The Awesome Bar. Expert retro surfing, Firefox style.

Ok, let me ask you this, what if you really need to revisit a website or a webpage you’ve seen previously but you forgot to bookmark it?

And what if you don’t remember the website address? Or even what it starts with? Or ever knew it at all because you arrived there via a link. Or it’s too generic to Google efficiently?

And what I ask…what if none of that mattered to finding it again anyway!

Because with Firefox as your browser none of nonsense does matter, you will still be able to find your site in seconds.

But how is such virtuoso virtual voodoo possible you may ask.

Well it’s all courtesy of the amazing power of the Firefox address bar, so much so that Mozilla decided it wasn’t enough to merely call it an address bar, instead they officially dubbed it The Awesome Bar.

And what makes it awesome is an amazingly comprehensive search function. Because while other browsers have a predictive feature that only works from the start of a url, the The Awesome Bar has one for any characters anywhere within the url.

So for instance if you vaguely recall that the word Shop, Blog, Football or perhaps Britney was somewhere in the website address, type that into the addr…sorry, The Awesome Bar, and now all the instances matching that word will appear in a drop down box to easily select from.

And if that finds your site, all well and good, but Firefox can perform even deeper searching. Because it also remembers the title given to any visited webpage, a keyword rich description of itself that is usually far more specific than its address.

Meaning that if your elusive web page was for a Chicken Scalopini recipe, those words are unlikely to appear in the url but very likely to appear in its title.

And that’s the key, because all you need to do is type in the words Chicken Scallopini, The Awesome Bar works its keyword matching magic and now you can have it for tonight’s dinner after all.

Assuming of course that you haven’t cleared your browsing history since, otherwise you’ll be making do with KFC.

Another example for you, if you use a service like Amazon and want to revisit an item, don’t bother going back and doing the searching again, just type that item directly into the Firefox address field and voila, that page can be instantly selected.

Truly after a while you stop thinking in terms of urls to revisit old websites, you start thinking of keywords, what the subject matter is you want to end up on, or you lazily just type the middle of a url because it’s more distinctive.

In fact if you’re on Firefox now, have a play, experiment, start typing and see how the The Awesome Bar actually works its voodoo. And if you’re not on Firefox now, I hope you finally realise that you bloody should be!

But that, my friends, is how easily you can revisit a site you don’t remember the address for.

Isn’t it just awesome.

No, this isn’t a specialist Firefox and Bookmark Blog but…

I’ve been asked a very pertinent question from someone who has seen the light and swapped browsers to Firefox but wanted to know…

“How do I transfer my old Internet Explorer Favourites to Firefox?”

In fact it’s very easy, especially when you initially download Firefox because a dialog box will ask if you want to do that very thing, and you say yes.

If you already have Firefox without your old IE favorites though, it’s just as simply done.

Go to the menu bar at the top of Firefox, click File and then Import, at which point a dialog box will spring up with the browser(s) you have already.

Make sure Internet Explorer is selected, click Next and another box with options including Browsing History, Cookies and Favourites will appear, simply choose the ones you want to import into Firefox and confirm.

Wait a few seconds and everything from your old life on IE is magically transferred.

Now I could explain a method in IE that you can later transfer any new Firefox bookmarks back there as well, but it’s not as straightforward, I’ve got the dinner on and frankly I don’t have the time.

Call it tough love, and anyway, the whole point is that you don’t need IE any more, do you?

Bookmarklets – tiny icons of one click convenience.

Bookmarklets, what are they then?

Obviously something to do with bookmarking websites but what’s the difference between them and the usual variety?

Well the first difference is that they only come in Firefox flavour, so if you still insist on sticking with Internet Explorer you can ignore this post.

This is not an opportunity to bash Microsoft, because IE7 is ok and version 8 is just around the corner, but if you want a browser that’s faster and more secure NOW and probably in the future too, then what the hell are you doing sticking with Internet Explorer!

Anyway, now that I’m done not bashing Microsoft, back to our bookmarklet lesson.

Bookmarklets are little icons and text that conveniently live ON your browser, not IN your browser, so they are in plain view all the time.

And there’s a very good chance that you see them already but don’t realise what they are or how to add your own.

So if you’re on Firefox now, look at the screen-space directly below the navigation toolbar…where you type in the url address, folks.

Over to the left you should see icons for Most Visited, Getting Started and Latest Headlines.

(If you don’t there’s just one extra little step, go to the menu bar at the top, click View, choose the Toolbars option and then Bookmarks Toolbar)

Those are the bookmarklets.

Ok, here’s the cool bit, just click down on the tab you have open for this website, or any other, drag it to the space on the right of ‘Latest Headlines’ and let go (or do the same with the small favicon icon next to the url address)

You saw that right?, you saw that little divider appear and now the icon and the website name is right there under the nav bar.

Well, my friend, you have just created your first bookmarklet, a simple, one click link to you favorite websites.

Or use them like I do, as temporary visual earmarks for those sites not deserving of ‘permanent’ bookmarks but useful at a given time.

To delete them, it’s just the usual right mouse click and choose delete. And if you do right click on that Bookmark Bar you’ll see options to create folders as well, but if you’re going that far may I recommend my Only2Clicks post to you.

And that’s all there is to them, very simple but very useful.

May I suggest as well, yet another reason for using Firefox over Internet Explorer.

Sorry Bill.