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Capturing Your Personal Web

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Forget bookmarks: Web content managers allow you to create your own personal, searchable cache of web pages.

This makes them ideal alternatives to the wimpy bookmark/favorites utilities offered by most browsers. The problem with bookmarks is that over time, once you've saved hundreds or thousands, it's easy to forget what a page is about, or why you bookmarked it. Worse, bookmarks break the moment content is removed or gets shifted from its original location.

Web content managers solve this problem by saving pages, either in a local data store on your own computer, or in Furl's case, on a remote server that's accessible from any net-connected computer.

I've run favorable reviews of several web content managers, including Furl, Onfolio, Seruku and SurfSaver. All of these programs perform the same basic function -- they save copies of web pages to a permanent store, providing search and browse capabilities to help you find them once again.

While researching my upcoming book I came across a new (to me) web content manager that has quickly become indispensable. ContentSaver is a desktop based application that has two parts: A toolbar for Internet Explorer used to capture and annotate content, and an Outlook-like program used to search and review your own personal stash of web pages.

ContentSaver provides similar features and functions to the web content managers mentioned above. You can save entire web pages, or selected parts (snippets, images, URLs, etc.). You can also annotate saved content with your own metadata to facilitate later searching.

What sets ContentSaver apart is that it's quite fast, both in the saving and searching phases. And its search capabilities are first-rate -- especially if you take advantage of the metadata tools provided with the program, which let you store all manner of attributes that have meaning specifically to you.

The toolbar has two buttons -- "save" captures the page you're viewing to the "new documents" folder with one click. "File and save" gives you more control, allowing you to specify a folder where the document should be saved -- even allowing you to create a new folder on the fly.

There's also a nifty "save multiple pages" button that I use constantly. Click this button, and the program saves not just the page you're viewing, but all of the pages linked from that page, automatically, without the need to open each one individually in your browser. This is a fantastic time saver.

Like Onfolio, you can open up your saved folders in an explorer pane and navigate your saved content from within Internet Explorer. But I prefer the stand-alone ContentSaver application that works like Outlook, showing your saved folder structure in the left pane, an Explorer-like pane with full filename details in the top pane and a web page display in the bottom pane. This format lets you browse saved web pages just like you browse your email.

ContentSaver also has strong sharing capabilities. You can export to Microsoft word, or create a standalone "presentation" from your saved content that can be emailed to a colleague. You can also restore saved content to its original format with a single click.

If you're looking for an industrial strength replacement for your bookmarks or favorites, ContentSaver is an excellent choice. It's also a great tool for anyone that makes presentations where you need to show web sites. Capture all of your screens ahead of time and you won't need a live internet connection to display web sites.

ContentSaver Download
30 day free trial; $US 39.90 to buy

Requires Windows 98 or higher and Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.01 or higher.

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