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Setting up bookmarks in your browser

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A bookmark is a handy link to a web page you’ve previously visited. Time spent bookmarking and organising your bookmarks is rarely wasted. This article has useful tips on organising bookmarks in various browsers and strategies for making good use of them.

To make a bookmark of the page you’re on type Ctrl-D (Cmd-D on a Mac). A box opens that suggests the name for the bookmark (the same as the title of the page, visible at the top of the browser) and a folder. It always suggests the last folder you filed a bookmark into, but you can change to a more appropriate folder if necessary. Sometimes the suggested title is inappropriate – often they’re too long – but you can change it to anything you want.

Organising your bookmarks

A massive list of unorganised bookmarks is a liability rather than an asset. You need to keep them organised in folders, and the folders themselves need to be kept organised. The next few sections take you through the procedures for doing this in each of the four most popular browsers, Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer (IE) and Safari.

Chrome

Chrome icon

First ensure that you have your bookmarks bar switched on. It’s visible in this picture:

Screenshot of Chrome bookmarks bar.

Screenshot of Chrome bookmarks bar

If you can’t see then change your settings. Click on the settings icon at the top right of the window

Chrome settings icon

and select Settings from the menu that appears. Look for Appearance then tick the checkbox called 'Always show the bookmarks bar'.

To organise your bookmarks you need to make some folders. Right click (Ctrl-click on a Mac) on the Bookmarks bar and select Bookmark manager from the list. You’ll see two columns of information, one headed Folders and the other Organize (each has a small black disclosure triangle next to the heading). Ctrl-Click on the Bookmarks folder and select Add folder. This makes a new folder within Bookmarks bar called New Folder, with its name highlighted ready for you to update. Just type in a short name to identify your current topic or project.

You can click on your new folder and move it up the list to an appropriate place, changing its position on the bookmarks bar as you do so.

There’s a folder at the same level as the Bookmarks bar called Other bookmarks. Click once on this and make a new folder within it called Archive. This will be the destination of the folder you just made when you’ve finished your current topic and started another. You’ll drag the folder under Other bookmarks into Archive and all the information will be preserved for when you want to revise. In the meantime there’ll be room on your Bookmarks bar for your new topics.

Finally, click on the triangle next to the Organize heading and note that the last item in the list is Export bookmarks to HTML file. We will make use of this facility soon.

If you need more space on the bookmarks bar, right click (Ctrl-click on a Mac) on bookmarks bar and deselect Show apps shortcut. This eliminates the colourful Apps advert that Google puts in the bookmarks bar.

Some installations of Chrome come with a new experimental layout for the Bookmarks manager. This adds large colourful icons for every bookmark meaning that you can see far fewer on the screen. As a result the business of managing your bookmarks is much harder.

Screenshot of Chrome’s experimental bookmark manager.

As with most of Google’s experiments you can opt out. Type chrome://flags into the address bar and scroll down until you find this entry.

Screenshot of flag to enable/disable enhanced bookmarks

Select Disabled from the dropdown and restart Chrome to get back to the more efficient version.

Firefox

Firefox icon

The bookmarks bar in Firefox is always visible. There are several ways to organise your bookmarks and folders.

  1. Click on the Library icon

    Firefox logo

    and select Show all bookmarks. A pop-up window appears.
  2. Use the triangle next to 'All Bookmarks' on the left hand side of the pop-up to open All Bookmarks and then do the same for Bookmarks Toolbar.
  3. Right click (Ctrl-click on a Mac) on Bookmarks Toolbar and select New Folder. Name the folder after your current topic or project (keep it short so that you can get plenty of folders across the bar) and click OK. You can click on your new folder and move it up the list to an appropriate place, changing its position on the bookmarks toolbar as you do so.

One useful feature of the Firefox library is that your browsing history is available in the same window. If you forgot to bookmark a particular page you can find it in your History folder and drag it to the appropriate bookmark folder.

Firefox also lets you tag a bookmark to add more information about the website if you think that’s necessary

Before we leave the library, note that the area below the Bookmarks Toolbar is called Bookmarks Menu. Right click on this and create a new folder called Archive. This provides a place to store the folder you just made when you’ve finished your current topic and started another. You’ll drag the folder into Archive and all the information will be preserved for when you want to revise, but won’t be in the way in the meantime.

Finally, note that there's a button in the menu called Import and backup. Click on this and observe that the second-last item in the list is Export bookmarks to HTML…. We'll make use of this facility soon.

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer icon

These instructions are for IE11. If you have an earlier version and they don’t work you can search the web for the equivalent.

If you’re using IE11 in Windows 8 mode you have less control over the organisation of your Favourites (IE’s word for bookmarks). But there’s one thing you can do only in Windows 8 mode: pin a page to the Start page. This is effectively a super-Favourite that shows as a tile on the Start page, so you can click on it and go directly to the page in IE. To make one, go to the web page in question, click on the Favourites star, then on the icon of a map pin.

Pin icon

To organise your Favourites , click on the spanner icon and select View on the desktop which takes you to the version which behaves as it does in Windows 7. Click on the star icon

Internet Explorer favorites star

The Favourites, Feeds and History panel opens with a button at the top marked Add to favourites with a disclosure triangle. Click on the triangle and select the last option Organize favourites, as shown here:

Internet Explorer favorites dialog

A new window opens offering choices to make a New folder, Move, Rename or Delete. Click once on the Favourites Bar and then click New Folder. Name the folder after your current topic or project (keep it short so that you can get plenty of folders across the bar). You can click on your new folder and move it up the list to an appropriate place, changing its position on the bookmarks toolbar as you do so.

Click once more on the Favourites Bar folder to close it. Click on New Folder to make a folder at the same level as the Favourites Bar but at the bottom of the list. Rename it as Archive. This provides a place to store the topic folder you just made when you’ve finished your current topic and started another. You’ll drag the folder to Archive and all the information will be preserved for when you want to revise, but won’t be in the way in the meantime.

Finally, note that the second-last item on the dropdown menu illustrated above is Import and Export. We'll make use of this facility soon.

Safari

Safari icon

In Safari, bookmark management is quite straightforward. There's a menu called Bookmarks that offers all the commands you need to make and organise your bookmarks. One helpful command is available when you have a number of tabs open: Add bookmarks for these n tabs (where n is the number that you have open).

  • To make a topic folder you should do Bookmarks > Edit Bookmarks. The main window shows all your bookmarks in their folders, with Favourites at the top. The Favourites folder is that which displays in the bookmarks bar. Click on the triangle to open it.
  • Then do Bookmarks > Add Bookmark Folder. A side panel opens with another list of your bookmark folders. It has a new one called ‘untitled folder’ at the bottom with the name highlighted waiting for you to edit it.
  • Type the topic name and then drag the folder into the list of Favourites in the right hand panel at the position you want it (the top of the list is equivalent to the far left position in the bookmarks bar).
  • Now do Bookmarks > Add Bookmark Folder again, this time renaming the new folder to Archive. Put this as the first folder after Favourites. This will be where you’ll drag your topic folder when you’ve finished this topic and are moving on to the next one. By storing it in Archive you make room on the bookmarks bar but keep all the bookmarks intact for when you need them again.
When it comes to exporting your bookmarks you’ll need the command File > Export Bookmarks. See Bookmarking strategies.
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