Is this the only way to organize Safari’s extensions?

Well, it’s the only one I can figure out. It’s driving me crazy that I can’t quickly scan the list in Safari’s Extensions preference pane because the extensions are listed in the order they were installed – which is to say, in no useful order at all.

I certainly don’t do this every time I install an extension – most extensions are in and then out after a brief testing period. But for those that stay in, when I want to do anything with them – change options, or disable them temporarily while I test a similar one, or delete them after all – it’s sooo much easier if they’re listed alphabetically so I don’t have to scroll up and down in the list to find them. So, every so often, I take five minutes to get them organized again. Here’s how:

1. Quit Safari.

2. Open the folder that holds the extension files: ~/Library/Safari/Extensions. That squiggle stands for your Home folder. (Copy that pathname from here, go to the Finder, choose Go > Go To Folder, paste the pathname in and press Return.)

3. Create a subfolder inside this folder – I’ll call it Subfolder. Put all your extensions inside it. The quick way: Press Command-A to select everything, and Command-click on the Subfolder and then on the Extensions.plist file to deselect them; drag the remaining selected items into the Subfolder.

4. Open the Subfolder, sort its contents by name – and then proceed with re-installing one extension at a time by double-click on them in order.

This reinstall-in-alphabetical-order procedure would be quite elegant if it weren’t for two time-wasting glitches. If you select all the items in the folder and choose File > Open, they won’t be installed in alphabetical order anyway. I have no idea how the Finder decides what it’s going to launch first from a multiple selection, but it sure isn’t according to the order you’ve chosen for the window! So, you have to double-click on the extensions one at a time in the list.

The second glitch: you’ll get a dialog, and sometimes two, for each and every extension that you opened, the same as you did when you first installed them. There’s the main “Are you sure you want to install…” confirmation dialog, which (and rightly so) has Don’t Install as the default button – but here it’s a major annoyance since you have to specifically move to and click the button rather than just hit Return to perform. For extensions that you downloaded from a developer’s site rather than through Apple’s Extensions Gallery, there’s an extra dialog that shows up prior to the Install confirmation: “… is an application downloaded from the Internet. Are you sure you want to open it?” Again, you have to mouse to the Open button because in this dialog, there’s no default button at all. And, just as an extra annoyance, the dialogs don’t line up so that you can click Open in this dialog and then Install in the next. To top it off, you have to move back and forth between Safari and the Finder window – which doesn’t seem like much until you have to do it a dozen or more times in a row. (Make the Safari window small to get it out of the way so you can reach the Finder window more easily. Close the Safari window? No, that would be too easy – each time you add an extension, a default Safari window opens if there’s no extant window.)

A mild saving grace here is that when you install an extension, the extension file itself moves from its current location into the Extensions folder, so your Subfolder will gradually empty and you’ll always know which ones still need to be installed.

As annoying as this procedure is, I find it saves me time in the long run, over having to scroll up and down in the list in the Extensions preference pane every time I’m looking for a specific extension’s information.

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