Easily open URL lists in Safari

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If you’re like me, friends and coworkers occasionally send you e-mail messages that contain lists of URLs. For instance, something like this one:

Hey, Rob…

Check out these interesting Mac-related sites:


There’s some cool and useful tidbits in all of those….

If you’re lucky, all of the URLs show up as clickable links, meaning you can open each with a simple click in your e-mail program. But even that can be a bit of a pain, depending on how you set up your browser to open new links—for instance, if newly-clicked URLs replace the previously-opened page.

If you’re not lucky, the list appears as it does here, as a simple block of text. If you use Apple’s Mail, you could highlight each URL and then choose the Mail: Services: Open URL menu to open them in turn, but that’s also a pain. Luckily, there’s a relatively simple workaround if you use Safari as your Web browser. And it doesn’t matter whether you get the URLs from Mail, Microsoft Entourage, or another e-mail program, they just need to be in plain-text, separated by line breaks as seen here.

Start by selecting and copying all of the text in the e-mail message you received—you don’t need to try to strip out just the URLs, assuming they each appear on their own line, as shown above. The fastest way to do this is to make sure the message body is active, then hit Command-A to select all of it, and Command-C to copy it. (Note that the following method won’t work for messages that have URLs embedded within a sentence.) Now that you have all the text on the clipboard, follow these steps to open all the URLs at once:

  1. Switch to Safari and click the Bookmarks button (it looks like an open book) on the toolbar.
  2. Click the plus sign at the bottom of the window to add a new bookmarks folder.
  3. Click in the Bookmark column (to the right of the Collections column) to activate it, then hit Command-V to paste the clipboard’s contents here. This is where the magic occurs; Safari is smart enough to strip out all the non-URL text, leaving you with a set of brand-new bookmarks pointing to the pasted URLs.
  4. Back in the Collections column, control-click on the newly-created folder and choose Open in Tabs from the pop-up menu.

Presto! All the pasted URLs are now open, each in its own tab. If you’re a visual person, this 1.6MB QuickTime movie demonstrates the process from start to finish.

You can now review the sites at your convenience, and move those that you’d like to keep to a permanent bookmark folder. When you’re done reviewing, delete the bookmarks folder you created. Keep in mind that this will work with text from nearly any source, as long as the source is plain text, and the URLs are each on their own line within the text.

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