Today’s entry is a tip for Windows users. I want to keep my bookmarks “favorites” in sync between my desktop at work, my laptop, and my desktop at home. Two solutions immediately present themselves:

  • Use BookmarkSync.
  • Store the bookmarks in a shared folder mount that shared folder from all of my machines.

To tell the truth, BookmarkSync works just fine, and it’s free. In fact, I’ve been using it for maybe a year now, and highly recommend it. But I’m a geek, so I decided to play around and see if there’s another way. The key (in more than one sense) turns out to be a registry setting:

HKCUSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerUser Shell Folders

The obvious thing to do is to point this registry key on all machines to a shared folder. Voila! It works, but I wanted to be even more creative. I want my bookmarks to be available on my laptop even when I can’t connect to work. Well, to do that I use the much-overlooked Windows “Briefcase” function. On the laptop, I make a sync copy of the shared favorites folder in my briefcase, then point the registry key to the sync copy instead of the original. Voila again! Changes are not propagated into the briefcase until I tell it to sync, but that’s not too much of a hassle.

But wait; there’s more. Let’s say that my shared favorites folder is at work. What about my desktop at home, which never connects to work? Well, I have a solution to that too, which is really not that useful but it shows off an even more creative way to abuse briefcase functionality. I go into my briefcase folder on my laptop, and share the favorites from there. Then, on my home desktop, I make a sync copy of the laptop’s sync copy, then point the desktop’s registry key to the second-generation sync copy. That’s right, folks; my laptop is now a briefcase proxy.

Cumbersome? Absolutely. Silly and pointless? You bet. BookmarkSync is a much better solution which syncs automatically instead of on demand (twice – once from shared folder to laptop, again from laptop to home desktop), but it was a fun exercise nonetheless. Besides, who knows if BookmarkSync will always be a free service? Maybe some day I’ll have to pay or switch. Now I know how to switch if I need to…and so do you.