Tidy Favorites: thumbnail-based bookmark management

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Tidy Favorites is a free extension for Internet Explorer and Firefox that allows users to manage bookmarks visually as thumbnails that can be dragged and resized on a workspace, similar to icons on a desktop.

It offers the ability to organize favorites within combination of tabs and folders, and provides a “drop stack” for quick, temporary bookmarking of URLs that you might want to check out then dispose of afterwards. Tidy Favorites can be installed portably.

If you are looking for a better way to manage favorites than the default bookmarking process that Internet Explorer and Firefox provide, check out Tidy Favorites.

This program combines four concepts that make it much easier and more practical to work with your saved URLs, as follows:

  1. Thumbnails: a bookmark is added as a visible thumbnail of the website, making it much more intuitive to work with (and much more pleasant) than the standard text link. Thumbnails can be resized manually at will and placed in the location that makes sense to the user.
  2. Organize into tabs or folders or both: Tidy favorites provides a customizable workspace that can accomodate both tabs and folders, in effect providing a “3D” organizational structure where each tab can contain it’s own set of folders. This is much more flexible than the default 2D hierarchical structure that the browsers use.
  3. Drop stack: this is an area to the right of the screen where URLs first appear (in thumbnail form) when you bookmark them. You can either drag and drop your new thumbnails into the proper tab or folder or simply use the drop stack as a temporary area for web pages that you want to look at at some convenient point in time but not add to your bookmarks collection.
  4. Centralized bookmarking across browsers: Tidy Favorites works interchangeably in IE and Firefox both: if you use both browser your URLs that are saved in one browser will also instantly appear on the other.

More notes on this program as follows:

  • The Tidy Favorites page: you can access this from the browser toolbar by clicking on the “Tidy Favorites” button or otherwise use it as your home page (or one of your home pages). It makes for quite a good looking home page, if I may say so, and provides a quick search box that can be used to search Google, Google images, or Wikipedia. It does not seem to give the option to change search providers, although I am not at all complaining about their pre-set search choices.
  • Thumbnails: can be static (where the image does not update itself) or dynamic (where the thumbnail image is updated to reflect changes). Thumbnails can both be resized at will as well as “zoomed into” using the mouse wheel. You can thus zoom into a certain section or area of a website that displays updated information (e.g. a stock ticker, a latest comments section, etc) and if the thumbnail is set to update automatically you will end up with a kind of improvised information widget within Tidy Favorites.
  • Portable: you can install a portable version of Tidy Favorites to carry your favorites around on a flash drive (when you first run the installer it will ask you if you want to do this). I did not try this myself.
  • Controls: two buttons are provided (“display Tidy Favorites”, and “add a URL to Tidy Favorites”). For both browsers you will most probably need to add these to the command bar manually (click here for more info). The Tidy Favorites buttons seem to magically appear on the Google Toolbar if you are using it which I personally found helpful. Tidy Favorites can also optionally run with Windows and appear as an icon in the system tray (which I was not too keen on).
  • Importing favorites: you can drag and drop your browser favorites onto the Tidy Favorites page to add them to it (although unfortunately you cannot drag entire folders).
  • Memory consumption: the process “TidyFavorites.exe”, which consumes approx 24 megs of memory has to be running in memory in order for Tiny Favorites to work. This is not a lot of memory but certainly not lightweight.
  • Differences between free and paid versions: aside from being skinnable and the developers offering personalized tech support/automatic updates for the paid version, there does not seem to be any substantiative differences. It seems that the makers of this want to make the paid version attractive for people to buy but haven’t figured it out yet (kudos to them for not turning the free version of Tidy Favorites into crippleware). How about online bookmarks synchronization across machines guys?; How about synchronizing with, say, Del.icio.us? That might be worth paying for.

Wish list (or how this program can be even better)

  • The ability to select multiple thumbnails and simultaneously set them all to the same size, resize them collectively, or move them together to a tab or folder. At the moment each thumbnail has to be managed on its own.
  • Applying “magnetic thumbnails” where two thumbnails snap together if they are within a certain distance of each other.
  • The ability to move the Tidy Favorites data file from “application data” to a user-defined folder.

The verdict: an innovative bookmark manager that takes a few simple concepts and puts them together in an intuitive way that makes sense. If you have been searching for a bookmark management program that is both practical and provides a good user experience, by all means check this one out. Tidy Favorites is strictly for local favorites management, though, which may be a strike against it when most bookmark management programs seem to be clamoring to sync online; but be that as it may this program is definitely a winner and I recommend it wholeheartedly!

Version Tested: 3.53

Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista.

Go to the program page to download the latest version (approx 3.9 megs).