Another look under Chrome’s bonnet

Chrome logoIn a recent blog post we looked at what web pages are loaded and displayed when you open the Chrome browser. There are some other useful settings that can be changed quite simply, a few of which are discussed below. Remember, that to access “Settings” in Chrome, left-click on the three vertical dots at the top right of the Chrome window and then left-click on the item in the list called “Settings” (natch).

Show the “Home” button

If you have the home button displayed (on the same line as the address bar), then a simple click on it will immediately take you to – where else – your home page. To turn the display on just scroll down the Settings window until you meet the heading “Appearance”, then just slide the switch next to “Show Home Button” to the right.

Show bookmarks bar

Almost directly beneath the above setting is a similar switch that displays or hides the “Bookmarks bar”. When displayed, this is a row of shortcuts (bookmarks) that appear on a line below the address line near the top of the window. This is particularly useful for your most frequently accessed web pages. To add a web page to the bookmarks bar, access the web page, click on the star to the right of the web address, click the triangle to the right of “Folder” and select “bookmarks bar” as the place to display the bookmark. Note that you can change the name of the shortcut – in particular, you can make it shorter so as to allow space for more bookmarks on the bar. You can even remove the name of the shortcut entirely and just display the “favicon” (the icon for that particular web page).

Add bookmark to Chrome

Click on the blue star next to the address, change the name if desired, ensure the folder is set to “Bookmarks bar” and click on “Done”.

Page Zoom

You can increase the initial size of web page contents as they are displayed on your screen by changing the setting against “Page zoom” that is also in the Appearance section of Chrome settings. Note that you can override this at any time by depressing the “Ctrl” key (the control key) and, while the control key is down, tapping on either the “+” or “-” key. If you increase the zoom then it is possible that you will no longer be able to see the full width of the web page. In this case, there will be a scroll bar at the bottom of the window that you can move to display the rest of the width of the window.

Downloads

There are plenty of other settings you can play with in Chrome, including several for which you need to scroll to the bottom of the settings window and then click on “advanced”. Amongst other things, this will reveal the “Downloads” section. This tells you where any downloaded files are currently being saved. You can change this to any other folder by clicking on “change”, finding the desired folder in the “Explorer” window that opens, and then clicking on the “Select folder” button.

These are directions to change settings specifically in Chrome, but there are similar settings in other browsers that offer the same options.

There’s just one more thing I’d like to take the opportunity to point out, and that is the option near the top of the list of settings, under the heading of “You and Google”, called “Sync and Google services”. If (like me) you are of the opinion that Google probably already knows more about you than is healthy, then I recommend ensuring that all four items under the heading “Other Google services” are switched off – ie the circle is to the left of the “switch” and the switch is grey and not blue.

Sync and Google services

Personally, I don’t believe in giving Google any more information than I need to

Google Chrome has about 63% of the market for internet browsers*

Chrome logoSo, there’s a good chance that you use it and, judging from my experience with my own IT support clients, there’s a good chance that you haven’t made many changes to make it behave more how you would like. So, here are just a few tweaks to change how Chrome starts up. If you don’t use Chrome, then you will hopefully find this of interest as the principles also apply to other browsers.

To change what happens when you open Chrome, you need to find the appropriate options in Settings:

  • Click on the three vertical dots at the top right of Chrome
  • Left-click on Settings
  • Scroll down until you find a section entitled “On start-up”. The three options are then as follows (choose an option by clicking on the “radio button” next to the desired option).
Chrome startup options

For fastest Chrome opening, choose “Open a specific…” and type in “about:blank”

Open the New Tab page

This means that when you start Chrome, it will open at whatever your “New Tab” is set to. A New tab is achieved by clicking on the plus sign on the top line of Chrome. It gives you the opportunity to have several web pages open at the same time. The default “new tab page” in Chrome is a page offering your current default Search Engine (eg Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo). If your default search engine is Google, then, by default, it will not just show you the search box, but also a list of recent shortcuts. Personally, I don’t like this. I’m always afraid when I am with a client that it might display a recent shortcut that they would prefer me not to see.

