35 Mac Apps to Improve Your Web Browsing Experience

Now that widespread connectivity means you’re rarely without a web connection, the Internet has become a huge part of the way in which we use our computers. Out of the box, your Mac is a powerful machine for making the most of everything the Internet has to offer, but there are a few tweaks, plugins and applications that can make it go a little bit further.

Today I’ll be taking a look at 35 different plugins and applications that will help improve your web browsing experience. Both Safari and Firefox will be covered, along with a few tools relating to networking, search, bookmarking, and – of course – taking a break from the Internet!

Safari on Speed

safari-iconSafari is undoubtedly the most popular browser on the Mac, and also a fairly difficult application to extend. It lacks a “add-ons” system and directory in the same vein as Firefox, though does still have several useful plugins available. Here are a selection that can significantly improve your “browsing experience” (though don’t run them all at once – it’s a recipe for a very slow browser!)

Click to Flash – Click to Flash is a plugin for disabling Flash on every webpage by default, providing a simple placeholder instead. If you’d like the Flash content to display, just click the placeholder. You can also right-click and add a site to your white-list, always automatically displaying Flash content in the future.

1Password – A Safari plugin which can help enormously with password storage, and remains incredibly secure. It allows you to store multiple logins for a site, set a “master password” to unlock all your saved details, and will automatically fill and submit login forms for you.

Glims – Glims offers a wide “cocktail” of different features to Safari and can improve many different aspects of the user interface. After using it for a few weeks, you may wonder how you ever managed without it.

Safari 140 – A basic plugin to Safari, which will auto-fill a new tweet with the current URL (automatically shortened, of course). After setting it up with your Twitter login credentials, it can save a huge amount of time. Safari 140 won’t replace a dedicated desktop client, however — it’s purely for posting quick links.

Safari AdBlock – A simple, free plugin that aims to strip advertisements from websites as you browse. It works surprisingly well and can lead to a far less cluttered web experience.

CosmoPod – Able to download video content, and with one click the plugin can download the file, convert it to an iTunes/iPod compatible format, and place it in your iTunes library. Everything integrates with the Safari interface for a seamless downloading experience.

SafariCookies – Safari Cookies is the only cookie manager built to integrate directly into Safari, for minimum disruption to your browsing experience. It makes it simple to accept only certain cookies, automatically remove cookies, and more.

Keywurl – This app adds simple way of performing searches in Safari by letting you type short keywords as queries. Type a keyword and a query in the address bar, and it will be expanded into a predefined search. An incredible time-saver.

TabExpose – A Safari add-on that enables you to view all open tabs in Safari the same way Exposé displays all open windows on your Desktop. A beta is available for Snow Leopard.

Word Browser Plugin – Displays a preview of Word, Rich Text Format, OpenDocument and OpenXML documents inside the Safari browser window. Saves you needing to launch the monolith that is Microsoft Word!

Fully Functional Firefox

ff-old-iconAlthough there are thousands of Firefox add-ons available, I’ve hand picked a few that I find to be particularly useful. Your needs may vary, but I hope that one or two will appeal.

Greasemonkey – This plugin allows you to customize the way a webpage displays using snippets of JavaScript. If you’re not particularly tech-minded, don’t worry – hundreds of scripts are already available.

Ubiquity – A revolutionary new technology from Mozilla that allows you to “command” the web rather than surf it. You can use natural language to translate to and from most languages, add maps to your email, edit any page, twitter, check your calendar, search, email your friends, and much more. Revolutionary.

Feedly – A magazine-like start page for Firefox, offering a fast (and great looking) way to read your favorite sites and services.

FoxTab – Bring Safari’s “Top Site” functionality across to Firefox, so you can see a list of your favourite sites in an impressive 3D “wall”. Unlike in Safari, a variety of different 3D views are available to switch between.

Flashblock – Similar to Click to Flash on OS X, Flashblock hides any Flash content from displaying until you explicitly tell it to do so. A great way to avoid distraction, and speed up your browser.

URL Fixer – A plugin that corrects typos in address bar URLs. For example, if you type google.con, it will correct it to google.com (asking first, if you enable confirmation).

CustomizeGoogle – Quickly enhance Google search results by adding extra information and removing unwanted information (like ads and spam). An impressive range of customisation options are included.

Searching and Finding Information

QuicksilverCooliris – A 3D Wall that speeds up search on Google Images, YouTube, Flickr, and more. A really rich way to view photos from Facebook, Picasa, and even your computer. Funky!

Google Quick Search Box – Google Quick Search Box is an open source search box that allows you to search data on your computer and across the web. Very handy for initiating a search directly from your desktop.

