Your web browser’s bookmarks come in handy for organizing and quickly retrieving your frequently-used sites (and, of course, as a memory-jogger for those infrequently-visited but important web pages). Unfortunately, sometimes technology can come between you and your bookmarks — maybe you’d like to synchronize the bookmarks on your work and home computer, maybe you need to access a site from a public machine, and at the least we all should periodically make backups of our local bookmarks in case of hardware failure. There are several options for storing and accessing your bookmarks from the cloud — allowing you to use them from anywhere, and on any machine. While there are many services and plugins available, I’ve chosen three services that allow you to store, access and and share your bookmarks in the cloud. The first, Xmarks, puts a priority on synchronization of bookmarks across multiple computers, while del.icio.us and diigo put an emphpasis on the social aspects of sharing those bookmarks with others.
Of the several browser plugins available, Xmarks does a great job of saving your bookmarks online. Available as a free download for IE, Firefox and Safari browsers, once you install Xmarks and create an account, it saves your bookmarks online.
Install Xmarks on each computer you use, and it seamlessly integrates with your web browser and keeps your bookmarks safely backed up and in sync. Xmarks will sync across browsers too. From my point of view, sync is definitely Xmarks strongest feature.
Of course, Xmarks also includes a few social-sharing features. For instance, Xmarks will highlight the 3 top sites in your Google results based on how many people have bookmarked them. Simply move your mouse over the site info icon to learn more about that site.
Xmarks also adds an information button in your browser’s address bar providing additional information about a particular URL. Click on the Xmarks info icon in your location bar to see detailed information about the site you are on, and discover other great sites just like it.
Xmarks Google Search Feature
Public computer access: so what if you are using a public computer (or a friend’s machine) that doesn’t have the Xmarks plugin installed? No problem. You can view, edit, add and delete bookmarks from any browser by going to my.xmarks.com and logging in with your Xmarks username and password.
Xmarks Additional URL Information
Other features include mobile access, sync profiles (allowing you to group your bookmarks by function, name each Sync Profile whatever you like and pick which bookmarks belong to it), and sharing (making designated bookmarks available to others in an RSS feed or web page)
Xmarks no-plugin access
“Inquisitive of the world unite!” Diigo boasts a powerful research tools and a knowledge-sharing community that allows users to do things like highlight and add “sticky notes” to compelling web pages, and provides tools for collaborate and search.
Diigo toolbar: with the Diigo plugin installed, you can start by importing your bookmarks from your browser (or del.icio.us), and identifying them individually as public or private. The Diigo plugin has a browser sidebar that provides easy access to your bookmarks, and to URL-specific social features such as comments from other Diigo readers, and annotations (see below). You can also send your Diigo bookmarks to Twitter, Facebook or your blog.
Annotations: Diigo provides the ability to add page comments, highlight passages, and even place sticky notes on specific pages which are available to other Diigo users. Sticky notes can float in window above a web page’s content, or you can view the notes only in the Diigo Sidebar. In the “Readers” tab of the Sidebar, you can link through to the bookmarks annotations of specific readers, and browse the Diggo community associated with a site.
Public computer access: as with Xmarks, you can access your Diigo account and bookmarks from the web. Diigo also provides a less feature-rich-yet-useful “Diigolet” (http://www.diigo.com/tools/diigolet) for other browsers.
diigo plugin options
Commenting and conversations: you can post comments that other Diigo users can read (and add their own comments) against any web page
Like Diigo, Delicious allows you to upload your browser bookmarks, and emphasizes social bookmark sharing and interaction. They also provide a browser-based plugin tool that provides quick access to your bookmarked and most-visited site and tags. While the Diigo Sidebar has social sharing as its core focus, the Delicious browser-based Sidebar is used primarily to help you organize and access your own bookmarks.
Delicious bookmarks uploads: you can easily upload your browsers bookmarks to Delicious. I liked the fact that all bookmarks are set as private by default — meaning I didn’t have to worry about my online banking or other private links being suddenly publicly available. Installing the browser plugin was a snap (I allowed the plugin to add the Delicious menu item to my browsers main menu), and I found the tools to be straight-forward and easy to use.
Saving a Bookmark on Delicious is likely to be a little different than what you’re used to. Don’t worry, the process is intuitive and you’ll find that tags and notes will make your bookmarks much easier to manage. Depending on which buttons you’ve added to your browser, you can click the “Tag” or “Bookmark this on Delicious” button to save a new bookmark. Regardless of the buttons you’ve chosen, you’ll see the following dialog box.
Save bookmark with Delicious
You can also Tweet out your bookmark as you save it.
Public computer access: as with the other services, you can access your bookmarks online from your Delicious account. From within your account, you can also see the marks other people are making in the “Fresh Bookmarks” tab from your account home, as well as bookmarks organized by Delicious popularity under the “Popular Bookmarks” tab.