You can, however, change this by clicking on the “Customise” button at the bottom of the screen and selecting another option (including not showing any shortcuts below the search box).

new tab redirectMy own choice for New Tab Page is the advanced Google search engine. The reason for this is not so much all the extra options it displays as the fact that it never displays those irritating (often animated) things where the Google logo usually resides. To change the “new tab page” to whatever page you like, you can install an extension to Chrome called “New Tab Redirect”.

Install the “New Tab Redirect” Extension as follows:

  • Visit https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/extensions
  • Enter “new tab redirect” into the search box (without the quotes)
  • Click on that extension when it is offered
  • Click on the blue button entitled “Add to Chrome”
  • Click on “Add extension”
  • At the welcome screen, click on “Set options”
  • Underneath “Redirect URL”, enter the web page that you wish the new tab page to open (eg https://www.google.co.uk/advanced_search) or click on one of the blue options listed
  • Click on the “Save” button

Continue where you left off

If you want to return to the same page that you had open the last time you closed Chrome – including all of your previously open tabs – then this is the choice for you. Do be warned, though, that Chrome is what we disparagingly call a “resource hog”. The more tabs you have open, the more memory Chrome consumes. As I write this, and play with Chrome, it is consuming approximately 1gb of memory! That’s about 25% of the total memory available to a 4gb memory machine. If you always choose the option to “Continue where you left off”, it’s easy to just open more and more tabs, even though you don’t need most of them at any given time.

Open a specific page or set of pages

You can have one or several pages open (in separate tabs) every time you open Chrome by listing them under “Add a new Page”. Alternatively, if you choose “Use current pages”, all of the tabs that you currently have open will always be opened when you open Chrome.

And now, finally, the little tip that I first thought of that led me to write this particular post. If you want your Chrome to open at lightning speed and not waste time loading ANY pages on startup (possibly because there’s no single page that you habitually wish to see), then choose the option of “Open a specific page or set of pages” and set the value to “about:blank” (without the quotes). This will cause Chrome not to attempt to open any page at all. Instead, you immediately have control to be able to choose your page in whatever way suits you best (bookmarks bar, bookmarks, typing in a web page address etc).

So, there you go. Who would have thought it would take about 800 words to go through the startup options for Chrome?

* = according to https://gs.statcounter.com/browser-market-share (during 2020 and across all platforms (mobile, laptop/desktop, tablets))

Do you have different tasks that need different sets of web pages to be opened regularly?

chrome logo - 2An example might be that you buy items of a particular type online from the same few sources – eg John Lewis, Amazon, Argos, Currys. Quite separately from these websites, you may have other tasks that require a completely different set of websites to be open – eg, you might start the day by checking the weather, local news, and local traffic reports.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could open and close these sets of websites with single commands? You can, and it’s easy.

  • Start by opening all the websites (in different tabs) that you want to put together as a single group
  • Close any open web pages that you don’t want to be in the group
  • Click on the three dots at the top right of the Chrome window
  • Click on “Bookmarks”
  • Click on “Bookmark all tabs”
  • Give the new folder a name
  • Click on a folder (if any) within which this group of tabs will be saved
  • Click on “Save”
Chrome - bookmark all tabs

Click on the three dots, then on “Bookmarks”, and then on “Bookmark all tabs”

To open all of the web pages in a group at once:

  • Click on the three dots at the top right of the screen
  • Click on “Bookmarks”
  • Find the folder containing the saved tabs
  • Right-click on the folder
  • Click on “Open all (x)”, where “x” is the number of pages in the saved group

In Chrome, you can’t close ALL tabs at once, but you can close the current tab, all tabs except the current tab, or all tabs to the right of the current tab. Just right-click on the name of a tab and choose the option you need from the bottom of the context menu that has just opened.

Alternatively, there is an extension from the Chrome Web Store called “Close All Tabs” that places a white cross in a red circle to the right of the address bar. Click on this to close all tabs before opening a different group.

