Bookmarking your favorite things and customizing your toolbar have come a long way since the early days of the Web browser. What was once just a few addresses, buttons, and maybe a third-party tool has become a completely customizable, anything-goes fast track to browsing.
With all the new upgrades to bookmarks and third-party tools, it’s time to review your efficiency. The tips below will help you stay on track.
Picking the Right Toolbar
A good rule of thumb when choosing a toolbar is to go with the browser and service that you use most. Obviously, most of the popular toolbars are from Google, Yahoo!, AOL, and MSN, but there are some toolbars that are completely buildable and customizable if you’d like to go that route. Here are some features from the top toolbars available today.
- Google: If you’re constantly using one of Google’s many services, you’ll want to install this one. In particular, this toolbar comes with quick access to all the major Google services, saving you a considerable amount of time. The toolbar will also block pop-ups and allows you to view a site’s page rank. However, if you’re just installing it for search, many browsers already come with the Google search feature preinstalled.
- Firefox: This toolbar comes with the Firefox browser and offers an outstanding level of customization, including a huge number of add-ons that will automatically update you when new tools become available. If you’re looking to streamline your toolbar and need customization, this is a great option.
- Yahoo!: This toolbar also allows you to search the Web with Yahoo! Search, has a built-in pop-up blocker, and comes with spyware protection. Like Google, this toolbar provides quick access to Yahoo! services and allows you to add fresh content to “My Yahoo!” easily. The Yahoo! toolbar also allows you to personalize your apps. You can choose from the many apps in the Yahoo! gallery or type in a URL and add it. One clutter-busting feature allows you to edit your layout: Move around your apps, add or remove text labels, and even change the size of your search box to clean up your work area.
- Windows Live Toolbar: This toolbar offers tabbed browsing in Internet Explorer, a built-in form filler, pop-up blocker, multiple search options, and has a feed detector if you like to receive RSS updates. The beauty of this toolbar is that if you’re a Windows user you can search and easily locate documents on your computer, get e-mail updates, and have one-click access to MSN services.
- Conduit: If you’re a little more on the tech side, Conduit will let you organize and create your own company toolbar. The platform offers a number of personalized and Web 2.0-type gadgets that will make it stand out from the rest. Add a Google-powered search or a custom search bar of your own; create your own logos, icons, and images; easily add all of your RSS feeds, podcasts, and streaming audio; push your site to the toolbar itself, while adding content and applications.
Using Your Bookmarks and Bookmarks Bar
Bookmarking has become a staple in accessing your favorite sites. However, when it comes to productivity there’s a difference between using your bookmarks and your bookmark bar.
When bookmarking, it’s a good idea to create folders with the proper names in regards to the type of site you’re visiting. It’s best to use these folders as your reference desk. For example, if you’re a graphic designer you may have a number of sites that you visit, but want to keep certain things separated like font sites, vector graphic sites, or blogs and news for the graphic artist community.
Conversely, your bookmark bar should be reserved for everyday use. One great feature of the bookmark bar is the ability to open a number of Web sites in their own tabs. So if you read multiple newspapers daily, for example, you can open them all at once with the click of a single button.
If you’re an RSS junkie, you can also enable your bookmark bar to receive them from the sites you visit. Remember, though, that just because you bookmark a site doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get the RSS feed. To add an RSS feed, go to the Web site you want and click on the RSS icon that’s usually located within the address bar. If there’s more than one RSS feed for a particular site, select the one you want from the dropdown menu. From there, label the bookmark and specify where you want to keep it — you can either put it in your bookmark bar or your traditional bookmarks menu.