You can use PayPal to send and receive money, but you need a PayPal account to manage your payments and your business. There's something comforting about having your own account. Sure, it's yet another password to remember, but it's all yours. You can visit a site like PayPal, log in, and see your settings, your name, and your history?proof that you've been there before and that someone (er, something) remembers you. But a PayPal account [Hack #1], in particular, has the added bonus of being able to store cold, hard cash. You can't really touch it, but it's there, and it's yours.
You can use your PayPal balance to pay for stuff [Hack #11], or you can withdraw it [Hack #20] and add it to the shoebox under your mattress. You can also watch it grow, as your eBay bidders pay for your stuff, web site customers buy your products, or friends pay you back for sushi dinners.
But it's not about sending and receiving money; it's about finding new ways to handle transactions so that you can spend more time eating sushi (or curly fries, or whatever). The real power of PayPal is its invisibility; you can have strangers send you money and still keep your account all to yourself. Whether you're selling a single product [Hack #28], or a cart full of products [Hack #45], PayPal can be as slick as you need it to be. If you take things even further, you can have PayPal notify your server [Hack #65] when you receive money, or even write a standalone application [Hack #88] to manage your sales without ever having to log into your account.
But it all begins with learning the ins and outs of your PayPal account, and that's what this chapter is about. Chow down, and have fun, but don't linger; there's code to be written.
Get to PayPal in Five Keystrokes or Fewer
"How many licks does it take to get the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop? One, Two, Three?" The world may never know, but it takes exactly five keystrokes to get to http://www.paypal.com. But how can this be? There are 10 keystrokes in paypal.com (not including the Enter key), not 5!
The clues leading to the answer can be found only by examining the history of PayPal. PayPal was not always named PayPal. It was founded in January 1999 under then name FieldLink and renamed Confinity later that same year. In May 2000, Confinity merged with another company and the combined entities renamed themselves PayPal.
Can you name the company that merged with Confinity? The answer is the third-to-last letter in the alphabet: X.com, to be exact. X.com and Confinity were competitors who merged to form PayPal. The URL http://www.x.com now points to http://www.paypal.com. So, if you're in a real hurry, just type x.com and you'll get to PayPal (paypal.com) in half the keystrokes!
Internet Explorer users can get to PayPal even quicker by typing x into the address bar, then pressing Ctrl-Enter.