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The Bookmarks Bar in Google Chrome is more than just a place to store random pages for you to read later; it’s a highly functional and versatile feature that doesn’t get enough credit. Here’s how you can organize, beautify, and create bookmarklets to use it to its full potential.

Enable the Bookmarks Bar

If you haven’t already, to get the most out of the bookmarks bar, you’ll have to enable it first.

Fire up Chrome, click the menu icon, point to “Bookmarks,” then click on “Show Bookmarks Bar.” Alternatively, you can press Ctrl+Shift+B (in Windows) or Command+Shift+B (in macOS).

Click the Menu icon, then Bookmarks > Show Bookmarks Bar

RELATED: How to Show (or Hide) the Google Chrome Bookmarks Bar

Import Bookmarks from Another Browser

When you switch to a new browser, most of the data isn’t that important and probably doesn’t make you think twice about it when you leave. However, bookmarks are the exception, and that’s why Chrome has an option to import your bookmarks from another browser.

Google Chrome automatically transfers all your bookmarks with its easy-to-use import tool. Click the menu icon, point to “Bookmarks,” then click on “Import bookmarks and settings.”

Click the menu icon, point to Bookmarks, then click on Import Bookmarks and Settings

Choose which browser you want Chrome to export bookmarks from, then click “Import.”

Select a browser from the drop-down menu, then click Import

Chrome does the rest and places everything inside a folder either in Other Bookmarks or on the Bookmarks Bar named “Imported From Firefox,” or whatever browser you chose.

After the import is complete, a folder is created containing all your bookmarks

Import Bookmarks From an HTML File

Whether you come from Firefox, Explorer, Edge, Opera, or Safari, it’s easy to transfer all your precious bookmarks over to Chrome.

RELATED: How to Easily Back Up and Migrate Your Browser Bookmarks

After you export all your bookmarks to an HTML file, open the Bookmarks Manager. Fire up Chrome, click the menu icon, point to “Bookmarks,” then click on “Bookmarks Manager.” Alternatively, you can press Ctrl+Shift+O (in Windows) or Command+Shift+O (in macOS).

Clock the menu icon, point to Bookmarks, then click on Bookmark Manager

From the Bookmarks Manager, click the menu icon, then click “Import bookmarks.”

Click the menu icon, then click Import Bookmarks

From the file chooser, navigate and click the HTML file you exported from the other browser, then click “Open.”

Navigate to the folder with the HTML file, click it, then click Open

All your bookmarks are safely added to Chrome inside a folder, just like the previous method.

Recover Accidentally Deleted Bookmarks

If you didn’t backup/export your bookmarks, Google Chrome doesn’t have an undo button or let you press Ctrl+Z to get back deleted bookmarks.

In the unlikely circumstance that you do accidentally delete an entire folder full of bookmarks, you can restore them from a temporary backup hidden in Chrome’s application folders. Chrome saves a single backup of your bookmarks file, and it overwrites that backup each time you launch Chrome.

First thing’s first. Close all open Chrome windows, but do not reopen Chrome. If you’ve already closed Chrome, leave it closed.

By default, Chrome can continue to run in the background on Windows even after you exit the browser normally. Instead, Chrome has to be killed through the icon in the System Tray. Click the “Show Hidden Icons” button (if you don’t see the Chrome icon in the System Tray) right-click the Chrome icon, then click on “Exit.” If you don’t see the Chrome icon here, that means it’s not running in the background, and you can move to the next step.

Click Show Hidden Icons, right-click Chrome icon, then click Exit

Now, open Windows Explorer and head to the following file path, replacing “NAME” with your Windows user account:

C:\Users\NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default

The folder has two files of interest in it: Bookmarks and Bookmarks.bak, the former being your current bookmarks file and the latter being the backup from when you last launched Chrome.

Both bookmarks files inside the Chrome directory

Note: If you don’t see the .bak file extension, you may have to enable file extensions in Windows Explorer first.

To restore the backup (again, make sure all Chrome browser windows are closed), take these steps:

  1. Rename your current Bookmarks file to something like Bookmarks.old. This preserves a copy of the existing bookmarks file in case you need it.
  2. Rename your Bookmarks.bak file to just Bookmarks (removing the .bak extension). This makes Chrome load the backup file when you open it.
  3. Open Chrome, and see if you’ve managed to restore the missing bookmark.

If these steps don’t work, it means that Chrome saved a more recent version of the backup file and the only way to recover the bookmarks is from an older backup of your PC, provided you have one.

Just note that using this process will also remove any bookmarks you’ve created since you last launched Chrome.

Use Bookmarklets to Enhance Browsing Experience

Bookmarklets are bits of JavaScript that you can save as a bookmark, then place on the browser’s bookmarks bar for a one-click function to make repetitive tasks quicker and easier.

