Bookmark This

I recently complied a fairly comprehensive post regarding bookmarks as they pertain to Shiira for the FAQ section of Shiira’s community forums [ original post ]. I wanted to re-work and repost a more in-depth version here which includes a couple of screenshots and some additional commentary for those users looking for more information.

Accessing existing Bookmarks

Shiira 1.2.1 natively supports the reading of both Safari and Firefox bookmarks and can display these bookmarks and/or bookmark bar so they can be used within Shiira.

To use this feature, open Shiira’s Preferences and select the ‘Bookmarks’ tab. Then check the checkbox next to the application whose bookmarks you would like to access in the ‘Bookmark Menu’ section of this preference pane. Shiira can display either or, both or none. You will also be able to configure which browsers bookmarks are displayed in Shiira’s bookmark bar from within this preference section.

These bookmarks however, are only displayed, not imported into Shiira and will need be managed [ ie. deleted, moved, re-ordered etc ] from within their respective applications. Upon re-launch, Shiira will resync the bookmarks to reflect any changes made in either Safari and/or Firefox.

Importing bookmarks into Shiira

If you wish to migrate from one of the aforementioned browsers to Shiira you will have to import the bookmarks to Shiira’s bookmark format in order to manage them. To import these bookmarks completely, complete the process described above to have Shiira display the required bookmarks and drag and drop them to the top of the bookmarks section of the sidebar [ or a folder marked with a folder icon and a small Shiira 0.9.x icon ] to have them translated to the new format - you will then be able to manage them happily from within the Shiira.

Unfortunately, the current version of Shiira doesn’t officially support Camino’s native bookmark format, but you can import your bookmarks from Camino either manually [ ie. drag and drop selected bookmarks from Camino to Shiira’s bookmark sidebar - this unfortunately will not retain the folder structure ] or export Camino’s bookmarks as an.html file, open that file with Shiira, Select all [ Apple-A ] and control-click [ or right-click ] to gain access to the contextual menu. You will then be able to Select ‘Open all Links in New Background Tabs’. Once all the tabs have finished loading, choose ‘Bookmark all Tabs…’ from the bookmark menu. This too will unfortunately not retain folder structure.

Camino [ tested with 1.0b2 ] will allow you however, to export your bookmarks in Safari’s .plist format. Doing so and replacing Safari’s main bookmark file [ after making a backup ] will allow you to use Shiira’s built-in Safari bookmark parser to display your exported Camino bookmarks in the bookmark sidebar. Dragging and dropping as described above will ‘import’ them completely. This last method will retain Camino’s folder structure.

Safari’s bookmark file is located in your Users Library in the folder labeled Safari [ ~/Library/Safari/Bookmarks.plist ]

Once you have copied all the bookmarks you require, you can remove the other applications’ bookmarks from the sidebar in the preference pane.

Managing and Editing your bookmarks

As you are only able to edit bookmarks imported into or created with Shiira [ parent folders are marked with a folder icon and a small Shiira 0.9.x icon ], displayed bookmarks [ parent folders are marked with a folder icon and their application icon ] will have to be edited/deleted in their respective applications. Once imported however, you will then be able to edit the bookmarks in the lower part of the bookmark pane as expected.

Exporting bookmarks from Shiira

The current version of Shiira does not provide an export feature for its bookmarks, but it is possible to drag and drop individual bookmarks between browser bookmark managers - folders are not supported at all.

Shiira Mini IconThe Shiira Mini widget for Mac OS X Tiger’s dashboard can also convert Shiira and any external bookmarks [ and bookmark bars ] stored or displayed in Shiira into an .html format and display it within the mini browsers main window.