By the way, you can change Chrome’s behaviour so that it opens with either a predefined set of tabs or the tabs that were open at the time the browser was last closed. To define your choice:

  • Click on the three dots (top right)
  • Click on “Settings”
  • Scroll down until you find the settings headed “On start-up”
  • Make your choice, entering the addresses of the websites if applicable

The Bookmarks Bar

Chrome bookmarks bar

The line beginning “Clear data” is the Chrome bookmarks bar

The “Bookmarks bar” is a very useful place to put your most often-used bookmarks. If you can’t see the bookmarks bar (which will be directly below the address bar when it is visible):

  • Click on the three dots (top right)
  • Click on “Bookmarks”
  • Click on “Show bookmarks bar”

Note that you can place folders of bookmarks (such as the folders we created above) on the bookmarks bar as well as individual bookmarks. You can then open all items in a folder by right-clicking as explained above.

It’s also worth noting that if you right-click on any item on the bookmarks bar and then left-click on “edit”, you can shorten the name of the item so as to get more items visible on the bookmarks bar. You can even remove the name of an item altogether so that it is only identified by its icon. I have done this in the illustration, with my “DL” icon representing a shortcut to my own website.

If you have placed more items on the bookmarks bar than there is room for, there will be two chevrons directly beneath the three dots (top right of window). Clicking on the chevrons will reveal the items that don’t fit on the bar.

The “binary chop” (or “binary search”) is a very useful computing technique

An axe in a log

A binary chop is so-called because each iteration chops the range of possible solutions in two

Suppose that you use Google Chrome as your internet browser and suppose that it has been playing up recently – perhaps appearing very slow at times or freezing altogether. If you try googling for a potential solution, you may see suggestions that you “investigate installed Google extensions”.

Google extensions are small “add-ons” that add functionality to your browser. For instance, you may have an extension that blocks ads on the websites you visit while using Chrome. Another one might download images from the website you are viewing. It may be that one of these extensions is misbehaving and causing problems to Chrome itself.

To test this, the best thing to do is to to turn all the extensions off and see if the problem goes away. If it does, then your next job is to find out which one is misbehaving. Suppose that you have 20 such extensions. Testing them one at a time (by turning one back on at once) would require up to 20 steps to find the culprit, but there is a better way.

Using a technique called a “binary chop” (or “binary search”) can greatly speed up the process:

Magnifying glass and binary numbersWhat you do is turn half of the extensions back on at once. If the problem comes back then you know the problem is in the half you turned back on. Otherwise, it is in the other half. So, you chop the half that you now know includes the problem into two and just turn on half of this half. Then see if the problem is present or not. Keep repeating these steps until you have found the culprit. In our example we had 20 possible culprits, so it takes one step to narrow the range to 10. A second step narrows it down to 5. A third step narrows it down to 3 (at most). A fourth narrows it down to 2 (at most) and a fifth will isolate the little beggar. So, a maximum of five steps will achieve what would otherwise have required up to 20 steps (and an average of 10 steps).

This is a very simple and elegant troubleshooting tool. It is also a great example of the kind of thinking that goes behind the design of lots of computer programming.

By the way, if serendipity is smiling on you and you do currently have Chrome problems, the way you access the extensions is as follows:

  • Click on the three vertical dots at the top right of the browser window
  • Click on “more tools”
  • Click on “extensions”

A pork chop divided in twoYou will see that you can turn extensions on and off without uninstalling them simply by sliding the switch in each extension’s box to the left or right.

The binary chop technique is used in lots of ways by computer programs to find specific items in an “array” of items. The method uses a number of the same steps repeated until a solution is found, and is, therefore, an example of that oft-mentioned beast, an “algorithm”.

The most popular website browser isn’t always obvious in how it works

ChromeAccording to Statista, Chrome had 69% of the browser market in September 2019. Most people find it fast and secure. However, there are some basics that some people miss. This is possibly because Google attempts to keep Chrome looking as “clean” and uncluttered as possible.

Here are a few of the most common things that my IT Support clients ask me about:

Where’s the http or https indication?

Chrome doesn’t display the first parts of a website address – eg “http://www.” or “https://www.” – in the website address bar. We can take the “www” bit as read. We don’t need to see it. Some people, though, are concerned that they can’t see whether their connection to the website is encrypted (indicated by an “s” after “http”). Encryption is essential if highly confidential and/or financial information is passing between the user and the website. Chrome does show the information, but not in the address itself . If a site is “secure”, then a padlock appears to the left of the website address. If a site is not secure then the text “not secure” appears instead. If you really do wish to see the “http(s)//www.” bit, just double-click somewhere in the address bar and it will be revealed.

