How To Sync Favourites & Tabs From Your Phone Or Tablet To Your Computer

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sync favorites with ipadHave you got a new smartphone or tablet for Christmas, but frustrated that your bookmarks and tabs are all on your desktop when you absolutely must surf the information superhighway from your sofa? You could access them with some kind of remote control to your desktop perhaps, but that’s just silly.

Instead, learn how to sync your tabs and bookmarks to and from your mobile devices with handy guide.

Chrome [Win, Mac, iOS, Android]

The most cross-compatible option of the lot is everyone’s favourite browser, Chrome. To enable syncing, simply sign in to your Google account.

On the desktop side, select the tools icon, and Sign in to Chrome. As well as bookmarks and tabs, you can actually sync webstore plugins and a whole host of other things; check the advanced sync settings. Not all of these will work on your mobile, of course.

sync favorites with ipad

On your Android device, you should find Other Devices on the tools dropdown – this will initiate sign-in if you haven’t already done so. You’ll then have access to bookmarks, and an easy to read list of tabs open on other devices.

sync favorites between computers

The iOS version of Chrome – even though it still uses the Safari render engine so it doesn’t have the performance gains of the desktop Chrome – does include the same standard set of sync functionality.

sync favorites between computers

On all Chrome devices, the easiest way to access your bookmarks and tabs is to simply open a new tab, use the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen. Note that Most Visited does not appear to sync between devices; it will always reflect the most visited sites on that particular device.

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sync favorites between computers

Bear in mind that this is also going to open up your browsing habits even more to the Google empire.

Safari [Mac, iOS)

Favourites, reading list, and tab access (not syncing).

This requires an iCloud account, with the latest versions of Mountain Lion and iOS6. If you have trouble with iCloud syncing, try this Apple troubleshooter.

On both the desktop and mobile side, tabs that are open on other devices can be access through the iCloud icon. Bookmark syncing is seamless and will be identical on all devices (unlike Chrome, there are no separate folders for mobile or desktop bookmarks).

how to sync favorites

Safari also includes Reading List syncing. This is a special set of articles which have been saved for offline reading. There’s a dedicated icon for them on the desktop side, but on the mobile Safari browser you can access them through the bookmarks icon. At the bottom of the bookmark lists, you can choose between Bookmarks, History, or Reading List.

This alone is quite a handy feature to have, but is strictly limited to iOS6 devices and the latest Safari, which is only available for Mac OSX at the time of writing.

sync favorites with ipad

IE10 [Windows 8, Windows Phone 8]

Favourite and history only, no tab syncing. Apologies, we got this one wrong. IE10 favourites and history syncing occurs across all Windows 8 devices (and Windows RT), but not currently to Windows Phone 8. In fact, there isn’t anything that will sync to Windows Phone 8.  

Sadly, Windows Phone 8 users are limited to IE10. If you are a fan of this curious browser – yes, this is for you three – then you probably already know that Internet Explorer 10 will automatically sync yours favourites and history, as long as you sign in using the same Microsoft Account on all devices. Upon initial sync, your pinned sites will also be added, though subsequent changes to pinned sites will not be reflected. There is no tab syncing, but you could workaround this by creating a special bookmarks folder.

An honourable mention should also be given to Firefox, which will sync between Android and the desktop versions of the browser. I chose not to include it in the list because it offers less compatiblity than Chrome, but if Firefox is your primary browser then it’s also worth considering.

As you can see, syncing tabs and bookmarks is actually pretty easy nowadays, without the need for browser extensions and silly hacks. Google Chrome is by far the best option for cross-compatiblity between everything you might own, as well as being the undisputed (I’m using that colloquially, please don’t start posting references to speed tests) fastest browser anyway. You’d have to be a pretty dedicated Apple user to stick with Safari, or even a more masochistic Windows fan to go with IE10. Do you have a preferred method we haven’t mentioned, and why do you think it’s superior? Tell us in the comments!

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Comments (22)
  • Anonymous

    Get Opera, sign up an Opera Link account, and forget about all of these.

    • Muo TechGuy

      But then you’d be stuck using opera. Crippling yourself for the sake of one feature seems kind of silly.

  • Benny Teo

    Is there a way to do this for mobile dolphin to desktop chrome?

  • Christopher Schaffer

    Honestly, this article needs a slight edit to reflect that WP8/IE10 does not have the ability to sync jack concerning favorites. It does a great job of syncing your calendar, email, and contacts, but no dice with IE10.

    • Muo TechGuy

      Do let us know if you find a way though!

    • Christopher Schaffer

      BTW- I am personally looking forward to getting a Surface Pro when it comes out later this month. For my purposes, it would be easier to handle while sitting in my recliner than a full-on notebook.

    • Christopher Schaffer

      Will do!

      I don’t know about iphone or android, but WP8 asks you to sign-in with your Live ID (if you have one), and it seems almost instantly has your emails, contacts, and calendar right on your phone from the start. I swear I sit at my PC in Outlook adding or changing an appointment, hit F9 (send/receive), and within like 5 seconds, I literally watch the update on the phone. How bitchin’ is that? :)

    • Muo TechGuy

      Updated.

  • Eric Jay Palomar

    using xmarks and readlater

  • Patrick

    I prefer to use Pocket (Formerly Read it later).
    Its also cross platform, and works on mobile,too.
    I just like it a lot, because it also puts it in a flipboard sorta display for viewing.

    • Muo TechGuy

      Excellent Patrick, though I would recommend it as a complimentary service to browser syncing rather than replacement. I use it to collect stories for our weekly podcast.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.