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Online Tool Converts JavaScript Bookmarklets into Chrome Extensions

In just a few clicks you can make more space for bookmarks or just banish Chrome's bookmarks bar altogether.

Google Chrome users can now turn JavaScript bookmarklets into Chrome extensions in just a few clicks thanks to a new tool created by U.K.-based Web developer Peter Legierski. The process is not as easy as installing a Chrome extension, but it isn't much harder than attaching a document to an e-mail. If you want to give it a try, here's how you can use it to make more space for bookmarks or just banish Chrome's bookmarks bar altogether.

Getting started

This tool requires you to enable a developer mode in your browser, giving you access to extra functionality. But as the saying goes, "with great power, comes great responsibility," so the risk you take in trying out this feature is your own.

Convert bookmarklet to Chrome extension

Creating a new Chrome extension is pretty straightforward. All you do is visit Legierski's bookmarklet conversion page and fill out a name and description for your new bookmarklet in the provided form. Next, just drag your bookmarklet onto the page where indicated and its JavaScript will automatically appear. Finally, click the "Generate extension" button and a ZIP file will automatically be downloaded to your computer.

Once you have the file, unzip it on your desktop or wherever you like to put unzipped files. In my tests, my computer's archive manager unzipped the extension as a set of files without a folder. But for this trick to work you need all the files contained in their own folder. So if you end up with a bunch of loose files just create a new folder with the name of the extension and put all the downloaded files into your new folder. Keep in mind the extension folder has to be placed in a permanent location so that Chrome can find it each time it loads the browser.

For the final phase, you have to open up Chrome's extension settings, which you can get to quickly by typing "chrome://settings/extensions" into Chrome's address bar. At the top right of the page, check the "Developer mode" checkbox, which allows you to load your own extensions. Then click the "Load unpacked extension" button at the top of the page. In the new window that opens select the extension folder you created in the last step. Your browser should now be loaded with your new extension and you can give it a try.

This is a handy little hack for anyone who quickly wants to convert a simple JavaScript bookmarklet into a Chrome extension. The downside is the tool uses a generic black dot as the extension icon so this tool is really only practical for one or two bookmarklets; however, the more adventurous types could try replacing the icons included in the extension folder with different images. If you do this, just remember to rename your new icons exactly the same as the originals and be sure they have the same dimensions.

I also found the conversion tool didn't perfectly convert all bookmarklets such as the recently released Don't Be Evil bookmarklet that modifies Google's Search Plus Your World results. But for simple Web clipping services the tool should work just fine.

It's not clear whether this online conversion tool will be around forever, but if you want to get rid of your bookmarklets in favor of a Chrome extension give it a try. And if you're a developer type, Legierski has made the source code for his bookmarklet conversion tool available for download.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) on Twitter and Google+, and with Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.


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