Stand-alone editor for bookmarks files?
August 2, 2007 7:55 AM   Subscribe

Is there such thing as a stand-alone editor for browser bookmarks files? Mine are large and unwieldy with many sub- and sub-sub-folders, they're on several different machines, and it's becoming painful keeping them synced up.

First off, I don't want to keep my bookmarks unified out on some site like where any drooling h4X0r can find out about all the rubber-duckie-with-fish-sauce fetish sites I visit.

I've tried keeping my mozilla profile on a USB flash drive and carrying it around with me, but USB drives aren't fast enough. The bookmarks file is now so big that doing this introduces lots of annoying delays in browser response while the USB drive light goes blink-blink-blink.

What I'm looking for is a multi-file editor that handles a bookmarks.html file the same way...oh, let's say mozilla's... built-in editor does, displaying the file in its presentation state rather than as raw html (allowing subfolders to appear expanded or collapsed, for instance) while still allowing edits to be made. The problem with using a browser's internal editor is that it will only load one bookmarks file at a time, so you can't just cut and paste between different copies. There are plenty of E-Z website editors out there, from dreamweaver to seamonkey, that will edit multiple files at once and do allow edits to be made in the rendered-page wysiwyg window, but they don't render the way browsers' internal editors do.

So, has anybody ever encountered an editor that understands DOCTYPE NETSCAPE-Bookmark-file-1, loads multiple files at once, and displays them in a wysiwyg-but-editable window in the same form mozilla's Manage Bookmarks page does, or even moderately close? Or is there a better answer I'm too dim to see?
posted by jfuller to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Bookit has some simple bookmark editing tools, but the important thing is that it does the sync operation for you.

It's not great about dealing with multiple machines, but you could probably strap something together with duct tape, bailing wire, and scp.
posted by majick at 8:06 AM on August 2, 2007

Best answer: Hm, have you tried something like this?
Another idea: Try AM-Deadlink, a free bookmarks management program that can deal with all major browsers. It will even try all bookmarks and offer you to remove dead links, which may help you reduce clutter.
posted by Nightwind at 8:09 AM on August 2, 2007

If you're on a Mac (you don't say) you can use BookDog. It's not free, but I find it works quite well, and allows you to edit both individual bookmark files (such as the one on your USB drive) in addition to all the bookmarks associated with your currently installed browsers.
posted by dyslexictraveler at 8:25 AM on August 2, 2007

Best answer: Have you asked this question on the Mozillazine forums? That would be my first stop.

Okay, forget, but what about Google Browser sync? It requires both your google password and a Pin # before you can sync anything from the server.
posted by chrisamiller at 8:25 AM on August 2, 2007

The social bookmarking sites ( and all support private bookmarks. I think their standard bookmarking bookmarklets make all posts public by default, but there are alternatives that make things private by default.

If you're sufficiently concerned about privacy to be worried about, e.g., Yahoo seeing your data and not just other users then you should look into one of the self-hosted solutions. The last one I noticed was scuttle, but their must be tens of these by now!

For me, knowing my data can be made private or recovered in a bookmarks.html file is good enough for me to rely on In the end, I only make about 1-2% of my posts private.
posted by caek at 8:46 AM on August 2, 2007

Best answer: Speed varies a lot between USB flash drivers. Speeds range from 0.8 M/s to 10 M/s. On the high end, they are faster than some hard drive.

Read this Arts Technica review of fast USB drives.

You could also buy a small, fast portable hard drive.
posted by gmarceau at 8:48 AM on August 2, 2007

I use Google Browser Sync and it works a treat. It allows you to encrypt the data it sends to and from Google, too, if you're concerned about security.
posted by Nick Jordan at 8:54 AM on August 2, 2007

I second the Foxmarks - I've used it for two years (is that true.....) and over about 5 different computers. Its pretty much the best thing ever.
posted by mrgreyisyelling at 9:15 AM on August 2, 2007

I like Foxmarks better than Google Browser Sync, for the syncing. For the editing, I'm not sure.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:19 AM on August 2, 2007

