Bookmarklets: Free Tools For Power Surfing

Bookmarklets are handy free tools that enhance your web surfing, acting much like "intelligent" bookmarks.

You're familiar with bookmarks (or "favorites," as Microsoft calls them). They're a handy way to store favorite URLs so you can quickly visit a Web site without bothering with typing.

Wouldn't it be nice if bookmarks were a bit more "intelligent?" Say, for example, you found something interesting on a Web page and wanted to search MetaCrawler for more information. Why not a bookmark that not only called up HotBot but was smart enough to pass along the search string so you didn't have to type it?

Bookmarklets do just that. For example, with the "More Info About" general-purpose search bookmarklet, you simply highlight text on a Web page, and click on the bookmarklet just like you would any other bookmark. You're then presented with a Web page that has links to dozens of search engines, with the highlighted text already filled in the search forms. Select MetaCrawler and you're off and running, with no additional work.

In addition to the major search engines and directories, the More Info About search bookmarklet also has forms to look up words in the dictionary, thesaurus, acronym finder, or technical dictionary.

Other useful bookmarklets include:

  • Page Data Bookmarklets: Do a freshness test; extract links from a page; email, copy, or create a new page with selected text; and other tools to extract data from a Web page.

  • Page Look Bookmarklets: Change page colors; do auto-scrolls; zoom on image; and other tools to change the appearance of a Web page.

  • Navigation Bookmarklets: Back all frames; go to random; find simultaneously; and tools that affect navigation between pages.

  • Other Bookmarklets: Numerous utilities, calculator and conversion tools, Web page design tools, and other fun toys.

You can customize or even create your own bookmarklets.

Boookmarklets have been available for a few years, and some of them are looking a bit long in the tooth due to a lack of updating. That said, most are still pretty useful, and once you get the hang of them they can really enhance your overall Web surfing experience.


Search Headlines

NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.

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About the author

Chris Sherman is a frequent contributor to several information industry journals. He's written several books, including The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook and The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See, co-authored with Gary Price. Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, when he developed online searching tutorials for several clients. From 1998 to 2001, he was's Web Search Guide.