Backup / Restore Bookmarks from Firefox 13

Click any screenshot pix below to enlarge.

Just loaded version 13 which looks almost the same as previous versions. I’ve been exploring some of the latest features in this version of the venerable browser.

I wanted to find out more about the bookmark features and how to save and restore all those bookmarks. After much searching, found this: http://kb.mozillazine.org/Backing_up_and_restoring_bookmarks_-_Firefox.

I’m assuming you are reading this post as you are interested in the bookmarking process of Firefox. Perhaps you have problems with your bookmarks, you need to find bookmarks that you made earlier, or you just want to know more, so read on.

What Are Bookmarks ?

Each time you visit website pages on the internet, your browser remembers the address of those pages and keeps them in a history file. All browsers do this, not just Firefox. Using the HISTORY menu option at the top of your browser screen, you can review the web pages you’ve visited.

Suppose you vist a website page on knitting and want to keep the address / location of that page for future use. You can use the BOOKMARKS menu option to do that. Click that menu option to reach a smaller set of menu options, one of which is BOOKMARK THIS PAGE. If you click that option, your browser will remember the address of your current web page in a bookmark file. You may be asked to choose a folder where your bookmark will be stored. Remember that the history file and the bookmark file are different and are not stored together. They are not used for the same purpose.

Firefox Menu showing Bookmarks feature
Firefox Menu showing Bookmarks feature

You can maintain the bookmark file as you would any other file. You can add more bookmarks, you can delete them, you can move them between folders and topics.


Why ?

Often it becomes necessary to preserve your bookmarks. Perhaps you want to move your bookmarked website addresses between different versions of a browser, between different browser’s bookmark systems or even between different computer systems. With Firefox 13.0, you have two choices. You can either :

  1. Backup Bookmarks to HTML file
  2. Do a Full System Backup

Which choice depends on what you want to do, Neo.

Full System Backup

A full system backup is typically used when you wish to preserve a full copy of the existing bookmarks against future problems so you could reload them later. This is a manual task on your part to preserve your bookmarks. Firefox 13.0 has an automatic backup feature ( dunno about prior to 13.0 ) to save your bookmarks at the start of each day. The first time each day you use Firefox, it will check if a backup has been taken for today and if not, it will make a full bookmark backup copy for you so that you can restore from it later. If you do not use Firefox for a few days, or if you leave Firefox running for several days, there may not be an automatic backup for those days. This will appear as a gap in the dates of the backups.

The Backup and Restore feature uses a file format known as JSON. This is an internal format that browsers use to transport data within/between themselves and other systems. It looks a bit like this:

{"title":"","id":1,"dateAdded":1288945922841437,"lastModified":1319894108276677,"type":"text/x-moz-place-container","root":"placesRoot","children":[{"title":"Bookmarks Menu","id":2,"parent":1,"dateAdded":1288945922841813,"lastModified":1338991283571705,"type":"text/x-moz-place-container","root":"bookmarksMenuFolder","children":[{"title":"Recently Bookmarked","id":2679,"parent":2,"annos":[{"name":"Places/SmartBookmark","flags":0,"expires":4,"mimeType":null,"type":3,"value":"RecentlyBookmarked"}],"type":"text/x-moz-

Export To An HTML File

A backup to an HTML file would be used when you wish to transport your bookmarks to another system or browser, or maybe email them to Aunt June, etc. It is a full copy of all your bookmarks, you cannot choose to export just a piece of it. Beware of your bank details!

Sample Exported File in HTML
Sample Exported File in HTML

You can also view this exported file as a web page just by clicking it in your file finder / explorer tool to open it. It has a different format from JSON and is the HTML format we use to construct web pages. A sample HTML file that was exported, might look like this:

<!DOCTYPE NETSCAPE-Bookmark-file-1>
<!-- This is an automatically generated file.
     It will be read and overwritten.
     DO NOT EDIT! -->
<META HTTP-EQUIV="Content-Type" CONTENT="text/html; charset=UTF-8">
<TITLE>Bookmarks</TITLE>
<H1>Bookmarks Menu</H1>

<DL><p>
    <DT><A HREF="place:folder=BOOKMARKS_MENU&folder=UNFILED_BOOKMARKS&folder=TOOLBAR&sort=12&excludeQueries=1&maxResults=10&queryType=1">Recently Bookmarked</A>
    <DT><A HREF="place:sort=14&type=6&maxResults=10&queryType=1">Recent Tags</A>
    <HR>
    <DT><A HREF="https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/bookmarks/" ADD_DATE="1288945923" LAST_MODIFIED=

Restore All Bookmarks

We can restore our bookmarks from a previously created backup file, either one made automatically by Firefox or manually by a menu option. A restore process completely removes any existing traces of current bookmarks. In other words, it returns your bookmark file to the same way it was on a certain date.

To do this, click BOOKMARKS then SHOW ALL BOOKMARKS then click the STAR to open a menu of five options. The first two options are to BACK or RESTORE. Let your mouse cursor hover over the restore choice, or you may need to click it to see this panel :

Panel Showing Prior Bookmark Backup Files
Panel Showing Prior Bookmark Backup Files

Choose a date that your bookmarks were in a good state. Click the date with the entry matching that date. If all goes according to plan, all your existing bookmarks will be removed and in their place, a set of bookmarks for the start of day for your chosen date will now exist.

You might want to export your current bookmarks before you do this, so if anything goes arwy, you may be able to preserve some existing bookmarks.

End –

Hope that helps a little. 🙂

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