| ||More Than Just Favorites|
By Dinos Lambropoulos
Browser favorites (a.k.a. bookmarks) used to be the way to keep a collection of useful Web sites at hand. Nowadays, they seem downright retro.
When you consider how much blogs, wikis, and social networks have moved us toward a more collaborative and community-focused Internet, it's hard not to view that static favorites menu in your browser as something of an online relic. It should do more than just point to Web sites, shouldn't it?
EarthLink's new myFavorites feature brings favorites into the online here-and-now. Here are its main advantages over browser-based favorites:
- Access from anywhere: Your favorites are stored online, so they're available from any computer or device connected to the Internet.
- Better organization: Instead of organizing your favorites into folders, you use more helpful "tags" to categorize and sort them, making them much easier to find and use.
|Sharing and collaboration: You can share your favorites with other myFavorites users, and view those users' favorites—a great way to find new sites about topics you're interested in. |
Let's start by looking at some of the benefits of myFavorites in a little more depth. Then we'll get down to the details of using this great new tool.
The Power of Tags
myFavorites does away with folders as a way of organizing favorites, letting you classify each favorite using one or more tags instead. You then use those tags to find the sites you've bookmarked.
Tags are simply keywords that you attach to a favorite. Typically, you use tags to describe the content of a site. For example, you might tag CNN.com with a news tag and YouTube with a video tag.
But you're not restricted to tagging based on content alone. You can also create tags that indicate your opinion of a site's quality, how you plan to use it, the date you found it, its value to you—whatever you want!
Here's another example:
You're shopping for a home, and you come across a site with real estate listings in your area. While adding the site to myFavorites, you tag it as:
If you tag your favorites consistently, you end up with a very powerful, organized system. Taking the example above, if you tagged multiple sites with 5 stars and newsletter, you'd be able to quickly display all of your five-star sites or all of the sites you plan to list in your newsletter (we'll explain how in a moment).
- real estate, which describes the content of the site.
- condos, because you particularly like the condominium listings.
- newsletter, because you want to refer to the site in the weekly newsletter you write for your investment club.
- October, because you want to remember the month you found the site.
- 5 stars, because you really like the site.
Tagging is flexible, so you can come up with a system that works best for you. You can also add, delete, or change tags anytime.
Private or Public?
With myFavorites, you can make certain favorites private (i.e., viewable only by you) while making others public (i.e., viewable by all myFavorites users).
Why make favorites public? To let other myFavorites users know about them! This is where the collaborative power of myFavorites comes into play.
By making favorites public, you add them to the ever-growing public collection of sites that myFavorites users like and use. All myFavorites users can browse public favorites contributed by you as well as other users. myFavorites displays the entire community's list of links, categorized and sorted by tags.
Picking up the example in the previous section, if other myFavorites users use a tag like 5 stars (or some other rating system, like cool or funny) to rate the sites they value the most, you'll be able to browse those sites in addition to your own valued sites. Chances are you'll find lots of great sites you would never have come across otherwise.
Signing In and Getting Oriented
When you're ready to get started with myFavorites, go to myfavorites.earthlink.net.
If you see a Sign In link in the upper-right, click it and enter your EarthLink email address (or EarthLink ID) and your password. (If the link says Sign Out, you're already signed in.)
Next, take a moment to get acquainted with the page:
Adding a New Favorite
- Tags list: There's a Browse Tags list along the left side of the page and a list of favorites to the right. You use Browse Tags to navigate your favorites collection. Clicking any tag will display all favorites containing that tag.
- Two views: Notice the two tabs at the top of the tags list: myFavorites and Everyone. Clicking them lets you switch between a list of your own favorites and the list of all public favorites collected by other myFavorites users.
- Sorting feature: The Sorted by menu just under the myFavorites and Everyone tabs lets you choose how you want to sort the tags list: alphabetically, by popularity, or using the "cloud" view. A cloud is a weighted list of tags, sorted alphabetically, with the most frequently used tags appearing larger and bolder.
Likewise, the list of favorites to the right has two links at the top that allow you to sort alphabetically or by date added (if you're in myFavorites view), or by popularity or most recently added (if you're in Everyone view).
