May 23, 2008

FriendFeed Friday Tips #2: Using the Bookmarklet

By popular demand, I've been asked by other FriendFeed users to highlight how I use the popular social lifestreaming site. The first topic, covered how to best use the "Hide" function. Today, I wanted to introduce the underutilized, but quite versatile, bookmarklet.
In addition to supporting the import of several dozen services into your feed, FriendFeed lets you post directly to the site in two ways. The first is the straight-forward "Share Something" link at the top of the page, begging for a quick message and corresponding link. The second, and much more fun way, to share something is to use their bookmarklet, which lets you share any page you find interesting on the Web, including photos and even an excerpt, should you choose.

1. Where Can You Find the Bookmarklet?

FriendFeed hasn't yet made finding the Bookmarklet easy. A page describing its use, including a tutorial video, can be found here. The bookmarklet is essentially a smart snippet of JavaScript code that lives as a bookmark in your browser. To get started, drag the phrase "Share on FriendFeed" to your bookmark bar, as shown in the graphic below.

As I use a number of social media services, and several offer the ability to share directly to their site, I've even made a folder in my Safari bookmarks called "Sharing", with "add to FriendFeed" as one option. (See screenshot)

2. How Can You Use the Bookmarklet?

Once the FriendFeed Bookmarklet is saved in your browser, you can use it on just about any page on the Web. If you find an interesting article, click "Share on FriendFeed".

By clicking "Share on FriendFeed", the Bookmarklet will autopopulate with the title of the article, usually also containing the source. In this example, I have shared "When Good AdWords Ads Go Bad" from CenterNetworks.

Next to the "thought bubble", you can add any comments you wish to the article, and they, along with the title, will be added to your feed when you hit the "Share on FriendFeed" button.

The default location is "My feed", but now, with the addition of FriendFeed Rooms, you can even click the pull-down menu next to "Share to" and send it to just one of your rooms and not the main feed.

3. How Can You Quote Text in the Bookmarklet?

A common use of the Bookmarklet is to share a key piece from the story. This can be done by first, highlighting the text to share, and then clicking "Share on FriendFeed". In this case, again you see the title and source are provided, but now, the text you selected populates the comment area.

Again, you can send this to your feed by clicking "Share on FriendFeed".

4. What About Pictures?

One of the cooler things about the Bookmarklet is the ability to select pictures from the shared story, and add them as well. Once you have hit the "Share on FriendFeed" Bookmarklet, hover your mouse over any image on the page, and you will see a little rectangle pop up, saying "Share image on FriendFeed". Click once to get the picture added to your Bookmarklet in progress. Adding an image, or multiple images, if you choose, does not change the title or the comments being shared.

In this example, I picked one of the AdWords graphics Allen Stern of CenterNetworks used in his article.

5. How Do I Know It Worked?

When you've added a link by way of the Bookmarklet, and you're happy with its title, the comment and any graphics, you hit "Share on FriendFeed". To see it in action, just go back to and it'll likely be at the top of the feed, as the most recent item. If you don't check right away, just head back to your own personal feed, and you can find it there.

Just like with any other shared item in FriendFeed, you can click the "More" option, to link directly to it, reshare it somewhere else on FriendFeed, or delete it entirely.

6. What Can't I Do With the Bookmarklet?

One thing you can't do with a Bookmarklet is change its title, URL or graphics after something has been posted. You can edit your comment, or delete it, but the title can't be changed, so be sure it's solid before publishing. Also, it is possible to find sites where graphics that look shareable on the Bookmarklet actually aren't, either by being used in a non-standard way by the Web site author, or, in other cases, they are dynamically built and not actual graphics at all. I've also, at times, found that clicking on an image to share it may instead see me off to another site as the image is linked elsewhere. But that's more an issue with the shared site, and not the Bookmarklet itself.

With all the rage of late saying whether FriendFeed can replace Twitter or serve as a substitute, it's worth noting that you can do more than just post text and links to your feed, but graphics as well, and conversations that last more than 140 characters.

To see a long list of items I've shared on FriendFeed using the Bookmarklet, check here: And don't forget to add the Bookmarklet yourself.

Next week's FriendFeed Friday Tip may or may not involve the new Rooms. You let me know what's needed.