3 favorite tips for Favorites

Do you take advantage of the Favorites menu in Internet Explorer to save links to the Web sites you want to find again? Also known as "bookmarks," your favorite links can be really handy, as long as you don't end up with a list that's as messy as mine tends to be. So, since it was past time for me to clean up my Favorites, I thought it'd be a great chance to share some of my favorite Favorites tips.

If you've not used Favorites before, How to Use Favorites to Get Around the Web is a great place to start learning about them. And this set of Internet Explorer How-to Articles includes a ton of great information that can help make your browsing easier.

Tip 1: Alphabetize your list
Scanning through your list of favorites may be easier if they're sorted in alphabetical order. Here’s how:

  1. Right-click anywhere on the Favorites menu.
  2. On the menu that opens, click Sort by Name. See step 2 in the image below. Internet Explorer lists folders first (if you have them), and then individual Web pages in the main list.

Image of sample Favorites menu with Sort by Name clicked

Tip 2: Organize your favorites using Windows Explorer
One handy thing to know about Favorites is that they are actually little files that are stored in a folder (called "Favorites") just like other files are stored on your computer. This means that you can work with them like you do with other files. The trick is finding where the folder is stored, as it's not under My Documents. (Windows keeps the folder containing your favorites with your other User Profile information.) You can quickly open your Favorites folder using Windows Explorer by doing the following:

  1. On the Internet Explorer toolbar, Click Favorites.
  2. Hold down the SHIFT key, and then click Organize Favorites.

Image of Organize Favorites on the Favorites menu in Internet Explorer

After you right-click Organize Favorites, your Favorites folder will open in Windows Explorer. This makes it easy for you to move links between the different file folders, delete them, and rename them.

Image of Favorites folder in Windows Explorer

If working with files this way is new to you, see Super simple sorting: Organize your files for a quick overview of how to sort files.

Tip 3: Use the Links feature for fast access
I have a few Web sites that I go to nearly every day. I've found the fastest way to get to them is by adding them to the Links folder in the Favorites menu. Anything in the Links folder will be available in the Links toolbar, which you have the option of showing at the top of your browser Window, as I've done in the following image. Note that I use one or two character names for the links so I can fit lots of them onto the toolbar. You can change the name of any of your favorites by right-clicking it from the Favorites menu, and then clicking Rename.

Image of sample Links toolbar in Internet Explorer

There are many more ways you can make Internet Explorer work the way you want it to. Stay tuned for future tips, including suggestions on how to backup your favorites and how to copy them to another computer.

—Robbin Young

Comments (39)

  1. You might want to take a look at Powermarks from Kaylon. I’m using it quite some time and still loving it.

  2. mabster says:

    My #1 tip for using Favorites: Make sure each item begins with a unique letter.

    Then you can use Alt+A and a single keystroke to get to a commonly-used shortcut.

    If you have folders, just make sure your folders also start with unique letters. For example, I have MSDN blogs in a "Blogs" folder, and I access it using "Alt+A,B,M".

    Couple that tip with the use of a Favorites item in your Start Menu and you have a super-fast way of getting to any site. eg "Windows Key,A,B,M" to get to MSDN blogs.

  3. Jennifer Kontou says:

    Great info Easy to read and easy to apply thanks

  4. Patrick Daly says:

    Ok, I’ve tried your suggestions and here’s what I get. Tip 1. When I right click the fav menu "sort by name" isn’t one of the choices on the drop down menu. How can I add it?

    Tip2. When I hold the shift key and click organize I don’t go to Windows Explorer. The same box opens as if I hadn’t used the shift key. Any suggestions there? I can alphabetize my fav list but I have to manually go into win explorer to do it. Is there a place to change these settings?

    Thank you,

    P J Daly

  5. Mark Frerichs says:

    I’ve also organized My Favorites by changing the icon of the URLs that I use most to icons that represent the link I use (e.g. I use the Dell logo icon for the Dell Premiere Support site).

    This allows me to select the URL I want without having to read the entire description.

  6. Bruce Cook says:

    When I right click the fav menu, there is no "Sort by Name"

  7. Very good explanation. I forwarded to three novices .

  8. Andre Favron says:

    Great tips, I hope you don’t mind that I bookmarked this page 🙂

  9. Ram Krishnan says:

    These were very good tips. I did not know that I could SHIFT + Click my Favorites and get it to open in Windows Explorer. I am sure this is giong to come in very handy in the future!

  10. I’m with Patrick and Bruce … "sort by name" isn’t one of my options.

  11. john says:

    Tip two does not work in the home version.

  12. Peggy Wheeling says:

    These are great tips.  I wish I had known about the SHIFT + Click when I had to move my Favorites from one computer to another.  It’s a lot easier to move them from folder to folder.  And also to delete than use that tiny window if you just use the normal Organize Favorites link.

  13. Dilip kumar says:

    Wow, this is great tip. I was always wondering, how I can sort my favorites. Glad that I read your tips.

