If you've used the World Wide Web for any length of time, surely you know by now that you can save links to your favorite Web sites in your "bookmarks" or "favorites" menu with a simple menu command in your Web browser. But there are many Web-surfers who haven't gone beyond that, and whose bookmarks/favorites menus have grown so long that they have trouble finding those favorite links, even in the menu.
If you found yourself nodding in understanding as you read the previous paragraph, you'll be happy to learn that there are things you can do to organize your important links and make them more quickly accessible. And it's not terribly difficult to do.
Both Netscape Navigator (or Communicator) and Microsoft Internet Explorer have something called the "toolbar" located at the top of the browser window, just below the field labeled, "Location," or "Address," or "Netsite." When you install one of these browsers there are several buttons already located in the toolbar-things such as "People," "Explorer Updates," "New & Cool," and so on. Those are simply default buttons, and you can change them.
The toolbar is intended to provide quick access to the few sites that you use the most, so as you browse through your own personal bookmarks, try to identify the half-dozen or so sites you use most frequently. If you use Netscape, go to the Bookmarks menu and choose "Edit Bookmarks." In the resulting window, you'll see all of your bookmarks listed, and somewhere near the top of the list you'll see a folder titled "Personal Toolbar Folder." You can double-click that folder to open it, and then it's simply a matter of dragging unwanted toolbar items out of that folder and dragging your most-used link items into it.
If you use Internet Explorer, go to the Favorites menu and choose "Organize Favorites." As with Netscape, you'll see a list of all your favorites there, along with a folder labeled, "Toolbar Favorites," and you can drag out the ones you don't need and drag your favorite links into the folder.
While you're setting up your toolbar, you also can create new folders within the Bookmarks or Favorites menus, and organize your links by topic, or in any way you choose. For example, in Netscape, while the Bookmarks window is open, go to the File menu and choose "New Folder." This places a new folder in your Bookmarks menu, and you can name it anything you like and simply drag bookmarks into it.
In Internet Explorer, while you're in the Favorites window, choose "New Folder" from the Favorites menu, name it as you wish, and begin dragging related links into it.
If this sounds like too much work, you can also turn your bookmarks or favorites lists into simple Web pages that you can keep on your hard disk, or even use them as your home page. In Netscape, choose "Edit Bookmarks" from the Bookmarks menu, then go to the File menu and choose "Save As." Name the file something like, "links.html," and your Bookmarks file will be saved as a nicely-formatted Web page.
In Internet Explorer, choose "Organize Favorites" from the "Favorites" menu, then choose "Export" from the File menu. The default file name will be "Favorites.html," but you can use any name you like.
If you want to make your bookmarks page your home page, choose "Open File" from the File menu and open the bookmarks page you just saved, then go to the Preferences dialog in whichever browser you're using, and make that page your home page -- it's as simple as that.
If none of the above appeals to you, there is a simple way to keep your bookmarks or favorites links online as a Web page, using a free service called Clickmarks (http://clickmarks.com). Go to the ClickMarks Web site, sign up for a free account, and follow the directions on the screen. When you're finished, your bookmarks will be available to you from any Web browser in the world, simply by logging onto your ClickMarks account. This is pretty handy for those times when you're not at your own computer. Well worth a look.
-- Doug Heacock is executive director of the Kansas Research and Educational Network at Kansas University. You may address questions to him in care of the Lawrence Journal-World, 609 N.H., Lawrence 66044, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.