There are some sites and pages you visit every day. Bookmarks make visiting those sites a lot easier, but they aren’t the only way — in fact, there are a few tricks that are faster and easier than your browser’s bookmark bar.
Set Up Keywords
Clicking on bookmarks is fine, but we’re keyboard nuts here at Lifehacker. If you can do something without taking your hands off the keyboard, it’s probably faster and easier than using your mouse. So, instead of putting your favourite sites in the bookmark bar, give them a keyword in your browser so you can get there with just a few quick keystrokes. (It’s especially easy if you know the Ctrl+L shortcut.)
For Mozilla Firefox (Windows/Mac/Linux/Android/iOS): If you use Firefox as your primary browser, whether on Windows, Mac, Linux, this feature is very simple. When you add any bookmark to Firefox, you can also add a keyword to it. Type this keyword in the address bar, hit enter and Firefox will take you to that bookmark right away.
(OK, so we know this method technically uses bookmarks, but it’s just a much easier way to access them.)
For Google Chrome (Windows/Mac/Linux): Unlike Firefox, Chrome does not give you an option to add a keyword to a bookmark — but there is a workaround for that. Just use Chrome’s custom search engine feature.
Basically, instead of creating a custom search engine, you can fool Chrome into thinking the link is a search engine and thus create a short alias for it. Right-click the omnibox, choose “Edit Search Engines”, and add a new one with a name, your desired link in the URL box and a short keyword. Type that keyword in the omnibox and hit enter to be taken directly to your link.
To set up a good keyword, you need to make it easy to remember and short to type (less than three characters is ideal). It’s also a good idea to use numbered keywords if you are visiting multiple pages from the same website.
The other browsers for desktop operating systems like Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera don’t support either of the above methods and there doesn’t seem to be an easy alternative either.
Use Text Expansion for Sub-Forums and Site Categories
You probably know about text expansion, the feature in many apps that allows you to type long strings of text with only a few keystrokes. This can be quite useful in visiting frequently visited websites. Not only does it work across different browsers (unlike keywords), but it also lets you visit sections of a website — such as Reddit — much easier.
On the desktop, we recommend PhraseExpress for Windows and aText for Mac. On mobile, whether you are using Android or iPhone or any other smart OS, your favourite keyboard will take care of your auto-expansion needs. Head to the keyboard settings and you will find it there; here’s how to enable text expansion in iOS, and the method is similar for any other platform.
Essentially, you can use text expansion to create keywords like we did above — type “,lh” for example, and you can have it expand to http://www.lifehacker.com.au in a jiffy.
More useful is the ability to create keywords for “base URLs” for sites with multiple channels, forums or sections. For example, you could have the text expansion “,rd” for “http://reddit.com/r/”. That way, you could go straight to a specific subreddit just by typing “,rd”, then the name of the subreddit — no need to type out the entire URL or bookmark a bunch of different subreddits.
For Long URLs Away From Home: Use URL Shorteners
Some pages — like files you’ve shared on Dropbox, or things you’ve saved in Google Docs — have insanely long URLs that you’ll never remember. I find that I have a few things like this that I need to access frequently, including when I’m not at my own computer — and URL shorteners make it a lot easier.
Which URL shortener you use doesn’t matter, but it helps if the site lets you create custom URLs, like is.gd or bit.ly. For example, I have a work schedule saved in Google Docs. If I set up a custom URL, such as “http://is.gd/mihirschedule,…, I can open it quickly from any computer.
The problem with this method is that you are not guaranteed of receiving the custom URL you want because someone else might have already booked it. What you need to concentrate on here is making a URL that is easy to remember. Chances are it will still take you a much shorter time to type and remember that than the original full link.