Life Behind (Menu) Bars

Well! I finally figured out how to use a web browser’s bookmarks toolbar. And it only took me twelve years of daily usage!

It used to be kind of a mess of links and bookmarklets that either I placed there to try out, but almost never used again, or bookmarks that were placed there by accident when I intended to save them into a folder or something.

Screen Shot 2015 10 15 at 4 43 05 AM

Yesterday, I wanted to install the MarsEdit bookmarklet (current tab becomes the raw material for a new “link”-style post on your blog). But of course there just wasn’t any room for it.

Screen Shot 2015 11 02 at 9 24 43 AM

So I removed everything and started over. Now it just has the three buttons I need immediate access to, when I’m using the Web as a tool:

  • Twitter bookmarklet that tweets the URL of the current tab. Mostly for sharing links to articles I’ve written.
  • MarsEdit bookmarklet, when I want to dash off a comment about an article I’ve read. Like this one.
  • Finally, a plain old bookmark for the Sun-Times’ CMS.

Then two and only two folders for actual bookmarks. The name of my pain, as you can tell from that second screenshot, is when I’ve got loads and loads of pages open, because they’re related to a topic I’m researching or fact-checking or I want to remember this article as a potential column topic. So I just keep opening tabs, hour after hour, until everything slows to a tectonic speed. Then I have to spend fifteen minutes closing tabs I don’t need and Evernoting the ones that are still part of an ongoing project.

No, I just never got into the habit of manually organizing bookmarks. By the time it comes to that, I’m preserving brain bandwidth for other functions.

But now, there’s a new mission rule. I “put aside” a useful page by dragging into this lone bookmarks bar folder. Unlike a search through History, each link here has been “blessed” by my as “worth coming back to,” and the fact that the folder is in the menubar keeps it at the forefront of my consciousness. At the end of the month, I move that folder into the Bookmarks menu and create a new one for the new month.

I’m also in the habit of saving interesting photos and artwork that I encounter. Usually comic book and animation art, fine art, NASA photos, and vintage photos like this one:

Tightrope Walker

But those images go to my home NAS, so I can get at them from anywhere (and they don’t choke my MacBook’s little SSD). When I had to clean my web desktop, it took me ages to label and organize them. And remember, usually the trigger event for the cleanup is “I desperately need to get some work done but my Mac is getting all snitty and punishing me for only having about ten gigs of free space”

So now the links go into the folder, and I can download and organize them later, when I have time. Actually, it’s more likely that I’ll just write a script to automate the whole thing.

I’m really pleased with all of this. One of my chosen tech mantras is that when you choose to buy or revamp gear, it’s not worth the time or money unless it creates opportunities or solves problems. This little reorganization does both. Chrome (at least for the past 24 very busy hours) rarely has more than four or five tabs open, and it’s now super easy for me to work with the Web. It’s like emptying your whole office, putting in the new table and shelving units you always wanted, and then the only stuff you move back in are the things you know you need.

2 thoughts on “Life Behind (Menu) Bars”

  1. I love Evernote. It’s my standard tool for capturing ideas. It’s just not the right one for capturing websites that I might/will come back to again in the near future. At least not for the way I work and want to get back to ’em.

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