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

James Bruce 02-01-2013

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 The Best Free Remote Desktop Apps for Your iPad If like me, you often find yourself in the position of official technical support for your family and friends, you'll know oh too well the pain of trying to explain something over the phone. The... Read More 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 Google Chrome - A Fantastic Replacement For Mobile Safari [iOS] Do you use Chrome on your computer to browse the web? A lot of people do, as it is one of the most popular web browsers out there. It runs fast, and it offers a... Read More – 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.


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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  1. Anonymous
    January 24, 2013 at 8:05 am

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

    • Muo TechGuy
      January 24, 2013 at 8:58 am

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

  2. Benny Teo
    January 4, 2013 at 6:48 am

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

    • Muo TechGuy
      January 4, 2013 at 8:42 am

      Yes: [Broken Link Removed]

  3. Christopher Schaffer
    January 4, 2013 at 2:27 am

    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
      January 4, 2013 at 8:45 am


    • Muo TechGuy
      January 4, 2013 at 8:45 am

      Do let us know if you find a way though!

      • Christopher Schaffer
        January 4, 2013 at 12:49 pm

        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? :)

      • Christopher Schaffer
        January 4, 2013 at 12:51 pm

        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.

  4. Eric Jay Palomar
    January 3, 2013 at 2:42 am

    using xmarks and readlater

  5. Patrick
    January 3, 2013 at 12:02 am

    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
      January 3, 2013 at 8:49 am

      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.

  6. Ryszard Grodzicki
    January 2, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    I think the best solution is a Xmarks add-on which does not support only multiple OSs (smartphones and tablets included) but also multiple browsers. Oh, and it also syncs the opened tabs!
    Recently I've found it especially useful when working alternatively on two computers and often switching between Chrome and Firefox. It also acts as an emergency session saver.

  7. ReadandShare
    January 2, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    No Firefox option?

  8. Christopher Schaffer
    January 2, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    I am not too sure how IE10 and WP8 sync. I have W8, WP8, and use IE10 (so am I one of the three or a fourth?), and when I open IE on my WP8, nothing is there (in terms of favorites or history). Am I supposed to be doing this from the Metro IE10? If so, screw that, since Metro IE10 kinda sucks.

    • Muo TechGuy
      January 3, 2013 at 8:48 am

      I'm afraid I dont have a WP8 to test, but a few things to make sure:
      1. Have you enabled sync function? This forum post implies there's a setting to enable this, I assume on both browser and phone.
      2. Are you using the same login on both desktop and phone?

      Hope that helps.

      • Christopher Schaffer
        January 3, 2013 at 1:03 pm

        Yeah I'm just not seeing any settings to sync IE10 (Metro or Desktop), to mobile. The person in the thread mentioned something about Live Mesh... but isn't MS discontinuing that?

        All-in-all, and I say this as a big MS fan, I am disappointed with how WP8 operates, and by that I mean it's half-assed integration across its range of products. For instance, the only way to stream music to my phone from SkyDrive is to create a folder on SkyDrive, change its property from 'Documents' to 'Pictures', and then (maybe), it works! That's right- there is no music or video folder property!

        And I tried to create a folder for my favorites from IE10 on my desktop, but when opened through SkyDrive, they just list as text with no way to actually go to the site or even copy/paste.

        The Win8 for WP8 app also bites- when transferring music from the PC to the phone, it doesn't add album art. So far, the only way to move music from the device to the phone is through Windows Media Player's Sync option.

        Still, it's better than the BB Tour I had, but is that saying much?

        • Muo TechGuy
          January 3, 2013 at 2:23 pm

          Check out this screenshot for where to find it on the pc side: - looks like under pc settings -> my account or connect account

        • Christopher Schaffer
          January 3, 2013 at 3:39 pm

          Yeah, that isn't anything. I believe that's more for syncing Win8 machines (your Win8 machine at work and your laptop or work PC, for instance). It doesn't have any effect with WP8.

          I forgot to answer a previous question of yours about signing-in...Yes, when you turn-on a WP8 for the first time, it asks whether you have a MS account or not, and if you do (and I do), you enter the information and it signs you in. It works great for email, calendar, and contacts, but absolutely does not do anything for favorites.

        • Muo TechGuy
          January 3, 2013 at 3:52 pm

          Apologies, looks like I misread the MS documented features. Apparently WP8 does not sync.

          That's kind of ridiculous. I imagine it's difficult to find reasons to stay with Windows Phone.

        • Christopher Schaffer
          January 4, 2013 at 2:05 am

          Well I hate apple and google, and RIM has just been dragging its feet for far too long for me to gives a hoot about them.

          The phone experience is nice so far (though I really wanted a Verizon 920 variant); it's just this mind-numbing half-assed integration that they have at the moment. These should be simple software fixes, so I'm hoping that the next update will have most if not all of them resolved.

          BTW- I've discovered that viewing email in the native WP8 app requires you to always download pictures manually...even from senders that you've previously downloaded them from. However, if you use IE10 and, you get a desktop-like experience with multiple colors and pictures are automatically downloaded!

          To make things worse, I've seen threads about this on the website and see many people are asking about it. MS's official answer is that they do this in order to save users on data usage, but my response is "Well if that's the case, why do you have, as default, the phone set to upload every single picture on your phone to SkyDrive? What takes more bandwidth- a few graphics in an email, or an 8MP picture?"

          I haven't heard back from them!

        • Christopher Schaffer
          January 4, 2013 at 3:31 am

          Christ...I just had this long response and posted it, then on a refresh, it was gone!

          Anyhow, I hate apple and google, and RIM has dragged their feet for far too long for me to care about them anymore. I live in a Windows ecosystem with 3 PCs, 2 WP8 (both 822s), 2 XBOX 360s, and soon a WSE2012 server.

          I was REALLY excited to hear about all of this 'integration', but am facepalmed by a lack of it. It's like, MS always does things half-assed about these things. I am really hoping that the next major update resolves a lot of these issues...just not going to hold my breath.

          Finally, and as a BTW- there are threads on the official MS Answers page asking why do pictures have to be manually downloaded in emails? MSs official answer was to save users on data charges by not downloading them automatically. RLY? SRSLY? Then please explain why does WP8 DEFAULT TO UPLOAD EVERY DAMN PICTURE YOU TAKE TO SKYDRIVE? Which uses MORE Bandwidth- a few email graphics or an 8MP PICTURE?