Bookmarks are dead, long live bookmarks

Bookmarks are dead, long live bookmarks

Summary: A new rumor claims that Apple might release a web-interface for Safari bookmarks, but is it too little, too late?

TOPICS: Apple, Cloud

Remember when bookmarks were everything?

In the late 1990s I had hundreds of bookmarks (maybe 1,000) that I meticulously organized into folders. I spent a couple hours every weekly pruning and curating my bookmarks, which I'd actually refer to and use. 

Remember This bookmark-killer launched in 2003 with a great premise: instead of storing bookmarks on only one machine (or one browser) you could instead store them at (a precursor to "the cloud") and access them from any web browser on any machine. A brilliant concept.

Then Google pretty much killed the bookmark as we know it. Its search became so good that it was easier to Google what you were looking for than to find it in a long list of bookmarks. Heck, a lot of people find it easier to Google a website than typing the URL in the address bar. 

Bookmarks got reinvented in 2008 with the introduction of "social bookmarking." Services like Instapaper, Read it Later/Pocket and Pinboard pivoted from simply saving URLs (sometimes with tags) to saving entire webpages to the cloud (usually reformatted and without ads) and allowing you to read them offline via a companion mobile app. 

Fast forward to June 2011 when Apple introduces iCloud, and Safari bookmark syncing with it. The promise was simple (if late): your bookmarks synced across all your devices – Mac, iPad, and iPhone. The problem is that iCloud bookmark syncing is so buggy (sometimes spawning thousands of duplicates) that Safari grinds to a halt under the weight of the dupes. Two years ago I called iCloud bookmark syncing a first-class disaster and stopped using it entirely.

iCloud Bookmarks, too little, too late? Jason O'Grady

Yesterday MacRumors (via 9to5Mac) reported that Apple is preparing to roll out iCloud bookmarks, which would conceivably allow you to access your bookmarks in the cloud. Ideally it would allow you to edit them too. As for me, I'd be happy with an interface that allowed me to delete the thousands of duplicate bookmarks cluttering my iCloud account, which I've been asking for for two years. 

A web-based interface to manage Safari bookmarks is a step in the right direction. Just a couple years late. 

Do you use bookmarks or bookmark syncing? What's your strategy?

Topics: Apple, Cloud

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  • Search didn't kill bookmarks for everybody . . .

    Search didn't really kill bookmarks for everybody. It's still more clumsy to search than to go to a bookmark - you have to open a new tab and type a string of text. I fail to see how that's easier or more convenient.
    • Exactly

      I use bookmarks for all the regular sites I visit and for research, so I can find stuff again, as opposed to dredging through the crapshoot that is Google resukts, often the sites disappear or have moved a couple of pages down the rankings, when I want to visit the page a couple of months later.
    • I think the key is in the number of bookmarks you use

      When you have "hundreds of bookmarks" that you have to search through, then yes, using a search engine is easier. But when you have a dozen or so bookmarks that you go to on a regular basis, then it's much easier to use bookmarks than to use a search engine. And of course, there are some sites that aren't web-crawled, but are essential for you to know (like several work portal sites that I use in conjunction with my job). It's better to bookmark these than to type in the url each time.
  • Apple is late, Microsoft was here first

    Anyone remembers when Windows Live was launched? Part of its features were syncing favorites to your Microsoft Account and making it available anywhere you logged in. Windows 8 has been doing this since launch with Internet Explorer 10 and then 11, and it even syncs your open tabs and recent history among all your devices, and whatever you close or delete on one, closes or deletes on the other. Apple seems to be very very late to the game. This shouldn't be news, and should mention all Microsoft has been doing. Google Chrome syncs similar stuff too with your Gmail account.
  • I use bookmarks for specific articles or threads on sites for work.

    For example, I have some bookmarks at work to sites like stack overflow and of course internal corporate sites.

    At home, I have bookmarks to some tutorial articles/code samples and I often will save specific story articles bookmarks to my download folder for future reference and sharing.
  • bookmark to the cloud from any device using any browser

    Have you tried ? Store bookmarks in the cloud from any device using any browser. Learn about it at and get a free trial.
  • been there done that

    iTools which became .Mac had web based bookmarks. I used it all of the time. I think that they killed it with the move to MobileMe.
  • Bookmarks are so alive stilll

    I too have had too many woes dealing with bookmarks over the years. Even Chrome, on occasion, with some new device added to the account, starts to create duplicates. Searches don't always return the same results, as I spent 4 hours last week tracking down a reference I used 5 months ago. Now I use diigo to manage which allows me to tag, categorize, keyword and search my bookmarks. Now I've just got to find a way to automatically or manually purge URLs that are no longer relevant, like those that don't load anymore.