Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cleaning Up the Computer Bookmarks

ADHD bookmarks in Safari browser

I have thousands and thousands of bookmarks - I don't know exactly how many, but they take up 9 MB on my computer. (If you're using Internet Explorer, my bookmarks are the equivalent of your favorites.) I come across many web sites that seem useful for either for work - including this blog - or for my own personal reasons.

But I've just spent a few hours decluttering and organizing them - and wow, does that feel good. I'm only about half done, but its already much easier to find what I'm looking for.

The types of activities I needed to do for this project are very similar to those needed in other organizing projects: deciding what to keep, grouping like with like and deciding where to keep those groupings, and labeling.

1. Delete (the declutter part)

In some cases, I got rid of large collections of bookmarks. Example: Since I've been a self-employed organizer for over five and a half years now, I figured I'm really not going back into the corporate world, working in an Information Technology department. So I really had no need for all those bookmarks having to do with software engineering. I'd gotten rid of the books on such topics years ago, but had somehow neglected to clear out the computer files.

I also got rid of bookmarks if I could readily find the same information again in a single Google search. Why do I need to bookmark Car Talk, for example - no matter how much I enjoy that radio show?

And then there was the outdated information. I had bookmarked information about specific cars I was considering from a few years ago, when I was buying my Prius (after my prior car - my wonderful Toyota MR2 - finally needed to be replaced, at 280,000 miles). But I won't need car reviews again for many years - and certainly not the ones I had!

2. Delete or re-label

Sometimes I would glance a bookmark and really not know whether I wanted to keep it or not - it wasn't clear what the article I had marked was about. So I'd click the link, and sometimes find out the article (or the web site itself) no longer existed - or I'd find the article was no longer interesting to me - and I'd hit Delete. Other times, I just needed to rename the bookmark, to make it meaningful to me.

3. Organize

This sometimes meant subdividing a bookmarks folder. I did this with my ADHD bookmarks - I had a long list, and it was hard to even remember what I had! Now it's easy to see what I've got.

And sometimes it meant combining files. I'd sometimes find - just as we often do with a large collection of paper files - that I had two folders with similar information. Now everything is in one place.


Anonymous said...

Jeri, Mac users might also look at BookDog by Sheep Systems ( I've used it for years and it's very quick in finding duplicates and broken links.

Dang--just discovered a new app is out for my OS. My helpful commenting may have just cost me $22! ;-]

Anonymous said...

I also have tons of bookmarks that I've accumulated over the years. I've learned a couple of things to help trim this back:
1) I use the Firefox add-on Read It Later to "bookmark" things that I want to come back to, but only once (so I don't get distracted in what I'm doing now).

2) if it's an article, recipe or pattern that I like, I'll save it (Word, print to PDF, or Evernote). Chances are I won't come back to it in the near future if it's still on the web... and often times it's gone the next time I try to access that website again anyway.

Even with these options, I still have a TON of bookmarks to go through...

Cynthia Friedlob said...

I just had an interesting experience a couple of days ago as I was cleaning up my Favorites list. I had a few links devoted to tea -- places to buy fancy herbal teas, cool tea cups and pots -- and clicked on one of them. It's now a porn site!!! Didn't take much thought to decide to delete it!

Jeri Dansky said...

J, thanks for the pointer! I'm looking at the newer BookMacster - and it looks intriguing.

Cnuland, thanks for sharing your strategies! I also sometimes save things using print to PDF. But many of my links are to products - and if the product is no longer available, it's no longer of any interest to me.

Cynthia, that's the best bookmark update story I've ever heard; thanks for sharing!

SueBK said...

When we used IE we had a freebie program that used to go through your favourites and mark any that were no longer active. It was very handy as a 'first pass' when a clean up was due. Wish I could remember it's name; but there's probably a dozen of them available.

Mary N. said...

I use Deadlink to clean up my bookmarks or favorites. Saves a lot of time!

Jeri Dansky said...

Mary and Sue, you both raise a very good point. There is certainly software that can detect inactive links and duplicate bookmarks - a good first step, indeed.

But when I find an inactive link, the work of finding the new URL for the information or the product (if there is one) is still going to be a manual process.

And, of course, there's no way to automate the "Do I even want to keep this bookmark?" decision-making.

Dominic Mccory said...

Hi Jeri! I was just starting to de-clutter my browsers' bookmarks. With the never-ending growth of social media today, whenever I go online, I bookmark almost every page that I think would be useful in the future. Hehe! I have more than a thousand since I moved in to Calgary, I think. Firefox has better bookmarking features. And Chrome, too.

Thanks for sharing this. I'll be adding you to my bookmarks, that's for sure! Hehe!