A Helpful Guide
They're a mess.
It's inevitable that you'll have bookmarks you don't need - everyone does. Whether you accidentally hit ctrl+D one time instead of ctrl+C, or whether you bookmarked something on purpose... in 2012... you'll have some built up junk, and the time has come to organise you bookmarks.
There are 3 types of bookmark bar users:
Since you've found this site, I'd hazard a guess that you're not the third - but who am I to judge.
No matter which category you fall under (even if you scoffed at my assumptions and fall into your own category), you'll likely have some bookmark surplus that can be cleaned up and removed.
Despite this perhaps feeling like a chore, this is the best place to start when you need to organise your bookmarks bar. Just like cleaning the house or washing the car, it's a bit of an effort to get the ball rolling, but once it's done it feels good - it's worth it.
You don't need to delete absolutely everything, but the fewer the better at this point. You can always re-add the ones you deleted at a later date if you decide you want them back once you've organised your bookmarks.
Name them thoughtfully - or not at all
Right, you've cleared out the junk and are left with just the useful sites. Let's rename them.
There are a few reasons for renaming, not least it helps you know what you're clicking on before you click it, although I'll assume that if you've kept something after the tidy up phase, you probably know what it is.
Nonetheless, naming is an important step when you need to organise your bookmarks. We can save space on the toolbar, neaten up the feel of the bar and make it easier on the eyes (no more "straight from the site" bookmark names").
My advice is to keep it simple. One or two words is ideal. If you need 5+ you're doing it wrong.
For those who really want to capitalise on space on the bookmarks bar and/or are icon aficionados, you can remove the name altogether and leave only the favicon as the bookmark icon.
You'll save a ton of space doing this - try it out!
Make them useful, intuitive
Now you have the bookmarks you'll actually use, and you've named them appropriately (or removed their names). It's time to figure out how to organise your bookmarks and come up with a 'system' that works for you.
Since the Chrome bookmarks bar stacks from left to right, we'll work along in that direction. For those who prefer working right to left, just reverse what I suggest here.
Think about what bookmarks you use often - these should probably be further to the left. Since you likely know the icon of the site, these are some I'd recommend removing the name of (I'm talking the Facebooks and Instagrams. Gmail, news sites, your bank account - the ones you can pick by brand logo alone). This way, you can stack up a few of your common sites on the left as a 'quick access' section.
A Quick Tip:
Another thing I like to do here is add a nameless folder on the far left of my bookmarks. Firstly, it acts as a nice padding for my left-most bookmarks, and I also have a few pinned tabs, which, on the odd occasion, have been known to 'disappear'. Since I didn't used to bookmark these tabs (because why would I, they're pinned?) I would have to go find them again and re-pin them. I now keep these sites bookmarked in said folder on the left for quick access.
I should also point out that if this ever happens to you, you can usually just hit cmd + shift + T on Mac or ctrl + shift + T on Windows to re-open your last-closed tabs.
Back to it:
Moving on to the next bookmarks after your 'quick access' section, think about grouping sites into relative categories of some sort. The aim here is to create sections on your bookmarks bar (we'll visit this in a bit more detail in the next step). Group the work-related sites, the personal-related sites, the gaming sites, TV sites, music sites; whatever your bookmarks are, group them in some way that works for you.
If you have some larger groups (5+ sites), it might be worth creating folders for them to keep the bookmarks toolbar neat. Try to avoid folders inside folders - they tend to be a bit clunky. Having said that, it might be worth it if you have a real abundance of bookmarks.
You might put folders on the right of the bar to keep them together, or alternatively use them to help separate your groups a bit, they work nicely as a visual break-up of icons/words.
It would be wrong of me if I didn't endorse using separators when organising your bookmarks.
These separators are all about creating an organised, easy to read layout. They create a break in the icons to help you visually locate what you need quicker, as well as helping with the sectioning.
The first and most obvious place to start is with your 'quick access' bank. Pick your separator and drag it onto the toolbar right after the last icon in this section. I tend to use the blank spacer, but this is totally a personal preference thing - you're encouraged to be creative here.
Keep adding in your separators after each section and see what you think about your layout. You might want to adjust it a bit here and there - no need to set and forget, this can be a work in progress til you find something that sticks.
That goes for the separator icons you choose as well. Just because you chose the yellow dot doesn't mean you can't use a blue dot in the next section. Maybe once in a while you might overhaul all the icons and go with a completely different one.
If you want a specific coloured pipe separator, I created the colour picker just for you - enjoy!
I Made an Infographic
Here's an infographic you can share with someone who has a hideous bookmarks bar - there's no promise they'll actually tidy up, but there's only one way to find out!