May 01 2012

iCloud-Friendly Bookmark Syncing for OSX

Two things prompted my quest for a bookmark syncing utility: the acquisition of a new iPad and the installation of Mac OS 10.7 a.k.a. Lion. Those of you who listen to the¬†podcast¬†know that I am an Apple guy (but only as long as they make good stuff!). So I found myself with a MacBook Pro, an iPad 3, and an iPhone 4. The biggest reason I upgraded to Lion was for iCloud and it’s useful if you’re part of the Apple ecosystem. One of its features is Safari bookmark syncing. In order to accommodate this, I’ve spent a couple of months using Safari as my one and only browser. The bottom line: it’s pretty good, but Firefox is just better. There’s no reason why Apple can’t improve Safari, so let’s add that to the to-do list along with better sound quality/output.

I set out to find a way in which I could use Firefox on my computer and have it sync with Safari which would in turn sync with my iDevices via iCloud. The sync could be triggered by any browser/device and changes would always be reflected everywhere. Here’s what Google taught me: There are many bookmark syncing utilities out there, but the options are dramatically reduced where iCloud functionality is desired. The gist of it is that specific code must be implemented in order for iCloud to register the changes that your syncing utility relays.

Xmarks (formerly FoxMarks) is a popular cross-platform solution, but it seems they are still working on iCloud functionality. Then there’s BookMacster, the only program — according to my limited research — with this iCloud business figured out. BookMacster (simultaneously, if you’re so inclined) accommodates all the major browsers and even some less popular ones.

This software has been accused of being complicated but a) the in-program tutorial is quite detailed and helpful and b) it works like a charm! You will be informed that BookMacster can be used in one of two ways. The first — which serves my needs — monitors your bookmark activity in the browser you’re using and relays that information to other browsers and/or computers [more on this below]. The second suggests that you bypass browser bookmarking all together and use accompanying widgets and such to save, access, and modify your bookmarks via the program itself. It’s an interesting alternative that I don’t much care for, and does not facilitate what I wanted out of the software in the first place.

When you open BookMacster for the first time, follow the instructions in order to create a new profile; which means the program will scan each separate browser directory for bookmarks and a generate a file whose name and destination you will choose. You can sync across multiple browsers on multiple Macs by saving this file directly in your Dropbox (or via another cloud storage service). In addition to syncing, BookMacster has useful features such as searching your bookmarks for duplicates, testing them for broken links and redirects, and reporting them. It will also update your links if it can.

I thought about doing a tutorial but if you read the help guide and you are even remotely tech-savvy you should be fine. Following installation and setup, you can quit the program and a helper application will run in the background and sync any changes that you make. I’m happy to report that the helper app’s CPU usage is negligible. Changes are not reflected instantly, but chances are you can wait a for minutes for them to happen.

Well I think that’s really all that needs to be said about this topic. I feel like such a geek/first-world problem solver for having written this article. Hope that some of you are convenienced by this solution.

About the author


Steve is the host of the TYG Podcast and a founding member of the site. He enjoys stuff and things.

1 comment

  1. EagleMan

    Just wanted to say that with the new release of Google Chrome for iOS its become pretty trivial to synch your bookmarks across devices now. That being said this guide was pretty useful to me at a time.

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