Bad news, Safari users: Apple is breaking all directly downloaded .safariextz extensions with the release of Safari 12 later this year.
Apple has been pushing extension developers toward Safari App Extensions for a few years now. These are extensions that come bundled with applications downloading from the Mac App Store, but the gallery of Safari extensions in the Mac App Store is kind of pathetic.
So it should come as no surprise that Apple’s list of upcoming Safari extensions includes this little excerpt:
Support for developer-signed .safariextz Safari Extensions in Safari 12 on macOS has been removed. They no longer appear in Safari preferences and cannot be enabled. On first launch users will receive a warning notification and these extension will not load.
In plain English this means that extensions downloaded from the web, outside of the Extension Gallery and the App Store, will no longer work in Safari 12. And it doesn’t end there: Apple is depreciating support for extensions from the official Extensions Gallery:
Support for .safariextz-style Safari Extensions installed from the Safari Extensions Gallery is deprecated with Safari 12 on macOS. Submissions to the Safari Extensions Gallery will no longer be accepted after December 2018. Developers are encouraged to transition to Safari App Extensions.
Such extensions will still work with Safari 12, but being depreciated means it’s only a matter of time until support is dropped entirely, at which point only Safari App Extensions will work.
So what does this all mean? If you’re currently using an extension that you downloaded from the web it’s going to break in the fall, and you should find an alternative. If you’re using an extension downloaded from the web-based Extensions gallery you’ve got some time, but will eventually need to find an alternative hosted in the App Store (likely by autumn 2019.)
This feels like a really dumb move on Apple’s part. Safari’s extension ecosystem finally started being “good enough” for most users in the past couple of years, and now some of that momentum is being killed off. I suspect many users will react by switching to Chrome, which is a shame because Safari is a lot better than Chrome in many respects.
But it’s not all bad news: favicons are finally coming to Safari. Horray?