Skip to main content

Google Stars: bookmarking gone material

Bookmarks are something that we somewhat take for granted. We click, click, click away on them like there's not tomorrow. I think I used 20 bookmarks today, and that's not counting personal browsing. They're not exactly classy, but they're there for us when we need them. Heck, they even follow us from device to device with browsers like Chrome.

Well, Google's looking to finally breathe a little more life and color into boring old bookmarks with Stars bookmarking manager. It's by no means a finished product, but it's certainly a step forward.

Let's take a look.

The humble star in the Chrome browser...

Stars is not going to revolutionize bookmarks by any means, at least not yet, but there are a few features that make it a welcome addition to Chrome. It's also something Chrome users should get used to, since Stars is being integrated into the beta Chrome browser and presumably the stable browser in the near future.

Adding a bookmark. Simple, no?

The actual bookmarking process isn't changing much in the desktop browser. You click the star in the search/URL bar, and a box pops up. Now, you technically don't have to do anything more than this, as it's instantly bookmarked, but you can scroll through the graphics to find the one you'd prefer associated with this bookmark and you can also select which folder you'd like to put it in. You can also click the trash can over the graphic if you accidentally hit the star button — a not uncommon occurrence when using a touchscreen.

All stars. Not to be confused with all-stars.

There's not a special Stars bookmark page, when you add Stars to Chrome it simply takes over chrome://bookmarks with a material interface. We have a menu bar to the left and by default we have all bookmarks showing. Sadly, unlike most material Google interfaces where we can switch between the grid and the list, the grid is the only option here, and if you've got a LOT of bookmarks, prepare to scroll or organize them if you want to find them quickly if you can't remember the title well enough for the search bar to help you.

Copy-paste would be a real step forward here.

In the all items list, bookmarks will say what folder they belong to. Unfortunately, bookmarks cannot belong to multiple folders, so if you need to share a bookmark in multiple places - we'll get to sharing in a second — you'll have to bookmark it multiple times. In the dropdown, we have a simple list of options for editing, moving and removing a bookmark, but there is no option to copy a bookmark.

Editing your stars is almost too easy.

If you need to edit a bookmark, you can click edit in any item and the whole list will switch over into edit mode, which is quite convenient for batch editing and sorting. While editing, you can also select batches of bookmarks to move from one folder to another.

Three types of folders. Each has its own issues.

There are three kinds of folders in Stars: folders in the Bookmarks Bar, regular folders, and auto folders. Auto folders are generated by Google automatically, and the only options you have with them is whether or not you want to delete them. You cannot make them on your own and you cannot manually add bookmarks to them.

Folder management in Stars makes me want to wish on one.

You can create regular folders, and if you'd like them to be easily accessible via the Bookmarks bar, you can move them from Folders to Bookmarks Bar, but they can only be in one place or the other. This honestly is a little nutty, and sure to drive users that way. The Bookmark Bar should be a folder within Folders so that you don't have to split your folders and bookmarks between the two. Mobile bookmarks should also be a folder in here, but it's not, which is bizarre considering that bookmark/history syncing between Chrome on mobile and desktop is one of the more important features of that browser.

No choice here. No integration.

Mobile bookmarks are not included in Stars at the moment as a folder, though the contents of said folder do indeed appear in Stars, sometimes twice. In addition, which you can indeed find the folders you've made in Stars in the bookmark section of Chrome's mobile browser, when adding bookmarks, you can only add them to the Mobile bookmarks folder, meaning you'll have to find them in All Bookmarks and add them to their correct folders later on a desktop computer.

Set to public. Be weary of this setting.

Stars allows you to share a folder of bookmarks, and this is found once you enter your folder. Another special schism between regular folders and Bookmark Bar folders: you can't make Bookmark Bar folders public, meaning you're not allowed to share them. So to share a folder it must be in the regular folders, and upon clicking share, you'll have to make it public in order to get the shareable link.

Shareable link, just as you see in Drive.

Please keep in mind that if you decide that you want to make the folder private again, the shareable link will quit working, so make sure that your party has either imported the links or copied them down somewhere before you do so. And remember that if you want to share a bookmark and you use it on your bookmarks bar, you might want to duplicate it in Stars.

