Washington Apple Pi

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Storing and Organizing Bookmarks in the Finder

by Jay Darmstadter

Washington Apple Pi Journal, reprint information

On the Macintosh, it’s possible to create Web browser bookmarks in the Finder. Slightly more effort may be required to create a bookmark in the Finder than in a Web browser, but I feel the benefits are worth it. A bookmark created within a browser application will open its URL only in that particular browser. In other words, your Microsoft Internet Explorer bookmarks (called Favorites in MSIE) will not open a page in Netscape or Safari or Camino. A bookmark created in the Finder will open its URL in all the Web browsers you have. Maybe you wanna have the same page open in several browsers simultaneously to see how the page looks in different Web browsers. No sweat—if your bookmarks are stored in the Finder.

Other benefits of creating bookmarks in the Finder include having the ability take bookmarks with you if you are traveling without a computer but have access to somebody else’s Mac. If your bookmarks are stored in the Finder, drag ’em to a memory stick, Zip, or burn ’em to a CD and take ’em with you. And organizing bookmarks within a Web browser application can be clumsy and inconvenient, but the Macintosh Finder is simple to organize.

There are other advantages, and they’ll become apparent. Right now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty, the how-to-make’m part. If you’re using Mac OS 8.5–9.2, you’ll need to go to versiontracker.com or another software download site, obtain a free extension called DragClick, and drag it to your closed System Folder. When the dialog box asks if you wanna put DragClick in the Extensions folder, you do. Then restart the machine. If you’re using Mac OS X, you’re ready to go right now. Open any Web browser to a page you wanna bookmark. Highlight the entire URL. Drag it onto the desktop or into a folder. That’s as complicated as it gets. The resulting icon is a bookmark. Double click it and it opens the page in whatever Web browser you have set as default, even if the default browser isn’t running when you double click. “But wait!” you say. “The name is a bunch of gibberish!” Very likely true. So click once on the name and rename it something short and reasonable. The icon will open the URL regardless of what you name it.

Another way to create a bookmark in the Finder is to type a URL in any text editor, or find a URL you’d like to bookmark in an email or word-processed document somebody sent you. Highlight it. Drag it to the desktop or into a folder. Instant bookmark. Rename it something that makes sense. Double click it and the page opens in the default browser.

Now that you have a collection of bookmarks in the Finder, let’s see what can be done with them.

If you haven’t done so yet, create a Bookmarks folder in your Documents folder. If you’re using Mac OS X, drag your new Bookmarks folder to the dock. If you’re using Mac OS 8.5–9.2, open the folder and select as pop-up window from the View menu. Either of these gives you easy access to your bookmarks at all times. If you put the folder in the dock, you might wanna change its icon so you can find it easily (see side bar on how to change icons). Bookmarks created in the Finder are documents. Create as many folders and sub-folders as you need within your Bookmarks folder to store and classify your bookmarks as you would any documents.

Wanna open the page in a browser that isn’t the default browser? No problem. Open any browser to any page or a blank page, doesn’t matter which. Drag your bookmark from the desktop or wherever it lives into the middle of the browser window. Alakazam! The page opens.

S’pose you wanna tell somebody by email to check out a fabulous website. Drag the bookmark into the text section of the email you’re writing. It’ll spell out the entire URL, regardless of how long it is and regardless of what you have named the icon. For some reason, this also works in Stickies, but not in AppleWorks or Microsoft Word. If you wanna put a URL into either of these word processors, you’ll hafta first drag the URL icon to Stickies, then drag and drop from the sticky into the word processor. Odd—and annoying.

If you store your Bookmarks folder inside the Documents folder, it’s more likely to be backed up, as many people don’t bother to back up the System Folder, where bookmarks are stored for Netscape and other browsers in pre-Mac OS X systems.

Perhaps now you agree with me that creating bookmarks in each Web browser you use is not the best way to create bookmarks. Creating bookmarks in the Finder allows greater versatility and more efficient use of bookmarks than storing bookmarks within Web browser applications.

Sidebar: How to change Finder icons

(This works with any version of the Mac OS since, well, before I ever used a computer)

Generic folder icons, or for that matter, almost any Finder icon, can be changed. Maybe the original icon is boring—the generic bookmark icon resulting from the process described in this article certainly isn’t interesting. Maybe you have a classification scheme that requires different icons for different classifications. Maybe you’re a Star Trek fan and you’d like all your icons to be symbols from the TV show. There are lotsa good reasons to change icons.

The icon to be changed I’ll call the target icon. The icon that is the replacement I’ll call the source icon. You’ll need a source icon. You might find what you want on any of the websites that distribute icons, such as http://iconfactory.com/. Or, you can create your own source icon in your favorite graphics application. I make mine in the drawing or painting modes of AppleWorks.

After you’ve chosen or created a source icon, you’ll hafta get it into the clipboard. If you’re using an existing icon, do this: Click the icon once to hi-light it. Select Get Info from the File menu. Click once on the icon within the Get Info window to hi-light it. Select Copy from the Edit menu. Skip the next paragraph.

If you have created your own artwork for a source icon, do this: Select the artwork within whatever application created it, and choose Copy from the Edit menu.

Click once on the target icon (the one you wanna change) to hi-light it. Select Get Info from the File menu. Click once on the icon in the Get Info window to hi-light it. Select Paste from the Edit menu. Congratulations! You’ve changed an icon.