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Safari plug-ins that improve your browsing

Safari might not be as popular as Firefox, but it has some great plug-ins that extend its functionality.

Many people who use Firefox know that there are some really great add-ons for the browser that help extend its functionality. But it's not the only browser that does that. Apple's Safari browser (Windows|Mac) also works with plug-ins that, like Firefox's add-ons, make the browser a little more useful.

Before we get into those plug-ins, I should note that since combined Safari market share is only about 8 percent in the browser market, there aren't nearly as many plug-ins for Safari as there are for Firefox, which commands more than 20 percent of the browser market. That said, I've found some that are worth trying out.

Safari plug-ins

Cooliris Cooliris is a nice plug-in that displays videos and photos in Safari in a Cover Flow-like arrangement.

Aside from a beautiful design, Cooliris features a search box in the top right of the display that allows you to search for Google images, Hulu videos, Flickr pictures, and a variety of other multimedia content. You can bring one image to the front of the display or hold the left-click down and drag your way across the page. Cooliris helps you enjoy your browser in a different way. Check it out.

Cooliris displays all kinds of great content in your browser. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

CosmoPod CosmoPod allows you to download videos from the Web, so you can view them in iTunes or on your iPhone and iPod.

CosmoPod's icon is placed in the Safari address bar. Whenever you get to a page containing Web video, you can click the CosmoPod button and the plug-in will automatically start downloading the video onto your desktop. You can even play the video while you download it. It couldn't be a simpler (or more useful) app, but be aware that it will set you back about $10 if you want to keep it after the free trial.

CosmoPod lets you download videos to your desktop through Safari. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Glims Glims is, quite simply, my favorite Safari plug-in. Instead of providing you with just one function, the plug-in does it all. And it does it all very well.

After it's installed, you'll find that Glims automatically populates your Safari search field with several sites you can search, including Google, CNET, Facebook, ESPN, and more. There are 16 total sites you can search. Glims also suggests searches for you. When you go to the search engine of your choice, it displays thumbnail images of all the pages in the results. It even automatically restores your tabs at launch, so you don't need to worry about losing time opening them back up. I could go on about Glims, but suffice it to say that it's the best plug-in in this roundup.

Glims shows thumbnail images of Google search results. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Inquisitor Inquisitor helps make Safari search just a little better. When it's installed, you'll see that the Safari search field to the right of the address bar now says "Inquisitor." When you start searching in that field, a black box is displayed showing suggested results as you continue to type. If you like what you see, you can click on that box and you'll be redirected to the desired page. After you've visited a page, Inquisitor will also tell you how often you've been there and the last time you visited it, so you don't need to guess which site you were on.

After using Inquisitor on Safari, I was extremely impressed. The recommendations displayed quickly, the search was quick, and the reminders placed on those sites I've visited were extremely helpful. Inquisitor is a plug-in that you'll definitely want to try.

Inquisitor displays some of the best results for your query. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Safari140 Safari140 is a simple Safari plug-in that lets you add a quick update to Twitter.

Safari140 is listed in your File menu. Once you click the "Post to Twitter" option, Safari140 automatically populates your tweet box with the title of the page you're on and the link. You can post that to your Twitter account or delete and tweet something else. It's a quick way to post to Twitter. And it works quite well.

Safari140 lets you quickly post content to your Twitter stream. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Saft Similar to Glims, Saft is the go-to plug-in if you want all kinds of neat features added to Safari.

Saft blocks ads. It also allows you to drag tabs around the tab bar, so you can arrange them the way you like. It even gives you the option of searching your bookmarks and history. But perhaps Saft's best feature is its shortcuts option, which allows you to type in customized phrases to get you to a page quicker. So, instead of trying to find a review of the iPhone on CNET Reviews by using Google, you can simply go to the page once, create a shortcut for that page (say, "iPhone rvw"), and whenever you input that term into the address bar, Saft will automatically deliver the page.

Unlike Glims, Saft's main competitor, which you can have for free, Saft will cost you $12 to download. It might seem a little expensive, but it's worth the price.

Saft lets you block ads with ease. Saft

TabExposé If you're a Mac user, you might be using Exposé to help you sift through the many windows you have open. If you're a Safari user, you might be happy to know that you can use the same basic function in your browser with TabExposé.

After you download TabExposé, you can start opening tabs and click the TabExposé option. It will then display your open tabs in an Exposé-like format. Like the Mac's Exposé, you can click on one of the windows and it will be brought to the front of the page.

TabExposé is offered as a free trial, but it will cost you about $9 if you want to keep it.

TabExpose displays your open tabs like Mac OS X displays open applications. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

My top 3

1. Glims: It has everything you could want. Plus, it's free.

2. Saft: It might be a little expensive, but Saft has an amazing list of features.

3. TabExposé: It takes a little getting used to, but once you start using TabExposé every day, you'll be happy with what you find.