Wednesday, August 27th, 2008, at 8:05 pm

Hyperlink Manager

This is another tool I have not been able to find and would like to see out there. Know of something that accomplishes exactly what I’m looking for? Post a comment!

The problem

The default browser of my system is not always the browser I need to open a site in.

On my computer, my default browser is Camino. This is the browser that I do my day-to-day general browsing in, however some sites explicitly block Camino since their developers have probably never heard of it and are unaware that their site probably works just fine as long as they are testing in Firefox. In these cases, I use Safari instead since it is more widely supported.

While working, I keep Firefox open as it is our defacto supported browser for our internal applications. At my prior company, all internal applications were developed for IE6–a completely different environment, but the exact same challenge arises. Also, before putting the argument out there that I should just use Firefox as my default browser–I like my sub one-second launch time. Firefox (especially on Mac) is a beast.

Thus the challenge is when links are sent around, via email or IM. I want to be able to just click a link and have it open in the desired browser. Currently, I must copy/paste the URL from IM. Even worse, since Entourage (Microsoft’s very sub-par Mac equivalent for Outlook) doesn’t have a “copy link” contextual menu option, I must click the link, let it try to open in Camino, then copy the URL from the address bar!

This problem is especially magnified with the adoption of SSBs.

There is a nice Firefox plug-in for Windows users to solve this problem: IE Tab. This extension allows exactly what I mention about specifying URLs to render with IE, all from right within the Firefox window. This is neat, but still doesn’t account for SSBs nor does it help us Mac using folks.

The ideal solution

The best way to solve for this would be to have an extremely lightweight application or script that is set to the default browser (instead of a “real” browser). Making the script or application fast is the absolute most important criteria.

This application or script has one job only: to “listen” for URLs, parse them, decide what browser is appropriate, and send them on their merry way. Thanks to SSBs, it needs the ability to set a different browser for each URL type. For ease-of-use, it should allow a user to just enter a domain (for example “”) but for power users it would be great to accept a regular expression. This would allow some more advanced uses such as sending a link to media to a specific media player.


Though it has a niche user-base, there are plenty of people–power users–that would adopt it if it were free or very inexpensive. I doubt people would pay more than $10-15 for this functionality (if anything), but it might make decent donationware. I would certainly pay a modest fee for it.