How to move bookmarks in Firefox

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 13, 2008
Updated • Feb 8, 2015

Firefox 3 changed the way bookmarks are stored on the computer. Before they were simply saved in a bookmarks.html file in the user's profile folder and it was easy to add the browser.bookmarks.file parameter in about:config to change the location manually.

The new Firefox introduces a database driven design and bookmarks are now stored in the places.sqlite file in the profile folder.

The problem that arises is that the parameter that worked in Firefox 2 to change the location of bookmarks on the local system does not work in Firefox 3 anymore.

Currently there is only one solution to move the bookmarks in Firefox 3 to another folder. Before I explain how this is done I would like to point out why someone would want to move the bookmarks to another folder.

One reason is synchronization. Placing them on a network drive for instance ensures that another computer can also access the bookmarks.

Update: Mozilla introduced Firefox Sync in recent versions of the browser. This data synchronization service makes sure that bookmarks are synced across all linked devices so that you don't need to move bookmarks anymore for it.

Another reason might be security, bookmarks can obviously be stored on an encrypted hard disk so that no one could access them unless the encrypted hard disk is mounted. It would also make sense to place them in a location so that different profiles (on the same computer) can access the same bookmarks.

The only viable way of moving the bookmarks in Firefox 3 is by using symbolic links. Symbolic links are supported under Linux and Windows NTFS drives. I'm not sure about Macintosh though. A symbolic link basically is a forwarded link that tells the operating system to look at another place for the file.

The command for Linux is ln -s target_filename symlink_filename while Windows users could use the Junction tool by Sysinternals to achieve the same results. Junction is a command line tool that you use in similar fashion.

To create a junction from one folder to another, use junction folder1 folder2, e.g. junction e:\bookmarks c:\bookmarks. Note tzhat this moves the whole folder and all of its files and not just individual files you specify.

How to move bookmarks in Firefox
Article Name
How to move bookmarks in Firefox
Find out how to move the bookmarks file of the Firefox browser to another location on the local system or a network location.

Tutorials & Tips

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  1. Anton said on May 13, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I keep all my Ibookmarks/favorites on external flash drive.

    The fastest, most easy and the MOST efficient way to keep IE, Chrome and FF bookmarks/favorites in sync and on external drive, is to change the IE favorites location in the registry

    and then just do sync of IE favorites with FF or Chrome bookmarks.

    for FF – go to Bookmarks/Organize Bookmarks/Import and backup/Import HTML/Import from Internet Explorer

  2. Roy said on March 15, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    I’m an non-fiction history author w/several years of bookmarks for reference sites. Need to transfer hundreds of references from a dying G4w/OS10.3.9 (reasons for this) that uses Firefox 2 to a Mac Mini w/OS10.5.8 and Firefox 3. No good way found so far. Can always transfer them to a Word file and reload on new computer. Tens of hours to do but it would work. Can anyone help w/a bulk transfer that has a lot of subfile organization.

    1. Martin said on March 15, 2010 at 9:52 pm

      Is not Firefox 2 storing them in html format in the profile folder? You could also open the bookmarks manager and select to export the bookmarks on the old computer and import them on the new one.

  3. Paul Catlin said on February 22, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    You can use these settings in your prefs.js file to auto load and export a bookmarks.html file.

    user_pref(“browser.bookmarks.file”, “H:\\bookmarks.html”);
    user_pref(“browser.places.importBookmarksHTML”, true);
    user_pref(“browser.bookmarks.autoExportHTML”, true);

    Works great for mandatory profiles. Otherwise the import will disable itself on the first import.

    Hope it’s useful,

  4. Jack said on January 26, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    I would really like to know why Mozilla gpeople decided to trough away one of the most desired features of Firefox, that was, all bookmars were stored in a unique “bookmarks.html” file. Easy to back up, copy etc…
    Can anyone explain what are the advantages of using such a complicated thing as a database just to store bookmarks???

    This is a big drawback that is forcing us to give up Firefox and choose another browser here….

  5. melissa wolf said on October 23, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    i wish firefox 3 would just add an option to rename a folder along with all the other options in a right-click

  6. Ason said on September 12, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    If you want to move the bookmarks file and have it named bookmarks.html as in version 2 put this in your prefs.js.
    user_pref(“browser.bookmarks.autoExportHTML”, true);

  7. Robert said on August 24, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    I used the trial version of Advanced URL Catalog to move my bookmarks from Firefox 2 into Firefox 3.

