Wednesday, March 14, 2012

WotW: Your Bookmarks Wherever You Are

If you're like me, you love working on your own computer and feel rather constrained on any other computer. This is largely due to the fact that we spend so much time customizing our computers to our exact preferences. No preferences are so customized as our Internet bookmarks. Regardless of the browser you use, bookmarks are an integral part of speeding up the web experience.

Today, I want to share an amazing tool that will change the way you use web bookmarks. It's called Symbaloo.

The idea behind Symbaloo is to have an online tile board that has icons representing all your favorite websites. To get to any of these websites, all you have to do is simply click on the desired tile and you're instantly there.

Besides being just another fun bookmarking tool, Symbaloo's real power comes from two areas:
1. Making it your browser's home page.
2. Accessing your bookmarks from any computer.

Symbaloo has been my home page for months now and it makes navigating the Internet a piece of cake. I leave it open in a tab all the time for easy access. I also love it when I am working on a different computer (for example, a public computer) and can still have all my bookmarks readily available.

To get started, sign up for a free Symbaloo account. You will have to verify your e-mail address. Once you have verified, you will be taken to a home screen that is pre-populated with a number of bookmarks. You can keep these, move them around or delete them as desired.

Some of these tiles are direct bookmarks, taking you to the site. Others, like the Weather tile, will open in the large center tile. The behavior of each tile is really up to you.

You'll also notice Symbaloo is kind of a browser within a browser. At the top, there are little folder tabs. Your account comes with four of these tabs, called Webmixes. You can delete these if you don't like them or you can add more. To add a new Webmix, simply click the blue plus-sign and give your Webmix a name.

Your new Webmix is empty. In fact, it doesn't even have a name. Let's change that. Click on the Edit webmix link at the top of the page.

You will then have options to rename the Webmix and change the Wallpaper, which really allows you to make this a comfortable home for all your bookmarks. You'll notice in the image above, I created a Webmix for blogs. Here, I can create tiles for all my commonly read blogs. As a side note, I can also import the RSS feeds from each of the blogs instead of just creating a tile.

Now let's look at how to add a tile. There are two ways to add tiles. The first, and easiest method, is to search for commonly used sites. Most major websites have pre-made tiles. To begin, simply click on any blank tile.

A search bar will appear where you can type the site you desire. In this instance, I'll search for Hulu.

It gave me two results, but the first tile is the one I want. To add it to my page, I just simply click on it and – presto! – it's there. Now if I click on that tile, it will take me to Hulu.

But let's say you search for a tile and you can't find one. No worries, you can still create your own. Again, simply click on any blank tile. When the search bar appears, click the click here to create your own tile link.

You will now be taken to a tile creator. It's fairly self-explanatory. Simply type in the URL of the site you want and it will verify the site for you. You can name the site whatever you want. You can change the background color. You can even add your own custom icon. A great tip for this is to download the buttons from blogs and use those as the tile background.

Here you can see I added a Housewife Eclectic tile to my webmix using the button image. 

Here's an example of what a Symbaloo Webmix might look like after a few tiles have been added.

The possibilities for Symbaloo are endless, but once you get a Symbaloo setup just the way you want, you will find your browsing experience an easier and faster experience.
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