Posted on May 15, 2010 in updates | No Comments

I’ve been searching for the holy grail of bookmarking platforms. Something that will let me save bookmarks, tag them, send them to friends (and dialogue about them).  Something that lets me and my friends collaborate on our bookmarks.  I realized last night that I’ve been using this tool all along.  It’s Gmail!  I just haven’t been engaging it in the right way.

There are major advantages to having your bookmarks in the “always with you, always on” gmail.  My gmail is usually always open, so monitoring activity or new bookmarks is easy.  Gmail integrates the ability to discuss things in context and keeps an audit log of them.  Gmail has laser guided search on your archive, especially given the method I’m outlining below.

So without further ado, here’s how to (easily) use your gmail account as the ultimate social bookmarking platform.

Step One, get the bookmarklet:
Just like delicious or any other social bookmarking web app, a bookmarklet will be used to “Push” bookmarks in to yours (and your friends’ accounts).  You can get the bookmarklet here: http://contrapants.org/blog/2005/07/gmailthis.html — But we’re going to modify it a bit.

* Go to http://contrapants.org/blog/2005/07/gmailthis.html and drag the bookmarklet to your bookmarks toolbar.

Power Tip: Assign a keyboard shortcut to your bookmarklet so that you don’t need the link cluttering up your toolbar.  I used “gt” for GmailThis.  The keyboard is also located in the properties of the bookmarklet (Firefox). Then you can just type that shortcut in your URL bar.

Step Two, modify the bookmarklet:
So open notepad or something.  What you need to do is grab the source code of your bookmarklet and modify it a bit.  You need to fill in the “&to=” parameter so it automatically sends to yourself every time, and you also need to modify the subject line so that the bookmarklet will automatically add an identifier to the subject line — something that you can key off in Gmail that this is a bookmark.  I like using the string “[saved] ”  (Power tip: you could also consider making the “to” email address “youremail+bookmarks@gmail.com” — Gmail ignores everything after the plus sign, so you could use this to key off of when you create your filter. (Thanks Saggi Malachi))

* Open notepad, right-click on the bookmarklet, go to properties copy everything in the “Location” field to notepad.

Media_httpgrabbygrabs_dbjhc

In your notepad, search for the string &to= and afterwards, add this: ‘ + escape(“youremail@yourdomain.com“) + ‘

Also search for the string &su= and add your string in there, like pictured below.  Be sure you put single quotes around your string in the subject line.   &su=’ + escape(‘[saved]  ‘ + document.title)  (Power tip: the code %20 just represents a space, so if they confuse you, just replace them with spaces. It won’t hurt anything)

javascript:popw='';Q='';x=document;y=window;if(x.selection)%20{Q=x.selection.createRange().text;}%20else%20if%20(y.getSelection)%20{Q=y.getSelection();}%20else%20if%20(x.getSelection)%20{Q=x.getSelection();}popw%20=%20y.open('https://mail.google.com/mail/?view=cm&fs=1&tf=1&to='%20+%20escape("your@emailaddress.com")%20+%20'&su='%20+%20escape('[Saved]%20'%20+%20document.title)%20+%20'&body='%20+%20escape(Q)%20+%20escape('  ')%20+%20escape(location.href)%20+%20'&zx=RANDOMCRAP&shva=1&disablechatbrowsercheck=1&ui=1','gmailForm','scrollbars=yes,width=680,height=510,top=175,left=75,status=no,resizable=yes');if%20(!document.all)%20T%20=%20setTimeout('popw.focus()',50);void(0);

(If you use the snippet above, remember to remove all the line breaks (so it’s one long line) before pasting it in to your bookmarklet’s properties)

Then, copy / paste the stuff in your notepad back in to the properties of the bookmarklet to replace the code.

There. Your bookmarklet is ready to go.

Step Three: Make a filter in Gmail for easy separation.
Now you can create a “Bookmarks” label in Gmail and have items go in to there automatically so you never see them in your inbox. They will go to a separate label with an unread count so you can review them later.  That way friends that are using the same technique and sending you bookmarks you can review!

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1. Load Gmail
2. Click on “Settings”
3. Click on “Filters”
4. “Create a new filter” at the bottom.
5. Set a criteria. On “Subject:” you can add “[saved]” — Or whatever you choose as an identifier in Step 2.
6. Click “Next”
7. Check “Skip the Inbox (Archive It)”, “Apply the label -> new label -> bookmarks”, “Never send to spam”
8. Create filter.

Media_httpgrabbygrabs_qltzb

Optionally, you can create a separate filter following steps 1-4 above. Step 5, you can add your email as the “From” field to say if the bookmark came FROM you, mark it as read.  This way, only bookmarks from friends will show up as unread.

Step Four: Saving a bookmark.
Now you’ll notice, when you are browsing the web and come across a page you want to save, click the bookmarklet.  A new window will open that is a Gmail Compose window (if nothing happens when you click the bookmarklet, you messed something up in the code. Get the original code, go back to step 2 and try again). The to field will be your email address, the subject field will be “[saved]” followed by the title of the web page, and the body will contain the link you want to send.

Now you can TAG your bookmark by adding hash tags after the subject like this:

“Man has landed on the moon!  #space #news #moon #cool”

This will be valuable for searching on in Gmail.

Optionally, you can “cc” this bookmark to a friend. 

Searching your bookmarks.
Now searching and combining tags is easier than ever. In the Gmail search field, just type:

in:bookmarks #cool #moon — This will search that label for all matching hash tags.  Easy, right?

Everyone’s in sync!
The cool thing about this is, it doesn’t matter where the bookmarks come from. If your friends send them to you or if you send them to friends, as long as you’re using the same subject line identifier, your bookmarks will flow in to each others’ accounts in harmony!  Any comments you make on bookmarks is neatly threaded under the bookmark.  And with Google’s new lab features, much content (Flickr, youtube, etc) gets pulled in to the message inlined, for easy reading.

You can also monitor your bookmarks via authenticated RSS!
https://mail.google.com/mail/feed/atom/bookmarks/

You can also create a custom “Send to” link in Google Reader (Reader Settings -> Send to -> Custom link)

URL: https://mail.google.com/mail/?view=cm&fs=1&tf=1&su=[saved] +${title}&to=youremail@yourdomain&body=${url} – via ${source}
Icon: https://mail.google.com/mail/images/favicon.ico

Enjoy Gmail as your ultimate social bookmarking platform.