Chapter 5: Bookmarking Great Sites

Firefox strives to make the Web easy to use for everyone, but it can't avoid one aspect of the Web: the complicated addressing system. Suppose your friend Julie maintains a Web site at, and you visit it frequently to see how she's doing. Why should you have to remember such a long and seemingly absurd string of letters? Why should you need to recall that the j in Julie is lowercase, contrary to what you were taught in school?

You shouldn't. And although Firefox can't do away with such addresses altogether, it can remember them so you don't have to. Like many other browsers, Firefox allows you to bookmark a Web site so you can easily return to it later on — much as you would bookmark pages in a book. In the Internet Explorer browser, these bookmarks are called Favorites. Firefox also offers sophisticated but easy-to-use organizational tools to keep your bookmarks in order whether you have 5 or 500.

Creating and Accessing Bookmarks

Bookmarking a Web page is about as easy as bookmarking a page in a book. You just need to tell Firefox what to call the bookmark and where you want to put it. By default, bookmarks appear in a list accessible from either the Bookmarks menu or the Bookmarks Sidebar, which is a small panel that opens on the left side of the screen (see the section "The Bookmarks Sidebar," later in this chapter). However, you can also organize bookmarks into folders and subfolders so you can access them in a manner that suits you.

Creating a bookmark

To bookmark an interesting Web site, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the Web site you want to bookmark.

  2. Tip 

    You can open this window more quickly by pressing Ctrl+D (Windows) or image from book+D (Mac).

  3. In the Name text box, enter the name you would like to use for the bookmark or accept the default name that appears there.

    The name will appear in the Bookmarks menu and in the Bookmarks Sidebar. By default, Firefox uses the title of the Web site you're bookmarking as the name, as shown in Figure 5-1.

    image from book
    Figure 5-1: Bookmark sites to return to them quickly.

  4. Select the folder in which you'd like to place the bookmark by using one of the following methods:

    • Select a folder from the Create In drop-down list. This list contains the last five folders in which you filed a bookmark.

    • If you don't see the folder you want, or if you want to create a new folder, click the button next to the Create In list (the down arrow, as shown in Figure 5-1). The full list of folders appears. Select the one you want to use or click the New Folder button at the bottom to create a new folder. The folder is created within whichever folder you selected.


    By default, Firefox places all new bookmarks in the main Bookmarks folder, so the new bookmarks appear alongside folders in the main list and not within any particular subfolder.

  5. Click OK to create the new bookmark.

    The bookmark appears immediately on the Bookmarks menu and in the Bookmarks Sidebar in the location that you chose in Step 4.

Creating multiple bookmarks at once

If you browse with tabs (see Chapter 7 for more information), you can bookmark multiple open tabs at once into a single bookmarks folder. Later, you can open each bookmark individually in the usual way — by opening the folder and clicking it — or you can open all the bookmarks in the folder at one time, as I discuss in "Opening multiple bookmarks at once," later in this chapter.

To bookmark your open tabs, follow these steps:

  1. Open each page you want to bookmark in a separate tab within the Firefox window.

  2. Enter a folder name. Firefox creates a new folder to contain the bookmarks.

  3. Choose a location for the new folder.

    By default, Firefox creates the folder in your Bookmarks list alongside regular bookmarks. However, you can also choose to create it inside another folder (that is, you can make it a subfolder).

  4. Click OK to create the new folder and bookmarks.

Creating a bookmark that auto-updates

Bookmarks are a great way to access your favorite Web sites quickly, but in some ways, they're a curse. You might find yourself visiting Web sites for updates five or six times a day just because they're so easy to access. Thanks to an emerging technology called Really Simple Syndication (RSS), Firefox can bring the updates to you from any Web site that supports RSS. Bookmarks in special folders can update automatically to show you new content, which saves you time.

These so-called live bookmarks are based on the simple idea that a Web site is really a type of folder., for example, is nothing more than a collection — or folder — of various items, which in this case are news stories. Similarly, your friend's blog (short for Web log, which is an online journal or diary) is like a folder of journal entries.