  14. Marsha Smith says:

    Very helpful! But I don’t get the "sort by name choice.

  15. Nic Mills says:

    I agree with Pat and Bruce above – No "sort by name". So how do we get round this and where can we find the answers? Great to have a comments page but no good if you are left wanting answers! Thanks.

  16. Donna White says:

    I could put favorites in alphabetical order but NO longer! The drop down list containing "sort by name" no longer exsists- this is very frustrating.

  17. Claude LaPerle says:

    Tip 1. When I right click the fav menu "sort by name" isn’t one of the choices on the drop down menu. How can I add it?

  18. Irene Soika says:

    Great information

  19. I relly like the tip on how to open a Windows Explorer window while in favorites.  I trie to use the right click and didn’t get anything  — It appears that you must use the left click mouse button on my computer setup.  Please check your instructions.

    Thanks for the tips.

  20. Ziggy says:

    An even better way (in my opinion) to organize the links bar is to use sub-folders in the links folder. It shows up as a folder on the links bar, and when you click it, it drops down all the links in that folder. AND any subfolders under that one will also expand.

    I have my links bar set up with a work folder, a bank folder (with my banks’ URLs), a bills folder to pay online bills, an email folder for my hotmail, gmail, yahoo, etc, a Maps folder for map sites, a news folder, a tech folder, a search folder, a TabletPC folder, etc, etc.

    Works great for those with lots of links that need to be accessed easily and quickly but who don’t have a lot of room.  And you don’t need to rename them A, B, C, #, %, etc…

  21. Ziggy says:

    In response to the "Sort by name is not available" posts:

    I’m using the IE7 beta, and the Favorites pane (the side section on the left) does not give me that option, but if I go to the File/Edit/View/Favorites/Tools/Help bar (available by pressing and releasing ALT for the IE7 users) and choose Favorites from there, the "Sort by name" option is available by right-clicking.

  22. I have one more question. Once I have found the file,can I save it to a flash drive, take it with me and use it on others computers?

  23. Mary Inman says:

    When I right click, there are no options.

    When I right click the add or the organize at top of column that displays, it simply says "close".

  24. IrishJim68 says:

    In response to Patrick Daly’s post, the place to "sort by name" and to get the Favorites folder to open as described, is to do it from the Favorites menu on the menu bar in IE, not the Favorites sidebar.

  25. chefcat says:

    RE: tip #3, how do i add Links folder to tool bar?

    general: I see question above from another person. How do I find the answer sent to him/her?

  26. Dr. Bar says:

    We do speed checking for very specific research on the internet. Many time, we locate useful information for future projects. In the past, we would toss the links on the desktop but that has limits and running icons "off screen" happened often. We started using "Favorites" and pointing the files to store on our server for easy access from anywhere. Firefox has a cleaner view for the links but there are other problems with Firefox that keep us using IE.

  27. Guus Brugman says:

    Even better, you can add folders to the Links so you will have pull down lists of favorites for each folder in you List bar. So you can group your favorites in folders in the Links.

  28. Byron says:

    Another tip: I use my favorites to navigate often used places on my system, internal network. I group common areas in folders so that it takes less than 2 clicks. I normal open the favorites on the left and prefer it to the file explorer navigator.

  29. Gil Andrada says:

    i cannot right click on "organize favorites" so it does not open in Windows Explorer… hope to hear from you!

  30. Kay Williams says:


    I knew I had sorted alpha before, but forgot how, and have been having a miserable time since.

    Thanks also for the other tips.

  31. Feiner says:

    Tip #3 is my favorite and have used it for years. I also make folders with shorts cuts inside and place it on my Links bar so it becomes more 3D. I have one folder called:  Phone #s and inside I have a links to no where but I renamed them to show name and phone number of friends and colleagues. Like: Roger G Ext 5490   I just click the folder and I have an instant mini phone book

  32. I also had not been able to find "Sort by name" towards the bottom of the box. Now I see that it can be found at the top of the box in th new Beta edition of Internet Explorer.

  33. BREAD says:

    Receive email updates to this post  thanks

  34. Great Suggestions! For those who had difficulties….

    Tip 1: You must first click on Favorites to open up the drop down list – THEN right click. Sort by name is the next to last at the bottom.

    Tip 2: Again, you must click to open up the Favorites list first. THEN hold down the SHIFT key AND click on ORGANIZE FAVORITES. The new window will open right up.

    Question:I love the customized icons in the favorites – that makes everything much easier for me. The problem is, everytime I use Window Washer, all of the custom icons dissappear. Is there a way to keep them from wash to wash?

  35. Cain_O says:

    just an extra tip, you can also add folders to the Links folder to organize your "favorites amongst favorites" even better

  36. Marcos says:

    Do you know of a plug-in or free application I can download to organize my favorites (instead of using the IE feature to organize them)?

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