How do I create a favourite (ie a “bookmark”) from a website?

BookmarkAt the righthand edge of the address bar is a star. This will be a grey outline if the page has not been bookmarked, or a solid blue if it has been. To create a bookmark of the webpage indicated in the address bar:

  • Click on the star
  • Change the name, if desired (shorter names, or no name at all, mean that more items will be visible in the Bookmarks Bar)
  • Click the downward arrow next to “folder” to choose where to save the bookmark. The folders mentioned here are bookmarks folders and not the folders shown in File Explorer. Note that there is an option for “bookmarks toolbar”. This is a row of saved bookmarks appearing on the line below the address bar, for very quick access

How do I see the “Favorites bar” (ie the “Bookmarks” bar)

If you can not see the bookmarks bar:

  • Click on the three vertical dots at the top right of the browser window
  • Hover over the “bookmarks” option
  • Click on the “Show bookmarks bar” option (a tick will appear next to this option if the bar is already displayed)

HobnobsHow do I clear my browing history and cookies?

  • Click on the three vertical dots at the top right of the browser window
  • Hover over the “more tools” option
  • Click on “clear browsing data”
  • Choose the time range and the specific items you wish to delete
  • Click on “clear data”

How do I change my “home page”

  • Click on the three vertical dots at the top right of the browser window
  • Hover over the “settings” option
  • In the “Appearance” section, set your home page below where it says “Show Home Button”. The home button is a small icon of a house that, when displayed, shows near the address bar and gives a method of quickly taking you back to your home page

By the way, according to the same Statista analysis, the market shares of all the major browsers in September 2019 were:

Chrome – 69.08%
Firefox – 9.54%
Safari – 7.41%
Internet Explorer – 4.99%
Edge – 4.71%
Opera – 2.40%
Others – 1.87%

Another “by the way” is that Chrome can be a bit of a monster when it comes to hogging your memory. If you tend to have lots of Chrome tabs open at the same tab and your computer slows down, it might well be worth closing some of those tabs. Keep the number of Chrome tabs in single figures, if possible.

If you use Chrome you may have noticed it flagging up websites as “not secure”

SecurityIn the past, most connections to websites have been unencrypted. In other words, anyone capable of “listening in” to such a connection could have understood everything that passed between the user and the website – in both directions. Clearly, this could have serious implications. If, for instance, you have just typed in all the details of your debit card to make an online purchase then all those details could be intercepted.

For some time, therefore, pages that displayed or requested sensitive information have been secured by something called SSL (Secure Socket Layer). This means that all traffic to and from that page has been encrypted such that no-one “listening in” could understand the data being transmitted in either direction. The full address of a non-encrypted page begins with “http” – eg https://www.davidleonard.london. Encrypted pages begin with “https” – eg https://www.google.co.uk.

Secured pages have traditionally cost the website owner more than unsecured ones, so it has been quite common for websites to have a combination of secured and unsecured pages. Things are changing, however, and more and more websites have moved over to having all their pages secured.

Chrome-not secure

Chrome’s scary message when a web page is not secure.

As anyone with a Google email account will know, Google are very hot on security and getting more so. Google do, of course, also give us the Chrome browser (software for viewing websites). Since July, Chrome has been flagging up any website that you visit that does not have SSL with the rather scary “not secure” (see illustration). As a website owner, I could feel a tad miffed at Google over this. I do not ask for any sensitive information on my website. The most sensitive it gets is in asking for contact details of anyone who would like me to get in touch. If a client wishes to settle one of my invoices online then I use PayPal to handle this, so the user is passed to secured PayPal pages before any sensitive information is requested. I could argue, therefore, that it is a bit over the top for Chrome to frighten my website visitors with “not secure” next to the address of every web page.

Edge - secure

The padlock in Edge showing that the web page is secure

Nevertheless, I can’t deny that, generally speaking, sites that are secure are a better idea than sites that are not secure. Changing from unsecured to secured pages has cost money and been an admininstrative pain in the past. However, all that is getting easier. I am happy to go with the flow in this respect and will be going over to a secure site some time early in the new year. I am sure that many other websites will be doing the same in the coming months. No doubt Google’s policy of flagging up non-secured sites will be speeding up this process for many of us website owners (myself included!)

