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You are here:  gunnars.net - Mozilla Help - Managing Bookmarks in Firefox

Firefox Help - Tutorials: Bookmarks
by Gunnar Jurdzik

Table of contents:
1. Basics: Bookmarking a page - Creating a Bookmark for indidividual pages or groups of pages
2. Firefox's Bookmark Toolbar -  your favorite sites at your fingertips
3. Firefox's Bookmark Manager - manage bookmarks
4. Live Bookmarks - Adding dynamic bookmarks to Firefox.
5. Importing and Exporting Bookmarks
6. Bookmark Extensions - improve Firefox's bookmark functionality with the help of extensions

Bookmarks - or favorites to those of you who were previously using IE - are a basic yet very useful browser feature. Mozilla Firefox has a simple yet powerful bookmark system. Firefox supports RSS feeds (live bookmarks) and a bookmark toolbar for your most frequently used sites. In addition, you can extend Firefox's bookmark capabilities with the help of the many Firefox extensions that are available. This article will help you with bookmark creation and management in Firefox.

Note: The Mozilla Suite's bookmark handling is covered in a separate tutorial.

!     Did you know ?
Firefox 1.5 and up automatically creates backup copies of your bookmarks. They are saved in a folder called bookmarkbackups. You can find this folder in your Firefox profile directory.
To replace lost bookmarks, simply copy the backup file to your profile folder (one level up) and rename it to "bookmarks.html".

1.   Basics: Bookmarking a page

What would we do without bookmarks? With all the things we need to remember, not having to remember a site's address (URL) is a good thing, especially when the address is not as easy as "www.mozilla.org".
With the help of bookmarks, Firefox remembers your favorite sites for you.


To bookmark a page in Firefox, select Bookmarks -> Bookmark this page.


The "Add Bookmark" dialog will open, asking you where you want to save the new bookmark.


Select the folder that you want to save the bookmark to from the dropdown menu and click on OK. If you want to save the bookmark to the Bookmarks Toolbar, select Bookmarks Toolbar folder as the target.

add bookmark advanced 2

Alternatively, you can also expand the menu tree, if you want to save the bookmark in a subfolder.
If you want to add a new folder, click on New Folder and enter the folder name. Firefox will create the new folder below the highlighted folder.

2.  Firefox's Bookmarks Toolbar

Firefox's Bookmarks Toolbar is a good place to save your most commonly used bookmarks. The easiest way to create a bookmark on your toolbar is to mark the site address (URL) and drag & drop it to the toolbar.

create a bookmark on the toolbar

To do that, select the URL, hold down the left mouse button and move it to the position on the toolbar where you want the bookmark to appear. Alternatively, you can also add a bookmark to the toolbar by using the "add bookmark" dialog.

toolbar bookmark has been created

In this example, we have just created a toolbar for CNN.com

move a toolbar bookmark
If you want to rearrange the order of your toolbar bookmarks, simply drag & drop the bookmark from its old position to a new one. To do that, click on a bookmark and don't release the left mouse button until the arrow is where you want the bookmark to be.

toolbar bookmark has been moved

As you can see, the "CNN.com" and "The Mozilla Help Site" bookmarks have traded places.

When you right-click on a toolbar bookmark, you can easily access the context menu.

toolbar context menu

Options marked in orange (note: this is not how it looks in Firefox) are for the bookmark you just clicked on, options in grey affect all bookmarks on the toolbar.
Individual bookmark options are:

Open: This opens the bookmark in the current browser tab/window.
Open in New Window: This will open the bookmark in a new browser window.
Open in New Tab: This opens the bookmark in a new browser tab.
Cut: This will remove the bookmark from the toolbar and copy it to the clipboard, i.e. you can paste it somwhere else.
Copy: This will copy the bookmark to the clipboard.
Delete: This wil delete the selected bookmark.
Properties: This opens the bookmark properties dialog (please see below).

bookmark properties

In Firefox's bookmark properties window, you can enter or edit the following:

Name: This is the bookmark's name that will appear on the toolbar. It is prefilled with the page's title. Since the title is sometimes a bit on the long side, it is a good idea to edit the bookmark name to free up space on the toolbar.
Location: This is the web address (URL) of the site/page you bookmarked.
Keyword: Using a keyword is a great way to easily access your favorite sites. You can e.g. enter "news" as the keyword for your favorite news site. Once you have done this, simply typing "news" in Firefox's address bar (where you would normally enter the site's address) will then take you to this site. Think of the keywords as a "shortcut" to your favorite sites.
Description: You can enter a description for your site here. This can be useful when you have many bookmarks or the site's address or name don't indicate what the site is about.
Load this bookmark in the sidebar: When checked, this will make the bookmarked page load in Firefox's sidebar instead of in the browser window. This option is especially useful for live bookmarks, but perhaps less useful for the majority of sites.

3.  Firefox's Bookmark Manager

Firefox's Bookmark Manager is a very useful tool when it comes to managing your bookmarks. It allows you to rearrange, automatically sort, edit and to import or export bookmarks.

opening the bookmark manager

To open Bookmark manager, select Bookmarks -> Manage Bookmarks.

firefox's bookmarks manager

The Bookmark Manager window will open.

