The 30 best Safari extensions -- so far

Apple's Safari browser recently joined Firefox and Chrome in offering extensions. Which ones should you install?

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Integration with Instapaper, Google Reader and Gmail


Instapaper is a free service that lets you save articles and other Web pages for future reading, optionally formatting them into a easy-to-read format similar to a newspaper ("instant paper," get it?). Instapaper offers a simple "Read Later" button you can add to Safari's Bookmarks bar; if you're on a page you want to read or review later, just click the button to save the page to your Instapaper account.

Safari extensions: InstapaperIt
Save links for later reading on Instapaper with InstapaperIt.

But an even better option is the InstapaperIt extension from ElasticThreads. InstapaperIt not only lets you save the page you're currently on to your Instapaper account (just click the "I" button to the left of the address bar), it also lets you save linked pages for later.

To save a linked page, right-click the link and select "Send Link to Instapaper." Alternatively, you can set a hot key; press the hot key as you click a link, and the linked page will be saved to your Instapaper account.

It's a great timesaver for business travelers, commuters or Web researchers who want to compile several articles to read all at once at a convenient time. It can also be handy for people who have spotty Internet service or perhaps nasty weather headed their way. Take the Internet and save it.

Instapaper Beyond

This extension from Brett Terpstra adds keyboard-based navigation when you're browsing your Instapaper account. You can navigate through bookmarks and folders, view bookmarked pages on their original site or in Instapaper's Text view, or archive pages and send them to other services like Evernote and Delicious. When installed, simply press the "h" key while logged into Instapaper for a full list of keyboard commands.

Safari extensions: Beyond Instapaper
Get keyboard navigation for Instapaper with Instapaper Beyond.
Add to Google Reader

This extension from Rob Wilkerson does exactly what it says: It adds the RSS feed for the current site to your Google Reader account via a toolbar button.

Safari extensions: Shortenz Linkz, AdBlock, InstapaperIt, Duplicate Tab, Exposer, Translate, GReader, Twitter, Widgets Bar
The main toolbar has buttons for multiple extensions: Shortenz Linkz, AdBlock, InstapaperIt, Duplicate Tab, Exposer, Translate and GReader. Below are the Twitter and Widgets bars.

This one's a great companion to the above extension. Rafeed Chaudhury's GReader displays the unread count of your Google Reader account in a toolbar button -- and clicking that button takes you immediately to your Google Reader home page.

Gmail Checker

Much like GReader,'s Gmail Checker displays the current unread message count of your Gmail inbox via a toolbar button -- and clicking the button takes you to your Gmail account.

Final thoughts

Before Safari 5 was released, Apple was criticized for being late to the extensions party that started with Firefox and gained ground with Chrome. Despite the delay, Apple has made installing and updating Safari extensions a breeze. And though the Extensions Gallery is only a starting point, it's a good one for most users.

More important, extensions give users a more personal browsing experience and a more modern way of navigating around the Web. The one-size-fits-all browser is dead. It's about time.

Let us know your favorite Safari extensions in the article comments.

Ryan Faas and Logan Kugler are frequent Computerworld contributors.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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