They’re completely free to use and add functionality to your browser that let you extract webpage data, modify the appearance of a webpage, increase the readability of a page by removing unwanted elements, instantly share pages with other services, and so much more. The sky’s the limit.

RELATED: The Most Useful Bookmarklets to Enhance Your Browsing Experience

The easiest way to install the bookmarklet is to drag and drop the link. Click and drag the bookmarklet directly onto the Bookmarks Bar and it saves just like any other link.

Drag the link directly onto the Bookmarks Bar to create a bookmarklet

Now, all you have to do is click the bookmarklet link, and your browser will run it on the current page.

Here are a few useful examples of what bookmarklets can do:

  • Translate Any Page: Visit a web page that isn’t in English? Use this bookmarklet to automatically translate any page you’re on with just one click.
  • Lookup a Word on Wikipedia: Highlight any word in Chrome, then click the bookmarklet to look it up on Wikipedia quickly.
  • Quickly Send an Email From Gmail: Click this bookmarklet to send an email without ever leaving a page with GmailThis! from any page.
  • Save Articles to Your PocketSave any page to your Pocket account, then have it sync across all your devices for access any time, even when you’re offline!

RELATED: Beginner Geek: How to Use Bookmarklets on Any Device

Bookmark Things for Reading Later

One of the biggest contributors to a cluttered bookmarks bar is articles and pages you save for reading later. If you already separate them into topic-specific folders, chances are they stick around for much longer than you’d expect because you forget about them or you have too many to search through. We aren’t saying you shouldn’t bookmark things for reading later; just be conscious of where you put them and how long they’ve been there.

Create a folder with the name “Read Later,” then as you read them—or periodically—remove anything that isn’t relevant anymore.

Don’t Use it As a Catchall

Although it may be tempting to save everything of interest, you should reserve bookmarks for useful tools/webpages and things you access regularly.

Be honest with yourself and delete anything you don’t find useful. If you have hundreds of bookmarks, it might be time to remove that recipe for “The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies,” just in case you decide to make cookies on the weekend.

With today’s accessibility to the internet—and the power of a quick Google search—everything is at the tips of your fingers anyway, so it’s easy to get rid of these types of bookmarks.

Instead, save an article/recipe to Pocket, a free web service that saves and syncs articles to any device that has the service installed. Install the extension to Chrome—or use the bookmarklet mentioned earlier—to enable a one-click method to save a web page for later, without cluttering up your Bookmarks Bar.

After you create an account and sign in, all you have to do is click the Pocket icon, and it saves the page to your “Pocket” for reading later. Add any tags you find useful in the field provided to help organize everything nicely.

Click the Pocket icon to save a page for reading later

RELATED: How to Save Articles for Reading Later with Pocket

A Custom Notepad

If you’re browsing the internet and suddenly have an epiphany, you can create a custom notepad to get your ideas down quickly without leaving the browser. After you initially create the notepad, save it as a bookmark so you can access it anytime with the click of a button.

Right-click an empty space on the Bookmarks Bar, then click on “Add Page.”

Right-click a blank spot on the Bookmarks Bar, then click Add Page

From the dialog, enter a name that will display on the Bookmarks Bar, copy the following code into the URL field, then click “Save:”

data:text/html;charset=utf-8, <title>Notepad</title><style>body {padding: 2%; font-size: 1.5em; font-family: Arial; }"></style><link rel="shortcut icon" href="https://ssl.gstatic.com/docs/documents/images/kix-favicon6.ico"/><body OnLoad='document.body.focus();' contenteditable spellcheck="true" >

Input a name, the code provided, then click Save

Just like that, any time you need to get anything you’re thinking about written down quickly, all you have to do is click the little blue page icon located on the Bookmarks Bar.

Click the notepad icon anytime to create a blank instance in the current tab

 

Now, whenever you click the bookmark, a blank notepad opens in the current tab, ready for you to let your thoughts loose.

Example of a custom notepad inside of Google Chrome

One caveat to the custom notepad is that whenever you close the tab, nothing saves. This is a disposable way to keep track of your thoughts and ideas while you have the tab—and Chrome—open. So if you close notepad, any important information you jot down won’t be there when you open it again.

Bookmark Useful Chrome Settings

One great thing about all of Chrome’s Settings is that you can bookmark individual items for easy access. If you regularly access the Chrome settings page, history, flags, or any URLs used for debugging, then consider a folder with bookmarks direct to the most used Chrome URLs.

Right-click a blank spot on the bookmarks bar, then click “Add folder.”

Right-click the Bookmarks Bar, then click Add Folder to create a new folder

Give the folder a useful name, then click “Save.”

Name it something relevant, then click Save

After you create a home for the settings, you want quick access to, all you have to do is navigate to the settings page, click the bookmark icon, then click “Done,” all the while to make sure it saves to the new folder.

