How to use master bookmarks in Firefox 3

Firefox 3 introduces a few new features to bookmarks that I think make them much, much easier to use, more useful in general, and much more useful in particular for catastrophically disorganized folk like me. The three main features being introduced are: Bookmark Stars, Bookmark Tags, and Smart Bookmark Folders.
I’ve never been a huge fan of traditional bookmarks — I tend to bookmark lots of things and my bookmarking system always degraded to the point of uselessness pretty quickly. Bookmarks became a bit of a junk drawer for me — I’d throw things in there and they’d end up forgotten, or lost, or just never pulled out and looked at again. I never had the patience to create a nice clean folder hierarchy and file things neatly away. I am clearly not a student of the “everything has a place, and everything in its place” school of thought.

Besides the face-lift, one of Firefox 3’s less flashy, but incredibly useful features, is the new bookmarking system. Yeah, there are still folders and bookmarklets, but joining the party are useful items like tags, smart backup, and a new way to track which sites you’re actually visiting to help weed out what’s unneeded.

Master the quickie

bookmarks

It’s easy now to bookmark your favourite sites just hit the new star button in the address bar,and simply get edge from keyboard shortcutIt’ll quick-save it to your bookmarks list the same way the keyboard shortcut does.

If you click the star again, it opens the Bookmark dialog, where you can edit the bookmark title, add tags to the bookmark, file the bookmark in a folder, or delete the bookmark. Naturally, you can still open the Bookmark dialog with cmd-D (or ctrl-D if you’re not using a Mac).

bookmarks1

The Bookmark dialog has other surprises, too. The drop arrows beside the Folder and Tags fields expand the dialog so you can add new folders, browse through your existing folder tree, or select pre-existing tags with a checklist.

bookmarks2

Bookmark Tags

Tags are a way to add flexible “extra” information to a bookmark. Where Folders let you organize bookmarks in a way, they’re limited in that you can only put each bookmark in a single folder. Not so with tags — you can add as many tags to a bookmark as you want.To quickly add pre-existing tags without typing anything, just hit the little down arrow in the bookmarking menu. This will list all of the tags you’ve typed in before, and simply clicking on any one of them will add it as a tag.

bookmarks3

For example, I could put my “Photoshop image” into a “Design” folder (or even a “Web” subfolder under “Images”), but I couldn’t put that bookmark into both the “Design” and “web” subfolders at the same time. On the other hand, I can tag that single bookmark with “images”, “design”, “photoshop” and anything else I want.So how is this flexible information useful?

Use smart bookmarks and folders to discover new content

Finally, there are Smart Bookmark Folders. These are basically “saved searches” that automatically update when you add new items matching that search to your bookmarks.So, if I create a “Dreamweaver Files” Smart Bookmark Folder, any time I add a bookmark that has “Dreamweaver” and “Files” in the title or tag, it will automatically be added to my “Dreamweaver Files” folder.

bookmarks4

Creating a Smart Bookmark Folder is easy. First, do a search in the Bookmark Organizer, then click the “Save” button at the right hand side below the search bar:

That will prompt you to name your Smart Bookmark Folder, which I’m calling “Dreamweaver Files”:

Import/export and backing up your bookmarks

There’s nothing worse than having to try and remember all the things you’ve bookmarked in case of a hard drive crash or corrupted file. Save yourself the trouble and make backups from time to time.

My way of doing this is to use two of Google’s services,Gmail and Google Calendar, to bundle reminders and file storage in one place. Step one is setting up a Google Calendar reminder every month for a backup. Now, every time you get the reminder just go organize bookmarks, then click on “import and backup.”

Save the backup JSON file to your desktop and e-mail it to yourself in Gmail. Be sure to set up a bookmarks labeland tag every backup with it so you’ll save yourself some time searching later on.

Now, what if you lose everything and need to re-import? If you’ve got a copy of that JSON file laying around you just import it using that same menu you just used to do the backup. Likewise, you can go back to previous versions of your bookmarks by selecting an earlier date from the drop-down list, although I wouldn’t recommend doing that unless you’ve made a mess of the ones you have.

Make it social

OK, so you don’t want to use Gmail and Google Calendar while saving and uploading files. I really can’t blame you. A far simpler solution is tying in your bookmarks with a service like Delicious, Magnolia, or Mister Wong.

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40 Responses

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    great review with lots of point of view but I don’t. I always bookmarking and separating them in specific folders and don’t have enough time to check down to re-manage it.

    thanks harshit

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