Safari - secure

The padlock in Safari showing that a web page is secure

I would, however, like to stress that just because Chrome points out that a website is “not secure” it does no mean that it is dangerous to visit. It just means that all communication with that website (in both directions) is unencrypted, so don’t give any private or sensitive information to any web page that does not begin with “https”.

All the major browsers (Firefox, Edge, Chrome, Safari, Opera) indicate when a web page is secure by showing a small padlock next to the address. This is, obviously, absent when a page is not secure, but it is only Chrome that emphasises this fact by telling you so.

A security tool that your bank may be encouraging you to use may be giving you grief

Online BankingTrusteer Rapport (which is installed on your computer under the name of “Trusteer Endpoint Protection”) is a piece of security software from IBM that is intended to make your online banking safer by spotting fake banking websites, intercepting emails that contain misleading links to fake banking websites, and so on.

Quite probably, you have never encountered it or heard of it unless your bank installed it on your computer when you established online banking. Some of the banks that I think support it include Santander, Lloyds, and NatWest. So, it’s quite possible that it’s running on your computer now and you’ve never been aware of it. If that’s the case, don’t worry. It’s perfectly legitimate and not in any way malicious. If it hasn’t been causing you any problems up to now then I see no reason to un-install it except, perhaps, that it might be having a deleterious effect on your system’s performance.

On the other hand, you may have noticed that it can have a bad effect on your system in several ways:

  • It can interfere with your other security software to cause freezes and crashes
  • It can slow down your system
  • It can cause your browser to freeze (Google Chrome)
  • It can stop your browser from even loading up (Microsoft Edge)
  • It can produce disconcerting, irritating, and misleading popups suggesting that it is installed but not enabled, and that this situation is easily remedied (Google Chrome)

Trusteer logoI’ve been wrestling with it on behalf of several computer support clients recently, and I came to the conclusion that it’s just not worth the bother. I installed it on my own main machine and it initially caused problems with Chrome (freezing) but not Firefox (but I’ve almost stopped using Firefox, anyway). It doesn’t affect Opera for the simple reason that it doesn’t install an extension to run with Opera. I have to say that the initial problems of freezing when running Chrome seem to have stopped, but there’s no way I would have such a seemingly flakey piece of software running on my main computer if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m testing it.

Looking to find some backing for my opinion that it’s not worth using, I came across a web page entitled “Should you use Trusteer Rapport” from Which? magazine.

Its conclusions include:

  • Rapport interferes with browsers and slows systems down
  • Your browser will, anyway, probably intercept any attempt to connect to a fake banking site
  • Your antivirus program will almost certainly catch “phishing” emails
  • It’s your bank’s job – not Rapport’s – to keep your money safe.

Brian Krebs’ web page on Rapport may be old (2010), but it’s worth looking at if you are interested in gaining a more in-depth view on how Rapport works.

Assuming that you are using Windows 7 or 10, the easiest way to check to see if Rapport is installed – and to uninstall it if it is – is as follows:

  • Press Windows+R to open the Run box.
  • Type “appwiz.cpl” (without the quotes) in the box and click OK.
  • Highlight “Trusteer Endpoint Protection” (by clicking on it).
  • Click on “Uninstall” (located directly above the list of programs).
  • Follow any prompts that come up.
  • Close the Programs and Features window.

The three best ways to keep your finances safe online are quite easy and straightforward:

  • ALWAYS have up-to-date antivirus software running.
  • NEVER click on any link in any email that purports to come from your bank.
  • KEEP your browser updated.
Rapport Chrome Error Message

The error message Rapport shows in Chrome. No point in looking in Chrome extensions – it will not show that Rapport is installed. Click on the link (“Need help?) in the error message and follow the instructions to get Rapport working in Chrome. Not for the faint-hearted.

Are you fed up with browser popups that tell you the website you are about to visit “wants to know your location”?