Star light, star bright, first Stars we've seen tonight …

It's a good start, but you'll be making a lot of wishes while you're using Stars. Not big wishes, but wishes nonetheless. I wish mobile bookmarks showed up here. I wish I could add this to multiple folders. I wish I could color-code the bookmarks without images, like in Keep… So, are you wishing on Stars, or do you care how your bookmarks look as long as they work? Or have you moved on to more feature-rich bookmarking services like Evernote (opens in new tab)? If so, what's currently keeping your bookmarks in order?

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

18 Comments
  • When I tried this a month ago it was horrible (for my needs). It got rid of the "Other Bookmarks" default category, would not let me alphabetize from within folders, and there was no list view...only big freaking pictures. It looks like an abomination of Pinterest. But for bookmarks. But hey, to each their own right!
  • I agree, we need the list view back.
  • Yeh i got rid of it before long. I would have to change the way I use bookmarks to really take advantage of this, but I am not willing to until I no longer have a choice. Posted via the Android Central App
  • We're in the same boat on this one. Seems like Google was trying to copy Pinterest on the picture part but backfired with anyone with over 20+ bookmarks. I would recommend https://www.papaly.com/ if you're looking for what Google couldn't do right.
  • This is definitely not Material.
  • Chrome is the only browser without decent bookmark options. Stars does not fix the issue at all. Posted via Android Central App
  • This change is horrible. You can no longer drag a page into bookmarks and have it automatically bookmark. Bookmarks are too large and take up too much of the screen. I went into chrome://flags and changed it back to the regular bookmarks. I just disabled the 'Enable Enhanced Bookmarks' flag to get my old bookmarks back.
  • this is great...I even bookmarked the bookmarks manager!
  • Bookmarkception!
  • Can we now have the option to rename stared places on Google Maps within the map app without having to go into bookmarks?
  • One question, Ara: "In addition, which you can indeed find the folders you've made in Stars in the bookmark section of Chrome's mobile browser, when adding bookmarks, you can only add them to the Mobile bookmarks folder, meaning you'll have to find them in All Bookmarks and add them to their correct folders later on a desktop computer." It sounds like you're saying that the mobile Chrome app doesn't let you add bookmarks to folders other than 'Mobile Bookmarks', but that's not true - you can select any folder.
  • Does anyone still use Google Bookmarks? I prefer them over chrome bookmarks because you can access them from all browsers and from the Google bookmarks webpage, but all of the extensions and android apps that I used to use stopped working a long time ago. Posted via Android Central App
  • Wait, so they took the "new" Google Bookmarks App that came out a while ago and slapped an old name "Stars" on it? Or am I missing something?
  • My for use, I absolutely hate this new way to manage bookmarks. I wonder how many people agree with this article. Does anyone know how to revert back to the old way? I've read it can't be done.
  • This works for me. Not sure how long it will continue to work. https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/chrome/discuss-c...
  • You know what's better than bookmarks? Workspaces. Light years ahead. This is what I use: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/simple-window-saver/fpfmklldfn...
    I used to have all sorts of bookmarking solutions, trying all sorts of extensions and I didn't know exactly what I needed (or was missing) until I found that extension that just blew me away.
  • Nothing. NOTHING is keeping my bookmarks together. I have my most visited pages in my bookmarks bar, no text, icons only. That handles forums I visits regularly, gmail, facebook, reddit, maps, calendar... the basics. I have other bookmarks in "Google Stars" that I've saved recently. I also have bookmarks in Evernote. I also have an EXTENSIVE list of articles saved in Pocket, which is meticulously tagged. So not bookmarks per-se, since everything there is an actual article, but it's an archive. So... NOTHING. Oh, and my bookmarks in Chrome have nested folders upon nested folders including "old bookmarks" about 18 times, with bookmarks going as far back as 1998. I want a service that'll go through every bookmark I have and give me a list of all dead links. Then auto tag everything based on keywords, vague is fine. I want Evernote like sorting/tagging/notebook rich features but within Chrome. I dont want to have to search Evernote when I'm looking for a quick link. And it's never going to happen.
  • I never really understood the need for having highly graphical representation of bookmarks. I much more prefer to have them as links, organized in lists. One site that does this very well is http://start.me. This site allows me to organize hundreds of bookmarks and also enables me to see RSS feeds and notes all in one place.