LaJean Humphries is the Head Librarian at Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, a regional law firm with over 130 attorneys providing a broad range of transaction and litigation services. She regularly provide Internet training for attorneys and staff.
Netscape calls them bookmarks. Internet Explorer calls them favorites. Bookmarks and favorites are basically the same thing and the terms are used interchangeably in this article. You save a Web address as a favorite or bookmark to be able to retrieve that Web page easily without having to click through a number of links or type a lengthy Web address or URL (uniform resource locator).
What happens when your hard drive crashes? You lose all your bookmarks! Your browser saves your favorites on the hard drive of your computer. If you use a different computer, your favorites are not available. The solution: use a URL or bookmark manager. The past year has seen a proliferation of URL managers. First, I’ll tell you about the one I use most and then a little about some other managers I’ve found.
I discovered and started using itList (http://www.itlist.com) over a year ago. itList is a free service. With itList I can access my favorites from work, from home, while teaching Internet classes, while visiting our firm’s offices in other states, at AALL or a conference hotel, anywhere, any time! Using itList I can easily add my favorite Web sites to my own bookmarks Web page.
It’s very easy to set up your favorites on itList. Just click on the “Make a new account” link, complete the simple form, and you’re ready to go. One caution is to think carefully about the user name you select. At this time, you cannot change your user name on itList. The system is case sensitive. Once you select a user name, it is yours forever. itList has said that they may change this feature in the future if enough users request it. Each user name must be unique. If someone else has already selected your user name, you will be prompted to select a different name. If someone has made an account with Susan as the user name, you can make your account with susan (if no one else has used susan).
Your itList is password protected and you can regularly change your password if desired. If you make your itList public, others can view your bookmarks. If you leave your itList private, no one else can see your favorites. You can also make some bookmarks public and others private. itList is very flexible.
You can create unlimited categories or folders to organize your favorite Web sites and create as many subfolders/categories as you wish. You can edit, erase, and/or move any URLs in your itList. If you make your itList public, you can still hide individual bookmarks. Hidden bookmarks don’t appear when your public itList is viewed. They’ll reappear when you log in with your password or when you make your itList private again.
Several itList features are especially helpful. You can make comments about any URL you save; you can give it a “Cool” rating and also a “Useful” rating. Thus one URL can have “Comments,” “Cool,” and “Useful” ratings. If the default name of the URL isn’t helpful, you can change the title of the URL in your itList. Additionally, you can sort your list by any of the above categories: Comment, Cool, Title, URL, Useful, as well as several other categories.
itList will allow you to send URLs to others via email. You can also search other bookmarks about topics you’re interested in. If you make a category in your itList called “Music,” look on your itList page for the link that says, “Click here to see other users’ ‘Music’ bookmarks.”
Other URL Managers
Is itList the best bookmark manager available? I don’t know. I like it because it doesn’t have the advertising that many manager sites have; I can customize my list; I can sort the list; and unlike some other bookmark managers, itList doesn’t automatically add Web sites to my list that I don’t want. Several of the managers I’ve looked at automatically give you Shopping, Media, and other folders of sites that sometimes you can delete and sometimes not. The email support for itList is good; I usually get a response in less than 24 hours.
Some of the other URL managers that I’ve looked at include:
All of the above sites are free; there is no charge for using their URL manager service. They all allow you to password protect your user site once you’ve established an account. All of them have at least some kind of privacy statement although stringency varies. They each have an import feature so that you can import existing bookmarks from your browser. Some also have the ability to export sites. All of the sites have some support. Although my experience with their email support varies, most of my queries have gotten a response within 24 hours.
The degree of customization varies between sites, as does the amount of banner advertising. Clickmarks seems to be unique in providing a very nice biographical statement of each member of the company from the CEO to the Technical Advisor. MyPassword.net does not require any personal information from its users and does not use any permanent cookies. Features vary between managers but most of these appear to function well and provide similar basic services.
http://winfiles.cnet.com/apps/98/url.html provides a long list of managers with a brief review of each one listed. Try a search for bookmark managers on your favorite search engine and you’ll discover even more. If you surf the Internet at all, you will benefit from using a URL manager. Try two or three and select the one you like best as your bookmark manager.
Never again will you be racking your brain for the great site you found at home or work (when you’re in the opposite place). You won’t have to worry about management going through your office computer bookmarks or favorites. You can easily share your favorites with colleagues and friends. From any place at any time, manage your bookmarks!