Memex is an interesting web browser add-on that is designed specifically for powerusers. Before you ask, no it’s not a meme generator.
When you install the add-on, it may appear to be requesting a scary amount of permissions. But they are required for Memex to work. The extension has a visual tutorial which explains how it works; the GIFs that it uses are a bit too speedy for my liking.
Once you have installed the add-on, click on its icon (the brain) to bring up a menu and get a few options here. The go to dashboard takes you to the main interface of the extension and the main way you make use of its functionality.
Memex indexes pages to make search more powerful in the browser. You need to remember that it saves only the content of individual pages; it is not enough to bookmark the homepage of a site, e.g. Ghacks, to get all articles indexed.
The add-on comes with a handy import feature to import pages from the browsing history.
For now let’s go back to the menu. The “Star this page” option is similar to bookmarking but adds the page to Memex’s database, and tags are used to identify starred pages quickly. Just select a page and tag it with a relevant word and it will become usable, or should I say searchable by Memex. You can add multiple tags for a page and collections are like folders to improve organization of webpages.
Another way to use these options
By default, Memex should add a sidebar and it should be visible when you mouse over to the right edge of the screen. There are buttons here that let you open Memex’s dashboard, perform a search, star pages, add tags and perform other actions.
There is one important feature which is present in the sidebar which is not in the menu: Notes. The name is a bit misleading as it is an annotation tool. Memex allows you to annotate on any web page. To do so, click the notes icon and type something. For e.g. If you’re an Amazon page, you could type something like “This could be an interesting gift for Max’s birthday.” So, you’ll remember why you saved the page and why.
You can also highlight text content like you would do with a marker. If you have used Microsoft Edge you may be familiar with these options. When you select text on a web-page, a tooltip should appear and you can use it to link to the highlighted text for reference. When you click on it in the dashboard, you will be taken to the page with the highlighted content visible.
Memex also supports keyboard shortcuts.
- Sidebar – r
- Star Page – c
- Add tag – t
- Add to collections – u
Let’s star a page, tag it and add it to a collection to demonstrate how this all works and how it benefits you. Say, you want to add the Ghacks homepage to the database. You can visit the page and click on the star icon to bookmark it in Memex. Click on the tag button to add a tag, like Windows Software, Linux apps, or technology. The collection button can be used to add the page to a folder like Tech or Blogs.
Note: I found the sidebar to be buggy at times, and used the menu options instead.
Now, back to the dashboard. To the left you have your collections, which are sort of like folders for your bookmarks. In the center you have the search box.
How does the search work?
The add-on can search for the keyword in various ways. Basically it can find any page you have bookmarked or tagged or added to a collection. In addition to this, it can also find pages which you annotated or highlighted text on.
It supports full-text search of the web history and bookmarks, and supports filters next to that. You can use the filter option to narrow down the search further by
- Date – Select a date range (say, October 27, 2019 – October 28, 2019)
- Tags – Remember how we added tags? Use the same keyword here.
- Domains- narrow down search by URL (example: ghacks.net)
Don’t have any of these at hand? Memex can still find the page by the text from titles and URLs.
Memex has a pro version that is completely optional. All it does is automatically backup the data every 15 minutes and supports cross-device sync.
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