Bookmarks seem to accumulate over time, growing into collections of hundreds or thousands over the years. If you only have a handful of bookmarks, this article isn’t for you – this is for the people with large collections of bookmarks. The tips here will help you tidy up your bookmarks, back them up, and make the best use of them.
Of course, these tips are no substitute for sitting down, going through your bookmarks, and deleting the ones you don’t use. Only you know which bookmarks are actually important to you. Decluttering your bookmarks is a great idea if you have trouble finding the important ones.
Remove Dead & Duplicate Bookmarks
If you actually have 17 years of bookmarks, you’re guaranteed to have some dead links in there – and possible some duplicate ones, too. The web was a very different place just 15 years ago, of course.
Even if you don’t have such an extreme amount of bookmarks, you may have dead or duplicate bookmarks anyway. You can clean up your bookmarks by using AM-DeadLink, a Windows application that automatically checks your bookmarks. It won’t delete anything automatically – you’ll be able to verify each suggested bookmark deletion it makes.
AM-DeadLink works with Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Opera bookmarks. It also works if you have your bookmarks backed up to an HTML file (you can export your bookmarks to HTML in all browsers.)
Install it, select your browser, and click the green Check Bookmarks icon on the toolbar to get started. It will automatically check each bookmark. You can also use the Find Duplicates button on the toolbar to quickly find and remove duplicates.
If a bookmark is a dead link and there was something important there, you can always try using the Wayback Machine to view the web page as it existed in the past.
Sync Your Bookmarks with Your Browser
You’ve probably spent time some building up and sorting your collection of bookmarks. To have access to your bookmarks on every computer, ensure you’re automatically synchronizing them. Many browsers now have built-in bookmark synchronization, so this is easier than it used to be.
- Chrome: Sign into Google Chrome with your Google account to enable sync. You’ll be able to access your bookmarks on Chrome browsers on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS.
- Firefox: Activate Firefox Sync to synchronize your bookmarks with all your Firefox browsers – even the ones on mobile operating systems like Android.
- Internet Explorer: Favorites sync was available in Windows Live Mesh 2011, but is no longer integrated with the new SkyDrive. There’s a way to synchronize your favorites manually via SkyDrive, though.
- Opera: Enable Opera Link to synchronize your bookmarks and other browser data.
- Safari: Safari supports bookmark synchronization through iCloud.
Sync Bookmarks Between Multiple Browsers
If you use multiple different browsers, try Xmarks. Xmarks was more popular before browsers offered integrated bookmark syncing, but it’s still a useful tool. Unlike the browser-specific bookmark sync systems above, Xmarks can synchronize bookmarks between Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari. The cross-browser bookmark sync feature is free, but only premium subscribers can use the mobile apps.
Back Up Your Bookmarks
As with any important type of data, bookmarks can be lost. Maybe your sync system will have a server hiccup, or maybe you’ll accidentally delete some bookmarks and the changes will propagate to your other computers. Don’t lose all those bookmarks you spend so much time accumulating – back them up instead.
Every browser has the ability to export your bookmarks to an HTML file. You can then import this HTML file into another browser later. (This is also useful if you’re switching between browsers.)
- Chrome: Open the menu, point to Bookmarks, and select Bookmark manager. Click the Organize menu and use the Export option.
- Firefox: Open the Firefox menu and click Bookmarks. Click the Import and Backup menu and select Export.
- Internet Explorer: Click the star icon to open the bookmarks panel. Click the arrow to the right of Add to Favorites and select Import and export.
- Opera: Open the menu and select Settings > Import and Export > Export Opera Bookmarks.
- Safari: Click the File menu and select Export Bookmarks.
Store this file somewhere safe, just in case you ever need to recover your bookmarks. You may want to do this regularly to create regular backups of your bookmarks.
Use Social-Bookmarking Services
Social-bookmarking services like the popular [NO LONGER WORKS] Delicious and lesser-known Diigo allow you to share your bookmarks with your friends and discover other websites that may be interesting to you. If you’ve built up quite a collection, try using a social-bookmarking service to share it with others.
Use Icon-Only Bookmarks
If you have a large amount of bookmarks and like using your browser’s bookmarks toolbar for easy access to these bookmarks, try using icon-only bookmarks. This will give you one-click access to the largest amount of possible bookmarks at the same time. As long as the bookmarks have distinctive favicons (web page icons), they should still be recognizable.
Firefox has some extensions that can do this for you, although users report crashes and other problems with them. However, you can do this in any browser. For example, in Chrome, right-click each bookmark, select Edit, and erase each bookmark’s name. You can still see where a bookmark goes by mousing-over it.
For easier access to larger collections of bookmarks, try placing them into folders and putting the bookmarks folders directly on your bookmarks bar.
Organize and Tag Your Bookmarks
Organizing your bookmarks into hierarchical folders can give you easy access to them. For example, you could have all your music-related bookmarks under Media->Music. This would save you from having to scroll through long lists to get at the bookmarks you care about. There’s no limit to how deep you can make these bookmark folders, so you can have very fine-grained categorization. Want to put all your bluegrass music video bookmarks under Media->Music->Music Videos->Bluegrass? Go ahead!
If you’re using Firefox, you can also use tags instead of (or in addition to) hierarchical folders. Assign tags by clicking the star icon a second time while creating a bookmark or use the bookmarks library to enter tags for many bookmarks at a time.
Tags are useful because each bookmark can have multiple tags. This allows you to place bookmarks into multiple different categories, making it easier to dig through your bookmarks and find ones you’re looking for.
Unfortunately, Chrome doesn’t have an integrated bookmarks-tagging feature. if you want to use bookmark tags in Chrome, try using the Le Tags extension – it’s the closest you can get to real bookmark tags in Chrome.
How many bookmarks do you have? Do you have an archive of more than a decade’s worth of bookmarks, or none at all? How do you manage so many bookmarks? Leave a comment and share your strategies!
Image Credit: Documents and computer mouse via Shutterstock