Words on a Page Writings about writing

How to manage your bookmarks

A group of file folders

If you use a tool like Delicious or Pinboard or even Google Bookmarks to collect links to information and ideas for your writing, you’ve probably accumulated more than a few bookmarks. Using tools like that, you can quickly wind up with dozens, if not hundreds, of bookmarks.

It can take you some time to sift through all of your bookmarks to find the information you need. With a bit of planning, though, you can make that process easier.

Here’s some advice that can help you effectively manage your bookmarks.

Use tags

Tags are keywords. Just about every bookmarking tool lets you add tags to you bookmarks, which you can then use to filter those bookmarks. Click on a tag and instead of hundreds of bookmarks you only see a dozen or two.

Most people I know use very generic tags — like writing or blogging. If you have a large number of bookmarks, a generic tag won’t do. You’ll still have to comb through a large number of bookmarks.

Instead, make your tags as focused as possible. Create tags that are specific to a project. So, if you’re writing a book of essays, tag them with essayBook. Or if you’re planning an article about working abroad, use the tag workingAbroadArticle.

The names of your tags don’t matter as long as they mean something to you.

Get rid of bookmarks that you’re not longer using

Whether we mean to or not, we all become digital packrats of one sort or another. We accumulate links, notes, ideas, and more. Most of them, though, we forget about or never see again. Yet we still cling to all that because we think we’ll need that information in the future.

When you’re done with a set of bookmarks, get rid of them. Either delete them or, if the bookmarking tool you’re using supports that, archive those bookmarks. Pinboard, for example, has an archival account option that will set you back $25 (USD) a year.

Deleting or archiving your bookmarks gets older ones out of your main flow, and it makes it easier for you find the bookmarks you’re going to actually use.

You should do a purge either every six or eight weeks, or when you finish a writing project. Or both. If you let bookmarks accumulate, they’ll quickly get out of hand.

Doing a backup

But what happens if you want to hold on to your bookmarks and your tool doesn’t have an archive feature? You can back up your bookmarks by exporting them. That creates a file you can save to your computer or in a service like Dropbox. Remember to include the date you backed up the bookmarks in the file name.

Or, even better, include a reason why you’re backing your bookmarks up in the file name — for example, bookmarks-for-project-x.

Final thought

It can be easy to let your bookmarks become a giant, disorganized mess. With a bit of planning, though, you can make sure you can easily find the bookmarks you need when you need them.

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