How To… Alphabetize Bookmarks In Safari

by John Carroll on December 15, 2012

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ABC - Safari Bookmarks

Post Update

These instructions were written for older versions of OSX. If you wish to try them, make sure you have a backup copy of your contacts in case things go wrong. Backing up is mentioned below.

You may also wish to try out Safari Sort, a free App that I reviewed in November 11th, 2015 – Safari Sort – Get The Safari Bookmark Problem Sorted. Safari Sort is a great App, but it does have it’s limitations, so please make sure that you read the instructions carefully.

Good Luck

Safari doesn’t have a feature to alphabetize bookmarks or bookmark folders.

Never fear… with a few smart moves it can be done.

First, backup your current bookmarks.

  • Open Safari
  • Click the File menu and select Export Bookmarks…
  • Save your bookmarks.
  • If necessary, your bookmarks can be restored using the Import Bookmarks… command under the File menu

To alphabetize your bookmarks we need to get them out of Safari and onto the desktop.

  • Go to the Desktop.
  • Right click (or hold down the control key and click) and choose New Folder.
  • Name the folder “My Bookmarks” and leave it on the desktop.
  • Close all other Applications.
  • Open Safari
  • Click the Bookmark icon in the Bookmarks Bar.
Apple Safari Bookmarks Icon
  • On the left-hand side, the Bookmarks Sidebar slides open.
  • Click on Bookmarks Menu in the sidebar. This reveals your bookmarks and bookmark folders on the right-hand side.
  • Click on any one of your bookmarks or bookmark folders and press Command A to select all.
Apple Safari Bookmarks - Unsorted.
  • Now, drag everything selected onto the Desktop into the “My Bookmarks” folder.
Apple Safari - Drag n Drop Bookmarks

On the desktop, files and folders are automatically sorted alphabetically.

Next, we need to clean up Safari.

  • Open Safari.
  • Click the Bookmark icon in the Bookmarks Bar and the Bookmarks Sidebar slides open.
  • Click on Bookmarks Menu in the sidebar to reveal your bookmarks and bookmark folders.
  • Click on any of your original bookmarks or bookmark folders and press Command A to select all.
  • Hit Delete. This deletes your original bookmarks as you no longer need them.
Apple Safari Bookmarks - Delete

If you make a mistake don’t worry, just hit Command Z to undo your last action.

Finally, we need to bring your alphabetized bookmarks and bookmark folders back into Safari.

  • Go to the Desktop.
  • Open the “My Bookmarks” folder.
  • Select a bookmark or bookmarks folder. Press Command A to select all.
  • Drag these items into Safari and place them in the Bookmarks Menu.
  • Once again, if you make a mistake, press Command Z to undo you last action.
Apple Safari Bookmarks - Sorted

Congratulations. Your Safari bookmarks are now alphabetized.

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How To… Alphabetize Bookmarks In Safari was last modified: June 2nd, 2018 by John Carroll
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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar 1 Diane March 22, 2018 at 12:03 am

I’ve spent hours on this! Now I have deleted all of my bookmarks, but have them in a folder on my desktop. No way of dragging and dropping them back in the bookmark file. At least I didn’t delete them completely, but still a very frustrating and unproductive morning and will have to spend many more hours trying to fix it another day. Wish I never tried to alphabetize in the first place. Thanks anyway.

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John Carroll 2 John Carroll March 22, 2018 at 4:28 am

Hi Diane – Sorry that you’re having so much trouble. Did you happen to back up your bookmarks before you started? – John

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Avatar 3 Barbara November 7, 2017 at 11:41 am

Thank you, thank you, thank you…I’ve been struggling with this for 6+ years & now I have alphabetized bookmarks. All things being equal, if I can do it in my computer-challenged state, almost anyone can do it.

Thank you, again.

