Importing and Exporting favorites

Windows Internet Explorer has long provided a way for users to save their favorite Internet URLs. But for users with more than one computer, for example one at home and one at work, managing multiple lists of favorites can be a problem. Beginning with Microsoft Internet Explorer 5, Internet service providers (ISPs) can use the roaming favorites feature to let users import and export their favorites to either a file or a server.

  • Benefits
  • How It's Done
  • Related topics


Many people use Web-based e-mail providers so they can access their e-mail from any computer connected to the Internet. This can be done from home, work, or a computer in another town.

Until now, users could not do the same with favorite URLs; they had to be saved separately on each computer.

Now developers can make it possible for users to store their favorites on one computer, and later import them onto another. Using the ImportExportFavorites interface from Component Object Model (COM), the ShellUIHelper object from Microsoft Visual Basic, or the ImportExportFavorites method of the external object from script, developers can make it simple for users to transfer favorites. An ISP, for example, could use this functionality to allow members to store their favorites on a server and then retrieve them from another computer.

For end users who don't have access to an ISP that will store their favorites, Internet Explorer 5 has an Import and Export option on the File menu that will allow them to export all of their favorites and cookies to a file. They can then load this file onto another computer and import the cookies and favorites using Internet Explorer 5.

How It's Done

To allow users to import and export their favorites to and from a server, an ISP needs to provide a user interface (UI) and store the HTML files containing members' favorites. To program a UI, use one of the ImportExportFavorites methods (COM, Visual Basic, or a scripting version). When members transfer their favorites to the server, the server should discard the previous copy of each member's favorites before accepting new favorites from the client.

When members download their favorites to a computer, Internet Explorer will merge them with those that are already on the client.





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