While the information cannot be copied or exported directly from the widget, it is stored within the widget bundle. By navigating within the package and extracting the .html document [ ~/Library/Widgets/Shiira mini/ShiiraminiPlugin.plugin/Resources/bookmark.html ], you will be able to view your bookmarks as clickable links in any browser [ structure, to some degree, is preserved ] - this is be no means a complete bookmark format exchange tool but should help those hoping to move from one browser to another [ or those that like the idea that it is possible! ]

Third Party Applications

Bookit IconEveryday Software have created a bookmarking application called ‘Bookit‘ [ Shareware US$12 ] which aids the bookmark transition between browsers. The latest version [ 3.7.x ] includes support for Shiira and can export Shiira’s bookmarks into most major browser formats. Bookit can also amalgamate several Browsers’ bookmarks into one master file and then sync it via .Mac to keep the home and office versions consistent.

Syncing your Bookmarks with FTP

While Bookit’s .Mac support is good, it is only useful if you actually have a .Mac account. I don’t. I do however, have access to an FTP server and have been using cron to schedule two very basic cURL commands to either upload or download Shiira’s Bookmark file to or from my FTP server in an effort to keep my bookmarks in sync. Add the following curl commands [ with your correct details ] to your crontab either via the Terminal or with a GUI crontab editor [ CronniX is a good, freeware crontab editor - donations are welcome ] for a time that is convenient. I have the first command scheduled to run at 7.50am at home and then again at 5.00pm at the studio, the second command is scheduled to execute at 7.55am at the studio and then 5.05pm at home.

curl –upload-file ~/Library/Shiira/Bookmarks.plist –user yourUserName:yourPassword


curl ‘http://path/to/backup/folder/Bookmarks.plist’ > ~/Library/Shiira/Bookmarks.plist

Of course, there are a couple of issues that need to be considered when implementing a system like this;

  • cron will only execute these commands if the Mac is awake, you will need to make the appropriate changes in the Energy Saver section of the System Preferences to prevent your Mac from sleeping.
  • If one of the scheduled uploads/downloads fails or is missed, a later version could be overwriten with an older version, there is no fail-safe impliemented.
  • You will need to quit Shiira before your scheduled time or Shiira will overwrite the freshly downloaded file with the version from that session when you do quit.

Although it wouldn’t be hard to include another command to send an email confirming the upload or to make a dated backup somewhere else on my drive, I am relatively pleased with how this system has been working for me.


Shiira also has support for ‘Bookmarklets’, Javascript snippets saved as bookmarks which interact with the currently rendered page or browser window when selected from the bookmark bar, menu or sidebar. Ranging anywhere from useful to novelty, bookmarklets can help deconstruct webpages, aid browsing or just perform silly tricks. A few I have found useful are;

Babelfish - Translate current page with Altavista’s Babelfish
Highlight - Highlight a word/phrase in the current page
Remove CSS - Strips CSS styling from the currently displayed page
Remove Images - Strips Images from the currently displayed page
Collect Images - Creates a new page displaying all images from the currently displayed page
Show DIVs - Creates a dashed border around all DIV tagged elements
Show SPANs - Creates a dashed border around all SPAN tagged elements
Auto Scroll Page [ very slow ] - Automatically scrolls to bottom of page, very slowly…
Auto Scroll Page [ slow ] - Automatically scrolls to bottom of page, slowly…
Auto Scroll Page [ fast ] - Automatically scrolls to bottom of page, fast…
Auto Scroll Page [ faster ] - Automatically scrolls to bottom of page, very fast…

no longer required in the latest nightly of Shiira 1.2.1 [ 060303 ]
Email Link - Creates a new email containing the URL of the current page

Unfortunately, having collected these bookmarklets over a number of years, I am unable to credit their authors in any way. The exception is Nathan Steiner’s Show DIVs/SPANs code which I discovered only a few days ago and have split into two separate bookmarklets.

To use these Bookmarklets, drag the links to your Bookmark bar or the Bookmark tab of the sidebar, this will create a new clickable entry in your bookmark file. Storing Bookmarklets in any of the first 9 spots in the bookmark bar has the added bonus of being able to call them with the key commands, command-1 thru to 9 [ ie. ⌘4 will execute the fourth item on the bookmark bar ].

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