Barbara

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John Carroll 4 John Carroll November 10, 2017 at 5:34 am

My pleasure. Glad it helped 🙂 – John

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Avatar 5 Jim November 1, 2017 at 8:01 pm

More experience with Safari Sort on MAC OS 10.12.6. I have Safari Sort 2.0.2 and it works quickly and accurately to sort my bookmarks. However, the bookmarks do not stay sorted and that is an issue with Safari not Safari Sort. Of course, Sort needs to be run again when I make changes to the bookmark list. So I simply run Safari Sort daily; takes only a few seconds. It is mystifying that Apple does not fix the bookmarks management issue.

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John Carroll 6 John Carroll November 10, 2017 at 5:35 am

Agreed. Many basic functions are missing from Mac programs and they refuse to add them. – John

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Avatar 7 Alexis Alvarez May 30, 2017 at 2:51 am

John, thank you for this. Unfortunately, my efforts were unsuccessful.

I have 151 bookmark folders that I was able to drag into a folder; I then tried repeatedly to drag them (as a list) from back Finder to Safari, all to no avail. I get the little swirly ball for a few seconds and then nothing.

I also tried to download SafariSort, but the computer wouldn’t let me — can’t get past the Gatekeeper. When I checked my System Preferences/Security & Privacy/General, I get only two options: App Store” and “App Store and identified developers” — there’s no option for “Anywhere.” Can you advise?

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John Carroll 8 John Carroll June 5, 2017 at 11:23 pm

Sorry for the delay. After you download SafariSort, right click (control click) on the App and choose Open from the Menu options.Good luck. – John

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Avatar 9 Jay Stallard January 20, 2016 at 1:49 pm

I dragged my bookmarks out of Safari and deleted the items in safari – then sorted the bookmarks by letter in a folder on my desktop – I now want to drag those items back into safari but it is not allowing me to do so. Does anyone know how to drag these into Safari 9.0?

Thank you,
Jay

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John Carroll 10 John Carroll January 21, 2016 at 8:41 am

Open Safari – Go to Bookmarks > Edit Bookmarks. Drag your bookmarks off the desktop into this area.

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Avatar 11 daniel March 16, 2016 at 1:49 pm

These instructions where written 4 years ago. Maybe they aren’t applicable to mavericks? I ended up destroying my bookmarks. After hours of trying to do this. I did a restore from an older version of BOOKMARKS from my Time machine. I found a program called SAFARI SORT. Found I had already uploaded it in 2011. Clicked on the icon, clicked sort. clicked “alphabetical” it responded “Done”. 3 clicks… 3 second… done! All the folders and everything in them. Trickiest part is remembering you have the program? http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/34101/safarisort

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John Carroll 12 John Carroll March 22, 2016 at 1:15 am

Hey Daniel – Thanks for the heads up. I’ve added an addendum to the posy in question as follows:

Post Update

These instructions were written for older versions of OSX. If you wish to try them, make sure you have a backup copy of your contacts in case things go wring. Backing up is mentioned below.

You may also wish to try out Safari Sort, a free App that I reviewed in November 11th, 2015 – Safari Sort – Get The Safari Bookmark Problem Sorted. Safari Sort is a great App, but it does have it’s limitations, so please make sure that you read the instructions carefully.

Reply

Avatar 13 Kae Yates December 12, 2016 at 9:33 am

I’ve had SafariSort for several years and get it updated when a new version comes out. It does a good job at sorting the bookmarks, however, within a day or two the lower half of each list become scrambled again while the upper half of the list remain alphabetized. So, SafariSort sorta works!

Reply

Avatar 14 tom s January 14, 2016 at 2:17 am

For what version of Safari did you write this? It won’t work on ver. 9.0.2

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John Carroll 15 John Carroll January 14, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Make sure you have SafariSort 2.0.1. I just tried it on my Safari 9.0.2 and it worked. – John

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Avatar 16 Elisabeth March 23, 2016 at 11:54 pm

Hi John, Thanks for the post. Before I get the 2.0.1 Safari Sort, I want to know if it will work on my Safari version 9.0.3.. Your input GREATLY appreciated

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John Carroll 17 John Carroll March 24, 2016 at 8:32 pm

