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The Ultimate Bookmarks Guide
Glad to see you again, mortal. Now, we are going to learn about bookmarks -
how to use them, how to maintain them, and also something more about the file
formats and maybe even about the code structure later. But don't fear, we
won't burden you with it, just stop reading when you already know enough.
In order to read this, you need some common sense, the ability to start ELinks
and some idea about what's a Web document, a URL address and knowledge like
If we ever mention some keys here, please note that you can rebind almost any
action to another key which you like more - then you must obviously imagine
your own key in place of that. Below, we will list all actions, options and so
on related to bookmarks. We won't tell you how to rebind the keys, though;
another document will take on that.
Somewhat out-of-order, a very frequent FAQ: In order to move bookmarks around,
you need to mark them first - press 'Insert' or '*' (if you use the default
keymap) to do that.
The Bookmark Manager
Basically, almost everything is going on in the so-called bookmark manager.
That's a special dialog window, which contains a listing of all the bookmarks
you ever told ELinks to remember and it lets you to do with them anything you
would ever want to do with them.
You launch the bookmark manager by pressing the 's' key in standby (standard)
mode. You should see a big empty space (bookmarks will slowly appear there as
you will add them) and couple of buttons shriveling at the bottom. So, as a
start, move with the right (or left; both will do) arrow to the button *Add
bookmark* and fill in the input fields it offers to you. I mean, you can type
something like "ELinks homepage" to the first field, then move down by e.g.
the down arrow and fill "http://elinks.cz/" to the second field. Then,
bravely press enter and watch the bookmark popping up at the top of the vast
area reserved for bookmarks.
Repeat this step few times. Now, you can move between bookmarks by the up and
down arrow, jump to the location any of them points to by the Goto button,
change it by the Edit button, delete it with the Delete button and so on. When
you'll become bored, press the escape button and you're free again!
The Ancient Forests
It's not very convenient to have all the bookmarks mixed up - soon, you will
get lost in them. Thus, in ELinks you can categorize them to various folders,
subfolders, subsubfolders and so on, then you can expand and back enfold them
and so on.
In order to create your first folder, use the button *Add folder* and fill the
first input field. You can safely ignore the URL field, ELinks will do the
same. *POOF* and you see it - it has that strange `[+]` or `[-]` thing there.
If it has `[+]` near, it's enfolded, while when it has `[-]` near, it is
expanded, while you can change that by pressing the spacebar.
In order to add a bookmark into a folder, move on the item of the folder (it
must be expanded) or onto any bookmark inside of the folder and simply do the
usual *Add bookmark* job. You can also move the bookmarks around, obviously.
Before pressing the *Move* button, you need to first mark all the bookmarks
(or even folders) you want to move using the 'Insert' or '*' key--asterisk
will appear near of all marked bookmarks--and then move to where you want to
have the stuff moved to.
Separators can be inserted as well, using *Add separator* button, or by
entering a special bookmark with "-" as title and no url.
Searching for a needle in the haystack
Of course, you can search in the bookmarks. Just use the *Find* button - for
convenience, you have the current document's URL and title pre-filled there,
and for convenience only up-up-enter-down-down sequence is enough to have the
playground clean. Then, just fill a substring of what you are looking for, and
the bookmarks will be filtered so that only the matching ones are shown.
(Actually, currently it will not be filtered but the cursor will only jump to
the first matching bookmark below the current cursor position - and it will
*NOT* wrap around. The exact behaviour changes time by time and hasn't been
stabilized yet.)
File formats
ELinks supports two bookmark formats: the native format and a generic bookmark
exchange format called XBEL. Each of those formats has its pros and cons,
which we shall discuss below. You can switch between then by changing the
option 'bookmarks.file_format'.
However, first please note that ELinks 'CANNOT' read Links bookmarks directly.
Importing Links-0.9x (or Links-1.x) bookmarks is easy - it is just matter of
changing all the '|' (pipe) characters to tabs. There is a script for that in
the contrib/conv/ directory. Importing Links-2.xx bookmarks is not so easy; in
fact, the scribe knows of no way of doing that at the time of writing this, so
this is up to you to figure out (if you do, please tell us so that we can add
it here). Perhaps you might find a way to convert Links2 bookmarks to the
XBEL format, which can then be loaded in ELinks.
