URL Reminder

Like many people, I tend to use my Mac’s Desktop as a “temporary” file storage area; as a result, sometimes it gets a bit cluttered. Last week, I decided it was time for some spring cleaning, and as I sifted through the files and folders, I was surprised to find a few dozen Internet Location files—the URL bookmark files you get when you drag a link from your Web browser or an email message to the Finder—that I’d stuck on the Desktop to look at “later.” (You know what I’m talking about: You’re surfing the Web and you see something interesting; or you get an email from a friend that say, “You HAVE to check this out!!!” with a link to some site that your friend found especially titillating. You don’t have time to look at it right then, so you drag the link to the Desktop.) I was even more surprised to find that of those Location files, I’d already gone back and visited more than half the sites—I just hadn’t bothered to delete them from the Desktop. It struck me that I could use a way to deal with “look at these when I get the chance” bookmarks.

(Yes, I know that I could use a folder in my browser’s bookmarks menu, but managing bookmarks in a browser is overkill for the kind of temporary storage I was looking for. In fact, I had actually been using a folder in Safari’s Bookmarks Bar for just this purpose, but I tended to forget the folder was there—it became a place where URLs go to die.)

In a bit of good timing, a couple days after that cleaning session I came across Enigmarelle Development’s free URLwell 1.2 (   ). URLwell is, quite simply, a temporary storage area for URLs. It operates as a universal menu in the Mac OS X menu bar; when you want to store a URL for later browsing, you just drag the URL—from a Web page, an email message, or even your browser’s address bar—to the URLwell menu icon and drop it; you’ll hear an audible click to confirm the drop. The dragged URL will then appear at the top of the menu.

Dragging a URL to the URLwell menu

Choosing a URL from the URLwell menu opens that site in a new tab/window in your preferred Web browser. So far, this probably sounds much like any browser’s bookmarks menu. But URLwell is specifically designed for temporary URLs—those you just want to check once. So depending on how you’ve set your URLwell preferences, the chosen URL is either removed from the menu or “checked off.” (By holding down the option key as you select a site from the menu, the opposite action will occur; for example, if you you’ve set URLwell up so that choosing a site from the menu checks it off but keeps it in the menu, option+choosing the site will remove it from the menu. And vice versa.) So it’s easy to see which sites haven’t yet been visited. The only quirk I’ve found is that there’s no way to uncheck a checked item—this would be a useful feature if you visit an item and then decide to visit it later (again).

The URLwell menu

URLwell’s menu also bests Safari’s bookmarks—for tracking temporary URLs, at least—by including a submenu that provides a number of useful features for managing your temporary bookmarks. You can manually add a site by typing in its name and URL; export your list of URLs to a text or HTML file; and clear items from the menu (either all of them or just checked items). And via URLwell’s preferences dialog, you can manually add and remove individual items, and even grab HTML-formatted links for including on a website.

It’s important to remember that URLwell isn’t a bookmark manager like the one found in your favorite browser or like Alco Bloom’s URL Manager Pro (   ); rather, it’s intended as temporary URL storage for keeping sites that you want to visit “sometime” right under your nose so you don’t forget about them. And for that purpose, I’ve found it to be exceptionally handy.

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