Moving and Editing Bookmarks

Firefox's Bookmark Manager has several buttons that will allow you to edit and move bookmarks:

add a new bookmark

New Bookmark: This allows you to manually add a new bookmark.

add a new bookmark folder

New Folder: This allows you to create a new bookmark (sub)folder.

add a new separator

New Separator: This will allow you to add a new separator. The separator will be placed above the bookmark/folder that you have selected in Bookmark Manager.
a separator has been added

In this example, we have added a new separator to our Bookmarks Toolbar. Separators can help distinguish different bookmark categories from each other.

move a bookmark

Move: This will allow you to move the bookmark to a new position/folder in your bookmarks file. When clicking on this button, a "choose folder" dialog will appear:
chose a folder to move the bookmark to

Select the folder you wish to move the bookmark to and click on OK.  (note: you cannot move the bookmark out of your bookmarks file, i.e. this function cannot be used for exporting individual bookmarks). Alternatively, you can also drag & drop bookmarks to a new location.

bookmark properties

Properties: This opens the bookmark properties dialog.

rename a bookmark

Rename: This will allow you to rename the bookmark, i.e. change the name that appears in the bookmark list.

delete a bookmark

Delete: This wil delete the selected bookmark.

Sorting Bookmarks

Firefox's Bookmark Manager allows you to sort your bookmarks, as well. There are two ways to do this:
You can manually sort bookmarks by dragging & dropping them to a new position
You can use Bookmark Manager's automatic sort function.

To access the automatic sort function, select View in Firefox's Bookmark Manager.

sorting firefox bookmarks

(The sorting-related options have been marked in orange)
Unlike for the Mozilla Suite, this will only rearrange the bookmark order in Bookmark Manager. If you want to rearrange the order in which they appear when you select Bookmarks, right-click on any bookmark in the browser window (not in Bookmark Manager) and select Sort By Name.

4.  Live Bookmarks

Live Bookmarks are a very useful Firefox feature. As the name implies, these bookmarks offer dynamically updated links/content like in the example below:

firefox live bookmarks example

As you can see, selecting the "Latest Headlines" Live Bookmark (it comes with Firefox when you install it) shows current news headlines that are linked to the corresponding articles. These headlines are constantly updated, i.e. when you select "Latest headlines" at a later time, you should see new headlines. Already, many sites like e.g. Yahoo News or BBC News support Live Bookmarks by offering RSS or Atom feeds.

Firefox  uses the live bookmark icon icon for Live Bookmarks. This allows you to easily tell which bookmark is a regular (static) or live (dynamic) bookmark.

You can find additional information about Live Bookmarks and sites that support them on Mozilla.org's Firefox Live Bookmarks page.

Adding Live Bookmarks

When a site that offers RSS feeds lets Firefox know that it does, adding a live bookmark is easy:

a site that supports rss feeds

You can tell that a site offers an RSS feed when you see the live bookmark icon in the lower right hand corner of Firefox's browser window.

subscribe to an rss feed

If you want to add a live bookmark for that site, simply click on the icon an then on Subscribe to...

live bookmark location

Select where you want to save the live bookmark and click on OK.

a new live bookmark

Firefox has now added a new live bookmark for BBC News. Click on it to see their latest headlines.

Manually creating a new Live Bookmark

If the site does not tell Firefox that it offers RSS feeds, you can manually create a live bookmark.
Usually, these site have links that say "RSS feed" or "Atom feed".

copy the rss link

Right-click on the link and select Copy Link Location.

create a new live bookmark

Next, open Firefox's Bookmarks Manager and select File -> New Live Bookmark.

paste feed address

Enter a name for the live Bookmark under "Name". Then, right-click into the "Feed Location" field and select Paste. Click on OK and you have manually created a new live bookmark.

5.  Importing and Exporting Bookmarks

Importing Bookmarks

If you have previously used a different browser or want to e.g. import your bookmarks from a memory stick or other media, Bookmark Manager's Import function is what you are looking for.

import bookmarks

To open Import, select File -> Import in Firefox's Bookmark Manager window.

select bookmark import source

A new window will appear, asking you where you want to import your bookmarks from. If you want to import your IE favorites, or if you want to import bookmarks from a Mozilla Suite or Netscape 6/7 profile, select the appropriate option. Firefox will automatically find and import your favorites/bookmarks for you.

If you want to import bookmarks from another browser, backed up Firefox bookmarks, or bookmarks from any other source, select From File. In this case, a dialog window will appear that allows you to select the file you wish to import. Please note that it may be necessary to export your bookmarks first, depending on the browser you want to import them from.

Exporting Bookmarks

Want to take your bookmarks with you or make a backup copy (highly recommended!)? In this case, Firefox's Export function comes in handy.

export bookmarks

To open Export, select File -> Export in Firefox's Bookmark Manager. A dialog window will appear asking you where you want to save the file to.

!     Did you know ?
You can view your Firefox bookmark file in any browser. Simply open or drag & drop the bookmark file (bookmarks.htm) to the browser window. If you e.g. save the bookmarks file to a memory stick, you always have your favorite bookmarks with you, regardless which browser or PC you use. The bookmarks are saved in a file called bookmarks.html. You can find the bookmark file in your Firefox profile directory.

6.  Firefox Bookmark extensions

Are you missing a bookmark feature, like e.g. creating a shortcut to your favorite site on your Desktop? Firefox's bookmark functionality can be improved / extended by installing some of the many extensions that are available for it.

You can find a good selection of bookmark-related Firefox extensions at Mozilla Update.

One extension that I particularly recommend for those of you who have created large bookmark lists (e.g. for a research project) is Bookmark Backup from Pike.  Bookmark Backup is a simple extension that helps to keep your bookmarks (and optionally other Firefox settings) safe. Each time Firefox is closed, a copy of your bookmarks file will be made to a backup location. If Firefox's bookmarks become corrupted or lost, find the most recent uncorrupted backup and copy it into your profile folder.

Update: Firefox 1.5 and up now automatically creates backup copies of your bookmarks file.

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