Bookmarks on the Move: Xmarks for Premium

Back in its heyday, Xmarks was something of a revelation, providing web users with the incredibly useful ability to synchronize bookmarks between computers. The tool started life as a browser addon called Foxmarks, but soon developed into a utility that encompassed other browsers as well. The later ability to sync passwords was something that was also welcomed all round.

However, it was not long before this form of data synchronization became a standard feature of browsers such as Firefox and Chrome. After being purchased by LastPass, Xmarks lived on as a browser extension as well as a tool for various mobile platforms, including Android. Here, we will take a look at what Xmarks for Premium Customer has to offer.


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Nota Bene

The first thing to note is that the app is no longer, strictly speaking, free of charge. While the app itself can be downloaded without the need to part with any money, the synchronized option offers are only available to Xmarks users who have opted to pay for a premium account – something that costs $12 per year.

If you want to make use of Xmarks on your Android device you’ll need to part with $12 each year for a premium subscription.

If you want to make use of Xmarks on your Android device, you’ll need to part with $12 each year for a premium subscription.

Thankfully, you are not required to sign up for a year in order to test out the app as it’s possible to check it during a free 14 day trial – if you decide that you’d rather save your money when this trial period is up, the app will simply stop syncing your data.

You can create a new Xmarks account from your phone if you don’t have one already.

You can create a new Xmarks account from your phone if you don’t have one already.

Sync Your Data

Before you can do anything, you’ll need to sign into or create an Xmarks account, and you’ll be guided through this process when you first launch the app. You’ll also need to ensure that you have the accompanying browser extension installed for whichever web browser you’re using on your computer – there are addons available for Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari.

Plug Xmarks into your desktop browser to share your bookmarks and tabs between devices.

Plug Xmarks into your desktop browser to share your bookmarks and tabs between devices.

No further setting is needed to get the app to work – any bookmarks you have stored on your desktop computer will be synchronized with the Xmarks servers and these will in turn be synced to your device.

More than this, the tabs that you have left open in your desktop browser will also be synced so you can access all of the web pages you were looking at regardless of whether you have taken the time to bookmark them.

Xmark’s limited number of options allows you to choose between manually and automatic syncing.

Xmark’s limited number of options allows you to choose between manual and automatic syncing.

Xmarks In Action

The ability to sync open tabs is very handy. You can be browsing the web on your computer, step out with your phone and you can pick up from where you left off. If you have the browser addon installed on multiple computers, you can pick which set of tabs you are interested in from within the app.

Accessing your open tabs is a great alternative to emailing links back and forth between devices.

Accessing your open tabs is a great alternative to emailing links back and forth between devices.

This all sounds great, but there are a number of limitations to bear in mind with Xmarks – regardless of whether you are working with bookmarks or tabs.

The first problem is that it’s only possible to sync one folder’s worth of bookmarks. If you have a large number of sites neatly organized into a number of different folders, you’ll have to choose which is the most important to you.

Sync away and your desktop bookmarks will be available on your Android device.

Sync away, but only one folder of your desktop bookmarks will be available on your Android device.

Second, the links will always open in whatever has been configured to be your default browser. It’s not even possible to tap and hold to access a list of browsers to choose from. Doing this — the tap and hold — in the bookmarks list enables you to delete bookmarks, view details of the URL or copy the shortcut to your home screen. There are no tap and hold options when working with remote tabs links, and that’s the third issue.

There’s no option to choose which web browser should be used to open your synced links.

There’s no option to choose which web browser should be used to open your synced links.

Summing Up

The rate at which web browsers have developed means that the need for tools such as Xmarks has been greatly reduced. Chrome users in particular have no reason to even consider the app as tab syncing is built directly into the browser. However, if you work with multiple browsers, and want to ensure that you always have access to the same bookmarks, or want to avoid having to remember to email links to yourself when you switch machines or devices, this could be a worthwhile tool.

But the price is going to be a problematic point for some people. Bookmark synchronization is useful, but it’s available in numerous other places free of charge. $12 per year may not be much, but it’s a far cry from free. The same is true of password syncing, but many people would rather switch to a browser that supports this as a built-in feature rather than having to install an addon and pay for a premium service.

Xmarks was once an amazingly useful browser addon, but the various browsers have now caught up. In many respects, Xmarks is simply not necessary any more, and you might find that a couple of minor changes to the way you work serve you just as well.


Summary

An interesting bookmark syncing tool in theory, but in practice it’s just too limited.

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  • http://zachofalltrades.net Zach Shelton

    This article is not accurate.

    1. The XMarks application DOES support multiple folders. I have a large tree of bookmarks with multiple levels of subfolders, and they sink across all devices perfectly.

    2. Browsers have not actually caught up. I am not aware of any major browser that has a built in feature that allows you to automatically synchronize bookmarks with a different browser. Chrome to Chrome – yes, FireFox to FireFox – yes. XMarks synchronizes bookmarks across virtually any browser on any platform.

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