I made my Android browser into a folder


I've always had various issues with mobile browsing. On the PC I use Chrome, Xmarks, and Lastpass to get a browser I like and ways of syncing and keeping track of bookmarks and login information. When I had only iOS devices I rarely used the browser at all because I had to use three apps – Safari, Xmarks, and Lastpass – to get what I needed. On Android I've been using Dolphin HD, which has plug-ins available for both Xmarks and Lastpass. Both Dolphin and Lastpass work great; Xmarks, on the other hand, is another story.

I finally decided to sit down and solve this issue, and after a lot of trial and error, my browser is now – of all things – a folder. 

The issues I've had with Xmarks for Dolphin are many. First off, it simply seems bugged in its current state. It keeps duplicating bookmarks all over the place, and Dolphin's lack of a "delete all bookmarks" feature isn't helping to fix that. I've even tried to start from scratch with it, just to have the same thing happen after a single sync. Then I finally enabled Chrome's built in syncing system and thought I'd use that for bookmarks, only to discover that Dolphin doesn't have any way of tapping into it. It does however have its own syncing system, which has a Chrome plug-in for the PC version of Chrome to add compatibility the other way. That plug-in simply hung on syncing and had such a ridiculous excuse for a settings panel to begin with that I didn't even dare push any buttons until I had done a backup of my bookmarks. I'm sorry, but when I give you access to modify my 800 bookmarks, I want to know exactly what you plan on doing with them. Let's just say it didn't stay in my Chrome for long.

The next thing I tried was an app called ChromeMarks, which is designed specifically for using with Chrome's syncing service. It had some actually intelligent settings for once, like being able to specify a root folder aside from the actual root folder of my bookmark tree – I live in the bookmarks toolbar and never liked starting from root when browsing my bookmarks through other means. Unfortunately it couldn't help me the way I had hoped either, due to Dolphin not allowing third party apps to edit its bookmarks. It did allow me to put a shortcut on my home screen that opened straight into my bookmarks toolbar folder (in the ChromeMarks app) however, which I thought was neat. With me not being a fan of Dolphin's pan-interferring slide-out sidebars anyway, that idea of having bookmarks separate wasn't as horrible as having separate apps for something that's normally integrated would suggest.

My home screen is pretty organized and static though, so I wasn't sure where I would place this new shrotcut to the bookmarks toolbar folder. Then I got the idea of simply putting Dolphin HD and the new shortcut in a folder, using the same (generic) browser icon for the folder as I used to use for Dolphin. Having a folder with just two icons looked weird though, so my OCD got me thinking I should find something else to put in there.

After dismissing putting the never used stock browser in there, I started thinking that the extra space would be very well suited for my most used bookmarks. I went back into ChromeMarks and saved some of my most used bookmarks to the home screen, renamed a few of them, and stuffed them in the same folder as the other two shortcuts. 

Now what I have is an icon in my dock that just hours ago was a simple Dolphin HD shortcut, but is now a folder. That folder contains a vanilla Dolphin HD shortcut, a shortcut to my bookmarks toolbar folder in ChromeMarks, and several (with more to come) single bookmarks as separate icons. ChromeMarks will handle the syncing, I never have to see the root folder of my bookmarks again, and I never have to see that ugly slide-out bookmarks bar in Dolphin ever again.

I originally thought that a folder would add extra steps to browsing, but in reality the way that I do mobile browsing is actually better suited for the folder setup. Now I can just open the folder and hit the shortcut, instead of loading the browser, loading the bookmarks, and finding the right one. 

This is hardly the most advanced Android tweak ever, and it definitely isn't the best solution for everyone, but I got the "why didn't I think of this sooner" feeling when I realized how much simpler this is compared to dealing with a browser that only wants to sync using its own service.

As for why I stick with Dolphin at all if I'm not satisfied with how it works and does things, I still use the Lastpass plugin with it and that works great. I don't know of any other browsers that have Lastpass support, so right now Dolphin HD is my best choice – and of course I do have positive things to say about it too, so it's not like I'm stuck with a browser I hate. 

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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