Can JavaScript programmatically bookmark a page? (If not, what are alternatives)

Updated: February 22, 2024 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment

JavaScript is a versatile language that allows web developers to interact with the Document Object Model (DOM), manage browser history, make asynchronous requests, and more. However, developers often ask if JavaScript can programmatically bookmark web pages. This tutorial explores this question, provides insights into the limitations set by modern browsers, and suggests practical alternatives.

Understanding Bookmarking

Traditionally, bookmarking has been a browser-specific feature, allowing users to save URLs they find useful. This process is usually initiated manually by the user. Programmatically adding bookmarks through JavaScript could pose significant security concerns and potentially spam users. Hence, most modern browsers restrict such behavior.

Why JavaScript Can’t Directly Bookmark Pages

Directly adding bookmarks via JavaScript is mostly disallowed across all modern browsers to prevent unsolicited actions that might compromise user experience and privacy. Browser developers ensure their software puts user security and control first, restricting scripts from performing certain actions without user consent, including adding bookmarks.

Alternatives and Workarounds

  • Manual Bookmark Instructions: Instead of directly adding a bookmark, you can provide users with instructions on how to bookmark the page. This method is the simplest and the most user-friendly approach.
  • Custom Bookmarklet: A bookmarklet is a bookmark stored in a web browser that contains JavaScript commands. While you cannot automatically add a bookmarklet for a user, you can create a bookmarklet and instruct them on how to add it manually. For example, create a button on your website saying ‘Drag this to your bookmarks bar to bookmark this page’. Below is a basic structure of a bookmarklet:
  • Using Window.prompt: Another approach involves providing a snippet of code that, when executed, displays a popup with a URL that users can manually copy and paste into their bookmarks. While not as seamless as automatic bookmarking, it’s a simple and effective method. Here’s how you might implement it:
    function createBookmark() {
        window.prompt('Copy to bookmark', window.location.href);

    Consider adding a button that calls this function to encourage users to save the page.

Encouraging User Action through Design

You can also encourage bookmarking through thoughtful web design and user experience. For example, placing a call-to-action (CTA) that explains the value of bookmarking the page can prompt users to take action. Crafting an intuitive and engaging design might increase the likelihood of users wanting to save your content for later reference.


While JavaScript cannot programmatically add bookmarks due to browser restrictions aimed at protecting user privacy and security, several effective alternatives exist. These include providing manual bookmark instructions, creating bookmarklets for users to add themselves, or using scripts to facilitate easier manual bookmarking. Employing these methods along with strategies to enhance user experience and interaction can help achieve similar outcomes while respecting user autonomy and browser security protocols.