App of the Week: Xmarks
This week’s “app” is both a browser extension and an app, depending on the browser you are using. When I began reviewing browsers, among the things that I hated to lose was my bookmarks. I have a number of bookmarks for helpful tech sites, quick download access, school resources, or things that just interest me. I wanted to be able to quickly move these around among the browsers, if not sync them actively between the browsers I was testing. Xmarks is the premiere service for this.
Xmarks is a browser extension that syncs your bookmarks across your various browsers and operating systems. It works as extension for Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer that you download and install,
while working as an app for Safari on the Mac. It works amazingly well; just download the extension/app for your browser of choice, create a free account with Xmarks, and tell Xmarks how you want your bookmarks to sync and which ones to sync. Xmarks will even keep folders of bookmarks organized in the same way you have them in your browser. Then if you add or delete a bookmark, Xmarks can automatically sync them to your browsers and devices.
But wait? What if you have different bookmarks on different browsers? Aren’t you going to lose them? Xmarks has a plan. When installing the extension into your browser, Xmarks gives you the choice of either erasing all the bookmarks on your browser and add the ones from Xmarks or instead erasing the Xmarks online profile and adding the ones only on your computer. Still not happy? Xmarks still gives you the option to simply add bookmarks from the online library/your local bookmarks to the alternative without erasing any other bookmarks. And if you accidentally delete a bookmark, Xmarks stores 3 months worth of your bookmarks backups to restore from at your leisure.
Xmarks also has the ability to sync profiles. This means you can set up certain bookmarks to sync only to certain computers or browsers. So I can sync tech related bookmarks to my office computer from my personal computer without syncing any personal bookmarks.
While the app acts as an extension on Firefox and Chrome for OS X, Linux, and Windows, as well as on Internet Explorer for Windows, it has to run as a standalone app for Safari on the Mac. This also means that there is not an Xmarks app for Safari on Windows. The app actually installs as a Preference Pane in
System Preferences and allows you to synchronize booksmarks to Safari manually while running in the background. It will not necessarily launch when Safari launches, but can be launched when your Mac starts up. I believe this may be due to a restriction in how Apple allows extensions to run in Safari, so while I would love to see it as a Safari extension I don’t hold it against them for only making it an app.
There is also a premium subscription for Xmarks. For $12 a year, you can sync you bookmarks to the Xmarks app on Android, iOS (iPhone and iPad), Windows Phone 7, and Blackberry, as well as any installation of the Dolphin browser. It will also give you premium support and a longer backup and restore period. The coolest premium feature, however, is the ability to sync open tabs between your mobile devices and your desktop browsers, meaning articles you were reading on one device can quickly be read on another.
Xmarks only syncs between the big 4 browsers on the desktop, as well as on Blackberry, Android, Windows Phone 7, and iOS. This means alternative and smaller browsers, such as Robin, Opera, and others are left without a direct syncing option. Xmarks does, however, allow users to login to xmarks.com and access their bookmarks from any browser, mobile or desktop. I hope to at least see an extension for Opera, but I am glad that I can still access my bookmarks in a less direct manner.
Xmarks is free for the basic services, or $12 a year American for the premium subscription. It works in the Firefox and Chrome browser for Linux, Macs, and Windows, as well as Internet Explorer, and Safari for Mac. iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7, and Dolphin browser apps are available for premium users. You can download it and sign up at xmarks.com. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen. And check out my Google Plus. Thanks!