You already know that you can organize your bookmarks into folders. But you can also create live bookmark folders of any RSS-enabled Web site. Firefox automatically fetches new items posted to the Web site — including news stories, journal entries, and so on — and presents each new item to you as a separate bookmark. You access these live folders the same way you do all other folders. The only difference is that the bookmarks in the folder change as the Web site it points to is updated with new content.

Firefox comes with a live bookmark folder by default so you can see how they work. It's called Latest Headlines, and it sits on your Bookmarks Toolbar. The folder contains the latest news headlines straight from BBC News, an RSS-enabled Web site.

To subscribe to additional Web sites in this fashion, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the Web site for which you want to create a live bookmark.

    If the Web site supports RSS, you see the orange-and-white subscribe image to the right of the Location Bar, as shown in Figure 5-2. If this image does not appear, the Web site doesn't support RSS, and you can't create a live bookmark. Plenty of sites these days support RSS. For an example, try

    image from book
    Figure 5-2: Some Web sites offer self-updating news feeds.

  2. Click the subscribe image.

    A menu appears containing the list of information sources, or feeds, that the Web site offers.

    For example, CNN allows you to subscribe to all recent stories or only the top stories.

  3. From the menu, choose the feed to which you want to subscribe.


    In some cases, the available feeds have arcane names such as RSS 2.0 and Atom 2.0. These names refer to the varying subscription technologies that the Web site supports; the actual information carried by each feed is the same, so you can choose either one without worrying about the technical details.

    After you choose from the menu, the standard Add Bookmark window appears.

  4. At this point, the process is the same as for all other bookmarks, so follow the instructions I provide in the "Creating a bookmark" section earlier in this chapter.

    Note that what you're actually creating here is a bookmark folder, not a single bookmark, that will represent the Web site. Firefox automatically fills the folder with new bookmarks as new items become available on the Web site. Therefore, the name you supply in the Add Bookmark window is actually the name of the folder that Firefox will create.

Opening a bookmark

You can access bookmarks in three ways: from the Bookmarks Toolbar that sits just above the Web sites you visit, from the Bookmarks menu at the top of the window, and from the Bookmarks Sidebar that can appear on the left side of the screen. Each location offers different advantages depending on how frequently you access a given bookmark and how conservative you are with your screen's real estate:

  • The Bookmarks Toolbar is useful for fast access to the bookmarks you visit most frequently. The bookmarks on the toolbar are always visible and are always one click away. The toolbar occupies a thin horizontal strip and can show six to ten bookmarks comfortably on a normal-sized screen.

  • The Bookmarks menu is useful if you don't access bookmarks very often and don't want to waste screen space. If you have a lot of bookmarks, you're better off using the Bookmarks Sidebar, which scrolls more easily and has a search feature.

  • The Bookmarks Sidebar is useful for people who have lots of bookmarks and need to access them frequently. It offers a quick-search feature and can be opened or closed quickly by pressing Ctrl+B (Windows) or image from book+B (Macintosh).

I discuss each of these tools further in the following sections.

The Bookmarks Toolbar

The Bookmarks Toolbar (shown in Figure 5-3) is designed for people who visit a small set of Web sites so frequently that they want these Web sites to be one click away at all times. You can put as many bookmarks onto the Bookmarks Toolbar as you can fit, and if you run out of space, Firefox automatically creates a menu at the end of the toolbar to offer access to the remaining bookmarks, as illustrated in Figure 5-4. Click a bookmark to visit it.

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Figure 5-3: The Bookmarks Toolbar.

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Figure 5-4: These bookmarks overflowed.


The Bookmarks Toolbar can display about 6 to 10 bookmarks at a time. You can make better use of the space by creating folders on the toolbar and putting frequently accessed bookmarks inside those folders. To create a folder on the Bookmarks Toolbar, simply right-click on empty space within it, and then choose New Folder. When the New Folder window appears, enter a name for the folder and click OK. To add bookmarks to a folder, simply drag and drop them onto the folder.


