computer image

Technology Tip of the Month

August 1999: Preserving What You've Found Online

by Deborah Healey

You're browsing the web, and you find some really great sites. When you're sitting at home on your own computer, keeping track of what you've found is easy -- you just bookmark the site and go on. If you're really on top of things and organized, you even put the new bookmark into the appropriate place in a folder within your bookmark file.

Organizing bookmarks

If you're like me, you get around to organizing after the fact and it takes three times as long. If you want to save your bookmarks in an organized way, here's how:

In Netscape Navigator/Communicator, pull down the Bookmarks menu and select Organize Bookmarks so that you have the Bookmarks window open. Move the Bookmarks window until you can see it and the location bar in Navigator.

iconNow, drag the bookmark icon over to the bookmark window, and put it where you'd like it. (You can drag the bookmark icon to the desktop, as well, to create a link to the page that way.)

If you're organizing after the fact, you'll still need to have the bookmarks window open. Once it's open, you can create new folders and separator lines (under the Edit menu) and drag the links up or down to put them into folders.

Bookmark window

Favorites window

In Internet Explorer, you'll do much the same thing: Open the Favorites window, then click in the main Explorer window on the location, then drag it over to the desired place in the Favorites window.

Here, too, you can create folders and separators (with the Favorites menu) and drag links up or down to put them into the appropriate folders.

If you're not at your own computer, you'll need to be sure to take the bookmark file or the favorites you've saved with you. If you're using Netscape, open the Bookmarks window and choose Save as... from the File menu to put the file on your disk. In current versions of Internet Explorer, you'll pull down the File menu to "Import and Export," then choose Export Bookmarks from the Import/Export Wizard.

Saving sites to disk

Some sites are very volatile. News sites, for example, typically update what's on their pages several times a day. If there's information from a news site that you want to keep, you'll need to save it to disk.

Aren't there copyright issues? Yes -- web sites are copyrighted, just as any print medium would be. As an educator, you would follow the same fair use guidelines as for print. This means that if you want to use the site repeatedly, you'll need to ask for permission to keep it on your disk. Do keep in mind that web sites are very public, and it's not hard for a copyright holder to find a bootleg copy of their site, if they look for it.

Assuming, however, that you are following fair use guidelines or have gotten permission to keep the website on your disk, here's how:

  1. When you're on the page you want to keep, start by seeing if the page has frames. If it has frames and you want to keep the information in all the frames, your best bet is to use a commercial product like WebWhacker at The latest version of this program claims to download sites with frames well. I'd suggest you try before you buy. The product is great if you download sites a lot, but probably not worth the expense and learning curve if you just do a page from time to time.
  2. If there are no frames or if you just want the information in the main window, then life is much easier. Pull down the File menu and select Save as...
  3. To keep only the text, choose Text from the pull-down menu at the bottom of the Save As... box. You can then open the file in any word-processor.

    To keep the page as a page, choose Source from the menu at the bottom of the Save As... box. The latest versions of Internet Explorer will save the graphics with the text, making life much easier. In Internet Explorer, pull down the File menu to Save As... and choose "Web Archive, single file" if you will use the page only on Internet Explorer, or select "Web Page, complete" to have files that you can use in any browser.

    You can save graphics and text in Netscape as well, but it's a bit more complicated. Choose Edit Page from the File menu, which will open the page in Composer, then save the page. This will give you the base htm or html file and the graphics as separate files. For earlier versions of Netscape and IE, see "The Web Offline" Tech Tip. Don't count on getting all the graphics with the text, and any server-based forms will no longer work once you're not connected to the original server.

  4. Once you've saved the source, you can open it from inside Netscape or Internet Explorer to see if it worked correctly.

Emailing sites to yourself

If you're not sitting at your own computer and you find a great site, it's often easier just to email the location and the file to yourself. Under the File menu in Netscape, you'll find Send File; if you're in luck, you can just select that option, type in your email address, and click Send. It may complain if the mail server has not been set in the preferences; for help with that, check the Tech Tip on email

Choosing Send File in Netscape sends a message with the location (URL) inside the message, and the page source as an attachment to the message. You don't get the graphics this way, just the main page. To get the graphics, you'd have to Edit Page and save to get the graphics, then send all the files to yourself. If there are a lot of graphics, you will probably want to combine the files using WinZip (shareware) or another compression tool to create one larger file, then send that. It's not difficult as long as WinZip is installed on your computer, but it's time-consuming.

IE Send Page by E-mail

With Internet Explorer, you can pull down the File menu to Send, then choose "Page by E-mail." This won't bring the graphics along, unfortunately. If you want the graphics, you have two basic choices. You can save the file to disk as a Web Archive and open it only in Internet Explorer. Alternatively, you can Save As... "Web Archive, complete" and use WinZip to compress all the pieces into one file, which you send to yourself. You can also choose to send Link by E-mail, which takes less space in the mailbox. If it's something you really want to keep, I'd go for sending the page.

See Other tech tips

If you have questions, comments, or for more information, contact Deborah Healey, dhealey AT uoregon DOT edu
Last updated 26 June, 2009