Launch Firefox, Google Chrome or Safari and visit the Zootool website. When the site loads, click the green Sign Up Now button, fill in the form using a current email address and a memorable password. Click to tick the second of the two boxes to signal your acceptance of Zootool’s terms and conditions and click OK. Now launch your email program and look for an email from Zootool: this will contain a confirmation and activation link that you should click. This will return you to the Zooltool website, which displays a ‘sign in now’ link – click it. Type in the user name (or email address) and password you created a moment ago and click OK.
Zootool begins with a quick tutorial, which will first tell you to get its Lasso web browser toolbar button: this will let you bookmark websites and save them to your account. Follow the instructions to add the Lasso to your browser: in Firefox, for example, just click on the Lasso button and drag and drop it up and onto the browser’s toolbar. Click Close when done. Repeat this for any other browsers in which you’d like to use Zootool. Now navigate to a site that has something on it you’d like to bookmark – we’ve gone to www.computeractive.co.uk and found an interesting article about using Open Office Writer instead of Word (click here if you’re interested). To continue we just click the Lasso button in the toolbar.
At this point it should be obvious that Zootool is quite different from other bookmarking tools you may have used. Instead of bookmarking the page right away, it displays all the content it can find on the current page – from the story itself, to the images it contains and even RSS feeds (if any are present). The first icon represents the page itself, so we have clicked that. A pop-up window appears: add some tags (keywords) to describe the article, separating each one with a comma. Notice that the ‘public’ setting is ticked by default to make your bookmarks available to other Zootool users. If you don’t want this, click to remove the tick (though note that doing so will prevent this link from being shared by email later). Click Add when done.
Switch back to the Zootool website and refresh the web browser window; after a moment the web page just bookmarked will appear in the Your Recent Entries panel on the right. In this screenshot we’ve gone on to add a further five bookmarks for different websites, adding tags to each one as we did in the previous step. Notice the other thumbnails? These have been bookmarked by other people and we’ll look at ways to explore those in a bit. For now, click on one of the images in the Your Recent Entries panel. When the enlarged version of the thumbnail appears, click it to open the original website in a new tab.
Now repeat Step 4 but this time notice the three icons down the left-hand side of the website thumbnail – click the bottom one (it’s called Edit and looks like a pencil). This opens the Edit panel and from here it’s possible to edit the tags, change the title or add a description. (This is also the place to remove the ‘public’ tick to hide the bookmark from others, if you declined or neglected to do so in Step 3.) Click the Save button to confirm the changes.
Tags are important because they help to locate things when the bookmark library grows larger and also because they can reveal interesting sites that others have discovered first. Click the Zootool heading at the top left to return to the Home screen, scroll down to the Popular Tags list and click Photography. The screen refreshes and now displays a list of photography bookmarks that others have found interesting and are sharing with the rest of the Zootool community. (Remember that by default bookmarks you make are public, so may appear here.)
Here we’ve found an interesting photographic site that someone else has bookmarked. We click once on the thumbnail in the Home window to open it and then, when it appears larger, click the little heart icon to the left of the image to open the Add window. Type in some tags for the bookmark, click the Edit (pencil) icon to add a description and when finished, click the Add button to add it to your own list of bookmarks (or what Zootool calls your ‘zoo’).
From the Home screen, click the link to ‘your zoo’ above the Your Recent Entries thumbnails. When all the bookmarks appear, it should be possible to filter them using the buttons along the top – to show only images, for example. Here we’ve arranged our bookmarks in lines and are going to organise them a bit. Over on the left we’ve selected ‘Click here to add a pack’ and then typed a name for it – ‘PC stuff’. Then we’ve scrolled down the bookmarks to find the Open Office story and are dragging it over to the new pack.
Remember those tags we mentioned? From the same screen, click the little tags icon at the bottom right and this window will appear. Double-click any of the tags in the list to display only those bookmarks that are tagged with that particular word. Now look at the top right of the thumbnail window and you’ll see the tag you just selected: click the ‘x’ to remove it and display all the bookmarks again.
Finally, it’s possible to share bookmarks outside Zootool. When you open a bookmark, look to the left and click the icon between the dustbin and the pencil – this is the Share button (it has an arrow bending out of it). Click this and when the dialogue box appears, choose whether to share the bookmark via email or using a popular social media site such as Twitter or Facebook. You’ll need to sign into these services to ‘link’ them to Zootool, but only the first time.