Quick Tip: Bookmarklets Offer Bite-Size Functionality in Any Browser

URL bar and bookmarks toolbar options in a web browserrudall30 / Shutterstock.com

Sometimes you might want the occasional functionality of an extension without having to download one or constantly bog it down in your browser when you’re not using it. Bookmarks are a perfect solution because they are safe, lightweight, and downright fun.

What is a bookmark?

By definition, a bookmarklet is defined as “a small software application stored as a bookmark in a web browser, which typically allows a user to interact in some way with the currently loaded web page.” They are usually written in JavaScript and have a unique function that you designate. They’re most often associated with sharing on social media, like when you’re on a cool website and see the option to share it on Facebook or Twitter.

Bookmarks are extremely versatile in what they can do. Some can perform a simple action on a page, like translating a web page, while others can handle more complex tasks by taking you directly from a live page on your blog to the back end of your system. management of content to modify it, for example. You have full control over them and can configure them to do exactly what you need.

The benefits of bookmarks

Since this is only a bit of JavaScript, bookmarklets are not browser specific. You can therefore configure them in any browser you use, as long as it accepts bookmarks. By comparison, browser extensions can be limited to one or two browsers (which may or may not be the browser you prefer to use), and you’re limited to what’s available in each browser’s store. There is also a slight risk that an extension may look and function slightly different in different browsers. Favorislets do not present any of these problems.

Extensions are also almost always running in the background, hogging your computer’s resources, while bookmarklets don’t do or use anything until you run them. Bookmarks are a much less resource-intensive alternative to extensions. They are also more secure than extensions because there is no third-party access, just you.

We recommend that you use bookmarklets if you have a less powerful computer and you don’t mind the minimal manual work required to set up and run them.

Finding and setting bookmarks

Before you start using bookmarklets, you need to access your browser settings and activate (or display) the favorites bar so you can save and access your bookmarklets when you need them. Then you can write a bookmarklet yourself if you are familiar with JavaScript, or you can find the code for the one you want online, then copy and paste it as a new bookmark. Once you are done, your bookmarklet is installed and ready to use.

You can also install a bookmarklet manually. With this method, you will add the JavaScript code in the URL bar (instead of a URL). That way, you can name it whatever you want, or even change the code when you need to. Bookmarks are saved the same way as a bookmark, and they work the same, except that instead of taking you to a new web page, it just performs the predefined action on that page.

If you want to register one for a service like Poached or Facebook, many have them already ready for use. All you have to do is find the page containing the bookmarklet and drag and drop it to your Favorites / Favorites toolbar.

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