Easy Web Rider - the Prequel

Written and published September 29, 1999

Before there were ILFs there were bookmarks and favorites, sometimes they still come in handy. So this week we'll share the secret to having your bookmarks, and favorites all wrapped up in one neat package -- literally.

Instead of having a bunch of bookmarks in Netscape, then being stuck in the dark recesses of cyberspace trying to recall a URL when you're in IE or iCab -- you get to have all of your bookmarks available in every browser. No matter what browser you're in, when you bookmark a site it becomes bookmarked for you to see in all of your browsers. Cool, eh?

Here's how it works... and how you set it up:

Every browser has its own bookmark file, installed by default when you install the browser. All you have to do is choose one browser's bookmark file as your main file, then replace the other bookmark files with an alias of your main file. Since each browser looks for a bookmark file of a particular name, you fake it out by giving the alias that name. As we discussed in earlier columns, the main file can be anywhere on your hard drive. (I, of course, suggest you move it to your personal data file.) So that's all there is to it. A great fake out that saves you tons of time.

This great setup was taught to me by my friend, Lorca Hanns, who has been an active driving force at BMUG and great source of help for many. He has been setting this up for people for a while so it's tried and true. Additionally, reader Brian H. Napier wrote in with the same exact suggestion. Great minds think alike. In fact, both sent me screen shots to make it clear. So, without further ado, here are both screen shots so you can see what we're talking about. And, of course, the details on how to do this yourself.


Just understand that if you have two browsers open at the same time and make a change to bookmarks in one file, the change won't appear immediately in the other. You'll have to quit that second browser and re-launch it in order for the change to appear.

Getting down to it

  1. The first step is to choose your main bookmark file. What browser do you use right now? If you use just one, that's the one you'll work with. If you use more than one, pick the one that has your important bookmarks. To make this easier to follow, these steps flow as if you choose the Internet Explorer Favorites file as you main file. If you picked Netscape, reverse IE and Netscape as you follow along.
  2. Quit any browser you have open. If you don't, you can lose all of your bookmarks.
  3. Locate the bookmark file (Favorites.html) you picked in step 2, so it's visible. (If you followed the earlier columns on storing data files, all of your bookmark files are in your personal files folder.) Keep the folder it was in open.
  4. Copy that file (Favorites.html) to a safe place as a backup.
  5. Move that file (Favorites.html) to your desktop for now.
  6. Select that file, then make an alias of it (File->Make Alias). Then make another. And a third. Be careful not to be making an alias of an alias. Always have the original selected.
  7. Rename Favorites.html with a name you like. Lorca called his MydesktopBookmarks.html in his screenshot. I recommend you call it Yourname's bookmarks.html. (I call mine Deb'sFavorites.html.)

    Tip: Name it without spaces. (Notice Lorca did.) That way you can place it in a web server so when you are travelling you can have all of your bookmarks available at any cybercafe, show floor, etc. For example, Lorca's would be available to him just by going to <http://www.hisdomain.com/MyDesktopBookmarks.html>. (Did you know that any bookmark file could be opened as a web page?)

  8. Rename each alias so one is called "Favorites.html," another is called "Bookmarks.html," and the third is called "Hotlist.html."
  9. Locate each of the original bookmark files and replace them with the aliases. If you followed my earlier columns and stored your browser files in your personal files folder, you will find these bookmark files there.
    Favorites.html is in the Explorer folder (which is in Preferences in the System folder.
    Bookmarks.html is in System folder->Preferences->Netscape user folder->yourname folder.
    Hotlist.html System folder->Preferences->iCab Preferences folder.
  10. Keeping with the philosophy of storing important stuff in your personal files folder, place the main file back in this files folder. It is the only bookmark file you need to back up.

That's it.


Launch Netscape and, in Preferences, choose the IE Toolbar option. Do the same in iCab. Now the same toolbar favorites will be available in all of your browsers.

Final Tip

For what it's worth, I use bookmarks, but only for sites I tend to go to often. When a site is of interest to me for future or once-in-a-while reference, I save the ILF to my URLs file instead. This method helps me keep my bookmark file somewhat lean and easy to use.

Next Week

Next week I think we'll look at email closely.

Previous Column • • •
Button that takes you to the index.
• • • Next Column