How to Sync Web Browser Bookmarks on a Mac

Do you use multiple web browsers on your Mac? Do you use only one browser but multiple Macs? Do you want all of your browsers to have the same set of bookmarks? If so, you should checkout Xmarks, a free bookmark syncing tool that works with the most common web browsers on both Macs and PCs.

Setting up Xmarks is fairly straight-forward. Specific setup is beyond the scope of this article, as there are many combinations to consider since Xmarks works on both Macs and PCs and supports Safari, Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer. In general, the setup process includes creating a free Xmarks account and then installing the Xmarks plug-in for each web browser you use on each computer you use. When you next open your web browser, you’ll typically be greeted by the Xmarks setup assistant which will give you guidance in configuring and using this tool.

Before you start the install process, it’s always prudent to have a backup copy of the bookmarks from each of your web browsers since it’s possible to over-write your bookmarks if you click the wrong button. If you use Time Machine to backup your Mac then the Time Machine backup will contain backup copies of all of your web browser bookmarks, but they aren’t readily accessible since they are tucked in the ~/Library folder.

Once Xmarks is installed, it can be setup to automatically sync your bookmarks. You can view your bookmarks via the Xmarks web site. There you have access to tools that will help you find and delete duplicate bookmarks as well as empty bookmark folders. By default, Xmarks only encrypts the login process, so your bookmark data is being sent in an unencrypted manner to and from Xmarks’ servers. Thus, in theory, somebody could capture and view your bookmark data. This likely isn’t a big security threat, but it’s something to be aware of. You can change Xmarks’ configuration to have it encrypt the transmission of your bookmark data. The basic version of Xmarks is free, but the developers offer paid versions that offer more features.

I looked at other bookmark sync tools including BookIt, URL ManagerPro and BookMacSter, but found that I liked Xmarks the best. URLManagerPro and BookIt have not been updated to work with current web browsers. BookMacSter is current, but I found the interface un-intuitive and jargon laden. It’s definitely powerful, but I don’t need all of it’s features and I don’t want to learn a lot just to use the basic features. I also┬ádidn’t want to use a separate application to manage my bookmark syncing. I just want the syncing to happen automatically in the background. Thus, Xmarks was the best choice for my needs.

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