Click the Star icon to save the page, select folder you just made, then click Done

Now, the most used settings are only a couple of clicks away instead of having to open chrome://settings and scroll to find the specific section.

Example of Chrome Settings saved for quick access

You can view a complete list of all Chrome URLs if you type chrome://chrome-urls  into the Omnibox and hit Enter. You can bookmark any of these URLs if you click on it, then click the star icon, just like in the example above.

Organize the Bookmarks Bar

After you’ve used Chrome for a while, you’re bound to have quite a few bookmarks, making the bookmarks bar messy and a pain to try and find anything. Should you want to save face and reclaim the bookmarks bar once and for all, it’s time to declutter and organize it to make finding bookmarks manageable again.

Backup Your Bookmarks

The first thing you’ll want to do is backup/export all your bookmarks; this makes it easy to purge most of them and restore anything you accidentally delete. This is a stress-free way to quickly get rid of bookmarks you haven’t clicked in years.

Press Ctrl+Shift+O (in Windows) or Command+Shift+O (in macOS) to open the Bookmarks bar, click the menu icon, then click “Export bookmarks.”

Click the menu icon, then click Export Bookmarks

Start the Purge

Once you backup everything, it’s time to start the purge. Right-click a bookmark or folder and select “Delete” to delete it, or left-click a bookmark and press the Delete key.

Purge and delete anything you no longer need

Use an Extension to Remove Duplicates

Google Chrome has an extension that sorts, deletes duplicates, and merges folders of all your bookmarks. With a single click, SuperSorter sorts folders recursively, deletes empty folders, and has an automatic sort feature that runs every few minutes, making the process that much easier to keep tidy.

RELATED: How to Declutter Your Web Browser Bookmarks

Compact Bookmarks to Toolbar Icons

Most of the space taken up by a bookmark is the text. By default, whenever you bookmark a page, Chrome puts an icon followed by the name/title of the link to identify which bookmark is which quickly. However, if you want to reclaim some much-needed space on the Bookmarks Bar, try to remove the text altogether for a minimalistic approach.

Right-click a bookmark and select “Edit.” From the dialog box that opens, delete the text in the “Name” field and click “Save.”

Delete the name, then click Save

If you aren’t ready to remove the text altogether, you can always compact it into something that’s still discernible from everything else, like shortening “How-to Geek” into “HTG.”

Or, enter a short description to easily identify

Afterward, all bookmarks without a name appear as a simple icon on the Bookmarks Bar.

Example of icons only in the Bookmarks Bar

RELATED: Reduce Bookmarks in Chrome to Toolbar Icons

Organize Bookmarks Into Separate Sections

Do you still have an overwhelming amount of icons in the Bookmarks Bar that you can’t seem to condense down any further? No problem! Separate groups of bookmarks with these extremely simple yet handy websites:

The first method creates a vertical divider on the Bookmarks Bar that lets you separate icons, making it easier to sort everything out. All you have to do is go to the following link and drag the blue “Me” button directly to where you want it to separate your bookmarks:

https://separator.mayastudios.com/index.php

Drag the bookmarklet onto the Bookmarks Bar to create a separation line

Create multiple separation bars by right-clicking the bookmark, then select “Copy.”

 

Right-click the bookmark, then click Copy

Right-click a blank space on the Bookmarks Bar, then click “Paste.”

Right-click a blank spot on the Bookmarks Bar, then click Paste

Repeat as necessary and rearrange your bookmarks into neat, organized categories.

Example of vertical lines separating icons

Note: The vertical separation line works best on Chrome themes that use a gray or silver background color.

If your Bookmarks Bar has folders with a lot of bookmarks inside, then the next method helps organize using a horizontal separation between entries. This bookmark uses an invisible icon that can be used to create a physical separation between saved pages, which lets you break things up into categories for easy reference later on.

Go to this website that offers a separator bookmarklet and drag the blue “Me” button to the folder where you want to separate pages/folders.

Drag the blue Me button into the folder where you need a little bit of separation

To create multiple lines, just copy, then paste the bookmark again wherever you need a physical separation or pages.

Example of horizontal separation

Pro Tip: Instead of the default name, you can use put spaces between the dashes along with a category to maximize your organization even further!

Example of horizontal lines used to separate bookmarks into organised categories


Now that you know everything there is to get the most out of the Bookmarks Bar, you’re on the way to becoming a true Chrome power user. Friends will be in awe of the level of organization and productivity tools you use when browsing the web.

 

Brady Gavin Brady Gavin
Brady Gavin has been immersed in technology for 15 years and has written over 150 detailed tutorials and explainers. He's covered everything from Windows 10 registry hacks to Chrome browser tips. Brady has a diploma in Computer Science from Camosun College in Victoria, BC.  
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