Native file format
This is the preferred bookmarks format, which is also used by default. The
bookmarks file is `~/.elinks/bookmarks`, in a simple format:
<name> '\t' <url> [ '\t' <depth> ['\t' <flags>] ] '\n'
'\t' represents a tab character, '\n' represents a newline character. [Square
brackets] denote optional parts. The '<name>' and '<url>' fields should be
obvious. '<depth>' contains the depth level of the entry - by that, ELinks
can unambiguously figure out the bookmarks hierarchy:
Bookmarks structure: Depth:
,-- The Pasky's C Bestiary 0
[-]- Wonderful things 0
| |-- Christmas Carol in l33tsp34k by L.M. 1
| [-]- Beautiful Potato Camera Shots 1
| [-]- Gallery of Scary Images of Jonas Fonseca 1
| |-- Jonas torturing gdb 2
| [-]- Urgh 2
| | `-- Jonas consuming Tofu 3
| `-- Jonas with crashed ELinks 2
|-- Slides from Witek's hack-patch show 0
`-- Miciah's English Grammar Spellbook 0
'<flags>' is a string of characters. Currently, two flags are supported:
Flag Description
E This folder is currently expanded. (No effect for non-folders.)
F This entry is a folder. The <url> part is usually empty.
Separators: these are special bookmarks with "-" as title and no url.
Naturally, ELinks handles the native format the best, easiest and most
It is unlikely that you could use the native format anywhere else than
in ELinks.
To use the native format, set 'bookmarks.file_format' = 0.
XBEL file format
The XBEL file format support was added at some point during the 0.4
development by Fabio Boneli. It has never been complete and has plenty of
troubles, but generally, it works at the basic level. The bookmarks file is
`~/.elinks/bookmarks.xbel` (thanks to a different filename, you can have both
XBEL and native bookmarks saved in your `~/.elinks` directory).
We shall not describe the XBEL file format here,
is the authoritative resource on that. It also contains list of some of the
applications supporting the format. Basically, you will be probably able to
convert from/to the XBEL format to/from most of the other widely used formats,
so this way you can import your bookmarks to ELinks from basically anything.
XBEL is the gateway to the rest of the bookmarks world.
The support for XBEL is incomplete and there are known bugs.
Especially, national character sets are basically not supported, so
ELinks will most likely get it wrong if you have any non-ASCII
characters in your bookmarks. Generally, the XBEL support should be
considered experimental and you shouldn't rely on it. It *could* trash
your XBEL bookmarks file so make regular backups.
To use the XBEL format, set 'bookmarks.file_format' to 1.
Usage hints
As already noted above, probably the best usage pattern is to use XBEL for
importing/exporting your bookmarks to/from ELinks and the native format for
regular operation. Of course, if you want to synchronize your bookmarks in
ELinks and some other XBEL-supporting gadget and you are brave, you can use
XBEL as your exclusive bookmark format - the choice is upon you.
Regarding the bookmarks synchronization, there is one important note. ELinks
saves your bookmarks each time you added one through the 'a' shortcut
(add-bookmark action) or when closing the bookmarks manager if you made any
changes or when quitting ELinks. However, ELinks reads your bookmarks only
*ONCE*, during the startup. This behaviour may change in the future (tell us
if you need a way for ELinks to re-read the bookmarks file), but this is how
it is done now.
Actually, you may now ask "So how do I convert bookmarks between the two
formats?". It is quite easy. ELinks simply follows the current value of
'bookmarks.file_format' whenever loading/saving the bookmarks.
So, e.g. if you normally use the native format but you want the bookmarks to
be saved in the XBEL format once, change 'bookmarks.file_format' to 1, then
cause the bookmarks to be resaved (e.g. by doing some simple change, like
adding a trailing space to some bookmark's title or so), then change the
'bookmarks.file_format' value back to 0.
It is a little more complicated if you normally use the native format but you
want to import bookmarks from the XBEL format once. You again change
'bookmarks.file_format' to 1, then cause the bookmarks to be reloaded. That
involves saving the configuration, quitting ELinks _completely_ (that means
closing/killing all instances of it you have running), then restarting it and
changing 'bookmarks.file_format' to 0. Then save the configuration again and
cause ELinks to resave the bookmarks.
Agreed, this all strange dances are quite clumsy, likely some simple
wizard-like interface for switching the bookmarks formats will be introduced
in the future. So far, we have had no reports from our users that anyone wants
to switch their bookmarks format frequently, so this is not too high on our
TODO list. So be sure to tell us if you would like this process to be
simplified rather sooner than later.