How to share bookmarks between browsers

NOTE: Backup your Favorites and Bookmarks before trying any of the programs or services mentioned in this guide.

I’ve been getting quite a few requests from readers asking how they can share bookmarks between different browsers installed on the same PC. A separate but related question is how to share bookmarks between different PCs

Now most browsers including Firefox and Opera, offer an installation option of importing Internet Explorer bookmarks. That’s simple enough.

The real problem starts when you bookmark new sites in different browsers and you want these to be available in all browsers. There are several ways of doing this:

The first is to use a free utility called BookmarkBridge [1] that can sync all bookmarks across all browsers installed on your PC. It automatically recognizes and handles most of the major browsers and will synchronize all bookmarks across all browsers with the click of a single button.

It works pretty well but has a couple of problems. First the sync has to be performed manually. Second it won’t handle all browsers. However if you just use IE, Firefox or one of the other supported browsers then it offers an excellent solution.

A second option for Firefox users is to use the free PlainOldFavorites Firefox extension that allows you to access the Internet Explorer Favorites folder from Firefox and use it to store your bookmarks rather than the normal Firefox bookmarks file.

It’s a clever solution. It eliminates the need to synchronize because you only use one bookmarks folder and share it between browsers. It has other advantages too. The Favorites folder is accessible from many different places in Windows so having all your bookmarks in the Favorites folder gives you far greater accessibility to those bookmarks.

PlainOldFavorites offers a pretty complete solution provided you only use IE and Firefox. It does nothing though for users of Opera and other browsers.

Unfortunately I’m not aware of any free utility that runs on your PC that will automatically sync Opera V9 bookmarks with other browsers. I’m not aware either of an online bookmark syncing service that will do the job. There are however some online bookmark storage systems solutions that will allow you to share bookmarks between virtually any browser.

Online bookmarking services allow you to keep all your bookmarks on a central server. Your bookmarks are then accessible from just about any computer and any browser. When you use an online bookmarking service you don’t have to worry about syncing bookmarks between browsers as the same bookmarks are accessible from all browsers. The stored bookmarks can be easily searched and with some online services, you can also store web pages, not just links.

These are real benefits but there are negatives too. Accessing and adding your bookmarks to a central server is slower than when you do it locally. Additionally, you may not have access to your bookmarks if you are off-line. Finally some folks don’t like the idea of storing their private bookmarks on somebody else’s computer.

On balance though, I feel online bookmarking is the way to go. For most folks bookmarks are one of their most valuable resources and they want to be able to access them from any PC they happen to be using.

Del.icio.us is one of the best known examples of online bookmarking services. It’s free, easy to use incredibly popular, has lots of third party tools and browser plugins and supports tags. It’s also a social bookmarking site so you can share your bookmarks with others if you so wish and indeed, share and search theirs.

It’s the service I use together with the free Del.icio.us Firefox extension [4] that allows me to add bookmarks to the central server directly from Firefox. There are similar add-ins for Internet Explorer [5] and Opera [6].

I also use another Firefox extension called Foxylicious [7] that creates a local copy of my del.icio.us bookmarks in the Firefox bookmarks folder. The online and offline versions are automatically synced when I startup Firefox. I find having the synced online and offline copies extremely useful and a great backup.

There are some excellent alternatives to del.icio.us including www.furl.net, www.spurl.net, www.mybookmarks.com , www.linkagogo.com,� www.google.com/bookmarks, www.bookmarks.yahoo.com, the excellent www.diigo.com and many others. You can see a more complete list here [8]

If you are new to online bookmarking and social bookmarking in particular, I’d start with del.icio.us. There are add-ins available for all the major browsers and it’s got the greatest support and momentum. If you want to be a bit more adventurous try
www.diigo.com. I’ve been using it lately and have been quite impressed.

Whatever online social bookmarking system you choose to use, do be warned, you may find it addictive ;>)

[1] http://bookmarkbridge.sourceforge.net/ Freeware, all Windows versions, 3.3MB
[2] http://www.iosart.com/firefox/plainoldfavorites/
[3] http://del.iciou.us
[4] http://del.icio.us/help/firefox/extension
[5] http://del.icio.us/help/ie/extension
[6] http://erlang.no/?p=14
[7] http://dietrich.ganx4.com/foxylicious/
[8] http://www.econsultant.com/web2/social-bookmarking-services.html



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