Are you sick of trawling through your browsing history to find that one article you saw last week and suddenly wanted to send to someone? Or have you been researching a particular topic only to wonder which of the many pages you viewed was the one you want to take another look at? Or do you just love seeing intuitive apps in action and want to see what this is about? Right, then cottonTracks is going to blow your socks off.
cottonTracks is the latest and greatest Chrome extension for organising your browsing history. It automatically aggregates the sites you’ve been looking at and groups them around topics you seem to enjoy reading about. This is all in the name of making your life easier – and it really does!
Get The cottonTracks Extension
cottonTracks is a Chrome Extension, available in the Chrome Web Store (and also available for Opera). Once installed, you’ll be taken to the cottonTracks site for a quick tour. After reading a bit more about cottonTracks, your history should have been assessed and will probably be ready to view. Click on the C button to take a look!
Wait – What About Privacy?
The cottonTracks extension works entirely within your browser. No information is sent to cottonTracks, so your information remains completely private.
What cottonTracks Does
When you click on your C button you’ll see that cottonTracks has clustered all of your previous history into card stacks. It has even separated out your current open tabs into card stacks (in case you’re the sort of person who keeps billions of tabs open). Each card stack is a group on any given subject, all automatically collected for you and given a picture for the cover where possible. Yes, if may get things a little wrong, but you can move things about if that’s the case.
Click on any of your card stacks and it will expand into a very visual view, giving previews of images, icons for searches and more. It’s a very intuitive way to browse your own browsing history – a great way to revisit your favourite articles, videos, maps and images. You can even filter your card stacks for these items in order to see just what you’re looking for. There’s also a link to “Related Stories” which brings up card stacks that might be related to the current stack. You could browse for ages, re-living past enjoyment or use it to focus your search for something specific. If you’re looking for something in particular, you can search cottonTracks to find the most relevant stacks.
You can use the Expand/Collapse buttons on each card to get a short snippet of the article without viewing the page. Sometimes you will see a “Grab Article” button which opens the article in a new tab, then lets you get the expanded view. You can keep several articles expanded at once.
If you highlight or copy-paste a section of text it will remember it for you as a snippet. No need for web clippers!
Moving And Removing Items
Because it is entirely automated, cottonTracks will occasionally make mistakes. However, it’s really easy to move things about and remove items that you don’t need. On each card, you will see a “Remove” button. You will also see that you can add new cards manually. The names of each card stack can be changed too. Just keep tweaking if you want things to be perfect.
Perfect Use Scenario: Travel
If you’ve ever researched a region for an upcoming trip, you’ll agree that having all your previously viewed webpages on that subject together is ideal. If you prune the stack for things you didn’t find useful, what you’re left with is your perfect guide book. And instead of manually saving each page for later use using something like Delicious, it’s all just there waiting for you.
Another Great Use: Shopping
Say, for instance you decide to do some shopping for a red T-shirt. You browse a dozen sites, checking out their t-shirt collections but get distracted before you purchase anything and forget about it for a few weeks. This isn’t the sort of thing you would have actively saved as you went along, merely because you are either going to buy it or not – and you’ll probably only buy one. You’re not likely to want to buy the other 20 red t-shirts you saw along the way, so there’s no reason to save them. But with cottonTracks you won’t need to re-do your research. Just open up your stack for shopping sites that day and continue exactly where you left off. Easy!
Similar Tools To cottonTracks
Obviously, any online bookmarking or clipping tool could be compared to cottonTracks: Delicious, Diigo, Evernote, or Springpad. But the fact of the matter is that with cottonTracks you don’t need to actively do anything at all.
What do you think of cottonTracks? Will you be giving it a go?
Image Credits: Subway clock Via Flickr