Safari iPhone bookmarklets: Clunky setup, but very useful

The new Apple iPhone
iPhone apps are cool, but sometimes bookmarklets are helpful, too. (Image by Victor Svensson via Flickr)

As an avid iPhone user, I love my apps! I use several of them daily, including Omnifocus, GroceryZen, Twittelator Pro, Google Mobile, iBART, and Google Maps.

Apps are not enough, however. First of all, some online services I use (like Gruvr or My511, nudge nudge) don’t yet offer iPhone apps. (This is especially annoying if they also don’t default to mobile-friendly site layout upon mobile access, grumble…)

But also, several very cool and useful online services are meant to play nice with the rest of the web.

For instance, I get value from my preferred social bookmarking service Delicious because I can use it to bookmark, tag, and comment on any page I happen to be browsing. And on Twitter I often tweet links to pages I find online. For these services, I want their functionality integrated with my iPhone’s Safari browser (since you can’t run two apps at once on the iPhone, and since the iPhone also doesn’t yet allow cut and past, grumble…)

That’s when Javascript-based iPhone Safari bookmarklets can come in handy…

Lifeclever explains in 17 powerful bookmarklets for your iPhone that: “Bookmarklets are little pieces of Javascript code that can be saved as ordinary bookmarks in your web browser. They enhance your browsing experience by giving you super-instant access to useful tools and special functionality.”

Since I’m an utterly compulsive user of Twitter and Delicious, I’ve installed a couple of bookmarklets in my iPhone’s browser to allow me to integrate my mobile web surfing with those services pretty easily.

My preferred Twitter iPhone app is Twittelator Pro (which costs $4.99 and just this week debuted a very, very slick and handy 2.0 update). It used to frustrate me that if I found a cool page in my iPhone browser, I couldn’t easily tweet it because of the lack of iPhone cut-and-paste. But recently I installed the Twittelator iPhone bookmarklet in mobile Safari.

This bookmarklet solves that problem perfectly for me. Here’s an example of how I used this bookmarklet on my iPhone to create this link tweet.

I posted this link tweet today from my iPhone. This didn't used to be easy.

I posted this link tweet today from my iPhone. This didn't used to be easy

Here’s how I made it happen:

1. I opened the article page in mobile Safari. Then I clicked the bookmarks icon.


2. I selected the Post with Twittelator bookmark, which I’ve saved in Safari on my iPhone:

3. Twittelator then launches and puts the full URL into a new tweet.


4. I add some explanatory text for that link. But when I do that, I end up with a tweet that’s 30 characters too long. No worries. I hit “send,” and…


5. Twittelator allows me to shorten the link. When I do that…


6. My tweet now has 39 characters to spare. Perfect for posting! I click “send” again, and it posts to Twitter.



The process of saving a working Javascript bookmarklet into mobile Safari on the iPhone is a bit clunky. In this case, I first had to navigate in mobile Safari to the Twittelator iPhone bookmarklet page and follow the lengthy instructions there. Basically you have to save that page as a bookmark, and then go back and edit that bookmark to delete everything before the javascript:window.location=%27twit://%27+window.location part of the URL. Once you do that, the bookmarklet executes the steps to post to Twitter (rather than just bring up the explanatory page about the bookmarklet).

This gymnastic routine currently is the norm for implementing a useful bookmarklet into mobile Safari. Yes, it’s clunky. But it only has to be done once per bookmarklet, and then you have the functionality. I think that, for now, that’s an acceptable tradeoff.

I hope that in the future that Apple will make this process less cumbersome — or even better, start allowing cut and past in the iPhone OS so I don’t even need the bookmarklet to make the two apps work together.

But for now, this is a big help.

Oh, and: Here’s the post to Delicious iphone bookmarklet. Just install and edit it the same way. The drawback is that the form for entering information about your bookmark is not mobile-optimized — but if you flip your iPhone sideways for a horizontal display, it’s easier to use.

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7 thoughts on Safari iPhone bookmarklets: Clunky setup, but very useful

  1. Pingback:   New iPhone Software: Copy & Paste (Finally!), Intriguing APIs —

  2. Hi Amy!

    Thanks for mentioning gruvr!
    I have wanted to make an iPhone app since the first appstore launched… at the moment I have no Apple dev platform, never mind an iPhone to test… still, am actively looking for a way to do it.

    Meanwhile, there is a guy in the UK who is building an Android concert-radar app, so hopefully the experience he gets will apply to the iPhone as well.

    bye for now, I enjoy your tweets!


  3. Copy & paste in the iPhone 3.0 OS will definitely make it easier to get stuff out of Safari.Even still, sometimes its too much overhead to open up another app to quickly tweet a link. I created a service to make it easy to tweet a link (with automatic URL shortening) without having to leave Safari:

    Check it out and let me know what you think.

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  5. Hi Amy,

    Thanks – this was super helpful, even to someone with the 3GS and cut and paste!

    Two questions – how do I get to the start of really long addresses to do the editing? (is tipping it into landscape the only way, or is there a trick?) AND how do you take your screen shots to make this helpful post?

    Thanks, Vee

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