Use and sync your bookmarks

I saw myself with lists of bookmarks. Unsorted, different between browsers and also different between computers. Especially after I got  a fresh workplace at work, I had to import the bookmarks from home, and that is really a pain, if you are not allowed to import files because of security reasons.

1st step: syncing bookmarks

Ok I needed a tool for syncing my bookmarks between different workspaces, browsers and operating systems. Thankfully there is one: Xmarks. It will sync between Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer, you can use it on Mac, Windows and Linux and it’s also available for iOS and Android (both only with premium account, see „extra tip“ for that). On top, all you bookmarks are reachable through a webapp.

Now, if I get a new computer, browser or mobile phone, I will install Xmarks and everything is synced. The basic service is free, but there is also a premium service, if you want to save your passwords and use it on mobiles. It also have some more features like sync open tabs and so on, but I don’t want to discover that because I don’t use it.

Xmarks had some trouble in the past few month with Safari on Mac, but now everything is fixed and because of that I’m writing this article.

2nd step: sort bookmarks

Ok I will not force you to use my folder structure, but I will give a few hints that helped me a lot.

At first I sorted all my lists of different bookmarks and took them in folders and subfolders. That sounds simple but it takes ages for me, because I had A LOT of unsorted bookmarks. After that I used a tool to delete all dead bookmarks. So everything was clean and I could sync my bookmarks.

But over time there are some bookmarks that I use really often, like Goole Reader, some mail services, Facebook, Google maps and so on. Searching in different folders and going through subfolders are not that productive I wanted to have that. So I made a special folder, let’s call it „favorites“ and but it to the first place.

Then after a while I got a lot of folders titled with some meaningful words. But for example on my MacBook the space of the toolbar is a little bit limited, and because of that I had to get rid of the long words somehow. So I replaced the long words with shorter ones, if it was possible and also replaced some words with icons. E.g. „favorites“ folder is now ★★★ (3 stars if you can’t see it). Or I had a bookmark (JS snipped) to maximize Safari on Mac to fullscreen, but „fullscreen“ was too long so I renamed it to ↑ (arrow pointing to top). At the end, all main folders are visible in the toolbar.

3rd step: read later

For me it happens a lot, that I read a Blogpost or get a mail with an interesting link, but I haven’t the time to read it at this point. At the beginning I dropped them to my desktop, but new lists of unsorted and unsynced bookmarks appeared. Of course it was the wrong way, I have solved this problem so let’s use it. The difference was that I wasn’t sure if I should keep this bookmark, is it really interesting or is there nothing new in that link. I also had to decide which category it belongs to. In addition I wanted to keep track of that „unread“ links. The solution was really simple, I added a folder at the second place beside my favorites called „read later“. Everything that seems interesting and I should have a look later, I drop in that folder. It syncs automatically and I can read it at home, or on my iPhone later. In addition to that, I also use a folder titled „watch later“, thats the same for videos or bigger platforms, that means it will take more time to get through it. So at the subway I can go through the „read later“ stuff and at home or at the weekend I can sort out the links of „watch later“.

Ok to tell the truth they called only „read“ and „watch“ – you know I need the space and I know the meaning, and only I have to work with that.

4th step: finding a bookmark

Ok, I sort, sync and organize my bookmarks. But sometimes I know, I had a bookmark about that special topic, but where is it. You can of course find it with some plugins of your favorite browser or Mac Spotlight. For me the best the fastest way is Alfred, a productivity tool I surely will discover later. But for that functionality, you press a shortcut and type some words and it suggests you some bookmarks (and files, mails and so on).

5th step: readability

I stumbled over Readability and Instapaper a few times, I knew it’s useful but it either was too expensive for me to read an article in a clean and readable way, or it lacks at some platforms like Android. I already solved the problem of „read later“ articles, I just need the readability functionality. But I use Safari as my favorite browser, it already has a reader option if you open blogs or something similar. I also use an iPhone, and I discovered it also have that same function in the iOS version of Safari. Thats’s really cool to read, and in other browsers like Firefox and Chrome, there are plugins to show the website in a more readability form.

Extra tip:

I don’t like the Xmarks app for iPhone, sorry, but I will explain that. You have to open it to sync (it should work in the background, but to limitations of iOS that’s not possible) and you have to pay monthly fees for that. I would pay one time, of course, but I try to avoid subscriptions where I have to pay each month.

But there is a simple solution, you can sync your iPhone bookmarks with your Mac (or PC). You will find that option in the Info panel of you iPhone at iTunes. So every time you sync your phone, you also sync your bookmarks in both ways and you don’t need that app anymore.


If you have some more tips about using bookmarks or use other ways please leave a comment, maybe I can optimize it a bit more and it will help some more people.

Posted Donnerstag, März 8th, 2012 under general.

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