Hi Elisabeth – Unfortunately I don’t have Safari 9.0.3 to test Safari Sort on, but according to the website it’s been tested and works on El Capitan, Yosemite and MAvericks so I can’t forsee any problems. Follow the instructions in the post to make a backup of your Safari bookmarks and you should be fine. – John C

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Avatar 18 Sharon December 3, 2015 at 6:39 pm

At first I was clapping because finally I had found a way to alphabetize my bookmarks. However, this morning I discovered that my entire Favorites Bar was deleted and replaced with the generic and very simple favorites bar that comes with beginning Safari. They also are not in the Bookmarks folder I made and put on the desktop, although all the other bookmarks are there. When I go to Import Bookmarks, it just gives me the bookmarks I have on the desktop- with Favorites Bar erased. I don’t know how to get back to Time Machine Backup from Safari. I had sooooooo much in my Favorites Bar that I wanted handy. Any help here would be really good.
Sharon

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John Carroll 19 John Carroll December 6, 2015 at 1:22 am

Hi Sharon – I’ve been thinking about your comment over the past few days and there are so many variables there is no simple answer, but you could try to restore your bookmarks using Time Machine and following the instructions in this Macworld post from 2014. The information should still be good – How to restore deleted Safari bookmarks Also, when you are done, take a look at my newer post on SafariSort – SafariSort – Get The Safari Bookmark Problem Sorted – Good luck with everything – John C

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Avatar 20 Sharon December 7, 2015 at 1:25 am

Hello John, Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I have gone to both of your linked help pages and am thinking about what to do. Meantime, I want to tell you that when I was following the process described in this column, I was never able to find the “Bookmarks Menu” you showed so I selected the bookmarks using the rest of your instructions and finished the alphabetizing. I still do not seem to have that “Bookmarks Menu”. I don’t know if that made a difference.

Also while going through the “My Bookmarks” folder I did find one of the Favorites-Bar Folders, opened it, and found the original contents. I was able t get those back into my present Favorites Bar. Couldn’t find any others though. I don’t know if I should try going into Time Machine to retrieve the old bookmarks. I have done about 3 hours of work going through these bookmarks, editing names and deleting things I no longer needed. I would not like to do that again. I will have to read your instructions again to see if I can use both sets of bookmarks to weed out / or save particular items. At any rate, I really enjoy your website and thank you for the time and knowledge you put into it. Sharon

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John Carroll 21 John Carroll December 8, 2015 at 8:01 am

Thanks Sharon.Much appreciated. – John

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Avatar 22 Sharon December 18, 2015 at 6:54 pm

Hi again,
Just a little update on my problem of missing items in Favorites Bar.
I just noticed an item on my desktop called SafariBookmarks.html. I missed it before because I didn’t know to look for it – I was only looking for the “My Bookmarks” Folder – and ALSO, my desktop has entirely too much stuff on it.

Anyway, when I clicked on SafariBookmarks.html I found all my previous bookmarks – the original – so I assume that’s what came from the export command. I will have to click on each link to retrieve the site, but that’s ok, I have all my saved favorites and can now put them into my new alphabetized bookmarks. I am delighted.

Thanks again for your great site.

Sharon

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John Carroll 23 John Carroll December 22, 2015 at 6:52 am

Perfect time of the year for a happy ending. 🙂 John

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Avatar 24 Brian November 1, 2015 at 10:08 am

Hi again,
I tried this and after deleting my old unalphabetized bookmarks I could not drag and drop the newly alphabetized list. What now?
Thanks.

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John Carroll 25 John Carroll November 6, 2015 at 3:17 am

Have you tried going to the Safari menu and choosing File > Import From > Bookmarks HTML File ?

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Avatar 26 Brian November 1, 2015 at 10:07 am

Hi John, I tried this too. But after I deleted the bookmarks in the bookmark menu I am unable to drag and drop the newly alphabetized list. Help? My old bookmarks albeit out of order are Gone!

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Avatar 27 Jacqueline Rose October 11, 2015 at 1:23 pm

This is a great idea but sadly doesn’t work for me at all – when I try and drag and drop the alphabetised bookmarks back into Safari they simply do not appear, whether I try and drop them into the sidebar or click the edit button and drop them under the bookmarks menu. Very frustrating. Do you have any alternative solutions for this perhaps?

