macOS: uBlock Origin comes to Safari

One of the most popular ad blockers is now available for Apple’s Safari browser on the Mac.

Ad blockers have become more and more popular with web users as many people rebel against advertising overload on web sites. But one very popular ad blocker has been missing in action for Safari in macOS: uBlock Origin.

Safari users, including myself, have often searched in vain for quite a long time for a version of uBlock Origin for the Mac. Thankfully, our long wait has come to an end and there really is a version of uBlock Origin for macOS.

Download uBlock Origin for Safari

The uBlock Origin for Safari page at Github is up now, and you also have the option to download the current version of uBlock Origin for Safari as well. As I write this post the current release is 1.10.0-alpha.2. But be sure to check the release page regularly to keep uBlock Origin up to date as development progresses.

Please note that since this is an early version of uBlock Origin for Safari, you might encounter some bugs while using it. But if you’ve been waiting a long time for uBlock Origin for Safari then it’s probably worth installing on your Mac.

What’s the difference between uBlock and uBlock Origin?

If you aren’t familiar with uBlock Origin you might be confused about how it differs with the original uBlock ad blocker. Here’s some background that will clear up any confusion:

uBlock Origin (pronounced you-block /ˈjuːˌblɒk/) and uBlock are free and open source, cross-platform browser extensions for content-filtering, including ad-blocking. They are available for several browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. uBlock Origin has received praise from technology websites, and is reported to be much less memory-intensive than other extensions[6][7] with similar functionality.[8][9] uBlock Origin's stated purpose is to give users the means to enforce their own (content-filtering) choices.[10]

As of March 2016, uBlock Origin continues to be actively developed and maintained by founder and lead developer Raymond Hill,[11] but he has withdrawn his support for uBlock, citing "serious incompatibilities in the spirit of the project".[12] uBlock, now maintained by Chris Aljoudi, has seen little development with the latest source code committed in August 2015.[13][14]

uBlock Origin and uBlock support the majority of Adblock Plus's filter syntax, and include Adblock Plus list subscriptions. The popular filter lists EasyList and EasyPrivacy are enabled as default subscriptions. The extensions are capable of importing hosts files, and a number of community maintained lists are available at installation. Among the host files available, Peter Lowe’s Ad servers list and Malware Domains are also enabled as default. Some additional features include dynamic filtering of scripts and iframes, and a tool for webpage element hiding. As of version, dynamic filtering in uBlock can act as a complete replacement of RequestPolicy, or similar add-ons.[28]

uBlock Origin includes a growing list of features not available in uBlock, including a new mode to assist those with color vision deficiency, a new dynamic URL filtering feature, new logging functionality and interface enhancements including a DOM inspector, new privacy-oriented options to block link prefetching, hyperlink auditing, and IP address leaks via WebRTC. Site-specific switches to toggle the blocking of pop-ups, strict domain blocking, cosmetic filters and fonts were also added in recent releases of uBlock Origin.[29]

More at Infogalactic

Kudos to the uBlock Origin for Safari developer

I’ve had uBlock installed in Safari for quite some time now (along with Ghostery), but I’ll definitely be switching to uBlock Origin once it’s a little further along in development. I may install the alpha version soon though as I’m quite curious to see how well it performs.

Even though it's still early in the development of uBlock Origin for macOS, the fact that it's available at all will come as a welcome relief for folks who have been stuck using uBlock or other ad blockers. I suspect that uBlock Origin will begin displacing other macOS Safari ad blockers very quickly indeed.

Kudos to Ellis Tsung, the developer of uBlock Origin for Safari. He is about to become a very popular person with many Mac users. Thanks, Ellis.

What people are saying about uBlock Origin for Safari

News of the prerelease version of uBlock Origin for Safari hit the Apple subreddit, and the folks there had quite a lot to say about it. Most were very pleased that a version of uBlock Origin had finally arrived for Safari after such a long wait.

I’ll leave you with this selection of comments from the thread:

Asoksevil: “Thanks! We, Safari users have been long lingering for a good alternative to uBlock after development was dropped. Thanks!”

Kulawik: “Thank you so much, /u/el1t.

I can't tell you how often I googled "ublock origin safari" just to be disappointed and reminded again of how shitty Safari's adblockers are.

uBlock Safari was an outdated buggy mess, and Safari Content Blockers (mostly by design)…

  • gave you no options or insights on which lists were used, and as a result: didn't block everything

  • didn't let you set custom rules or filter-by-click (Adguard did, but I had to reload pages every once in a while because it "forgot" to do cosmetic filtering)

  • didn't let you turn off/on things per site: ad-blocking, cosmetic filtering, large media…

  • didn't let you block domains globally/for site X. This is seriously the most important feature for me (to see which domains are connected when you visit a site), which made me switch to Opera because I could use ublock origin there without having to sacrifice battery a lot (compare: Chrome)

So thanks for porting uBlock Origin, the Safari community desperately needs it. Tried it out on my favorite sites and it worked like a charm. Blazing fast”

Cat_Marshal: “Will it be maintained as ublock origin is updated? How does it compare to blockers like adguard, i.e. does it use safari's efficient blocking method? are there any differences between the chrome version and the safari version?”

El1t: “I will try my best to keep it in sync with ublock origin's (stable) updates. Right now I will probably freeze it at 1.10.0 until it's more stable.

No, it does not use the content blocking API. There are pros and cons to using it; you can read more about it here.

Due to the platform layer (responsible for Safari-specific functions) there are some differences in functionality. For example, Safari does not provide cloud storage for extensions. Performance may also vary between browsers. However, it shares the same "blocking" logic as the chrome version, since that is platform-agnostic.”

Gandydancer: “By the balls and bones of Davy Jones, if this is the real deal, I could weep in relief. ”

Cat_Marshal: “It's a fork? It looks pretty new, how well does it compare?”

el1t: “Yep it's still under construction! Main benefit between this and uBlock is that gorhill's updates to the platform-agnostic engine are included. On the other hand, chrisaljoudi has some improvements to the Safari platform layer which are not pulled in yet, but (hopefully) will be in the near future. At the moment, majority of features work; feel free to try it out!”

QuantumInteger: “Finally, I can dump Ublock for Ublock Origin.”

Donshadi: “I’m very new in the GitHub world and I have no clue how to get this installed on my safari. Could anyone please give me a step by step tutorial? ”

TheNet: “Download and open the latest uBlock.safariextz from here:

You'll have to click Trust when you open it.

The plugin will not update itself, so you might want to check the Github page once in a while to see if there's a new update, or if it's been released on the Safari Extension market.”

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