You can also conserve space on the Bookmarks Toolbar by giving your bookmarks shorter names. To rename a bookmark, right-click it and choose Properties. When the Properties window appears, enter a new name for the bookmark and click OK.

The Bookmarks Toolbar includes two bookmarks by default: a Getting Started bookmark that introduces you to Firefox, and a live bookmark folder that contains the latest BBC News headlines (see "Creating a bookmark that auto-updates," earlier in this chapter).

If you don't use the Bookmarks Toolbar and want to reclaim the space it uses, you can hide the toolbar by choosing View image from book Toolbars image from book Bookmarks Toolbar.

So how do you get a bookmark onto the Bookmarks Toolbar? The toolbar automatically displays any bookmarks you have placed in the special Bookmarks Toolbar Folder. You can add bookmarks to this folder just as you would to any other folder: by choosing it from the list in the Add Bookmark window, as I describe in Step 4 in the earlier section, "Creating a bookmark." As soon as you add the bookmark to the folder, it appears on the toolbar.

There's a faster way to add Web sites to the Bookmarks Toolbar. Visit any Web site and look to the left of the Web site's address in the Firefox Location Bar. In most cases, you see the Location Bar icon. In some cases, you see a special image representing the Web site you're viewing (for example, when you're visiting, you see the CNN logo). In either case, the image that appears represents a link to the Web site you're viewing. You can drag the image into an e-mail to send a link to the page to your friend. In this case, it also means you can drag the image down to the Bookmarks Toolbar to create a bookmark to the page.

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The impersonal toolbar

The Bookmarks Toolbar seems so simple and innocent—you'd hardly guess it was the cause of many a shouting match at Netscape, the original browser company. Because the toolbar is prominent yet largely empty by default, it was an appetizing target for Netscape marketers with dollar signs on the brain. After all, why not fill the bar with advertising links? Asking the Marketing department to leave the toolbar alone was like asking them to pass up a Super Bowl ad or leave the side of a bus blank — it just wasn't happening. Instead, the Netscape 6 browser shipped with a bevy of advertising and other buttons that didn't behave like regular bookmarks and were difficult to remove manually. Now for the ultimate irony—the bar was known as the Personal Toolbar.

In Firefox, we drew a line in the sand early on that the bar would be your bar and no one else's. The bar includes two bookmarks by default: a Getting Started link and a live bookmark that contains the latest BBC News headlines, The first helps you get comfortable with Firefox, and the second introduces you to our innovative Live Bookmarks technology (which I discuss elsewhere in this chapter). Neither makes us money, and you can remove them just like any other bookmark — by right-clicking and choosing Delete. We've also retired the tragically ironic Personal moniker and called it what it is: your Bookmarks Toolbar.

image from book

Changing the bookmarks displayed on the toolbar

Firefox allows advanced users to change which folder's bookmarks the Bookmarks Toolbar displays. This can be handy if you have a lot of bookmarks and you've already organized them thoroughly into folders. For example, suppose you have a folder called News Sites and you want the bookmarks in this folder to be displayed on the Bookmarks Toolbar. You can simply designate the News Sites folder as the folder to use for the Bookmarks Toolbar:

  1. In the pane on the right, select the folder you want to designate as the Bookmarks Toolbar folder.

  2. The Bookmarks Toolbar immediately updates to display this new folder's bookmarks.


    Note that after you do this the first time, the Bookmarks Toolbar Folder still has the same name, but it is just a regular folder now; its bookmarks aren't reflected in the toolbar. Be sure to rename this folder to avoid confusion.

Deleting bookmarks from the Bookmarks Toolbar

The Bookmarks Toolbar merely displays the contents of the Bookmarks Toolbar Folder by default. Thus, to remove a bookmark from the toolbar, you simply remove it from the folder as you would any other bookmark (see "Deleting bookmarks and folders," later in this chapter). You can also right-click any bookmark on the toolbar and choose Delete.


Be aware that deleting a bookmark from the Bookmarks Toolbar also removes the bookmark from the Bookmarks Toolbar Folder (or from whichever folder you've assigned to the toolbar).

