Safari Extensions in the Mac App Store

Jeff Johnson:

Earlier this year, Apple announced that .safariextz files are deprecated, and starting January 1, 2019, new extensions will no longer be accepted to the Safari Extensions Gallery. Apple now prefers that Safari extensions be distributed via the Mac App Store. In Safari 12, the “Safari Extensions…” menu item in the Safari main menu no longer takes you to the Safari Extensions Gallery but rather to the Safari Extensions section of the Mac App Store. Let’s examine that customer experience. We’ll take a glance at the old Mac App Store on High Sierra and then move on to the new Mac App Store on Mojave.

Placing Safari Extensions in the Mac App Store makes sense to me, but its implementation has been pretty lacklustre so far. First of all, the menu item links to an App Store story that cannot be viewed in a web browser, which is irritating.

When you get to that story, you’ll see that it is titled “Getting Started: Safari Extensions”, which implies that this is just a small selection of a much broader library of extensions. Here are the first ten in the collection:

  • Ghostery Lite

  • 1Blocker

  • MarsEdit

  • Magic Lasso AdBlock

  • Blogo

  • Ka-Block!

  • Bookmarx

  • Valt

  • Utility Cube

  • StopTheMadness

Not a terrible selection, but not great — as Johnson points out, Utility Cube is made by some developer who releases crap like a $2.79 version of Safari’s private browsing mode, several PDF scanning apps, and loads of other repackaged Apple APIs as apps. I would not trust the developer’s electronic wallet app. Why would Apple allow these apps into the store in the first place, much less highlight something they’ve made?

Anyway, if you try to find every Safari Extension in the App Store, you’ll have a very difficult time. As far as I can work out, it’s completely impossible. If you search for “Safari extensions”, you’ll get a list of results that is completely different from the ones in the collection above. Just two extensions from the list of ten above are returned in the entirety of the store’s search results. Eight of them just don’t show up anywhere.