There are three ways to add favorites to your myFavorites collection:
First, let's look at how to create a new favorite:
- Creating a new favorite
- Adding someone else's public favorite to your own list
- Importing existing favorites, either from your Web browser or from the Favorites section of myEarthLink.
Note: If you make a favorite public, your tags are visible to other myFavorites users. Furthermore, if you're the first myFavorites user to make a particular favorite public, your name and any note you added to that favorite will be visible to others. (You can change how your name is displayed by clicking Settings). You're free to change a public favorite to a private one at any time; that way, your tags, notes, and name will no longer be visible to others who view that favorite.
- Click Add a New Favorite near the top of the myFavorites page.
- Enter the site's title and address (URL).
- Enter one or more tags. Separate multiple tags using commas. You can use upper- and lowercase letters, but in the tags list, all tags appear with lowercase letters.
- Select whether you want the link to be public or private.
- If you want to, add a comment about the favorite in the Notes section.
- Click the Add to myFavorites button.
Want to make adding a new favorite more convenient? If you use the EarthLink Toolbar for Internet Explorer, the latest version has a star button that you can click to quickly add the Web page you're viewing to myFavorites. (To see the button, you have to use the latest version of the Toolbar, and you have to be signed in to the Toolbar.)
If you don't use the Toolbar, you can place an Add to myFavorites link in your browser's toolbar that does the same thing. Just click the Settings link and choose Toolbar Button, then follow the instructions on your screen.
Adding Someone Else's Favorite to Your Collection
While browsing all the public sites other myFavorites users have collected, you'll almost certainly come across a favorite you'd like to add to your own list.
To do so, just click the Add to myFavorites link at the end of the favorite's description.
A form much like the one you see when you create a new favorite will appear. The main difference is that you'll see a list of "suggested tags." These are tags that others have used for this favorite. If you want to use any of these tags, simply click them and they will automatically appear in the Tags field.
Remember, these are just suggested tags—feel free to use some, all, or none of them.
Importing Your Browser Favorites
You've probably collected a good number of favorites in your Web browser over the years, so the thought of entering each one separately in myFavorites is probably a little frightening. Luckily, you don't have to do that. myFavorites' import feature saves you the headache.
The steps below apply to Internet Explorer for Windows; for help with Firefox and Safari browsers, click the Help link in myFavorites and select the Importing Favorites topic.
myFavorites will tag imported browser favorites using the names of the folders you created to organize them in your browser.
- In Internet Explorer, click the File menu and choose Import and Export.
- In the Import/Export window, click Next.
- From the Choose an action to perform list, select Export Favorites and click Next.
- Select the folder containing your favorites, then click Next.
- Click the Browse button and choose a location on your computer where you want to save the file. Then click Save.
- Click Next, then click Finish.
- When Internet Explorer confirms that your favorites have been exported, click OK.
- In myFavorites, click the Settings link.
- In the Import section, click Bookmarks.
- Follow the instructions on your screen.
Importing myEarthLink Favorites
If you've collected favorites on myEarthLink, you can bring them into myFavorites with just a few clicks.
Editing or Deleting a Favorite
- In myFavorites, click the Settings link.
- In the Import section, click EarthLink PSP Links.
- Follow the instructions on your screen.
You can edit any of your favorites to change their name, URL, tags, public/private status, and notes. Just click the Edit link at the end of the favorite's description, make your changes, and click Update.
To delete a favorite, simply click its Delete link.
If you don't see the Edit and Delete links, you're probably viewing Everyone's favorites. Make sure you're viewing your own favorites by clicking the myFavorites tab.
Viewing myFavorites on myEarthLink
Finally, to make accessing myFavorites easy, you can add the myFavorites feature to myEarthLink:
When the feature appears on your myEarthLink page, click the edit link to customize view and display options.
- Go to my.earthlink.net and sign in.
- Find the Add a Feature box and select myFavorites from the list.
- Click Add.
Tip: You can add more than one myFavorites feature to myEarthLink and choose different view and display options for each.
More help with adding myFavorites to myEarthLink is available.
We think myFavorites is a great new alternative to browser-based favorites, and we hope you do, too. Give it a try and let us know what you think. And if you'd like to keep up with the latest myFavorites developments, check out the myFavorites Product Blog.