    Fast,easy and free :)

  8. grant said on August 24, 2008 at 5:37 am

    you just have to change a setting in about:config search for “bookmarks” and browser.bookmarks.autoExportHTML to true

  9. Dumb User said on August 14, 2008 at 8:32 pm


    Apparently, your portable version doesn’t support the -P ProfileManager option.

    Actually, you are lucky it supports the ‘P Profileid option, which presumably at least allows bookmarks.

    I haven’t tried a portable version, so I can’t offer any real advice.

    Perhaps, another portable user can help.

  10. nirz said on August 14, 2008 at 3:14 am


    Thanks a ton for the short, super easy, and life saving tip about importing FF2 bookmarks into FF3. Just what I was looking for!

    In case someone missed it, this is what Mentallic said:

    “Actually, there is a way to import bookmarks from firefox 2 to firefox 3. This is how I did it. Export the bookmarks in firefox 2 to an html file ( or search for a bookmark*.html file in the profiles folder). Then in firefox 3, in the Bookmark tab, select Organize bookmarks. In that, there is an option to import at the top. Select that, then choose import from html file, and select the bookmark.html file from firefox2.
    It should import all those bookmarks into firefox3”

    Awesome! :)

  11. Amin said on August 14, 2008 at 1:58 am

    I use the portable virsion of firefox 2.0/3.0 (always) and run(firefox -P “profileid” or firefox.exe -ProfileManager) is not working with me.
    What exactly should I do with this new firefox problem.

  12. Mitch said on August 4, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    starting firefox with -P option works fine, every user can use his/her own profile then. Indeed the security could be an issue because every user can start anothers profile when the profiles are stored centraly. But using profiles enables users to start their profile from different locations.


  13. Elab said on August 3, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    problem is the places.sqlite ALSO stores your history, which could be a huge security threat if multiple profiles are sharing the same bookmarks because they will also see eachothers history.

  14. Dumb User said on August 2, 2008 at 2:14 am

    Hi Mitch,

    You might try the following, in the start run box:

    firefox -P “profileid”

    where profileid is whatever profile you want.

    If that works, then you can probably set up shorcuts for each profile by specifying the following:

    -P profileid

    in the target field after the Firefox program location for each profile shortcut. Try with and without quotes around the parameter.

    I only have one user profile defined, so I haven’t tried it.

    Please update this thread if you try.

    Good luck!

  15. Mitch said on August 1, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Hello Dumb User,

    Tnx for the profiles tip, works fine for me. Any Idee how I can let different users start their profile automaticaly/independend, if u now what I mean?

    Tnx, Mitch

  16. Eee said on July 17, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Dumb User’s suggestion of using profiles to share the bookmarks from a single location works fine on my windows network.

    The only limitation seems to be that you can only have one instance of F3 accessing the profile at one time. It also seems to be a bit sticky and there is a delay before the profile is released.

  17. happytilton® said on July 13, 2008 at 12:15 am
  18. Mentalic said on July 7, 2008 at 8:43 am

    Actually, there is a way to import bookmarks from firefox 2 to firefox 3. This is how I did it. Export the bookmarks in firefox 2 to an html file ( or search for a bookmark*.html file in the profiles folder). Then in firefox 3, in the Bookmark tab, select Organize bookmarks. In that, there is an option to import at the top. Select that, then choose import from html file, and select the bookmark.html file from firefox2.
    It should import all those bookmarks into firefox3

  19. Dumb User said on July 5, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    After some research, here is what I have tried:

    Firefox 3.0 does have a way to specify the location of bookmarks.

    Specifically, the entire Profile folder, which includes bookmarks as well as all the customization, can be allocated as follows:

    First shut down Firefox if it is running.

    Then click Start and then Run.
    In the Run Box, type:

    firefox.exe -ProfileManager

    Fill in a Profile Name and click “Create Profile”, then Next, then give a profile name and then select “Choose Folder”.

    From there specify the location, etc.

    This works under both WinXP and Vista.

    I don’t know whether copying the original profile on top of the newly created profile will work, but it probably would if you used the same profile name. You may need to first save off a copy of the original profile and delete that profile name before re-using the same profile name…

    Also, I don’t know whether it would work on a network drive, but it is worth a try.

