A Browser Bag of Tricks

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Image by Daniel Pouliot via Flickr

While sharing my browser during a DEN webinar last night, I was surprised to see the hot topic of conversation wasn’t the public beta of the new DEN website that I was sharing…. rather it was the various bookmarklets and links that I have saved in my Bookmarks toolbar.

I guess I don’t really think about it much, but that really is a bag of tricks that I depend on daily, and there’s some fantastic tools there that I’ve gathered together over the years. SO, I thought that I’d share a brief glimpse into my ‘dashboard’, the view that surrounds my view, all the toys gadgets and gizmos that customize my browsing experience.

First of all, my browser of choice is still Firefox. I’m on the verge of switching to Chrome, as I think it’s faster and more stable, but for now I like the suite of plugins and utilities that I have set up in Firefox better. Since I often have more than 25 tabs open at a time, real estate is always at a premium. That’s why I go with the Classic Compact Firefox theme. It’s about as small as you can get while still having actual icons for the primary buttons. Clean and minimal, that’s how I like my browser themes. The only plugin I have that adds actual buttons to the browser is Delicious. And to be honest, that can probably go as I don’t use any more functionality than I would out of a bookmarklet. However… My space for bookmarklets is pretty limited as you’ll see shortly.

In the status bar (that bar along the bottom that displays what URL you’re about to click on when you hover over a link), I have five tools. The first is the MeasureIt plugin, which resides in the lower left. This is a simple tool, but I use it almost daily. Click on it and your screen goes grayish. Then, you can draw a box anywhere on your screen and it will tell you how many pixels each side is. Incredibly handy for measuring web elements, pictures, embedded objects and so on. Honestly, it’s pretty darn close to indispensable. On the right hand side I have the Delicious notifiers, and a Google Wave notifier, but to be honest I rarely look at those. They could go away and I wouldn’t notice. I also have an indicator letting me know that Greasemonkey is running, another that I don’t really even ‘see’ anymore. But then we come to the far lower right, which is reserved for something I check nearly every day: Woot Watcher. It displays what the deal of the day is for Woot, and during a Woot Off it displays roughly how many of an item is left before it switches. I’m a big fan of Woot, and yes, I do glance down at that daily.

This brings us to the heart and soul of my web based toolbox: the bookmarklets. For those that don’t know, a bookmarklet is basically a bookmark, but instead of taking you to a favorite web page, it performs a function. I actually wrote a post on bookmarklets a few years ago, but the info looks to still be valid. I have quite a few of them in my browser bar and use most of them pretty regularly. In that they appear in my browser bar, here’s my current list:

  • TinyURL – The mac daddy of URL shorteners. While there’s many that work well, this is my go-to standard. In particular, it’s reliable, simple, and I love that you can customize the shortened URL that you create.
  • URL.ie – Sometimes size matters. In particular for Twitter, you want URL’s as small as possible. They don’t come much smaller than URL.ie. So when even TinyURL is too large, I switch to this one.
  • EDIT any page – This one is interesting and to be honest, really deserves a blog post to itself. Basically it’s a Bookmarklet that makes any page…. editable. Yes, you can just double click on any text and change it to your liking. No, it doesn’t actually change the page, just your view of it. However, it’s incredible for grabbing screenshots for presentations. You can even remove images from the screen if you want! Try it, it’s fun. *disclaimer* I’m not responsible for evil or chaos that you cause with this.
  • X-Ray – This bookmarklet is invaluable for web developers. Click on it, and then click on any element on the page. It will show you detailed information about the element itself, as well as any thematic settings that may be affecting it. Very quick and incredibly powerful.
    Flickr2Facebook – Just a simple exporter that will help you move photos from Flickr to Facebook. Go to a Flickr page, click the bookmarklet, and choose what Facebook album you want it to go into. Easy!
  • Printliminator – This one helps to print nice clean versions of web pages, without the annoying adds and sidebars and such. Just click on the bookmarklet and you can then select any elements you want to remove. Poof, they’re gone. Then just send it to the printer!
  • TBuzz – This serves two purposes. 1) It allows me to tweet about something I’m looking at without leaving the page itself (it even adds in a shortened URL for you) and 2) It shows me any recent tweets that contain links to the same page. That way you can just choose to retweet someone else’s message instead of typing your own if you so choose.
  • KeepVid – This one is my YouTube downloader of choice right now. Go to a YouTube video, click on the bookmarklet, and you’ll have the option to download it. What I like tho is that it provides you the option of saving it in a variety of formats, and often in a variety of sizes. Saves a step or two.
  • Quietube – Ever need to share a YouTube video, but were nervous about what links and related videos might pop up? The Quietube bookmarklet takes that video and displays it on a plain white background. Very neat and clean. Perfect for presentations and staff meetings.
  • Since you can store folders on a Browser bar, I do actually have a couple of those as well. In side I have a slew of websites that I want easy access to. You can even put folders inside folders, to create a nice hierarchy of sites that you want to be able to access quickly. Nothing fancy, but it does work pretty well.

