How to retrieve the bookmarks of other browsers from a backup

In this second entry on “How to retrieve the bookmarks…” I’ll talk about the other browsers, Internet Explorer, Opera and Google Chrome. I won’t write about another browser beyond those 3 (as matter of fact, I only thought of Safari, but I really don’t want to have more Apple software than it’s necessary on my PC, beyond iTunes).

Thus, without further ado, I’ll start with…

Internet Explorer

The big “e”, the browser of the teeming masses, at least until version 9 got released. I won’t talk more about this one because I have to work on a long rant towards that evil invention from Microsoft (again, until version 9 got released).

To recover your bookmarks (favorites) from Internet Explorer, you’ll need NOTHING. For real, NOTHING. When you create a favorite in IE, it creates a file with an URL extension inside a folder named Favorites, file that is recognized as a shortcut to the bookmarked page. The internals of the file contain a lot of information, however, the most important is the web address or URL, which is saved as the first value. The name of the Favorite is the file name of the URL file.

You can find the Favorites folder in Documents and Settings<user name>Favorites for 2000 and XP, and in Users<username>Favorites for Vista and 7.

IE's favorites saved on my PC, together with the Notepad showing the contents of one of those.

The URL files are so vastly standard that any browser can open them. Go ahead, drag one of those files to ANY browser (including Chrome, Opera and Firefox), and it will open the stored URL.. Pretty handy! (as matter of fact I used those URL files in a previous post… Now that I’m back to Windows XP, ideas run rampant in my head)

This is maybe one of the only things that Microsoft did well on IE. The structure of the files hasn’t changed at all in years (except IE9 and its Pinned Sites, which I will talk of later).


Opera is one of those not-well-known browsers, but when you see someone using it, you get to see how amazing it is. That happened to me years ago, and it still blows my mind with the features that recent versions add to it.

Opera’s handling of the bookmarks (called HotLists in previous versions) is DEAD simple. Opera keeps a plain text file for all your bookmarks called bookmarks.adr, where it saves the name of the bookmark, the URL and more information, like the creation date and an unique id.

A section of the bookmarks.adr file from my Opera installation. It is a pretty legible file format.

You just have to open the bookmarks.adr file with a trusty text file editor (like Notepad, or Notepad++) and extract all the information you need from a single place.

You can find that file in Documents and Settings<username>Application DataOperaOpera (for Windows 2000 or XP) or Users<username>AppDataRoamingOperaOpera (for Windows Vista or 7).

Google Chrome

And in the gallery of browsers that work really well, that respect the rules, but that have a truth to hide, we have Chrome, the new kid on the hood. While being the youngest of the fighters in the Browser Wars, it’s already on version 11! Well done Google, raising a version a month is really bad.

And here it is the file format of the Chrome bookmark file, kind of legible, but not that much.

Same as with Opera, to get Chrome’s bookmarks you only need a plain text editor, but, contrary to Opera, you need to understand the format of that file. What’s the name of the file you ask? Bookmarks. No file extension. Simple and plain. Inside of this file, in JSON format, Chrome stores your list of bookmarks, using a pretty hierarchical structure, kind of easy to understand.

You can find this extension-less file in Documents and Settings<username>Local SettingsApplication DataGoogleChromeUser DataDefault (for Windows 2000 or XP) or Users<username>AppDataLocalGoogleChromeUser DataDefault (for Windows Vista or 7).

My final words…

I hope this little spin-off from the Browser Wars can be of help to anyone of you. If you have doubts, questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to write them in the comments box.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *