and well-connected — but it can also simplify your life. Here’s how you can turn Safari into a productivity powerhouse.
The wide assortment of web extensions available for Safari 7.0 enables you to get more things done while browsing the web, bookmarking sites, and managing tabs.
Don’t worry if you have never added extensions to Safari before, as Apple makes it easy to do. You can download and install free web extensions from Safari’s online portal, by clicking on Safari > Safari extensions… in the menubar. The extensions gallery is broken down into popular, recent, and topical categories — e.g. productivity, social networking, search tools, security, bookmarking.
All your downloaded extensions and their settings are located in Safari preferences > Extensions. Safari will automatically install updates for your extensions, but you can disable this feature if you prefer to install updates manually.
The following selection of extensions are what I consider the most useful productivity tools for getting things done via Safari.
If your favorites bookmark bar is full, ButtonBar is an extension that allows users to add an extra customizable bookmarks bar just below the default one. ButtonBar provides three different appearance styles (Safari grey, dark, light), and buttons can be aligned left, right, or center in the bar.
Individual bookmark buttons can also be color-labeled, and made inactive, just as ButtonBar itself can be hidden by toggling the extension button in the Safari toolbar.
You probably are aware that text messages can be sent on the Mac via the Notifications Center, but Betwext Remind is an extension that allows you to send a text message to yourself right from within Safari.
Reminders can be written without using exact dates or times. For example, you can type, “Buy milk tomorrow afternoon,” and Betwext will send you a text message the next day at 3 PM.
You must register for the free text service, with your phone number and a password login. The only drawback with Betwext is that it can’t be hidden or turned off from within the Safari toolbar. You must disable it in the extension preferences.
PanicButton is a nifty extension that hides all your currently opened tabs in the front-most browser window. This is not only a good privacy utility, but it is also useful for temporarily hiding tab pages instead of closing them altogether.
PanicButton can be activated from the toolbar or by using an assigned keyboard shortcut. By default, PanicButton opens a blank page after hiding opened tabs, but a specified URL can be added for the “safe page” in the settings of PanicButton.
If you frequently write using Markdown, you might find Format Link handy for creating a webpage title and URL links in Markdown format that can be copied and pasted into the text editor you’re using. I use a Keyboard Maestro macro to quickly format links in Markdown and HTML, but Format Link is a little more convenient if you format links on a regular basis.
A few years ago, Amazon released a Send to Kindle application for the Mac and PC that allows users to export documents to their Kindle device or Kindle mobile App. Push to Kindle works in a similar fashion by allowing users to send web articles by simply clicking the web extension button in the toolbar.
While it is easy enough to use the keyboard shortcut File > New Window in Safari, it is also convenient to have a button in the toolbar that does the same thing.
If Amazon is your default web store, this extension is highly useful for quickly adding a product to your Amazon wish list. The extension will attempt to fill in the name and price of the product, and add an image. Extra information can also be manually added.
If you find yourself wasting too much time on a few websites, WasteNoTime can automatically block you from selected websites when you have spent a preset amount of time on them each day.
To use the extension most effectively, you should set up and define your work hours and specify the amount of time allowed each day for browsing specified sites.
All your listed blocked sites can be tracked and managed on the WasteNoTime site, which doesn’t even require registration.
Though you can bookmark a collection of opened webpages and put them in a Safari folder, Sessions automatically tracks and records your opened pages, where they can then be accessed in a Sessions manager. The service doesn’t require registration.
What I like most about Sessions is that I don’t have to create a folder of bookmarks when I only need to save them for a day or two. Sessions adds the open pages in the sessions manager, in which collections of pages can be labeled and re-opened in a new Safari window.
There are many utilities for shortening long URLs, but if you want to do it from the Safari toolbar, iShorten is a good solution. The extension can paste the shortened URL of an opened webpage directly to Twitter, Facebook, a new Mail or Gmail message.
Get Even More Productive
There are a lot more fantastically productive web extensions to choose from. In particular, check out our review of Grammarly Lite, a browser extension for proofreading text as you type in a web browser.
Do you know of any other great extensions that fit the bill? How does your Safari setup help you to be really productive? We’d love to know!