Safari Reader Everywhere

In this week’s episode of Back To Work 404: Very Advanced Camping, Dan and Merlin talked about the scourge of the web that is The Newsletter Pop-Up.

We’ve all seen this one… you’re starting to read an article on a web page, and as soon as you scroll, wham! a JavaScript-powered pop-up window takes over the entire screen, asking you to sign up for a newsletter.

It’s literally the worst thing to happen to the web since pop-up ads.

However, there is a “95% solution” available on Mac and iOS: Safari Reader Mode. The key is to enable it by default.

(Obviously this assumes that you are using Safari on the Mac. If you use Chrome, well, I assume there’s an extension that will do this, and the good news is that it is probably not mining bitcoin in the background while you browse.)

Anyway… let’s get this up and running.

How to Enable Reader-Mode Everywhere

This part is easy. In Safari on the Mac, just go to Preferences » Websites » Reader (which is the top item on the left column), and then set the bottom right selector for “When visiting other websites” to “On”. Here’s a handy screenshot:

On iOS, it’s a little harder to explain because it’s a little hidden.

First you have to find a website which has Reader-Mode available. These aren’t hard to find, but if you’re stuck, I picked an example from iMore.

Once the page has loaded, tap-and-hold on the far-left of the address bar where the 4 horizontal lines are shown (see screenshots below).

On the iPhone

On the iPad

Once you have chosen “Use on All Websites” you will find that at least 95% of those annoying pop-ups are never shown to you, because Reader Mode doesn’t show them.

If you find a site that doesn’t look right in Reader Mode, you can tap-and-hold in the same spot to turn it off for that site.

Turning off Reader Mode on the sites where it doesn’t work is a lot less annoying than having to turn it on when needed.

The Last 5% a.k.a “What about sites that don’t support Reader Mode?”

If you find a site that doesn’t support Reader Mode and has one of those awful pop-ups, the best response is Instapaper’s InstaFormattter bookmarklet. You do have to be logged in to your Instapaper account for this to work, but this bookmarklet does not add the article to your Instapaper queue, it just gives it that nice Instapaper-look.

(n.b. If you want to install that in Safari, the easiest way is on the Mac. Click and drag the “InstaFormatter” link to the Favorites Bar. Press ⌘⇧B to make the Favorites Bar appear if it isn’t already visible.)

I have that bookmarklet installed as my first Safari bookmark on the “Favorites Bar” so I can invoke it with ⌘1. You’d be amazed how fast I can hit ⌘1 when I see one of those JavaScript overlays appear.

(You may have to use ⌘⌥1 depending on how Safari is configured. Look under Preferences » Tabs » for “Use ⌘-1 through ⌘-9 to switch tabs”. I prefer that setting un-checked.)

I’m still not convinced that JavaScript isn’t the worst thing to happen to the web, especially now that Flash is pretty much dead.

Copyright 2018 Timothy J. Luoma