SolutionBase: Manage favorites in Internet Explorer with LinkStash

As your Favorites folder grows in Internet Explorer, it becomes more difficult to manage. Here's how you can manage IE folders easier, as well as centralize bookmarks among different browsers on the same system, using LinkStash.

As you use Internet Explorer more visit Web sites on the Internet, chances are you've accumulated dozens, if not hundreds of links for your Favorites list. Managing them all can be a pain, especially if you go back and forth between Internet Explorer and another browser such as FireFox. That's where LinkStash comes in.

What's LinkStash?

LinkStash is a Windows Bookmarks/Favorites manager which is compatible with all of the newer versions of Internet Explorer, Netscape, Mozilla, Opera and NetCaptor. LinkStash stores and displays your Favorites in the similar manner that IE does. All the bookmarks you create are in one compact file for easy synchronizing to other computers. You can configure LinkStash with different highlighting options for various folders and many other bookmark options that make it easy to find particular Websites quickly.

If security is you main concern, LinkStash comes complete with automated password control. This allows you to store all your passwords and rest assured that they are securely encrypted and protected by a master password every time you open the program.

Obtaining and installing LinkStash

You can get Linkstash directly from the LinkStash Web site. The program is shareware, which means you can download a free version of it, but if you like it you must pay to register it. The version you download from the site isn't crippled in any way, but it costs $19.95 to register. You can do so on the site.

The program you download, linkstash.exe, is only 740Kb, so it won't take too long to download. Save it to a temporary location on your workstation and you're ready to install it.

Installing LinkStash

To install LinkStash, run the linkstash.exe file you downloaded. This launches a typical Windows installation wizard. You won't find any gotchas during the initial installation, but after you're done the basic installation, LinkStash launches and must be configured.

You'll see a second Setup wizard appear at this point. LinkStash starts by asking where you want to store the bookmark file that LinkStash uses to store its information. My Documents is the default location, but you can choose another by selecting the appropriate radio button.

During configuration, you're also given the choice of importing bookmarks from Internet Explorer as well as Mozilla/NetScape and Opera. If you're already using these browsers, it would be a good idea to import your current bookmarks now so you're not recreating the wheel.

On the next screen you can determine how LinkStash starts. You can either have it start automatically when Windows starts or have it start manually. You can also create a toolbar icon in IE to launch it.

The next screen allows you to assign hotkeys to LinkStash. The hotkeys will allow you to launch LinkStash without having to click an icon. By default, the hotkey combination is [Alt][Shift][A]. You can make it anything you want, but be careful not to choose a combination that's already in use by another program.

The Web Browser Program Location screen allows you to determine which Web browsers you can use to view links stored in LinkStash. You can choose from any installed browser including IE, Mozilla, Netscape, NetCaptor, and Opera.

Finally, the Grabbing URLs screen lets you tell LinkStash where to grab URLs from when you go to capture a favorite. You can either choose the browser window that's on your screen now, or LinkStash will present a list of all open browser windows so you can pick and choose which URLs to save.

Once you finish the second Setup Wizard, LinkStash will import the bookmarks you have from IE and any other installed browser it detects. You're then ready to start using it.

Running LinkStash

After you install LinkStash, you'll see the LinkStash Window appear every time you start a browser. It will run either minimized or beneath your browser so it won't get in the way. You'll see two new toolbar icons appear in IE as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

LinkStash adds two icons to your toolbar.

The one on the left brings up your Favorites list as stored in LinkStash. The second button allows you to capture Web sites into LinkStash as seen in Figure B.

Figure B

You can add details about your bookmarks when you capture them.

As you can see in the figure, you can add detailed information about the URL when you capture it. You can enter comments and give the site a rating that you can use to sort bookmarks later. There's also a time stamp which records when you visited the site, when you created the bookmark and how many times you've visited the site. The Password tab allows you to restrict access to the site.

All that and more

Once you've created bookmarks in LinkStash, you can then group them, assign them colors to distinguish different types of sites, and eliminate duplicate URLs. You'll quickly discover that LinkStash makes a great replacement for the bookmark/favorites that come with your browser.