The Bookmarks menu

The Bookmarks menu (shown in Figure 5-5) is designed for people who use a large number of bookmarks and access them relatively infrequently.

image from book
Figure 5-5: The Bookmarks menu is the most common way to access your bookmarks.

Accessing a bookmark is as simple as opening the Bookmarks menu, finding the bookmark in the list or in a folder, and clicking it. Of course, the more bookmarks you have, the longer the list gets — and the longer it takes to find the one you're looking for. If you run into this problem, organize your bookmarks into folders (see "Organizing Your Bookmarks," later in this chapter), or use the Bookmarks Sidebar, which scrolls more easily and offers a search feature.

By default, the menu contains two folders: Quick Searches and Firefox and Mozilla Links. The first is used in conjunction with the Search Keywords feature, which I discuss in Chapter 4 (see the section on searching from the Location Bar) and should be ignored. The Firefox and Mozilla Links folder contains a number of bookmarks to Firefox resources that will prove useful as you get to know the browser's ins and outs.

The Bookmarks Sidebar

The Bookmarks Sidebar (shown in Figure 5-6) is designed for those people who have a large amount of bookmarks and need to access or organize them frequently. The Sidebar is a thin panel that appears on the left hand side of the screen, and it will stay open as you navigate from site to site. It contains a search bar so you can find the bookmark you want more quickly.

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Figure 5-6: The Bookmarks Sidebar provides quick access to all your bookmarks.


You can also drag links into the Bookmarks Sidebar to bookmark them.

You can open the Sidebar in three ways:

  • Choose Viewimage from book Sidebarimage from book Bookmarks.

  • Press Ctrl+B (Windows) or image from book+B (Mac).

  • Click the Bookmarks button on your toolbar. See Chapter 18 for instructions on how to add the Bookmarks button to your toolbar as well as other information about customizing toolbars.

To access a bookmark from the sidebar, simply locate and click it. If you can't find the bookmark you're looking for, try the simple Search function at the top of the sidebar. Enter a word or phrase that you believe to appear in the name of the bookmark. As soon as you stop typing, even if you stop typing in the middle of a word, Firefox searches your collection and displays any matches, as shown in Figure 5-7.

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Figure 5-7: You can search your bookmarks from the Bookmarks Sidebar.


You can also use the Bookmarks Sidebar for rudimentary bookmark organizing. For example, you can drag and drop items to new locations or right-click them to access their properties or delete them. For more information about bookmarks organization, see "Organizing Your Bookmarks," later in this chapter.

Opening multiple bookmarks at once

Unlike most other Web browsers, Firefox allows you to open all the bookmarks in a folder at once. Each bookmark loads in a separate tab (see Chapter 7 for more information about tabs). This feature is most useful for switching between two activities quickly.

For example, suppose you begin the day by reading the news on five different news Web sites. You could quickly access all five sites by opening your news folder in the Bookmarks menu and choosing Open in Tabs. Then, when it comes time to begin work, you could instantly access all your work-related resources by opening your work folder and choosing Open in Tabs. This option always appears at the bottom of the folder's bookmark list, as shown in Figure 5-8. If you use the Bookmarks Sidebar or the Bookmarks Toolbar rather than the menu, you can still access this feature by right-clicking the folder and choosing Open in Tabs.

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Figure 5-8: Open multiple bookmarks with the Open in Tabs command.


When you open multiple bookmarks at once in Firefox, Firefox loads the bookmarks in any tabs you already have open, thus replacing the Web sites you're viewing. If you open more bookmarks than you have tabs open, Firefox opens additional tabs.

Opening bookmarks With keywords

If you prefer using the keyboard over the mouse, be sure to assign brief keywords to your bookmarks and use those keywords to access the bookmarks from the Location Bar. For example, if you bookmark Blockbuster's Web site, you might assign the bookmark a keyword of bb. You could then type bb into the Location Bar at any time to go instantly to

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Using multiple bookmarks as your home pages

Instead of using a single home page, you can have several home pages by setting Firefox to open multiple bookmarks whenever you start Firefox. The condition is that they all have to be in the same folder. Here's how you set up this option:

  1. The Options window appears.

  2. Click the General icon at the top of the window if it isn't already selected.

  3. Under Home Page, click the Use Bookmark button.

    The Set Home Page window appears.

