A minimal browser

As a web developer I have a love & hate relationship with browsers. On one side, I need them to function properly in order to do my job, on the other I want them to be as minimal as possible. At the same time I’m trying to spend less and more meaningful time on the browser which is why I decided to minimize it. I’m on a Mac and I decided to use Safari as my primary browser. Now, before you start screaming at the screen, I know what you’re thinking: Safari is awful. And I don’t disagree with that. Being awful is a plus. I don’t want to be comfortable, I want my browser to behave badly which is why Safari, with all its weird and stupid bugs is perfect. My safari looks like this:

pretty minimal...

Here’s how the taskbar is set up if you’re curious and want to do it yourself.

GTFO icons!

As you can see, I removed pretty much everything. Only thing left is the search bar at the center. I can use gestures and the keyboard to navigate through tabs and go back and forth through the history so I don’t need any button at the top. I’m also trying to have as fewer tabs open as possible. This is something that’s part of my commitment to be digitally minimal.

Few extra settings

In addition to the minimal taskbar, there are a couple of extra steps I took in order to have a more minimalist browser.

Both new windows and tabs open on a blank page. That’s because I don’t want to get distracted by icons. If I open the browser I want to stay focused on the current task and not browse mindlessly.

I’m also loading a custom css file, which I use to hide stuff from websites I use somewhat regularly. It’s used primarily to hide parts of the sites, change the typography or the colors. Nothing super crazy but definitely helpful.

What about the other browsers

A yes, the other browsers. We’re talking about Firefox and Chrome right? Chrome is my dev browser because Safari’s webtools are frankly a pile of hot garbage. My Chrome looks like this:

The new tab is a custom extension I coded months ago. It’s available for free on the Chrome App store or whatever is called. You can’t really remove many things from Chrome. All the extensions are hidden, home icon is obviously gone but other than that it looks pretty much like a normal Chrome installation.

Firefox is a bit more interesting. I don’t use Firefox a lot to be honest with you even though has got much better lately and I quite like it as a browser. Still, if it’s your primary browser and you want to minimize it, this is what you can do. My Firefox looks like this:

As you can see, almost everything is gone from the sidebar. Only things you can’t remove are the two arrows but I moved one of the two on the opposite side in order to have a less busy left corner. Only other thing left is the search bar.

I’m also using the dark color scheme. You can change the theme down at the bottom of the customization page.

As for the settings, like I did for Safari, an empty page is shown every time I open a new tab or window. This is super helpful to cut down distractions.

Another thing you can do is turn off those obnoxious notifications requests. To do that you need to go in the Privacy & Security section inside the settings and click on the Settings... button next to Notifications.

Then, at the bottom of the new window, you’ll find a checkbox to disable all new requests. Toggle that and you’ll be good to go. This is something you can do in Safari as well btw. You can find the same option under Settings > Websites > Notifications.

And that’s it. Enjoy your simpler browser. And let me know if you think there’s something else that could be done to improve the browsing experience.

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