QuickSilver – No longer in active development, but still a great tool for searching from your desktop. A huge range of plugins are available to extend functionality further.

Bookmarking Tools

pukka128XMarks – A fairly powerful search and bookmarking tool, that is capable of keeping your favourites in sync between different browsers and different computers.

DeliciousSafari – This app allows you to use and create Delicious bookmarks from the Safari web browser. It sits in the menu bar, and offers a simple interface to the powerful online bookmarking app.

Cocoalicious – Cocoalicious is a del.icio.us client for Mac OS X. It acts as a desktop interface to your del.icio.us bookmarks, and comes with a handy bookmarklet for saving new sites.

Postr – Essentially a “social bookmarking bridge”, Postr makes it easy to post links from an application such as NetNewsWire to a variety of different online bookmarking websites.

Pukka – A full featured client for Delicious and other compatible social bookmarking services. It’s lightweight, works great with multiple accounts, and features fast, offline search. It also offers Growl notifications, and integrates with various RSS readers for posting.

Networking & Wireless

radarAirRadar – Designed to scan for open wireless networks and tag them as favourites or filter them out. View detailed network information, graph network signal strength, and automatically join the best open network in range.

APGrapher – A freeware app that searches for and displays nearby wireless (AirPort/WiFi) access points along with information about their percent availability, maximum signal strength, and last contact time.

NetworkLocation – Set up “locations” to represent the different environments in your life. When you visit a particular location, the app can change system settings or set things in motion; launch applications or scripts, connect to servers, toggle Airport and Bluetooth power etc.

Broadband Tuner – If you have a really fast broadband connection, this utility may help to speed things up on your Mac. No guarantee, though, and it’s not recommended for Airport connections. Could be worth experimenting with!

Hotspot Shield – A security-enhancing app, that protects your web session with HTTPS encryption, hides your IP address, bypasses firewalls/censorship, and protects you at Wi-Fi hotspots. Really useful when using public internet, or for accessing foreign video content.

Taking a Break

concentrateOccasionally, it can be a good thing to step away from the Internet and take a break. Here are a few handy utilities for adding an element of enforcement to the “break” you’re meant to be taking…

Freedom – Disables wireless and ethernet networking for up to three hours at a time. Freedom will free you from the distractions of the internet, allowing you time to code, write, or create.

Concentrate – Block certain websites at certain times, to ensure you aren’t tempted to check Facebook rather than work on an important document. Remove the urge!

Other Applications

gmailFluid – A fantastic way to turn your favourite websites and web applications into their own individual desktop applications (through a “site specific browser”).

Gmail Browser – A dedicated browser for using Google Apps, aimed at keeping it distinct from your other web browsing activities.

Google Gears – A utility for allowing you to interact with various web applications even without an internet connection. Particularly useful for accessing Gmail when offline.


I hope you’ve found a few applications that will help you with day-to-day browsing, and that you can benefit from a slightly improved Internet experience!

I’m aware that I have only scratched the surface of what’s available, so please do share your own personal favourites in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts, and learn about a few new applications I haven’t come across before.

Thanks for reading!

Over at Web.AppStorm you can find more great tips in our 50 Ways to Enhance Your Browsing Experience in FireFox article.


Add Yours
  • Great collection, didn’t know a few plugins you’ve mentioned like URL fixer and Word Browser.

    Great job.

  • One word: WOW!
    This is a very, very, very useful article!

  • Self Control should have been listed under Taking a Break – http://visitsteve.com/work/selfcontrol/

  • Great list, I really liked Safari 140 but isn’t compatible with Snow Leopard :(

  • Thanks for your post.

    For Safari, I would be happy to find a way to print selection…
    and to be able to sort my bookmarks….

  • Don’t you know SafariStand?


  • Very nice list!


  • Wow !!! Nice compilation !!! I just would like to add an plugin for Firefox: firefox-mac-pdf
    This plugin uses PDFKit to enable Firefox to open PDF files inside Firefox as Safari does.

    The link for the firefox-mac-pdf plugin is:

  • More collections please!

  • Click to flash. Seven thumbs up.

  • Hey, if you put the Safari addon to eliminate ads (Safari adblock), post the Firefox counterpart, adblock plus :) (https://addons.mozilla.org/es-ES/firefox/addon/1865)

  • good!it’s necessary for macer

  • Wow no way dude, totally awesome apps!


  • cosmopod doesnt work in Snow Leopard either. Should check that on day of article release.