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Avatar 28 Jacqueline Rose October 11, 2015 at 1:28 pm

I should clarify : all my bookmarks are in folders. It will not accept the folders back in Safari but I can drag and drop individual bookmarks – kind of pointless though as I have about 30 folders and need to be able to drag the folders with the bookmarks they contain back into Safari.
Thanks.

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John Carroll 29 John Carroll October 17, 2015 at 6:25 am

Hi Jacqueline – I just discovered a new piece of free software that may solve your problem. Install SafariSort. The first time you run it, ask it to sort Folders, then run it again and ask it to sort bookmarks. Worked perfectly for me. Hopefully, this is your solution. Let me know how it works for you – John C

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Avatar 30 Karen H November 28, 2015 at 8:13 pm

No one left feedback on the SafariSort software. Was this the final answer? I used to be able to drag my folders into alphabetical order, but now it will insert the folder into the folder above where I am trying to insert.

~ K

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John Carroll 31 John Carroll December 2, 2015 at 3:29 am

Try going into Safari Bookmarks. Scroll to the bottom and click Edit. Then in the window that opens toy should be able to move your Safari Bookmark folders around – John

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Avatar 32 Lisen December 3, 2015 at 4:06 am

Worked for me too, although I only had to ask it to sort my Bookmarks Folders.
Finally a happy ‘Safari’ camper!

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Avatar 33 Tina October 5, 2015 at 1:10 am

VERY helpful. Finally, I now have my bookmarks alphabetized! Going forward—how do I keep them that way? When I add a new bookmark, how do I tell the bookmark menu where I want it to go?

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John Carroll 34 John Carroll October 6, 2015 at 9:36 am

There is no automatic way. You have to go into Bookmarks and drag it to the correct spot on the list. Amazing, Apple never fixed this. – John C

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Avatar 35 Brandy Marks April 1, 2015 at 9:30 pm

While this works just fine, there should be an easier way – like have the option on the bookmark toolbar in Safari. After all, don’t most people prefer their bookmarks in alphabetical order so they are simpler to locate when needed?

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John Carroll 36 John Carroll April 3, 2015 at 3:05 pm

Hi Brandy – Seems like a no-brainer to me too. You can always suggest improvements here and hope someone passes it up the chain. Have a good weekend – John

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Avatar 37 Elly Huber December 8, 2014 at 7:25 am

thanks for this
My bookmarks bar was chaotic and now all is clear again

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John Carroll 38 John Carroll December 8, 2014 at 11:14 am

It’s an odd thing to have to do… and you’d think Apple would have offered this option by now. Glad it helped.

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Avatar 39 Cynthia December 1, 2014 at 1:06 am

Very helpful! “A” command did not select the bookmarks so I could export them. I had to select them one by one to move as a group…not sure why, and the same to return them to Safari…selected individually and dragged back to bookmarks, but your instructions led me to the solution, it worked very well, and I thank you for solving this problem that has longed plagued me!

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John Carroll 40 John Carroll December 1, 2014 at 7:10 am

It’s been like this for years… Personally, I’ve given up hope it’s a feature they’ll ever include. Not sure why you had to select each group instead of all bookmarks. Hope you had a good Thanksgiving.

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Avatar 41 SG Howell December 1, 2014 at 12:35 am

How can Apple be so stupid not to provide a easy way to alpha its bookmarks. This is plum dumb to have so may good features and the hell with this.????

Another stupid mistake is there is not way to read a pdf files or anything using pages. The program will export in 6 formats, but cannot read anything, but itself. How can they make the best computer made and they do not fix minor problems, to become the world leader in word processing.

SG Howell

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John Carroll 42 John Carroll December 1, 2014 at 7:08 am

Agreed. It’s pretty lame. It seems the small things get missed year after year. If you want to give Apple feedback try – https://www.apple.com/feedback/

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Avatar 43 harrybosch January 10, 2014 at 12:33 am

Great info! So simple. Thanks!

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