Easy Web Rider - the Sequel

Written and published September 15, 1999

Last week I talked about Apple's Internet Location Files (ILFs) and showed you how to make them. This week let's talk about what you do with them.

Before I do, though... You may be wondering about using "regular" bookmarks or favorites, and wondering why I don't just use them. Here's why. In short, because bookmark menus can become incredibly long. Too long. You can add folders and move bookmarks into folders, but the menu can still be unwieldy. I still advocate using the browser's bookmark feature. I just recommend moderation. Try using the built-in bookmark/favorite feature for the sites you'll access frequently. Then use the ILF method to build an extensive collection of any URL that can be handy to you in the future.

Storing and Organizing ILFs

Unlike "regular" bookmarks, each ILF is its own file which means it can be stored in any folder, just like any other document. This gives you remarkable flexibility. An ILF is also very small, so you can make two copies of an address (the ILF) and store each in a different location. So how do you store ILFs? In any folder. How do you organize ILFs? Any way you want.

Consider this:

Make a folder called URLs. Store that folder in a place you'll be sure to back it up. (Perhaps your Personal Files folder if you've made one. This is data, not an application.) Open the folder and set it up as a pop-up tabbed folder at the bottom of your screen. Keep it sorted by name, and keep it narrow, so only the folder and file names show (unless you want to sort by date at times). Now this folder is handy whenever you need a web page. Then, as you start to collect URLs for a specific topic, create a folder to house them. That folder is, of course, to be a sub-folder inside the URLs folder.

If you're wondering why I don't suggest keeping this folder in the Apple menu, there are two reason. First, it takes more effort to add sub-folders. Secondly, I expect you to collect many, many URLs. With a tabbed folder, you can scroll through the list of folders and jump between folders. However, there is a use for putting the alias of the URLs folder in the Apple menu. When you do so, you can click on the Apple menu, slide down to the URLs folder, then open the folder. That way you have the folder open and floating around on your desktop so you can position it at will. You may notice that my screen shot also shows a Start menu and some buttons at the bottom of my screen. That's Action GoMac at work. If you look closely, you'll see a URLs icon in the GoMac strip. Clicking that icon opens my URLs folder, whether it's a pop-up or not. I keep that there because there are times I want to un-pop the URLs folder, and this enables me to get it open immediately. If you're using GoMac or something like it, you needn't do the pop-up menu.

Also, consider storing ILFs in files that are relevant to any project you're working on. That way you can easily return to a site to check facts or such.

Additionally, when you download a new software, create an ILF from the software site's location. Then store this URL in the folder along with the installed software. That way you can get back there to check facts, see if any tips are there, etc. You might also make an ILF from the various email contact addresses and keep them along side the software. That way, tech support or the sales contact is always handy.

In case you're wondering about the ability to store "regular" bookmarks in folders, here's the answer to that too. You can drag an address item out of the bookmark folders in each of the browsers. In each case, the address becomes a stand-alone file. However, as I've said before, a Netscape address will only open that URL in a Netscape browser, and the same goes for Internet Explorer. (That can be really annoying because you end up with an extra browser launching when you don't want to allot the RAM for it.) The new iCab browser, however, is really cool. When you open its bookmark file, called a Hotlist, then drag an address from the Hotlist folder to the Finder, it automatically becomes a perfect ILF, launchable in the preferred browser. (Last week I also failed to mention that you can drag an address out of the address bar to create an ILF (just like with Internet Explorer).

[In case you're wondering, iCab is a new browser. It's not yet ready for release and isn't fully functioning. However, it looks very promising and, I believe, will be the most compliant to HTML-standards.]

Note: I believe I forgot to tell you that you can rename an ILF any time. Upon creation, the name is that of the URL. Rather than keep that name, select the name of the file, then change it to a more descriptive name. Use the file's Get Info box to add further information if you'd like. For example, I am collecting sites created using Adobe GoLive. In the Get Info box I write the name of the author, his/her email address, and a few words about how I know the author.

Another way to store them and add notes about them is by using ClipPad, as I mentioned a few weeks ago. (As you may recall, it provides a large note area and also enables you to turn a clipping into an ILF.) However, you're going to need many subfolders for your URLs and ClipPad doesn't see subfolders easily (unless I missed that feature.) If you have any other program that enables clipping organization, you can probably use it to organize your ILFs.

Next Week

This sequel continues. I'll show you ways to use these files. I planned on covering that here too, but the column got too long. Then, after ILFs I've got a secret about regular bookmarks to share with you too.

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