 
Map PinI find this really irritating. It reminds of the irritation I feel whenever I go into a Nespresso shop. Actually, there are several things that annoy me about Nespresso shops, but the one I mean here is when you attempt to pay and they ask for your postcode. No – you don’t need my postcode to sell me coffee.
 
Back to the point. You can set a preference in your browser that stops websites from asking this question. As you’d probably expect, the method depends on your browser, so here’s how you do it in current versions of the major browsers:
 
Google Chrome

  • Click on Settings (3 vertical dots at the top right of the browser)
  • Scroll down to “Advanced” and click on it
  • Click on “Content Settings”
  • Click on “Location”
  • Against the “Ask before accessing (recommended)” setting, click the “switch” to the left so that the label changes to “Blocked”
  • Close the settings tab (the “x” next to “Settings” at the top of the window)

Firefox

  • Click on Options (3 horizontal bars)
  • Click on the padlock on the left side
  • Scroll down to “Permissions”
  • Click on “Settings” next to “Location”
  • Tick the box next to “Block new requests asking to access your location”
  • Click on “Save Changes”
  • Close the “Options” tab

Internet Explorer

  • Click on the “Tools” menu option
  • Click on “Internet Options”
  • Click on the “Privacy” tab
  • Place a tick against “Never allow websites to request your physical location”
  • Click on “OK”

Edge
 
You can not turn location on/off within Edge. Instead, you need to change Edge’s access to your location within Windows 10 settings: 

  • Click on the “Start” button
  • Type “location” without the quotes
  • Click on “Location privacy settings”
  • If “location” is “off” you do not need to do anything more
  • If “location” is on, scroll down to the list of apps and turn Edge off
  • Close the Settings window

Safari
 
As with Edge (above), the setting is no longer within the browser but is part of system-wide settings:
 

  • Click on the apple (at top left of all screens)
  • Click on “System Preferences”
  • Click on “Security & Privacy”
  • Click on “Location Services” (you may also need to click on the padlock below this to unlock changes to settings)
  • Remove the tick next to “Enable Location Services”
  • Close System Preferences

Map PinsOpera
 
I was unable to find the setting in the current version of Opera. Opera’s own help page suggests the following:
 
“go to Settings > Preferences > Advanced > Network, and uncheck “Allow websites to request my physical location””
 
but, unless I’m losing the plot, that setting no longer exists.

There are at least three reasons why you might want to stop Chrome’s Software Reporter tool from having its way with your system:

  • It is a resource hog
  • It might try to remove desired enhancements/extensions to Chrome
  • It compromises your privacy by reporting its findings to Google

ClouseauGoogle don’t make a fuss about Chrome’s software reporter tool. They simply install it when you install Chrome and run it – when they feel like it and without your say-so. Its purpose is to scour your system to find software and browser extensions that are harmful to the running of Chrome, but I defy you to find out how much of your system it pokes its nose into and how it decides what is, and what is not, harmful to Chrome. It then reports its findings back to Google and, if it has found anything it doesn’t like, it suggests you remove the offending item(s) using the Chrome “cleanup tool”.

I came across it in the same way that I think a lot of people do. My system was unaccountably running slowly so I opened Task Manager and noticed the entry for “software-reporter-tool” and the fact that it seemed to be using a large part of the system’s CPU (the Central Processing Unit – ie the actual “performing work” part of the computer). A bit of research informed me that it can swallow up to 60% of the CPU’s capacity at any one time and that the process can take 20 minutes to run.

The fact that it’s a resource hog is bad enough, but I decided I definitely wanted rid of it when I found that it reports backs to Google on what it finds and seems to base its decisions on what is best for Chrome rather than what I want.

So how do you get rid of it?

Chrome - listeningWell, you could try just deleting the actual program file that is involved, but any update to Chrome is almost certain to bring it back. A better way is to change the “permissions” of the folder that contains all the relevant files so that nobody is allowed to run it. Since all the updated versions of Software Reporter are also installed inside this folder, all new versions should also be incapacitated.

The folder in question is called C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\SwReporter

If you can not see the folder called “AppData” after negotiating to c:\users\username in File Explorer, then this is because you currently have “system folders” hidden. See below for how to reveal system folders.

