Tampermonkey is a browser extension that allows you to manage user scripts to modify and alter webpages. However, is it safe?
There are some real security and privacy concerns you should know about when using Tampermonkey. While Tampermonkey itself is safe and legit, as I will explain below, you need to exercise extreme caution when using it.
Tampermonkey is a browser extension for user script management. It is available for the following browsers:
- Microsoft Edge
- Opera Next
Using Tampermonkey, you’ll be able to view your scripts, add new ones, delete scripts, edit scripts, and a lot more!
So, what are these user scripts, and what do they do?
You don’t need to be a site owner to modify a website with a user script. The user script stays on your end, in your browser.
A user script only works on the specific browser you install it on, not on any other browsers you have on your computer. It won’t affect anyone else visiting that website, only you,
Why would you want to install a user script? Perhaps you want to add a certain functionality to a social platform that doesn’t exist natively.
For example, while YouTube is awesome for watching videos, there is no built-in way to download videos from the YouTube website. You can download videos on the mobile app, but they stay in the YouTube app – you can’t download the video to your local storage.
A user script, on the other hand, can allow you to download YouTube videos.
Or, perhaps you prefer the old version of Reddit instead of the new one. A user script can redirect all Reddit threads you land on to the old.reddit.com version of that thread.
Maybe you don’t want to see images when you browse the web. You can install a user script that removes photos from websites.
User scripts can do a lot of stuff! You can add buttons to websites, set up notifications for when certain events happen on pages you are viewing, and a lot more.
It’s critical to note that you don’t actually download user scripts from Tampermonkey. Tampermonkey is just user script manager; it doesn’t make user scripts.
Instead, you will have to download user scripts from third-party websites.
Once you do that, Tampermonkey makes it easy to do stuff like:
- Automatically check for updates on an old user script you downloaded
- Edit the script yourself with the Tampermonkey editor
- Activate and deactivate a script as needed
- Backup and restore your scripts
Furthermore, Tampermonkey can sync your scripts across your browsers. For example, if you installed a script on Tampermonkey Chrome on your Windows desktop, you can sync it to Chrome on your MacBook Air.
As you hopefully understand by now, Tampermonkey is merely a tool for managing user scripts. The tool itself is not dangerous or malicious; it’s how you use it that matters.
Before we can talk about the safety of Tampermonkey, it’s essential to discuss how secure user scripts are in general.
A user script can be safe, if you trust the developer and know that it does not contain any malware.
On the other hand, some user scripts might not be safe. It’s relatively easy for a developer to make a user script; it’s not complicated.
As such, there are tons of user scripts on the internet! Furthermore, sites that provide user scripts often contain scripts written by many developers, so it can be hard to tell which one are okay and which are not.
If you download user scripts from unknown sources or developers, it’s possible that some of them may contain malware. It’s like any program you download from the internet – if you don’t trust the developer, you can’t trust the program.
Moreover, even non-malicious user scripts might not be great. Many user scripts were made a long time ago and have not been updated for a while.
Those user scripts tend to be buggy, and you will likely experience problems while using them.
In addition, many developers aren’t that good. Remember, it’s pretty easy to make a user script, but many developers don’t really know what they are doing and use bad code.
What issues can you experience?
The user script might use up too much power, cause your computer to freeze or lag, or negatively affect its performance in some other way.
I’ll talk more about where to find user scripts later in this article.
Let’s quickly summarize: Tampermonkey itself is neither safe nor unsafe; it’s just a tool for managing user scripts.
No. Tampermonkey is not illegal; there’s nothing inherently illegal about installing user scripts.
Remember, you’re not actually changing the website itself; nobody else will be affected by you installing a user script. It is for your personal enjoyment only.
That being said, some user scripts may allow you to do things that are against the terms and conditions of the website you are using them on. For example, you might be using a user script to get past certain restrictions that a website has put in place.
Furthermore, utilizing user scripts for certain games may be cheating, depending on what the user script does.
Finally, it is possible for a user script to help you do something illegal. For example, you can utilize a user script for a gambling site even if gambling is not legal in your country or state.
However, user scripts are not illegal by themselves.
