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Pseudo-sync Safari Bookmarks on your own server Web Browsers
There are tons of methods to sync your Safari bookmarks: free apps/plugins like xMarks, and paid services like MobileMe. Unfortunately, none of them met my needs/criteria, which are: free, private, and secure. This hint is a combination of information gleaned from many locations, and is not actually a sync. Instead, you will have one single set of bookmarks that you use on all computers. Oftentimes, I learn as much from the comments as I do from the hints -- so if you have a better way, please feel free to post a constructive comment.

I use three Macs: one at work, and two more at home. Having access to the same bookmarks on all machines is really useful to me. I considered MobileMe, but it was not free. I considered xMarks, which seems to work well, but I'm concerned about the privacy of my bookmarks / passwords (read their privacy policy). I have my own server, so this solution is available to me. If you do not have your own server, then you will probably want to consider xMarks or MobileMe for keeping your bookmarks in sync. Also, if you don't have your own server, it is likely that you can more easily justify the expense of the MobileMe account (and therefore, this hint does not apply to you).

Again, this is not a true sync, but rather a way to have 1 set of bookmarks that integrates with your Safari browser.

Prerequisites: Run Macfusion, and set it up to mount a directory on your server as a drive. I used the SSHFS (so everything is encrypted in transmission), but you could also choose to use FTPFS. If you have your own server, you should know how to set all of this up, so I won't get into it here. I simply created a new directory on my server called 'Safari' and password protected it. Using Macfusion, It allows me to mount this on my desktop as if it were a drive connected to my machine.

Now, on all of your computers:

Export your bookmarks somewhere safe, and QUIT Safari. Then, Go to ~/Library and make a backup copy of the folder called Safari. I just renamed mine to ~/Library/Safari2.

Next, in Terminal, type:

ln -s PathToNewLocationOnYourServer ~/Library/Safari/

In my case, PathToNewLocationOnYourServer is: /Volumes/Safari, but you can name your new volume whatever you want in Macfusion.

Now, open up Safari. You should notice that the bookmarks reverted back to the defaults. Go ahead and import the bookmarks that you had exported. Or if you want to restore everything (saved passwords, the like) go ahead and copy everything from ~/Library/Safari2 (or whatever you called your backup) to the new location on your server. Be sure to do this while Safari is not running.

That's it!


If you do this, you should make sure that the directory on your server is password protected. Otherwise, you aren't accomplishing one of the goals (privacy). Same applies to using FTP vs SSH.

Also, if the connection to your server is slow, Safari might take longer than normal to shut down.

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one.]
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Pseudo-sync Safari Bookmarks on your own server
Authored by: alexclst on Mar 30, '11 08:16:31AM

By the looks of this hint (using ln -s in Terminal) you could use Dropbox as the shared storage location as well. This would directly provide security and easy access from multiple Macs without requiring server space of your own. I haven't tried this on Safari, but after swapping out a flash drive for Dropbox in a previous hint ( I've now got user data of a few other programs syncing between Macs over Dropbox.

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Pseudo-sync Safari Bookmarks on your own server
Authored by: papplegate on Mar 30, '11 08:50:58AM

I'm surprised more people have not suggested this. A simple symbolic link link to your dropbox.
It works with 1Password just fine so why not go the extra step and use it with your bookmarks.

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Pseudo-sync Safari Bookmarks on your own server
Authored by: everkleer80 on Mar 30, '11 10:09:42AM

I use Dropbox for this. I use this not only for bookmarks, but mainly for my session and browsing history, since I often will visit a site and not bookmark it but then want to return to it a few days later, or just go to open the windows from my last session on my MacBook, when my last session was on my iMac.

Besides not requiring your own server, there are some other advantages to using Dropbox here. First, it eliminates the issue mentioned of network related slowdowns when quitting Safari, since with Dropbox you are still saving on the local machine. Also, I am not sure, but I would imagine you might run into errors if two machines tried to write to a file on your server at the same time; with Dropbox, you would still have the issue of which machine's data gets saved, but there wouldn't be any actual errors. A third advantage to Dropbox is that you will still be able to access/save your data when you don't have a network connection, and the data will simply be synced up to their servers when the connection is available again.

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Pseudo-sync Safari Bookmarks on your own server
Authored by: fulmar2 on Mar 30, '11 10:06:39PM

Thanks for the note. Indeed, I started this post with information that I had learned from other people who were using Dropbox. The reason I posted this hint was because I had some concerns about syncing my ~/Library/Safari folder with a server that other unknown people have access to... otherwise the Dropbox idea is a great one. Also, it doesn't seem that you can just sync the Bookmarks.plist file - it only works with the entire directory. What do you think about that: the privacy of your data on Dropbox? Their website says that it is encrypted, and that their employees cannot view the files that you upload... so maybe it is OK...

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Be Careful
Authored by: redfood on Mar 30, '11 10:15:48AM

I'd be careful not to have too copies of safari open at once (always quit when you are done) or you might end up with overwriting (and loosing) bookmarks. In the worst case scenario bother versions of Safari could try to write to the file at the same time and the file might get corrupted.

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Be Careful
Authored by: everkleer80 on Mar 30, '11 01:51:43PM

This is one of the problems that can be avoided - or at least minimized - by using Dropbox (see my comment above.) Since you are still just saving to your local HD with Dropbox, both computers will never be accessing the same file at once. You may still loose changes from one of the browsers in favor of the data from the other one, but as least you should avoid any errors and filesystem (volume) corruption. I can't be positive, but I think it's very unlikely that a file would get corrupted either this way, but you can always go to the Dropbox website and restore from a backup if a file does happen to get corrupted.

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Authored by: MtnBiker on Mar 30, '11 10:45:35AM

Can bookmarks be shared with an iPhone using this or any other method?

PS When I logged in and clicked on Comment I got a message saying I'd commented within the last 45 seconds, which I obviously hadn't because I'd just logged in.

Hermosa Beach, CA USA

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Authored by: everkleer80 on Mar 30, '11 02:05:26PM

This will not work with iPhone. MobileMe will sync bookmarks with iPhone... other than that, I'd guess there may be some kind of solution involving either a third-party (non-safari) browser or jailbreaking, but I don't know.

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Pseudo-sync Safari Bookmarks on your own server
Authored by: pub3abn on Mar 31, '11 05:51:54AM
The Macfusion link is broken. It should be:

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