Open in Helium

Brian GilhamEssays

I’ve become a huge fan of Jaden Geller’s Helium. I recently moved to a one-monitor setup, substantially cleaning up my Minority Report-esque workstation. Previously, I played tutorial videos and the like on a second monitor. Now, I use Helium to overlay them on my current work. It’s fantastic.

But one thing was bugging me.

Every time I came across a video I wanted to watch I had to:

  • open the link in my browser
  • copy the URL from the location bar
  • launch Helium
  • open the “Open Web URL” menu
  • paste the URL
  • hit enter

It may not sound like much, but on days when I watched a lot of video content it got a bit tiresome.

Poking through Helium’s source code, I noticed it had the ability to be launched via the helium:// URL. Perfect.

Time to create a browser extension.

Since I primarily use Safari for my browsing needs, I started there. If you’re developing a Chrome extension — as I’d done in the past — there are tons of resources and tutorials available online. For Safari? Not so much. But, after a few hours of hacking, I put together something I’d like to share: Open in Helium.

Put simply, it adds a new item to your browser’s context menu. Right-click on any link, click “Open in Helium” and it will launch Helium for you. Done.

I may submit it to Apple’s Extensions Gallery, but for now you can head over to the GitHub repo to grab it and get started.

Admittedly, the number of people using both Helium and Safari is likely fairly small. But this extension has improved my experience of using them together a ton — I hope it does the same for you.