Nthing foxmarks for the syncronization bit. You can have it use ssl even, so that the bookmarks are transfered securely. For editing, i'm not sure - i just use the firefox manager. My bookmarks.html file is 156K and i don't notice any annoying delays.
posted by escher at 11:09 AM on August 2, 2007 actually does allow private bookmarking - in your Settings, you can enable it, and then each boomark can be set to be private when editing or saving it; also, I believe that imported bookmarks are either all private by default or can be made so, though I'm not positive about that.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:20 PM on August 2, 2007

Best answer: PowerMarks - instead of folders and hierarchies, just pour thousand of links in and search by name or tag.
posted by yclipse at 2:22 PM on August 2, 2007

Rock Steady: "I like Foxmarks better than Google Browser Sync, for the syncing. For the editing, I'm not sure."

Foxmarks is my favourite FF extension ever!
posted by loiseau at 3:47 PM on August 2, 2007

I used PowerMarks and loved it for years until I caught on to the usefulness of I wrote to Kaylon a couple of times suggesting they get on the bandwagon and offer web access to users' bookmarks. Since they already allow you to upload your data file for syncing with another installation, it doesn't seem like a major leap to create this dream combo, but I never got a response. I still wish they'd do that.

Their website is a bit crufty but PowerMarks absolutely rocks for maintaining & editing bookmarks and metadata. Lack of web access is a problem for me, but perhaps not for you.
posted by Tubes at 9:55 PM on August 2, 2007

Response by poster: I'm guessing this thread is over and no more answers are coming, so... Thanks very much to everyone who responded!

I've marked some "best answers." It surely goes without saying but let's say it anyway: that means "best answer" for my particular need and is no reflection on the quality of your answer if I didn't mark it. Like the children of Lake Wobegon, all your answers were above average :)

I have no doubt all the services that sync your bookmarks by keeping them on the web do a good job but I just don't want to go in that direction. I don't particularly worry about people seeing my bookmarks list but I wouldn't dream of feeding my personal legal or financial information to some web-based service and I'd like to hold to the principle consistently. Yes, some of 'em let you mark your data private, and no doubt they don't intend to reveal it, but shiat happens. I doubt that SUNY at Stony Brook intended to reveal the names and social security numbers of 90,000 people, but shiat happens.

The first thing I'm going to try is to go back to keeping my browser profile and bookmarks on a USB flash drive, only a much faster one. At gmarceau's suggestion I did some comparing. The flash drive I was using (a freebie from a vendor trying to sell something else) writes at 10 MB/s. I found a Corsair that claims three times that (though that's still not in the hard disk range.) Also, it seems like flash drives might be the coming thing.

In case that doesn't cure the USB lags, I also downloaded and tried both AM-Deadlink and PowerMarks (Bookit and Bookdog looked interesting too but alas all I have on hand are windows xp and 2000, two flavors of Linux, Solaris for x86, and an Apple II. No Mac.) Both of these packages do what their respective webstes claim. I expect I'm going to go ahead and register PowerMarks. It doesn't solve my particular problem but it does look like a better way to deal with really huge bookmarks lists. (Mine is 1533 kb...for now. I really had no idea how many entries there were until I imported it into PowerMarks. 6100.) Also I'm totally a sucker for anything with a plug from Doug Englebart.

Converting is going to take a bit of work, though. Huge though it was, I had the bookmarks file all categorized into (mentally manageable) named subfolders, and PowerMarks does bring in folder names as searchable keyword tags for the links in a particular folder. But it doesn't do key-phrases, and many of my folders had phrases as names. The links in the folder "Presidential Emergency Powers," for instance, now are tagged in PowerMark with the individual words Presidential and Emergency and Powers, which won't really do. I'll have to go back and re-name that folder Presidential_Emergency_Powers, and do the same to all the other multi-word folder names, and then re-import to get the right effect. Also, it appears you do narrowly focused searches in PowerMarks by typing in many keywords--or creating a macro. I'll have to create a macro for every one of my previous sub-sub-categories, and that's a lot of macros.

Lastly, I will for sure re-post my original question to the mozillazine forums and see what pops up there.

Again, thanks very much to all.
posted by jfuller at 5:48 PM on August 3, 2007

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