Buried in bookmarks? I have been there, too. Never again though, because I now have a fail-safe system to tackle bookmarks.
The trick is to stop them from piling up in the first place. Failing that, your best bet is to redirect information from bookmarks to other digital repositories.
Let’s see some easy ways in which you can adopt both these strategies and regain control over your bookmarks.
Create Topical PDFs
Let’s say that you have bookmarked a bunch of pages about learning digital art. Why not print them to PDF and delete those bookmarks? You can use a tool like Smallpdf to merge all those PDFs into a single file. This gives you a handy primer on the subject and you have a cleaner Bookmarks folder. Win-win!
If you’re on a Mac, merging PDFs is as easy as dragging and dropping page thumbnails between files, so you can keep appending useful web pages to the original PDF instead of bookmarking them.
— Ahmad Imanudin (@ahmad_9111) March 7, 2016
You could even create a magazine out of curated content for personal use and for sharing with others. It’s sure to be a more valuable and organized resource than a bunch of links bookmarked haphazardly.
I pin tabs until I can't function anymore, then I add them to a read later folder in bookmarks that I never open… https://t.co/Fy9MuKsVIJ
— Kelsey [with Ben!!!] (@kelseyr713) March 8, 2016
Keep News Items Separate
News articles are rarely useful beyond a certain time bubble (for most of us anyway). Keep them separate from bookmarks of the evergreen variety using a folder, read-it-later app, or a special tag. You’ll then find it easier to filter content that’s no longer relevant and delete it in bulk.
If you mix up news items with your usual bookmarks, you’ll have to spend time figuring out what you can and can’t delete.
My Safari reading list and @Apple News bookmarks are quickly reaching critical mass i.e. A big list I never look at again
— Asher Terpstra (@AsherTerpstra) May 18, 2016
Save Articles to Your Feed Reader
If you find yourself bookmarking links from a particular website quite often, it’s time you added that website to your feed reader. You’re clearly interested in what it has to say.
Once you have subscribed to its feed, you have its archive at your fingertips. Now, in your feed reader, you can favorite any article that you would otherwise have bookmarked, or you can search for it using the feed reader’s search mechanism.
Use site-specific bookmarking systems if they’re available. For example, if you want to save this article, instead of saving it to your browser’s bookmarks, click on the Bookmark button below the article. This saves it to the My Bookmarks section of your account. You can access it via the sidebar when you’re logged into MakeUseOf.
These two approaches keep your browser’s Bookmarks folder light and your favorite links organized by the site they belong to.
Bookmark Archive Pages
When I stopped using a feed reader last year, I was afraid I’d just be trading in feed clutter for bookmark clutter. So instead of bookmarking articles on my favorite websites, I bookmarked the archive pages of those (handful of) websites.
With this approach, for each website you need to save only one bookmark instead of several and you can use the in-page search feature (Ctrl + F) to look for articles based on keywords. Of course, this works only when archived articles are listed by title.
Search More, Star Less
Once upon a time I had folders and folders and folders of bookmarks. I was meticulous about organizing them and backing them up. Every few months I’d come up with a new tagging/identification system that seemed more logical and then spend an awful amount of time rearranging bookmarks to fit this new system.
Eventually I put a stop to my crazy bookmarking/organizing cycle, deleted almost all my bookmarks, and closed my read-it-later Pocket account as well. I haven’t regretted it once.
Really, why save anything when Google or any other search engine can tell you what you need to know in just a few seconds? And if you use smart search tactics, you can get that information faster.
Tip: Use the search operator site: for site-specific searches using Google, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, etc. (Eg: site:makeuseof.com linux)
Find great Internet site. Bookmark it. Completely ignore bookmark. Bookmarks folder becomes unmanageable. Clean out bookmarks folder. Repeat
— Patrick Crispen (@crispen) May 19, 2016
Get into the habit of bookmarking links sparingly. If you must bookmark links in bulk, do a spot of decluttering every week while you can still remember what those links are about. Also, if you come across a page that contains some tiny bit of information you need, copy-paste that information or text snippet to a notepad or text editor, so that you have one less page to bookmark.
Move Secondary Links to a Separate App or Location
Save your browser’s bookmarking system for only the most important links or for ones that you use on a day-to-day basis. Dump all other links in a separate app to keep them out of your way most of the time.
Choose an app that has a strong search function or one that takes a visual approach to bookmarks, like Pinterest. This ensures that you won’t have to worry about creating elaborate folder structures or tagging systems and can stick with a handful of basic categories.
@drswissmiss Bookworms unite?
I tried several digital bookshelves, & eventually concluded I just wanted visual bookmarks = pinterest.
— Sophie Exintaris (@eurydice13) February 12, 2016
Use IFTTT Email Digests
For websites or links that you check every day, see if you can get them delivered to your inbox with a daily or weekly IFTTT email digest recipe. You could stay up-to-date on your favorite sports team, get specific news items from The New York Times, or get Feedly updates in an email digest.
When you’re guaranteed to receive the information that’s useful to you (all wrapped up in a single email at that), you’ll feel free to focus your attention on other, more important things. This means no more bookmarking pages to keep up with the latest from the web and no more checking your feed reader obsessively!
Put the Web to Work
Instead of bookmarking a bunch of articles about a particular subject, say, photography, search online communities like Reddit for discussions around photography. Chances are that you’ll find all the most relevant/useful information you need in a single thread or subreddit. Bookmark it if you like, but you can always find it like you did the first time.
Twitter is my bookmarks folder https://t.co/GS1XGt4sXW
— Claudette Palomares (@thehonourableC) April 12, 2016
What My Bookmarks Folder Looks Like
After years of link hoarding, I have now whittled down my bookmarking system to something super simple:
- Links to online tools that I use on a regular basis and all temporary bookmarks go in the (default) Favorites section in Safari; I clean out this section once a week
- A folder labeled Starred contains 10-15 links that I refer to often and will probably never delete
- A folder labeled Photo Links is where I have saved links to a few photo albums that I like to go through occasionally
That’s it! I could save more links elsewhere as I have suggested above, but I’m content to rely on search engines for finding almost everything.
The End of Organizing Bookmarks
Moving, tagging, arranging, and syncing bookmarks is time consuming and no fun (okay, sometimes it is). You won’t have to do much of it if you accumulate fewer bookmarks in the first place and have a system to sort them correctly right from the beginning.
What’s your strategy for saving and organizing bookmarks? How is it working out for you? Tell us whether your browser’s Bookmarks folder is lean or bloated.
Image Credit: Trying To Close Suitcase by Andrey_Popov via Shutterstock