So, how can you stay safe when installing user scripts and using Tampermonkey? There are several steps you should take to protect yourself from malicious and poorly-coded user scripts.
The first step is to never download a user script you don’t trust! That’s the most important thing you can do for your safety.
Staying safe online is all about awareness. If you don’t visit malicious websites, open spam emails, click on phishing links, and download malware or viruses, you’ll be safe.
Of course, it’s not always easy to know which program contains malware or not. That is what antivirus programs are for – they help you scan software for malware and look for suspicious activity on your website that may indicate you have already downloaded malware.
Don’t blindly install user scripts from the internet; always do your due diligence and use your common sense.
Make sure to download the correct Tampermonkey. There may be other programs claiming to be Tampermonkey but which may contain malware.
The real Tampermonkey website is Tapermonkey.net. There, you will find important information about Tampermonkey, including relevant links.
You can also go here to get the Tampermonkey extension from the Chrome Web Store.
If you download Tampermonkey from third-party or unverified sources, you may be downloading a version that has been modified to contain malware.
An antivirus can scan your online activity and ensure no malware is present on your computer. There are many good antivirus programs out there, including free ones.
The free programs may not include real-time scanning and threat detection, however. In other words, you may be able to run a manual scan – including deep scans – but it won’t necessarily watch your computer at all times for signs of suspicious activity.
Windows computers have an antivirus built in. It is called Windows Defender, and it comes preinstalled with all Windows 10 versions.
It offers pretty good protection. Nevertheless, you may want to consider downloading an additional antivirus program and running deep scans with it regularly.
Some good antivirus software include:
This may only be a good option if you are looking for a user script that blocks ads. There are many awesome ad blockers out there that you can trust, without the need for a user script.
For example, AdLock is a free ad blocker that exists for various browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge, and Opera. Not only is it free, but it is open source as well, meaning the source code is available for the public to scrutinize.
Furthermore, there may be other programs available to do what your user script is doing. I can’t give you a blanket recommendation, but do some searching on Google to see what’s out there and whether you really require a user script for your purpose.
So, where can you find user scripts? Here are some good options.
Greasy Fork is one of the most well known places to find user scripts. You can use the search bar to find user scripts for any site.
Alternatively, you can go to this page to find user scripts for sites listed by alphabetical order. From social sites to educational sites, there are tons of options to choose from.
The good thing about Greasy Fork is that users can leave user ratings on user scripts. If you see a user script with a lot of bad ratings, stay away!
People obviously don’t like that user script for a reason. Perhaps it contains malware, or perhaps it simply doesn’t function like it’s supposed to.
Userscript.Zone is another great place to find user scripts, and it’s recommended by Tampermonkey. You can enter a domain or search term into the search bar to find user scripts for your website or intended purpose.
There are many user scripts on GitHub as well. You can conduct a Google search and find GitHub-hosted user scripts.
However, just because a user script is hosted on GitHub doesn’t mean it’s safe. Anyone can create a GitHub repository and share code containing malware.
Tampermonkey isn’t the only script manager out there. There are some other good ones as well.
However, they are not necessarily better or worse than Tampermonkey in terms of safety. The following tools are safe by themselves, but not if you are using malicious user scripts.
If you are using Firefox, consider Greasemonkey instead of Tampermonkey. It’s been around since 2004, many years before Tampermonkey first came out.
It is the original user script manager for Firefox. As such, it may be compatible with more scripts than Tampermonkey.
Don’t let the name scare you! Violentmonkey isn’t violent, and it’s a perfectly safe alternative to Tampermonkey.
Violentmonkey is open source, unlike Tampermonkey, which is closed source. In other words, Violentmonkey’s source code is available for anyone to scrutinize.
It is available for a number of browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Vivaldi, and others.
Tampermonkey is not inherently dangerous or malicious. The danger lies more in the user scripts you download and install rather than Tampermonkey itself, which is just a user script management tool.
By being careful about where you get your user scripts from and using an antivirus to scan for malware, you can use Tampermonkey safely, without any issues.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing.
Tom has been a full-time internet marketer for two decades now, earning millions of dollars while living life on his own terms. Along the way, he’s also coached thousands of other people to success.