X Marks the Spot


Q: I have three computers—a laptop for traveling, one at the office and one at home. I frequently use my Favorites button in Internet Explorer to bookmark useful websites and, to keep my Favorites up to date on all three computers, I transfer my Favorites from each computer to the others using a USB drive. This tiresome task requires constant updating. I am hoping that you can advise me of a better way to manage my Favorites.


A: Presented below are two suggestions for managing your favorite Bookmarks across multiple computers—XMarks and a hotlist.



XMarks solution. XMarks is a free program available from xmarks.com that installs on each computer you use, and continuously uploads your Favorites (or Bookmarks) from each of your computers to your XMarks account on the Web. Thereafter, XMarks collects and combines all of your favorite Bookmarks and synchronizes them back to each computer. In effect, each time you create a Favorite or Bookmark on one computer, XMarks adds that same Favorite or Bookmark to all of your computers. To use XMarks, visit the XMarks website and click the Install Now button as shown at right. Follow the instructions for downloading and installing the product, and repeat the process on each computer, using the same login name.


XMarks works across all of your computers, even if they use different browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer or Apple Safari. ( Note: For $1 per month, XMarks Premium will also synchronize Favorites and Bookmarks to your smartphone and tablet PC.)


Note: Both the Firefox and Chrome browsers have this type of cross-computer syncing functionality built in.


Hotlist solution. The hotlist solution requires access to a website and involves publishing a Web page containing your favorite links. While there are many tools you could use to create your hotlist (such as Expression Web, ColdFusion and Dreamweaver), I prefer to use Microsoft Excel because this allows me to easily re-sort my hotlist after editing. Presented below are steps for creating and publishing a hotlist using Excel.


1. Create a list of your favorite websites on an Excel worksheet.


2. Optional: If desired, assign each link to categories for easy sorting, as shown below.


3. Highlight each listing and press Ctrl+K to insert the appropriate hyperlink address. (I find the best approach is to first display the target website in a Web browser, then copy the Web address from the browser’s address bar and paste it to the Address box in the Edit Hyperlink dialog box. This is not only faster, but it also helps ensure the hyperlink’s accuracy.)


4. Continue to insert hyperlinks for each listing on your hotlist, then sort the listing by category (if desired).


5. In your Excel worksheet, highlight your hotlist, and from the File tab, select Save As.


6. In the File name box, enter the full path to your website and include a file name (for example, I entered http://www.carltoncollins.com/hotlist).


7. In the Save As dialog box (at the top of the next page), select Web Page from the Save as type dropdown menu.


8. Optional: If desired, enter Web page meta text such as Authors, Tags, Title or Subject.


9. Under the Save option, select the radio button labeled Selection.


10. Click either the Publish button or the Save button (in the bottom-right corner), and in the resulting Publish as Web Page dialog box, click Publish.


11. When prompted, enter the user name and password for your website and click OK.


This will publish the selected portion of your Excel worksheet to the Internet as a Web page hotlist, which includes your favorite hyperlinks. Browse to the resulting Web page hotlist and set it as your Internet Explorer browser’s default home page on each of your computers by selecting Tools, Internet Options, General tab, Use Current, OK. You can view the resulting Excel-based hotlist that I created in this example at carltoncollins.com/hotlist.htm.


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