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Google Chrome's bookmark file and a little trick I used with the file's checksum value to import bookmarks.

Google Chrome's bookmark file and a little trick I used with the file's checksum value to import bookmarks.

Written by Diane Diane Ware - September 26, 2016 in Programming

So...I decided to get a new hard drive, a solid state hard drive at that, for my laptop, especially when I only had about 5.5 GB (yikes!) of space left on my old hard drive. 

Everything went along rather smoothly, with the installation of the hard drive itself, the installation of Windows 7, and then finally with the installation of Windows 10. However, even though I had backed up most of my data, I had forgotten to make sure all of my Google Chrome bookmarks had been correctly backed up. There are some steps from Google's own site that can be followed to do this successfully - you're supposed to create a HTML file by "exporting" the bookmarks, but I had not done that. I tried accessing my old hard drive by using an external storage enclosure that I have sitting on the shelf here at home, but clicking on the Chrome executible (chrome.exe file) from my old hard drive only loaded up the same Chrome with the same bookmarks (and practially none so far) as I had on the new hard drive - I simply could not access my old bookmarks!

So, I needed to figure out something else.

Granted, I could have just taken out the new hard drive and put back in my old hard drive (since the old hard drive still has everything on there just like before - it was not formatted), but I really didn't feel like doing that. 

Here are the steps I followed: 

(NOTE: Please be aware that this was done on a Windows 10 OS, but it should be applicable for other Windows versions)

(NOTE_2: Also please be aware that this was done after the removal of a laptop hard drive. If you need to access a SATA hard drive that was removed from a desktop computer, check out this link)

1. First of all, make sure you have at least made a few bookmarks with your current Chrome browser. I believe this will ensure that you have a Bookmarks file created. Then, connect the old hard drive to some type of USB adapter, similar to this, and then connect it to your laptop (or desktop, as the case may be): 

2. In File Explorer, find your old hard drive. It should be listed as some letter drive, like E or F. Mine appears as F: 

3. Because the folder that contains the Google Chrome bookmarks file is in a normally hidden folder on most Windows' systems by default, you need to change some folder settings. Go to your Control Panel->File Explorer Options. Then select the 'View' tab, and then check 'Show hidden files, folders and drives'. Then click Apply and OK to exit. 

4. Now go to the folder that contains the bookmark file. Go to your drive letter (like F for me, Local Disk (F:)) and then access Users->{your name or admin, 'User' in my case}->AppData->Local->Google->Chrome->UserData->Default.

5. Then scroll down in this Default folder location until you see the Bookmarks file. There is also a Bookmarks.bak, which is a file backup of the main Bookmarks file. I highlighted both files in the image below: 

6. Click once on the Bookmarks file and then right-click it. Choose 'Open with' and then choose Notepad in the 'How do you want to open this file?'. Click OK. 

7. Now that you have opened the Bookmarks file in Notepad, take a look at the top of the file. You will see ' "checksum": ' followed by an alphanumeric value in quotes, "68fa7047ec4d8619ccffd67af063de4e" in this case: 

8. Now what is needed is to get the checksum value in the Bookmarks file on your current computer. To get to this file, you simply follow step 4 above, but for your local hard drive, usually labeled as C: 

9. Now, again, open this Bookmarks file with Notepad like you did in steps 6 and 7 above. Once opened, place both Bookmarks files, the old one on the left and the new one on the right, next to each other so you can see the obvious difference in their checksum values (however, the reason that the urls and other code in both my files below are the same is because I had already copied the old Bookmarks file into the new Chrome Default folder, which I will discuss more below - and also note the checksums are different, now, though initially they were identical - you can learn more about checksums here - because over time the value is altered by Chrome for various reasons): 

10. Now, as you may have determined for yourself already, the goal here is to exchange the checksum value of the Bookmarks file in your current, working version of Google Chrome with the checksum value in the Bookmarks file of the Chrome version you need the bookmarks from. And then, once that is completed, you would need to remove the Bookmarks file in your current, working version of Chrome, and put it in a folder for safe keeping (just in case anything were to go wrong), and then place the old Bookmarks file with the new checksum there (in the Default folder) instead. Also, recall that there were two Bookmarks files - Bookmarks and Bookmarks.bak. The .bak one, as I mentioned above, is a backup file of the original Bookmarks file and Chrome will regenerate a new Bookmarks.bak file, from what I determined thus far, and so you do not need to transfer the old one to the new Chrome. However, I did delete the new Bookmarks.bak file so that it does not conflict in any manner with the transfer of the old Bookmarks file. I would suggest you do that too. 

So, to reitierate: 

A. Copy the new checksum value: 

B. Paste the new checksum value into the old Bookmarks file and then make sure you save this old Bookmarks file so that it keeps the new checksum value: 

C. Now, delete the two Bookmarks files from your new Chrome Default folder (ONLY AFTER you have already copied them to a safe place in your Documents folder or some other folder you prefer, or cut them and pasted them to another folder, in which case deleting them now is unnecessary):

(NOTE: you can hold the control key down to select both files so you can delete or cut them at the same time)

D. Now, copy the old Bookmarks file with the new checksum value and then paste it into the new Google Chrome Default folder. 

If your Google Chrome browser was already open, please shut it down now. Then, regardless of whether it was open or not, open it up now and check to see if your old bookmarks are now visible. 

This worked for me. I was able to see my new bookmarks right away at the top of Chrome, as you can see below: 

Yet I noticed that next to most of the actual names of my bookmarks were white, empty page images. However, once visiting a bookmarks' url, the icon image reappeared, as you can see below. The one on the left I had not visited yet. But the bookmark on the right I had, so it showed an colorful image instead of that white, empty page image. 

Well, anyway, that's what worked for me. I hope it works for you too!

Thank you for reading this post!

Diane

Diane Ware

Manager - Tech Support

I am co-owner of Ware Repair and enjoy working with technology, web design and development, and embedded programming, especially that which applies to robotics. I also enjoy writing blogs and sci-fi novels on my free time.