    Regarding IE7, if “Favorites” are MOVED (not copied) using Windows Explorer, both WinXP and Vista will note the new location.

    If “Favorites” are moved with a third party app such as Total Commander, the new Favorites location will NOT be updated.

    Again, I do not know whether this will work on a network drive.

    I hope this will help anyone else trying to move and/or share bookmarks or favorites.

  20. Gordon Martin said on July 4, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Not being able to control the storage location of the bookmarks is a big shortcoming that Firefox 3 shares with IE7. I seriously hope it gets fixed quickly. Whichever browser fixes the problem first gets my business!

    My problems started because my organization uses Vista. IE7 has a bug on Vista where it doesn’t always want to give itself permission to access its own Favorites folder:

    The bug prevents me from redirecting the Favorites folder to the network where it would be able to replicate to any workstation the user is using.

    I am similarly stranded with Firefox 3. Firefox stores its database in a user’s AppData\Roaming folder. The folder should normally be redirectable as well. But for application compatibility reasons (I call it a Vista design flaw), I am unable to redirect that folder either:

    When will these browsers learn that you can’t always rely on the OS to be able to do what it thinks it can do :-) The browsers need to let us control the location of those bookmarks!

  21. Dumb User said on July 4, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    I keep all my data on a shared partition for “data only” backup. I would also like to keep my Firefox 3.0 data on the same shared partition. The partition is FAT32. I do not want to convert to NTFS.

    Also, I am running a multi-boot system with both WinXP and Vista. I would like to share my bookmarks. The WinXP partition is also FAT32. Again, I do not want to convert to NTFS.

    I am not running Linux.

    Please tell me there is a way to move (and share) my bookmarks (or my profile) to my data partition.

    Thank you.

  22. Ben said on June 22, 2008 at 7:40 am

    But this only works between Versions of Firefox 3, right? Is there anyway to do it between Firefox 3 on one system and Firefox 2 on another?

  23. Mark said on June 18, 2008 at 3:28 am

    For whatever reason, saved bookmarks in Firefox 3 (final release) on OS X 10.5.3, are only saving for as long as Firefox is running in the dock. If I end it, and re-start it, the previously saved (confirmed several times) bookmarks are gone. I’ve gone back to v2.

  24. DoneThat2 said on June 14, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    (Another reason why one would want to move Firefox bookmarks.)

    I use Returnil when browsing, which creates a virtual protection scheme for the C drive. As a result, I had to move the Firefox 2.0 bookmarks to another partition so I could permanently save new bookmarks.

  25. Dante said on June 14, 2008 at 1:21 am

    Speaking of rescuing bookmarks. Does FEBE work on Firefox 3? Or do I have to go back to telling users: sorry, but you have to re-input all your passwords for all the sites again.

  26. Mike said on June 14, 2008 at 12:42 am

    Thanks, guys. I’ll need to play with this a bit more, then.

  27. Martin said on June 14, 2008 at 12:31 am

    Yes you can Dark Komsmos but one reason for doing this is the wish to share bookmarks across computers or profiles.

  28. darkkosmos said on June 14, 2008 at 12:16 am

    Can’t you just import, export the html file?

  29. LethAL said on June 13, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    A good post, but I thought I’d come in and correct you about linking on windows. The link to ‘Junction’ only appears to be for directories. allows you to create symlinks (Vista only) or hardlinks (two references to the same file object, thus you can delete either). With hardlinks, however, you’re limited to one drive.

    @Mike: Firefox seems to automatically backup versions of the bookmarks file, which can be imported in the places organiser. I don’t know where it saves the files to, though.

  30. Martin said on June 13, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    Mike good to know ;)

    You can still import the old bookmarks format into Firefox 3 plus you can import or export the new format as well.

  31. Mike said on June 13, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Symbolic links are supported on the Mac, as Mac OS X is built on UNIX. In fact, I believe it’s the same command you listed for Linux. :)

    Here’s a question – up until this point, if I had to rescue the bookmarks file from a dead PC, I’d dig into the Firefox profile folder and save the bookmarks.html file. I could then import that into a clean installation of Windows and Firefox for the owner of the computer.

    If it’s now in a database – can I still rescue people’s bookmarks like that? How would you import someone’s bookmarks, if you only had access to the Firefox profile folder?

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