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Issue #526: August 20-26, 2017

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Q: AOL recently started charging monthly for full services. To save our “My Favorites” from AOL I copied it to our PC in “My Documents”. It has a .pfc extension and I cannot open it. Can you suggest any solutions? Kind of an AOL proprietary thing I guess. Thanks for your wonderful work over the years

– Dale D.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A:  I will forgo poking fun at you, Dale, for still using AOL so many years after the service essentially died on the vine as a means of providing Internet content.  After all, since you obviously read It’s Geek To Me, there must be some hope for you, even if it is hidden under a layer of highly obsolete software.

In case you couldn’t otherwise tell, it’s pretty safe to say that I haven’t used AOL in many, many years.  However, reader questions about it arise now and then, so I’ve had to learn a few things along the way.  One of the things I have learned is that a .pfc file is an AOL Personal File Cabinet.  It can contain bookmarks as you say, but it can also contain e-mail messages, addresses, telephone numbers, and lots of other information that you wouldn’t want to try to import into a browser.  That alone is reason enough for me to suggest you abandon your attempts to use that .pfc file and start over again with my instructions below.

Just about any browser can import Bookmarks, which may also be called Favorites depending on which browser you use.  The most commonly supported format for these files is the same one that’s native to every web browser that has ever existed: Hypertext Markup Language, or HTML.  As you might guess, these files have an extension of .htm, or .html.  To properly migrate your bookmarks from AOL, you will need to export them in HTML format so they may be imported into your new browser.  To begin, go to the Favorites section of AOL by entering into your browser’s address bar.  Sign-in using your existing AOL account credentials.  Click on “Export Bookmarks” on the bottom left of the window.  The browser will tell you that you’ve initiated the download of an HTML file.  Select “Save As…” and navigate to the location where you’d like to temporarily store the exported Bookmarks.  Feel free to change the filename if you want, but leave the .html extension intact.  Finally, click on “Save” to complete the download. 

Now that you have your bookmarks saved in a format that will make your browser happy, you can proceed to import them.  This procedure is different for every browser, of course, so I’ll cover two of the most popular.  In Microsoft Edge, click the “…” button in the upper-right corner, then select “Settings”.  You’ll find an option to “Import from another browser” and if you click that, you’ll see an option to “Import from file”.  From here, you can select and import the contents of an .html file.  In Google Chrome, start by clicking the three vertical dots in the upper-right corner, and select “Settings”.  In the page that appears click the link that says “Import bookmarks and settings”.  An appropriately labeled dialog appears.  There is an unlabeled drop-down control that specifies what you’re importing.  Click the down-arrow, and select “Bookmarks HTML File”.  Select “CHOOSE FILE” to proceed.

If you are bound and determined to get at the contents of that .pfc file that you snagged, I found a little program that will help you to do just that.  If this sounds up your alley, visit to get a copy of the AOL PFC File Converter.

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