In this spirit, I find that typing in addresses for the websites I visit regularly has become a cumbersome task. True, there are various ways to use bookmarks and today’s browsers are smart enough to auto-complete previously used addresses, but I still find myself wasting too much time launching those same websites over and over again.
One option, which I personally use too much, is to just leave everything open in tabs. This option has its disadvantages (why is Chrome using 450MB of my RAM?? Oh yes..), but if you still want to use it, be sure to check out some tab management tools for Chrome and Firefox.
As I am trying to find a good replacement to all these open tabs, I decided to check out two add-ons that allow you to open your favorite websites using hotkeys. Note that SiteLauncher is available for both Chrome and Firefox, but it is a very different add-on on each. Therefore, I will review it separately for each browser.
After you install SiteLauncher, hit Ctrl+Space to open the main launcher window. In Firefox, this window contains a list of shortcuts and nothing else, but you can access other options but right-clicking any of the websites.
When you access the “Manage shortcuts” sections, this is what you get:
Here you can edit, add and delete shortcuts. You can also choose what keys to use if you wish to directly launch a website without using the launcher. This is a very good feature, and allows good hotkey integration with any other global hotkeys you may have. You can even change the hotkeys that launch the launcher itself.
You can control the appearance of the launcher to a great extent, and you can even preview your creation before you go ahead and save it. The preview updates immediately.
SiteLauncher for Firefox also lets you export your settings if you wish to import them to Chrome or to another computer. This is a very handy feature if you use both browsers or several computers on a regular basis.
In Chrome, installing SiteLauncher will add a blue triangle icon to your Chrome window. Clicking it will open the main website launcher. Note that you can also open the add-on using Ctrl+Space.
In Chrome, the launcher window is more intricate and includes many more websites to start with. There are also buttons that lead you to the manager, the options and a button to create a new shortcut for the page you’re currently on. The launcher window is customizable, but to a lesser extent than in Firefox. You can change the theme and you can control what appears next to the website icon (title, shortcut key, nothing).
SiteLauncher for Chrome doesn’t offer a direct launch option (as far as I could see), which means you must use the launcher. This is a disadvantage, as it makes launching a website a 3-key process (ctrl+space, hotkey), but at least you never have to memorize anything. This is Chrome’s version of the manager:
As you can see, it’s quite different from its Firefox counterpart, but offers much of the same options. The Chrome version comes with built-in groups (which you can edit, of course). This is an option you have to manually activate in the Firefox version. Note that you can import your shortcuts from Firefox, but cannot export them from Chrome, so if you’re using this on Chrome, it seems you’re stuck with it.
Sailor Shortcuts [Firefox]
For those of you who prefer simplicity, Sailor Shortcuts for Firefox might provide the answer. In order to configure it, you’d need to access Firefox’s add-on manager and click the “Options” button for Sailor Shortcuts.
This will bring you to the only window you will find in Sailor shortcuts:
As you can see, it’s very simply. You can only have 10 shortcuts, and you can choose whichever combination of keys you’d like to launch it. If it even supports the meta key (the diamond key that is found in certain keyboards). The only other thing you can control is whether the website will open in the current tab or in a new one.
Note that Sailor Shortcuts has no export/import option if you wish to use several computers with the same configuration. Having said that, it’s simple, and works like a charm.
Both these add-ons work well, and I like the hotkey shortcuts a lot. Whether by using a launcher or just the hotkeys, they both provide a quick and easy way to access your regularly used websites.
I would like to see a version of SiteLauncher that combines the best of both versions. As a Chrome user, I feel like I’m getting the short end by having to use the Chrome version, which lacks several good features the Firefox version already has.
Note that both these add-ons are apparently not yet compatible with Firefox 5.
What do you use to speed up your browsing? Know any other good Hotkey solutions? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.
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