We have had content managers like ad blockers before, but now Safari in iOS 15 gets proper extensions. Like Mac Safari, iOS Safari has Extensions where you can add, enable and disable them.
Extensions add extra features and functions to web browsers and they can be very useful, perhaps even essential to some people. There are many browser extensions and the most common types are password managers, ad blockers, privacy and security boosters. These are not the only ones and there are also bookmarking, shopping, dark mode, to-do lists, media players, note taking, and more.
That sounds great, but up until iOS 15, extensions were not available for Safari on the iPhone or iPad. There were content managers that could filter adverts from web pages, but no true browser extensions. Now there are and they are installed and managed in a similar way to Safari on the Mac desktop.
On desktop computers, Chrome and Chrome-based browsers have hundreds and maybe thousands of extensions and so they are often preferred to Safari, which only has a few. However, the reverse is now true on the iPhone. There are no Chrome extensions, but Safari has them. The number is small at the moment, but will grow over time.
Let’s take a look at how to find and install Safari browser extensions on iOS. I will be using an iPhone, but this will work the same on an iPad. The only requirement is that you have iOS 15 or later.
Add Safari extensions in iOS
1 Safari settings
Open the Settings app on the iPhone, swipe up until you get to Safari and press it to open Safari settings.
2 New options in Safari settings
There are some new items in Safari settings in iOS 15 and later. For example, go to the GENERAL section and look for the new Extensions option.
3 View and manage Safari extensions
If this is the first time you have used this feature, it will state that there are no extensions installed. Once you have installed one or more, they will be listed here. It is where you manage browser extensions in iOS. If you don’t have extensions or if you have some and want to find more, press the More Extensions link.
4 Browse extensions in the store
A few extensions are displayed and a Must-Have Safari Extensions section is displayed. There are more than what you can see here. Press See All to see more extensions. (An odd thing here when I visited was that Firefox was the first item. It’s not an extension, it’s probably an ad. Ignore it.)
5 Find and install a Safari extension
Browse the extensions and when you find one that you think would be useful, Press the GET button to download it and install it on the iPhone or iPad. I selected Super Agent for Safari, but there are others you can choose and you don’t need to copy me.
6 View installed extensions
Now that you have an extension installed, it will appear on the Extensions screen. Initially it will be turned off and is therefore not yet working. You can enable or disable extensions here, perhaps using different ones in different browsing sessions, such as work or personal use. Press OFF to continue.
7 Extension information
A bit of information is displayed about the extension and what it does. Read it before enabling the extension. Before it can be used, we need to enable it. Tap the button at the top of the screen.
8 Extension settings and permissions
Once the extension is enabled, it still will not work and there is a couple of things to do. At the bottom of the screen is the All Websites permissions and it is set to Ask by default. Press All Websites, we will return to Extension Settings in a minute.
9 Set extension permissions
You can choose between Ask, Deny and Allow for All Websites permissions. The first two will not allow the extension to work. It must be allowed to access all websites.
This is true of most extensions, not only on the iPhone, but on desktop computers too. Extensions usually interact with the page content in some way and denying it access will prevent it from working. You should therefore only install extensions you trust. Extensions installed through Apple are about as trustworthy as you can get.
10 Go to extension settings
Some extensions have settings and configuration options, but some do not. Back at step 8 above, we saw there was an Extension Settings link. This is how you get to the settings and configuration for the extension. What you see, if anything, depends entirely on the extension and what it does. Take a look around and see if you need to configure anything before using the extension. Then return to Settings. There is a small link at the top.
That’s it. The extension is installed, enabled and configured. Now go and use it. Start Safari and start browsing the web.
How to uninstall Safari extensions on iPhone
Safari extensions on the iPhone and iPad are very similar to extensions in Safari on the Mac. An app is installed and it can be found with all the other apps on the device.
Go to Settings > Safari > Extensions and disable it. Then find the app on one of the the home screens and long press it. Tap the option to Remove App. The app and all its data is deleted. Any functions and features added by the extension will no longer be available.
It has to be said that Safari extensions are a bit thin on the ground, but hopefully the numbers will increase.