Turns out you don’t have to upgrade to macOS Mojave to enjoy the benefits of Safari 12. Apple just released it for two earlier versions: High Sierra and Sierra.
This browser update works hard to protect your privacy, and offers plenty of other improvements too.
Blocks device fingerprinting
A web browser gives many kinds of information to every website it visits. This in necessary so the site can serve the right page (eg. mobile versus desktop). But the browser also reveals information about the fonts installed on your computer, the browser plug-ins you’re using, the screen resolution, your system language, and so on. Taken together, this creates a fingerprint that is used to track you across the web.
To combat this process, Safari 12 serves up simplified versions of this information, rendering fingerprinting all but useless as a tool to track you.
In addition, the new version strips the tracking codes out of Twitter, Facebook, and other widgets — like blog comments — that load into web pages.
Safari 12 automatically creates and autofills strong passwords for websites. And it flags existing passwords that have been reused.
Hurray for tab favicons
Safari 12 finally displays tab favicons. These small images appear next to the site name on browser tabs. The idea is to make it easier to identify the site you want when many tabs are open.
So, both useful and fun.
Less extensive Safari extensions
After this update, Apple’s macOS browser automatically turns off Safari extensions that slow down browsing performance.
And it only supports legacy extensions that have been reviewed and approved by Apple. Speaking of which, it also discontinues support for most NPAPI plug-ins. Both moves are about improving the security of the browsing experience.
Get Safari 12 now
The newest version of Safari is available now in the macOS App Store for macOS 10.13.6 High Sierra and 10.12.6 Sierra. It’s a free upgrade.
Safari 12 is part of the current macOS 10.14 Mojave beta.
Charlie Sorrel contributed to this article.