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Simple, Smart Bookmarking with Diigo

Graduating from local bookmarks to browser-independent ones that you can access from anywhere; as well as tag and annotate these with highlights and sticky notes.

Pradyumn Sharma

July 4, 2017

If you are reading this post, chances are that, like me, you visit dozens, if not hundreds, of web pages on most days. From time to time, you come across a web page that strikes you as useful (like this one, hopefully) and one that you may like to visit again in the future. You make a mental note of the website. But a few months later, you can't remember the website when you need to revisit it.

Local Bookmarking

Ah, well, you perhaps already know the Bookmark feature in your browser (called ‘Favorites’ in some browsers).

In Google Chrome and Firefox, for example, you can bookmark a page by clicking the icon on the right-hand side of the address bar. You can also

  • Organize your bookmarks in various folders (using the Bookmark Manager)
  • Import bookmarks from other browsers
  • Place some of your most frequently visited web pages in a ‘Bookmarks Bar’ (by default, just below the address bar)

Introducing Diigo

You can do these and much more with a social bookmarking service, like Diigo. In fact, Diigo is one of the essential productivity tools that I use on a regular basis.

Using diigo, you can access your bookmarks from any browser on any computer or mobile device. Not just bookmarking, it offers many more features that make it a cool service to use. But let's start with the basics first.

(I am describing the steps below for Google Chrome for Windows; steps for other browsers / operating systems are not much different).

First of all, of course, you need to create an account on www.diigo.com. Once you have done that, you should also install the Diigo extension for your browser (when you sign in to Diigo for the first time, the site prompts you to "Get Diigo Extension"). Once you have installed the extension for Google Chrome, you will find an icon for the Diigo extension (looks like this: ) to the right of the address bar. You are now ready to start using Diigo.

Bookmarking a Web Page

Let us say you want to bookmark the following web page: "An Introduction to NoSQL". Click the above link to visit that web page (or visit any other web page), and then click the Diigo extension icon while you are on the page. The Diigo menu appears right below the icon, as follows:

Click Save to, well, save the web page in Diigo. The "Save to Diigo" dialog box appears as follows:

For now, to explore bookmarking with the minimum fuss, just click Save. Voila! Your bookmark is up on Diigo. Likewise, create bookmarks for a few more web pages.

Viewing and Using Your Bookmarks

Close the bookmarked web pages, and then visit the Diigo website: www.diigo.com and log in to your account. You will find all your bookmarks listed:

You can click any bookmark to open the corresponding web page.

Bookmarking Options

Let us now explore a few options for bookmarking. Visit any page that you want to bookmark, such as the following: "Eight Queens Problem: Part 1". Click the Diigo extension icon. In the "Save to Diigo" dialog box, let us look at the various options:

You can change the title from "Eight Queens Problem: Part 1" to any other text if you don't like the original title of the web page.

You can select the available checkboxes, as described below:

  • Private: by default, the bookmarks are public, which means that your bookmarks are visible to others who somehow find you on Diigo. However, you can prevent others from viewing your bookmarks by making them private by clicking this checkbox.
  • Read later: this causes the web page to be marked as "unread". Try this, and we'll see how it appears in the list of your bookmarks a little later.
  • Cache: this causes the current contents of the web page to be saved in your Diigo account, so that later, even if the web page is modified by its creators, you can still view the web page as it existed at the time of bookmarking it.

You can also type your own personalized description of the web page in the "Add description" field. Alternatively, you can select any text on the web page before starting to bookmark, and the selected text automatically appears in the description field.

Tagging a web page is a very useful idea; it makes it easier to find the relevant page later (especially if you have scores of bookmarks to sift through) and also view related bookmarks together .

Type one or more tags, such as:

  • Algorithms
  • Backtracking
  • Chess
  • "Eight Queens"

Click the Save button to save the bookmark. Then, go to your account on the Diigo site: www.diigo.com. Notice how the latest bookmark appears in your list, with a blue dot indicating that the page is unread (provided you had remembered to select "Read later" in the "Save to Diigo" dialog box earlier), as well as the tags and the description you entered

Annotating a Web Page

You can even highlight sections of a web page, as well as write your own sticky notes that will appear on a bookmarked web page whenever you visit it again (as long as you are logged in to your Diigo account).

Visit a web page that you have already bookmarked, such as "An Introduction to NoSQL". Select any text on the web page, and you will find a tiny palette appearing right below the cursor as follows:

The first icon is the Highlighter, and it offers four colours. Choose any colour and the selected text gets highlighted in that colour (for your eyes only).

Select some other text and choose the second option in the toolbar below the cursor:

This option allows you to type your own sticky notes, as shown below. Type some text and click Save.

You can highlight multiple portions of a web page, as well as insert notes at various places.

Close the web page and open it again. You will find all your highlights as well as notes on the web page.

Copying All Your Annotations

Having created annotations on a web page, you can copy them all in one go to the clipboard, and then paste them in some other application if you like. It is quite simple.

Click the Diigo icon and select Annotate.

An Annotation toolbar now appears.

The first icon is the Highlighter that we have already seen. The second icon is for adding a Sticky Note; we have seen that too. The third icon takes you to "Save to Diigo" dialog box. It is the fourth icon that we are now exploring. Click that icon and it shows a list of all your annotations on the page.

Click the "Copy all" link, to add the contents of all your annotations to the clipboard. You can now paste these contents in some other application based on your needs.

Accessing your Diigo Bookmarks on Smartphones

You can easily install and use the Diigo app on smartphones using Android or iOS. On an Android-based phone, for example, you can open Play Store, search for the Diigo app (look for the icon), and install. Then launch the app and sign in to your account to view all your bookmarks along with the tags.

You can open any of your bookmarked pages, and you will find all your highlights on the page.

To the left of icon, you see a number (such as 7 in the above screenshot). That is the count of annotations on the web page. Click that number to read all your highlights and sticky notes in one place.

Bookmarking a Page on a Smartphone

You can easily bookmark a web page from a browser on Android- as well as iOS-based smartphone. Using the Chrome browser on an Android phone, for example, open the menu by pressing the icon in the top right hand side, and then select Share.

You can highlight any text on the page, and select the Highlight option to, well, highlight that portion in your Diigo account.

Closing Remarks

Diigo let’s you take bookmarking to the next level, giving features that make your web browsing experience more productive, informative and fun. It also adds the social component to bookmarks so you can share your finds with like minded groups.

We have covered the basics of Diigo, which enables you to do more with your bookmarks.. You can later access the bookmarked web pages from any other web browser, using any device because the bookmarks are easily available across browsers and devices. You can also annotate by highlighting portions of a web page for your convenience, or adding sticky notes.

There are several other useful features in Diigo. I am sure once you get used to these basics, you will be able to explore them. Or maybe, some day, I will write another post about those.