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How to keep your browser in sync at work and home

(MoneyWatch) If you use Internet Explorer, either because it's required in the office or you just prefer it to other Web browsers, you might be missing out on some of the more compelling features from competing products.

Take bookmark synchronization in Google's (GOOG) Chrome browser. If you've never experienced the convenience of having the same set of bookmarks, updated automatically, across all of your PCs at work and home, then you're being deprived of one of life's little -- but very useful -- joys.

What you might not realize is that it's a snap to sync your bookmarks across all of your PCs running Internet Explorer. All you need is a free add-on called XMarks.

Just install it on each of your PCs and sign up for the free account -- the service keeps your bookmarks perfectly in sync all the time. It's not really much more complicated than that; add a new website to your "Favorites" at work and it'll be waiting for you when you get home.

Even better, XMarks doesn't work only with Explorer, but also syncs your bookmarks across the Firefox, Chrome, and, for Mac users, Safari browsers. That means you're covered if you use "line of business" tools that only work in certain browsers, forcing you to switch among Firefox, IE, and Chrome throughout the day.

My favorite feature -- and the one that makes XMarks feasible for me to use in the first place -- is the program's concept of profiles. By assigning different profiles to different browsers, you can customize your bookmarks on a per-browser basis.

In other words, while I might want all of my bookmarks from home to appear on my browsers at work, I probably have no need for most of my work-related links to appear at home, especially since they point to intranet resources that I can't access from home anyway. XMarks lets me customize my home browser's profile so it hides those work links I don't want to see.

XMarks is free, but you can upgrade to a premium service (costing $12 per year) that offers additional features, such as access to your bookmarks on your phone via iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry apps. The premium offering also provides something called "open tab sync," which lets you open tabs on one PC that you had left open on a different computer.