Since they first appeared on the scene, Safari extensions have been springing up everywhere. While the list of available items isn't anywhere near as long as the App Store's, it can still be tricky deciding which are the best ones.

So we've done the hard work for you – read on to discover our 10 favourites. You'll need Safari 5.0.1 or later to use extensions. If you haven't got it, run Software Update, then fire up the latest version and go to Safari > Safari Extensions Gallery.

To install any listed here, just locate it then click the Install button below its name. But if you find extensions elsewhere on the web, download them, double-click the file and simply click Install in the dialog that appears. They'll install instantly, but some may require you to quit and relaunch Safari to activate them.

Most have settings you can tweak by going to Safari > Preferences > Extensions. One word of caution: a developer who was up to no good could potentially put malicious code into an extension, so only download them from reputable sources. Any that appear on Apple's Safari Extensions Gallery will be fine. For more see here.

1. Mini Google Maps

Mini google maps

Google Maps is fantastic. We constantly find ourselves opening it up when we're browsing – whether it's to find out where a local news story happened, or to plan our route to a restaurant. Its great, but having to load it in a new tab is a pain, especially if you're trying to remember an unfamiliar postcode or road name.

This extension adds a button to your toolbar, which you click to open a map and search bar. You can drag the window around the site you're viewing so that it doesn't obscure the address.

2. Reload button

Reload button

This is one for the nostalgists. Early versions of Safari had a Reload button at the left-hand end of the toolbar alongside the Back and Forward ones. It was removed in Safari 4, to be replaced by a little icon at the end of the address bar.

This extension puts the Reload button back where you like it. Because it doesn't double as a Stop Loading button, however, it leaves the icon at the end of the address bar in place, should you need it.

3. Instapaper Beyond

Instapaper is a fantastic way to save articles on the web to read later. This little extension enhances the service's, so rather than doing everything with your mouse, it speeds things up using simple keyboard shortcuts.

Sign into your account with this extension installed and you'll see the top article is highlighted yellow. Press H at any time to see a list of the commands. As you get to know these, you'll be amazed how much more quickly you can work your way around Instapaper.

4. Get the best shopping deal

Shopping deals

It's well-known that shopping online is generally cheaper than on the high street, but how can you be sure you're getting the best price? Rather than you searching through a bunch of different websites, have the InvisibleHand Extension do the work for you.

As the name suggests, you'll forget it's there until you're browsing a product page. At this point, it'll flash up a yellow bar with a raft of information about the item.

First and foremost, it tells you if you've found the best deal, or how much you can save if you shop elsewhere. There's a link to the product page on the cheapest seller's site, alongside a drop-down menu of other possible retailers. This menu lists the product's price and the postage costs. Simply click the retailer's name in the list to be taken to their web page where you can buy the product.

5. Colour coded HTML

If you're a developer or ever have to work with web code in any way, this handy little extension is one you should add to your arsenal. Rather than viewing a page's code in Safari's minimalist Source window, BetterSource colour-codes HTML and adds line numbers. It opens the code in a new tab, however it doesn't support JavaScript.

6. MouseGestures

Mouse gestures

Speed up your web browsing by using your mouse for common tasks. So rather than clicking the Back button or hitting Backspace, simply hold down the middle mouse button and move your pointer left.

There are 12 different commands you can use, although you're limited to four gestures – up, down, left and right. After you've installed this one, you need to restart Safari to get it working. And we suggest you don't change the Execute gestures with: drop-down from Middle Button, since using either left- or right-click alternatives could conflict with dragging or contextual menus.

7. Exposer

Exposer

If you've got lots of tabs open, or several from the same site, finding the one you're after can become time consuming. The more tabs you open, the shorter each one's title becomes, making it even harder.

Exposer brings Mac OS X's Exposé feature to your browser tabs, enabling you to bring up a visual grid of all the tabs you've got open in that window. Hover your mouse over each for a larger view, then simply click the one you want to bring that tab to the front.

You can use Exposer via the button it places in your toolbar, or through a shortcut key, which you can define in its settings.

8. A Cleaner YouTube

Cleaner youtube

YouTube is all about the video, but unless you switch to fullscreen mode, whatever you're watching is surrounded by related videos, like and dislike buttons, social media controls, comments and more distractions.

A Cleaner YouTube strips all that away, leaving you with a minimalist interface built around the video, so you can watch it without diversions. You still get a search bar and the essential controls for the video, but all the rest is hidden behind a link at the bottom of the screen. So if you want to see the comments, embed code, sharing buttons and so on, it's all just a click away.

9. Tweet from Safari

Tweet from safari

If you're a heavyweight Twitter user, chances are you'll use a dedicated client, such as Tweetie or TweetDeck. Tweet for Safari isn't designed to replace such programs, but it means you're always in touch with what's going on in the Twitter cloud.

Click any of the trending terms and a column appears showing you relevant tweets. There's also a search bar and a button to create a new tweet about the page you're viewing. Handily, if you've got Tweetie for Mac installed, you can go into the Twitter for Safari preferences and tell it to use that for your tweets.

The toolbar shows Twitter usernames related to the page you're viewing – head over to www.macformat.co.uk and you'll see '@MacFormat' appears. Click each username to see the person's tweets.

10. Invisible status bar

When you're browsing the web, the status bar at the base of your Safari window will often lie redundant. The only time you're likely to use it is when you hover over a link, to see where you're about to be whisked off to. Install Invisible Status Bar and up pops a bar whenever you hover over a link; it vanishes again when you move on.

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First published in MacFormat Issue 228

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