  • Under Snow Leopard, some Safari extensions (such as Adblock and Safari140) will refuse to run – this is due to the changed architecture of the 64-bit Safari. You can still use this extensions by running Safari in 32-bit mode, though: choose Safari in Finder, press cmd+i and check “Open in 32-bit mode”.

  • GlimmerBlocker is excellent! Should definitely be on that list.

    Combines Safari AdBlock and Keywurl in one app.


  • Quicksilver IS still in active development, its just that the main site doesn’t get updated often. Check the google code site for it and you can download the latest version, which I might add IS LEOPARD COMPATIBLE! So don’t gimme that crap the QS is dead, its not! It’s just under slow development!


  • Thanks for sharing these cool apps, I’m currently trying to use the Gmail Browser. I say trying because I need to upscale the the size of the text one or two notches, its a bit of a struggle with old eyes ?

  • @QuickSilver: Thought I saw a new update fairly recently, so it is still in development.
    Latest version:1.0b56a7 (2 Oct 2009 on MacUpdate)
    But maybe it is just a tryout for a new-and-improved version of the Google Quick Search Box…

  • For Gmail, use MailPlane. Way better then just a single site browser.

    • Yes Phill, perhaps I ought to try that, but since I still use the blog editor interface via Firefox, I’m interested in pinning down another method or interface of posting my little stories. Firefox, although a really cool browser at times behaves erratically.
      So after a days use of the Gmail Browser and posting from there etc. I will want/need a 10.6 version soon. The experience worked well even though the small text had fury edges, I was still able to successfully use it.

  • A little off-topic, anyone know of a Safari plug in for google page rank? I know Firefox has a bunch, but I haven’t seen one for Safari.

  • What about an app that changes the safari search box to be a list of favourite websites for specific searches. I used to use one, but can’t remember what it was called. Seems like an update wiped it! Anyone have something like this?

  • Hi David,
    This is a great list, but as happens often, Mac users’ top priority is not security. I know it’s not as serious an issue as it is to PC users, but threats still exist, and it’s worthwhile to be protected.

    Web of Trust is a free security add-on that warns you about risky sites. When you search using Google or other search engines, WOT shows you the reputation rating of that website so you can make an informed decision if you want to visit. We have over 24 million sites rated by millions of WOT users, and the ratings are updated every 30 minutes. WOT works with Internet Explorer, Firefox, the developer version of Chrome, and we have a bookmarklet for Safari.

    I hope you will take a look at WOT, and help us promote safe surfing, shopping and searching online.

    Safe surfing,
    Web of Trust

  • Great post! Very nice resource.

    On a completely different note, this blog is has to be one of the most aesthetically appealing creations on the Interent. Ever.

    Beautiful blog design defined.

  • Cool David.. Got to know some of the new mac apps which weren’t there in my list.


  • Chill Pill should be on this list! http://chillpillapp.com/

    Chill Pill allows you to enjoy Fever’s rich RSS experience while taking advantage of Cocoa and all of the other modern technologies in Mac OS X.

  • all this is great but can I get on vista no I wish someone can tell me just why did I get that dump thing

  • In the future, Ubiquity will be the king of the party

  • the website for safari adblock doesn’t even work and hasn’t for the past two days. digg effect?

  • waiting for them to check them out

  • glims – OMFG it saved my tabs ! God does exists.

  • haha i also like glims very much. nice article

  • but can I get on vista no I wish someone can tell …..

  • Wow Impressive Apps. Really inspirational for newbie developers. Keep it up

  • RSS experience while taking advantage of Cocoa and all of the other modern technologies in Mac

  • The website for safari adblock doesn’t even work and hasn’t for the past two days.

  • First I want to thanks to you that you have shared your knowledge to us and it is very informative and helpful.

  • When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service? Many thanks!

  • This design is spectacular! You most certainly know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

  • Awesome David…looking forward to get some on my mac, thanks


  • I want that slider on Mouseover with continue sliding can anyone help me for the same. You most certainly know how to keep a reader amused.

  • This is awesome and provides lot of information.. Thanks keep it up..

  • On my iPhone, I use “Speedy Web in the pocket” to improve my everyday surf. Very usefull when the data connection is poor, or when you want to quickly check a recurrent web page.

  • Really a good post. Thanks for sharing this.

  • It’s really great Mac apps, David… Thanks for sharing

  • Very nice, I dont come across many people that have the writing skills and grammer skills as you do i give you props i enjoyed reading it and i am not the easiest person to get happy GOOD JOB !!For more on How to Hack Study Island

  • very nice post. i wish if you mention any good screen capture apps for MAC?