This guide will help you understand the advantages of bookmarklets over add-ons, how to install bookmarklets followed by a list of essential bookmarklets that should work across all popular browsers including Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera, IE and Safari.

Why Use Bookmarklet over Add-ons

If you were to choose between a bookmarklet and a browser add-on, both offering similar functionality, here are a couple of reasons why you may want to go with bookmarklets:

1. Add-ins are browser specific so tomorrow if you decide to move from Firefox to Opera or Google Chrome, your favorite add-ins will no longer work. On the other hand, a bookmarklet written for Firefox is very likely to work with Safari or IE.

2. Some add-ins can break (or won’t install at all) if you try installing them on a newer version of the browser. And this is a big problem considering that new browser patches are released every couple of months.

3. Unlike add-ins that require installation, you can add and remove bookmarklets without restarting the browser.

4. Poorly coded add-ins can significantly slow down your browser while bookmarklets have negligible (if any) effect on memory usage as they are executed on-demand.

How to Install Bookmarklets

If you are new here, the following video will help you understand how to install bookmarklets in your browser bookmarks toolbar – it’s as simple as dragging a link from the web page to the bookmarks region.

 

The above video is for the notebook bookmarklet but the technique is the same for other bookmarklets as well.

The Best Bookmarklets for Web Browsers

Now that you know the benefits of using a bookmarklet and how easy it is to add one to your own browser bookmarks, let me share some of my favorite bookmarklets that are both useful and powerful:

Twitter Reactions – This helps me track all recent conversations (tweets) on Twitter that have linked to the web page that I am currently reading in my browser (also see Twitter Guide).

In Techmeme? – If I come across a new tech blog, I use this Techmeme bookmarklet to discover stories from that site that may have made it to Techmeme in the past. This indicator can help decide if I should add that site to my reading list or not.

Capture Screenshot – This helps me capture screenshots of web pages directly in the web browser that I can directly upload to Flickr, Blogger, Evernote and other online services.

ToRead.cc – With ToRead, you can send web pages by email in a single click. This elegant bookmarklet includes your email address so the web page will directly reach your inbox and you don’t have to type any address or fill form anywhere.

Short URL – This is too obvious but still a must-have bookmarklet. It lets you create short URLs for any site using bit.ly, a service that is far better than TinyURL as it offers real-time click statistics.

To English – If I come across a web page that includes words not written in English, this bookmarklet will automatically detect the source language of that page and translate the full page (or specific words) into English for me using Google Translate.

Readability – Another must-have bookmarklet that helps you read web articles distraction free. You can format pages like a newspaper or an ebook with clean background and large font styles.

Resize Page – This is handy for tech bloggers who frequently capture screenshots of web browsers. You can tweak the height and width field in the bookmarklet and take screenshots of a consistent size for uploading on your blog.

Show Password – This will unmask the real characters of an auto-fill password that are otherwise hidden behind asterisks in the password field of a web page. Only works if the password associated with that site is saved in the browser.

Show RSS Feed – If your web browser has trouble detecting the RSS feed associated with a site, try this bookmarklet. It will not only show you the full contents of that feed but also give you options to subscribe in your favorite newsreader.

Edit Website – This bookmarklet help me edit web pages as if I were editing some page on a open wiki. The changes are of course lost when you reload the page.

PrintWhatYouLike – A brilliant bookmarklet that helps you format web pages for printing. You can save changes locally as a PDF file (more ways to reduce printing costs).

GMail This! – Select some text on the webpage and click the Gmail bookmarklet to compose a new email message pre-populated with the selected text.

Get Long URLs – Short URLs generated by TinyURL and other URL shortening services say little about the landing site but this bookmarklet can rewrite all short links on a web page so you know exactly where those links are pointing to.

Tidy Read – This will reformat the current web page into a printer friendly format. It actually changes the default CSS style of a site and renders it again using the print stylesheet. Great for reading cluttered web pages.

Sitonomy – This will help you know which technologies are used on a particular site. You’ll know about the site’s advertising partners, their web stats program, what web server are they running and more. Information provided by Siteonomy.

Download PDF – I use this bookmarklet to download web pages in PDF format – the printed files are light and useful in situations where I have to send the full web page via email.

Aardvark – An excellent bookmarklet to help you unravel the mystery behind web page design. Click any paragraph, image, table or any other element of a web page to determine it’s HTML source, image dimensions and other properties.

Google Trends – This bookmarklet will help you quickly determine the relative popularity (web traffic) of any web site using the Google Trends for websites service.

Delicious Talk – See how many people have saved a particular page on delicious and what tags have they used to describe the page.

Important: To add any of these bookmarklets in to your browser, just drag the highlighted link into your bookmarks bar. If you using Internet Explorer, right-click on the link and choose "Add to favorites."

Part II: How to Organize & Sync Bookmarklets