Once you have located the folder called SwReporter, proceed as follows:

  • Right-click on the folder called SwReporter and left-click on Properties
  • Click on the “Security” tab
  • Click on “Advanced”
  • Click on “Disable inheritance” and then “remove all inherited permissions from this object”
  • Click on “OK”, then “yes, you want to continue”, and then “OK” again

HogThat’s it. Chrome’s Software Reporter Tool should now be unable to run.

To display (hidden) system folders in Windows 10:

  • Open File Explorer
  • Click on the “View” tab
  • Click on “Options”
  • Click on the “View” tab
  • Click on the circle against “Show hidden files, folders, or drives”
  • Click on “OK”

To display (hidden) system folders in Windows 7:

  • Open File Explorer
  • Click on the “Tools” option
  • Click on “Folder Options”
  • Click on the “View” tab
  • Click on the circle against “Show hidden files, folders, or drives”
  • Click on “OK”

Want to move to a different browser?

Favorites folderYou may have thought of trying a different browser, but can’t face the thought of starting afresh with your collection of internet favorites (known as bookmarks in some browsers). Well, don’t let that stop you. It’s fairly easy to copy your favorites from one browser to another (technically, we are “importing” rather than “copying”, but that’s splitting hairs).

So, just look down to find the section relating to the browser you wish to start using, and follow the instructions. As usual with my blog posts of this kind, the instructions relate to the latest versions of the browsers.

Chrome

  • Click on the three vertical dots at the top righthand corner of the browser
  • Click on “bookmarks”
  • Click on “import bookmarks and settings”
  • If Firefox isn’t the browser from which you are copying bookmarks, click on the triangle next to it and choose either Edge or Internet Explorer instead. The last option in the list (“Bookmarks HTML file”) is for when you are transferring Chrome bookmarks between computers
  • Uncheck any items that you con’t wish to copy from your previous browser
  • Click on “Import”
  • If you have your previous browser open, then close it now and then click “Continue”

After the importing has been completed, you can see where Chrome has put your bookmarks and move move them around using the Bookmarks Manager:

  • Click on the three vertical dots at the top righthand corner of the browser
  • Click on “bookmarks”
  • Click on “bookmark manager”

BookmarkFirefox

  • Click on the icon of the clipboard (it has the tooltip “show your bookmarks”) that is next to the star that bookmarks the current page
  • Click on “show all bookmarks”
  • Click on “Import and Backup” at the top of the screen
  • Click on “Import Data from Another Browser”
  • Select the browser and click “Next”
  • De-select any items you do not wish to import
  • Click “Next”
  • Click “Finish” when you see the message “The following items were successfully imported: Favorites”

Firefox leaves you in the Bookmark Manager, so you can see the imported items (in a folder called, for instance, “From Intenet Explorer”) and move them around as desired.

Internet Explorer

  • Click on the “File” command
  • Click on “Import and Export”
  • Ensure that “Import from another browser” is selected
  • Click on “Next”
  • Select Safari or Chrome (note that Microsoft don’t give you the option to import from “Edge” (their other browser))
  • Click on “Import”
  • Click on “Finish”

To organise your favorites in Internet Explorer:

  • Click on the icon of the star (top right of browser)
  • Click on the triangle next to “Add to favorites”
  • Click on “organize favorites”

StarEdge

  • Click on the three horizontal dots (top right of browser)
  • Click on “Settings”
  • Click on “View favorites settings”
  • Select the browser from which to import the favorites (note that Microsoft are happy to give us the option to import from Internet Explorer to Edge, but not vice versa)
  • Click on “Import”

To organise your favorites in Edge:

  • Click on the icon with three unequal-length horizontal bars (apparently, this is called “the hub”)
  • In the popup, click on the favorites icon (the star)
  • You can now drag and drop favorites to move them around, or right-click to rename or delete

Safari (on a Mac)

  • Click on the “File” command
  • Click on “Import from” and then select the browser whose favorites/bookmarks you wish to copy
  • Untick “history” if you do not want to import it
  • Click on “import”

When I tried this, I found my “bookmarks” imported from Chrome were placed inside a bookmarks folder called “favorites” (accessible by clicking on the “bookmarks” command). No, I couldn’t figure that one out.

© 2011-2019 David Leonard
Computer Support in London
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