    So that’s my browser bag of tricks. Got any that I’m missing? Or something you think people ought to know about?

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    By | 2010-04-13T15:05:04+00:00 April 12th, 2010|Musings, Tech|26 Comments

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    26 Comments

    1. Ben 4/13/2010 at Apr 13, 10 | 3:43 pm

      If you’re a GMail user, then I highly recommend the Gmail Without Ads Greasemonkey script. It removes the ads from the sidebar of your mail, and extends the viewing window all the way to the right so it’s as if the ads weren’t ever there (http://www.shacknews.com/extras/podcast/weekendconfirmed.xml).

      What would be really nice to know, is what WordPress Plugins are you using? I love that nice Flickr popup for the attribution.

    2. Steve Dembo 4/13/2010 at Apr 13, 10 | 4:06 pm

      New post on Teach42: A Browser Bag of Tricks http://bit.ly/bCcHZh My current set of bookmarklets, plugins, and other browser goodies.

    3. Gina Marie Thompson 4/13/2010 at Apr 13, 10 | 5:32 pm

      RT @teach42: New post on Teach42: A Browser Bag of Tricks http://bit.ly/bCcHZh My current set of bookmarklets, plugins, and other browse …

    4. starden 4/13/2010 at Apr 13, 10 | 6:17 pm

      RT @teach42: New post on Teach42: A Browser Bag of Tricks http://bit.ly/bCcHZh My current set of bookmarklets, plugins, and other browse …

    5. Umm Ahmad 4/14/2010 at Apr 14, 10 | 1:09 am

      A browser bag of tricks http://bit.ly/bBkXcg

    6. Michael Kaechele 4/18/2010 at Apr 18, 10 | 5:19 pm

      Previous bookmarklets and more come from @teach42 post http://bit.ly/awA9sH

    7. Russ Goerend 4/19/2010 at Apr 19, 10 | 9:00 am

      Does TinyURL do click stats? That’s the main reason I use Bit.ly, I like to see how many people click on the links. If I share a few links in the same vein and no one clicks on them, helps me rethink the sharing of those kinds of links.

      The other bookmarklets I keep handy are: Read Later, PDFmyURL, Add a Gcal Event, New Google Doc, and Share on Posterous.

    8. Michael Kaechele 4/19/2010 at Apr 19, 10 | 9:34 am

      Added several of these bookmarklets to my toolbar-nice shortcuts http://bit.ly/bCcHZh

    9. Ann Oro 4/22/2010 at Apr 22, 10 | 7:33 pm

      Currently reading – A Browser Bag of Tricks – by @teach42 http://www.teach42.com/2010/04/12/a-browser-bag-of-tricks/ Nice

    10. Kathy Jacobs 4/27/2010 at Apr 27, 10 | 4:13 pm

      Steve, Have you tried the Symbaloo bookmarker? Only works with the old Symbaloo and I know you are dabbling with the new one, but it is a cool bookmarker. Instant add to your webmixes.
      .-= Kathy Jacobs´s last blog ..My week with the iPad =-.

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    12. Scott McLeod 5/11/2010 at May 11, 10 | 4:56 am

      Just learned about MeasureIt (there's a Chrome extension too) from @teach42: A Browser Bag of Tricks http://bit.ly/b9C0DI Awesome list!

    13. Chad Sytsma 5/11/2010 at May 11, 10 | 5:20 am

      RT @mcleod: Just learned about MeasureIt (there's a Chrome extension too) from @teach42: A Browser Bag of Tricks http://bit.ly/b9C0DI Awesome list!

    14. Chad Sytsma 5/11/2010 at May 11, 10 | 5:27 am

      Dembo post – @teach42: A Browser Bag of Tricks http://bit.ly/b9C0DI Awesome list!

    15. Joseph M Ginese 5/11/2010 at May 11, 10 | 5:27 am

      RT @mcleod: Just learned about MeasureIt (there's a Chrome extension too) from @teach42: A Browser Bag of Tricks http://bit.ly/b9C0DI

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    17. Grass Valley ADVC-55 6/28/2010 at Jun 28, 10 | 2:21 pm

      I have been a long time user of Firefox and with the add on plugins its difficult to see me moving to a different browser. I also find the Flickr2Facebook very useful. Thank you for the other bookmarklets.

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      This is off topic, but I just had to say that your theme is very impressive. I was also just wondering if that Tweet/Facebook widget floating on the left is a plugin or now and wondering if you could refer me to where I might fine it, if you didn’t do it yourself.

      You have my e-mail, I hope you reply back.

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      PS: You have an RSS feed I can subscribe to?

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