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iCloud : Thousands of duplicate Bookmarks (Read 1154 times)
Jerry Krinock
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iCloud : Thousands of duplicate Bookmarks
Jan 23rd, 2012 at 3:52am
 
Some iCloud users have experienced thousands of duplicate bookmarks suddenly appearing.  This post explains how to fix that problem.  We don't know what's causing the problem, but it doesn't happen that often.  Briefly, the procedure is to save whatever bookmarks you can outside of Safari, remove all bookmarks from iCloud and all Safaris, then clean up your saved bookmarks and restore them to iCloud.

We've never had this happen here, so success not guaranteed.  A few users to whom I gave this procedure privately reported success.  It is based on what we've learned from our own experiments about the way iCloud works, and this thread:

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3416727

It is somewhat of a wrestling match because, in an apparent effort to make everything simple for the 85% of users, Apple has not provided a button to simply push data from one device to another, and furthermore, whenever iCloud is in doubt, it does not delete.  But with some patience, you can prevail.


PART 1: Save your Bookmarks

• Save your thousands of Safari bookmarks off to a backup file somehow.  If you have BookMacster, it will suffice to import them into BookMacster, save and then back up the Bookmarkshelf (.bkmslf) file.  Note that the import will take several minutes if you've got tens of thousands of bookmarks.


PART 2: Make sure no one is "helping" you

• Make sure that anything syncing to Safari bookmarks is turned off.  This includes: BookMacster Agents, Xmarks for Safari, MobileMe bookmarks syncing, Bookdog's Bookwatchdog.  It is very important that nothing can touch your Safari bookmarks during this procedure.  To disable BookMacster Agents, open  your Bookmarkshelf document and make sure that the button in the middle of the toolbar indicates either "Sync" (indicating that Agents are not configured for syncing) or "Resume" (indicating that Agents are paused).


PART 3: Remove all bookmarks from iCloud

In the following instructions, when you are instructed to enable or disable iCloud Bookmarks Syncing, this refers to the Bookmarks checkbox.  On Macs this checkbox is in System PreferencesiCloud, and in iOS devices it is in the Settings app ▸ iCloud.

• Disable iCloud Bookmarks syncing on all devices.  Affirm if asked to delete all bookmarks.

• On your first Mac, activate Safari.
• Click in the menu: Bookmarks ▸ Show All Bookmarks.
• Delete all bookmarks and folders in the Bookmarks Bar.
• Delete all bookmarks and folders in the Bookmarks Menu.
• Delete all "loose" bookmarks and folders in the source list on the left under the word "BOOKMARKS".
• Enable iCloud Bookmarks syncing on this Mac.  If asked to approve merging, click "Merge".
• Wait a few minutes.
• If bookmarks reappear, delete all again.
• Wait 20 minutes.  (This is because iCloud sometimes operates on a 15-minute cycle.)
• If bookmarks reappear, delete all again.
• Repeat deleting until you wait 20 minutes and none reappear.

• Repeat the above group of steps on any other Macs.

• Repeat the above group of steps on any iOS devices.

Success is indicated when iCloud Bookmarks syncing has been enabled on all devices for 20 minutes with no bookmarks reappearing.  Just for good measure, wait until the next day and check again for no bookmarks.


PART 4:  Test it with 1 Bookmark First

• In Safari, add a bookmark on one of the devices.  Verify that, after a few minutes, this bookmark, and only this bookmark, appears on all of the other devices.

• Delete the bookmark you just added.  Verify that, after a few minutes, this bookmark disappears on all of the other devices, and no other bookmarks reappear.


PART 5:  Restore Bookmarks (if you have BookMacster)

Some of these steps may take several minutes with 30,000 or more bookmarks.  Expect some beachballing.  Give it time.  Other apps will run slowly while BookMacster is grinding away so best do something away from your Mac.  Since you have Lion, the document will be Auto Saved after each step.

• Activate BookMacster
• Open the Bookmarkshelf (.bkmslf) document in which you saved your bookmarks, including thousands of duplicates.
• Click in the menu: Bookmarkshelf ▸ Find Duplicates.
• Click in the menu: Bookmarkshelf ▸ Delete All Duplicates.
• Click in the menu: Bookmarkshelf ▸ Consolidate Folders.
• Click in the menu: Bookmarkshelf ▸ Consolidate Folders again.
• Do any manual reorganization as desired.
• Export to Safari.

PART 5:  Restore Bookmarks (without BookMacster)

Do the following on the Mac where you have your bookmarks backed up.

• Disable iCloud syncing again.
• Import your bookmarks back into Safari.
• Manually delete all the duplicates by looking for patterns in the way they were created.


PART 6:  Restart syncing

• Enable iCloud syncing again on the Mac.
• Wait at least 20 minutes for your cleaned-up bookmarks to be pushed to iCloud.
• Enable iCloud syncing on the next Mac or other device.  It would be best to wait at least 20 minutes again.
• Repeat the above step for all devices.
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« Last Edit: Apr 9th, 2012 at 10:00pm by Jerry Krinock »  

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