  4. Select the folder that contains the bookmarks you want Firefox to load on startup.

  5. Click OK to close the Set Home Page window.

  6. Click OK to close the Options window.

The next time you open a Firefox window or click the Home button on the main Firefox toolbar, the bookmarks in the selected folder open in tabs.

image from book

Here's how you assign a keyword to a bookmark:

  1. Right-click the bookmark to which you want to assign a keyword and choose Properties.

    The bookmark's Properties window appears.

    You can do this from the Bookmarks Sidebar, the Bookmarks Manager, or the Bookmarks Toolbar. If you're using Windows, you can also right-click the bookmark in the Bookmarks menu.

  2. In the Keyword text box, enter the keyword you want to use (for example, bb).

  3. Click OK to close the Properties window.

  4. Try out your new keyword by typing it into the Firefox Location Bar and then press Enter.


You can't specify a keyword for a bookmark from the Add Bookmark window. You must open the bookmark's properties after adding it.

Opening bookmarks in a sidebar

Have you ever come across a Web site that feels too lightweight to be taking up so much room on your screen? If you've bookmarked a sports site, should you really need to leave the site you're currently viewing and load an entire Web page just to see the latest score of the basketball game? In Firefox, you can choose to view any bookmark in a sidebar that appears next to — rather than in place of — whichever site you're viewing, as shown in Figure 5-9.

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Figure 5-9: Firefox allows you to display any Web site in a sidebar so you don't have to leave the Web site you're viewing.

To open a bookmark in a sidebar, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the bookmark you want to open in a sidebar and choose Properties.

    The bookmark's Properties window appears.

    You can do this from the Bookmarks Sidebar, the Bookmarks Manager, or the Bookmarks Toolbar. If you're using Windows, you can also right-click the bookmark in the Bookmarks menu.

  2. Select the Load This Bookmark in the Sidebar check box.

  3. Click OK to close the Properties window.

    The next time you open the bookmark, it loads in the sidebar, as shown in Figure 5-9 (using Amazon Search as an example).

This feature is especially useful if you put the bookmark on your Bookmarks Toolbar, as I describe earlier in this chapter, in the section "The Bookmarks Toolbar." You can close the sidebar by clicking the X in the top-right corner (of the sidebar, not of the Firefox window).

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The slimmer, trimmer trend

When you try opening sites in the sidebar, you might notice that as convenient as it is, many Web sites simply don't fit in such a small box. Firefox displays vertical and/or horizontal scrollbars to help alleviate this problem. However, this feature works best when you find Web sites that are designed to fit in small spaces. Many Web sites link to versions of their content that are specially designed for cell phones; these pages tend to work very well in the Firefox sidebar as well. Better still, many companies provide Web sites specifically tailored to fit inside browser sidebars and offer easy installation of these pages.

For example, CNN offers a slender list of the latest headlines. Opera Browser's Web site ( includes a directory of sidebars. When you select a sidebar to install from the directory, Firefox automatically opens the Add Bookmark window. The bookmark that is added is just like any other bookmark, except it is configured to load in the sidebar by default

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Opening bookmarks in new windows or tabs

When you choose to open a bookmark, Firefox loads it in place of whichever Web site you're currently viewing. If you'd rather open a bookmark in addition to your current page, you can choose to open the bookmark in a new tab or a new window. This is as easy as right-clicking the bookmark and choosing Open in New Tab or Open in New Window from the menu that appears. You can right click on a bookmark in the Bookmarks Manager, the Bookmarks Toolbar or the Bookmarks Sidebar. If you're using Windows, you can also right-click a bookmark directly from the Bookmarks menu.


If your mouse has a middle button — or a scroll wheel that doubles as a button — simply middle-click any bookmark to open it in a new tab.

Firefox For Dummies
Firefox For Dummies
ISBN: 0471748994
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 157
Authors: Blake Ross © 2008-2017.
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