How To Launch Your Chrome Bookmarks with Keyboard Shortcuts

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You probably count on a few (or a lot of) bookmarks (or bookmarklets) to enhance your everyday web browsing experience. We have mentioned some Google Chrome tools that can quicken your browsing navigation so let’s see what’s available to reach your bookmarks the really instant way.

There are several ways to navigate and open your bookmarks in Google Chrome with just a few keyboard strokes, making it easier to forget about using the mouse. We’ll start outlining workarounds for those that would rather not install anything, and then, we’ll go over 3 great extensions that will easily simplify things for you.

Assign Keywords To Your Bookmarks Or Bookmarklets

In Mozilla Firefox, it’s easy to assign a keyword for your bookmarks (or bookmarklets) but in Chrome, you’ll find that same functionality a bit more hidden. Keywording bookmarks just means that you can:

  • Hit Ctrl + L to head to the Chrome Omnibar, type something like the letter m, press Enter and be redirected to the MakeUseOf homepage.
  • Or you can type gmail, press Enter, and launch the GmailThis bookmarklet.
  • Alternatively, you can type muo, then chrome, press Enter and then see the search results of any MakeUseOf article that deals with Chrome.

To easily open your bookmarks, create your keywords this way:

  1. Go to the site that you want to access with keyboard shortcuts and copy the URL (or the Javascript code if you’re keywording a bookmarklet).
  2. Right-click the Omnibar > select Edit search engines.
  3. In the dialog box that appears, see if there’s already an item for the site that you want to add. Sites where you have performed searches get added on here in case you want to search them later.
  4. Chrome comes with Bing, Amazon, Wikipedia, etc. plugins, but if you don’t see your site, click on Add.
  5. Now type a name for your site or bookmarklet, a keyword and paste in the URL. Example:

To search sites with keywords, see all the details here.

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Navigate Through the Bookmark Manager With Default Browser Keys

For those that miss IE and Firefox‘s Alt + A/Alt + B to browse your Bookmarks menu and be reminded of your numerous favorited/bookmarked links, you can navigate through the actual bookmark manager.

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + B
  2. Press Tab twice to get to your first Bookmarks bar folder.
  3. Use the Left key to close the folder, the Right to open it.
  4. If you need to go to a subfolder, use the Down key.
  5. To open a bookmark in a folder, press Tab + Down (to your desired bookmark) + Enter.
  6. The bookmark will open in a new tab.
  7. To go back to the folders from the bookmarks, just press Tab 5 or 6 times.

Create Website Shortcuts In Windows

If you have a few sites that you always visit, you could either set them as your homepage or launch them using keyboard combinations. This is nothing new, but for recap, here’s how to create them to launch your bookmarked sites:

  1. In Chrome (or any other web browser), go to the site you want to create a shortcut for and drag the Omnibar (e.g. address bar) star (for other web browsers, it’s a favicon next to the address) to the desktop.
  2. Right-click on the desktop shortcut you just created and select Properties.
  3. In the Shortcut Key field, type your desired keyboard combo that should look something like “Ctrl + Shift + M” or “Ctrl + Alt + M” without the quotes.
  4. Optionally, you can rename the shortcut with a descriptive name like “ctrl+shift+m” in the General tab for future reference in case you start making lots of these shortcuts and forget the available combos. Otherwise, click OK.

This probably one of the easier ways to access your favorite sites using just your keyboard, assuming you have set Chrome as your default browser. But beware that your desired (and more memorable) keyboard shortcuts may not be available, and shortcut icons may clutter your desktop (unless you choose to hide them).

Customize Shortcuts For Bookmarks, Bookmarklets & Browser Actions

If you want a clean desktop with no website shortcuts or you want to customize your browser shortcuts (e.g. you want to use Ctrl + E to open up Evernote and not search in Google, which is the default action), the Shortcut Manager extension is for you!

  1. After you install the extension, right-click on the icon and select Options.
  2. Type your desired keyboard combination. The Notes underneath this text box will notify you if your desired combo is replacing a Chrome keyboard shortcut in case you still want to keep the latter.
  3. Select your action for your combo. You can either choose it to perform a browser action (e.g. open a tab) or execute a bookmarklet! Some interesting browser actions include options to capture a screenshot of the current tab, close all windows (and save them), close left or right tab, and open Shortcut Manager, which will come in extremely handy if you’re mostly a keyboard ninja.
  4. Write a description (if it isn’t auto-filled already) and hit Save. You’re done!

Alternatively, you can check Chrome’s own keyboard shortcuts by selecting the All shortcuts list option.

At first, I didn’t understand how to use this but now that I get it, this extension is a miracle worker! Here are my tips:

  • After you save a custom keyboard combo, the latter will work on any new tabs. Tabs that are already open must be reloaded (hit Ctrl + R or F5).
  • Some webpages disable the use of content scripts so if your shortcuts don’t seem to work on page XYZ, you’ll have to try outside those sites. Examples of these such locations are the Google Chrome Extensions site, the chrome:// sites, and New Tab. To find out whether you can execute your keyboard combo on page XYZ, just click on the Shortcut Manager icon when you’re on that page.
  • Backup your shortcuts! You can import and export your keyboard combos to share with others.
  • Some bookmarklets load faster (e.g. the URL-shortening bookmarklet) than others. Some don’t load at all due to the nature of their code. One workaround is to look for the ‘‘ Javascript file in the bookmarklet code and paste this in the first text box under Execute Javascript.
  • Example: Diigo‘s ‘‘ file works just as well as the diigolet.

Use Shortcuts To Load Items On The Bookmarks Bar

If you use your Bookmarks Bar in Chrome, you can use keyboard shortcuts to access the first ten bookmarks or bookmarklets even (if you have folders pinned here, you might want to move them over since they won’t open).

The Bookmarks Bar Keyboard Shortcuts extension allows you to press Alt + 1 (for Mac, it’s Ctrl + 1; for Linux, use the Windows key + 1) for the first bookmark on your Bookmarks bar, Alt + 2 for the second one, and so on.

For Mac users, check out Chromac.

View A List Of Keyboard-Accessible Bookmarks On New Tab

The Bookmark Launcher extension makes sure you can browse through all your bookmarks and launch them right from the New Tab. Bookmarks will be listed 0 through 9, then A through Z, and you’ll be able to use either the number or the letter to launch the bookmark in a new tab.

To use the extension:

  • Open a new tab by pressing Ctrl + N
  • Press Tab or click somewhere in the page (this step is easily ignored so watch out!)
  • Type your customized or predetermined shortcut character to launch the bookmark.

What’s cool is that you can customize the folder from which this extension will display the bookmarks and sub-folders. You can also customize the keyboard shortcut (e.g. the letter m) for a specific bookmark (e.g. by renaming your bookmark in “m. MakeUseOf” format.

Other Ways To Access Bookmarks With Mouse Click & Keyboard

If what you want is a way to search your hundreds of bookmarks in Chrome, check out the Search on Bookmark extension, which gives you a search box for just your bookmarks, as opposed to the Omnibar which by default can search your bookmarks and history.

After you’ve found your bookmark, use the Up and Down keys to select it and hit Enter.

Alternatively, you can also have a bookmark button on your browser without any extensions.

To get it, right-click on your Google Chrome shortcut icon, select Properties, add ” –bookmark-menu” (without the quotes and don’t ignore the space before the two dashes) to the target field after chrome.exe.

Restart Chrome and you should be able to click on the button and use Up and Down keys to go through your bookmarks and folders.

There are many must-have extensions that can make you instantly more productive. What do you use to instantly access your bookmarks?

Photo credit: MethodDan

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
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