Saturday, June 24, 2006

Google Browser Synch for Firefox

Google has pretty much always been recognised as one of the stalwarts of the internet search arena but recently they've been offering a raft of really useful tools and services for free. These include web based e-mail, an image editor, browser toolbar, desktop integration tool, language translation, maps and global imagery, office tools, web page hosting and even a personalized home page.

What I'm going to do here is try to comment on a particular browser tool or service, one per blog entry, and maybe list possible alternatives if I can find any. So to start the ball rolling, here's one I only found out about this morning…

Google Browser Sync Google Browser Synch for Firefox Apple CompatibleLinux CompatibleWindows CompatibleOnline  Service

This is an extension that constantly synchronizes your Firefox browser settings such as bookmarks, persistent cookies, history, saved passwords and open windows and tabs across sessions on different systems.

I'm currently using both a PC and a Mac at work and this is an ideal way to keep both system's browser bookmarks, site cookies and passwords, etc. in synch. Similarly, with the expansion of home networks and broadband access, if you had a few machines at home, then finding the kids hogging the main machine wouldn't stop you getting at your favourite sites on a second system. It could also be useful in a lab or classroom full of machines with a standard login.

It works on versions of Firefox 1.5 or above, on all operating systems that support it, and requires a Google account (you need to save the data somewhere). The information is PIN protected and can be encrypted for greater security.

On the negative side, it only works with Firefox and not IE, Safari or even Mozilla and that's a pity as I use both IE and Safari as well. Another strange point is that is isn't integrated in any way with Google Bookmarks and, while they are different tools, they do both work with your bookmarks. It'd be a nice extra to be able to access and edit your browser bookmarks from anywhere online.

Definitely worth trying out! No matter that everyone is using social bookmarking services like and LookSmart's Furl, almost everyone still uses the built-in browser bookmarks for sites they visit regularly and who knows, Google may eventually integrate all of its tools together.

For more information and to download the tool, please visit Google.


At the moment, there really aren't any alternatives that cover this range of browser settings. The only thing that comes close is…

FoxMarks Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer Apple CompatibleLinux CompatibleWindows CompatibleOnline  Service

I've been using this excellent Firefox extension and it does the job pretty well but it's only for synchronizing bookmarks. This also works on versions of Firefox 1.5 or above, on all operating systems that support it. It's also similar in that it also doesn't work with any other browser and requires you to sign up for an online account to be able to save the bookmarks but you can disable automatic synchronization and do it manually if you want to.

What this has above the Google offering is the ability to work on two systems at once without having to continuously reconnect and you can access your browser bookmarks online. If you can live without synchronizing cookies, passwords, etc. then this is an excellent alternative.

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