Capture Your Personal Web

Forget bookmarks: Web content managers allow you to create your own personal, searchable cache of Web pages.

This makes them ideal alternatives to the wimpy bookmark/favorites utilities offered by most browsers. The problem with bookmarks is over time, once you’ve saved hundreds or even thousands, it’s easy to forget what a page is about or why you bookmarked it. Worse, bookmarks break the moment content is removed or shifted from its original location.

Web content managers solve this problem by saving pages, either in a local data store on the user’s computer or, in Furl’s case, on a remote server accessible from any Net-connected computer.

I’ve run favorable reviews of several Web content managers, including Furl, Onfolio, Seruku, and SurfSaver. All of these programs perform the same basic function — they save copies of Web pages to a permanent store, providing search and browse capabilities to help users find them again.

While researching my upcoming book, I discovered a new (to me) Web content manager. It’s quickly become indispensable. ContentSaver is a desktop-based application with two parts: a toolbar for Internet Explorer used to capture and annotate content and an Outlook-like program used to search and review the user’s personal stash of Web pages.

ContentSaver provides similar features and functions to the Web content managers mentioned above. You can save entire Web pages or selected parts (snippets, images, URLs, etc.). You can also annotate saved content with your own metadata to facilitate later searching.

What sets ContentSaver apart is it’s quite fast, both in the saving and searching phases. And its search capabilities are first-rate — especially if users take advantage of metadata tools provided with the program, which let users store all manner of attributes that have meaning specifically to them.

The toolbar has two buttons. “Save” captures the page you’re viewing to the “New Documents” folder with a single click. “File and Save” gives you more control, allowing you to specify a folder in which the document should be saved. It even allows you to create a new folder on the fly.

There’s also a nifty “Save Multiple Pages” button I use constantly. Click this button, and the program saves not just the page you’re viewing but all pages linked from that page, automatically, without the need to open each one individually in your browser. This is a fantastic time saver.

Like Onfolio, you can open your saved folders in an Explorer pane and navigate the saved content from within IE. But I prefer the standalone ContentSaver application that works like Outlook, showing your saved folder structure in the left pane, an Explorer-like pane with full filename details in the top pane and a Web page display in the bottom pane. This format lets you browse saved Web pages just like you browse your email.

ContentSaver also has strong sharing capabilities. Users can export to Microsoft Word or create a standalone presentation from saved content that can be emailed to a colleague. Users can also restore saved content to its original format with a single click.

If you’re looking for an industrial-strength replacement for your bookmarks or favorites, ContentSaver is an excellent choice. It’s also a great tool if you make presentations in which you need to show Web sites. Capture all the screens ahead of time, and you won’t need a live Internet connection to display those sites.

ContentSaver Download
30 day free trial; $US 39.90 to buy

Requires Windows 98 or higher and Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.01 or higher.

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