It’s hard to keep up with all the interesting, important, or just plain funny things you come across on the web. You may come across something that you just don’t have time to read right now or that you want to save because it will come in handy later. But, as most of us have discovered, bookmarking on a browser for every article and site we want to read later can lead to a huge mess of bookmarks.
Years ago, I started overcoming this problem by logging into Pocket, a popular and long-running app that lets you save a bookmarked article to a separate server and then retrieve it to read. at your leisure, using either a computer or a mobile device. Pocket has been around since 2007; Originally called Read It Later, it started life as a Firefox browser extension, eventually became its own app, and was acquired by Mozilla in 2017.
Recently, however, I (and at least one other staff member here at The edge) opened the app to find a warning that “all existing Pocket Accounts will need to be converted to a Firefox Account by June 30, 2022”. The reason, according to MozillaEast “[p]Mozilla products use Firefox Accounts as a centralized and secure account system. The company goes on to suggest that this is a benefit for fans of the app, as they will now be able to use two-factor authentication and other security features.
If you use Pocket and already have a Firefox Account, or don’t mind creating one, no problem: just convert the account (you have until June 30) and continue with Pocket as before. However, if you’re hesitant to add a Firefox Account for some reason, there are alternative apps you can use to collect bookmarks for reading material.
The following is a description of Pocket and four other bookmarking service apps. This is obviously only a limited list: they all offer free versions, and all (except one) sync across a variety of devices, including web browsers, Android devices, and iPhones, among others. There are of course other, less specific alternatives – for example, note apps such as Evernote and Keep will save and tag article links.
I’ve also linked instructions for each to import and export existing bookmarks; most will work in HTML format, and several also accept CSV and other file formats.
Pocket has developed a well-designed interface with plenty of options that allow you to sort your articles from newest to oldest, choose your favorites, view them as a list or grid, and archive the ones you want to keep or to organize them via tags. Its home screen (currently tagged with “beta”) shows you your most recent saves as well as what it calls “the best of the web.” You can share your articles via social media or recommend them in the app for others to find. There are extensions for a variety of browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari, as well as apps for Android and iOS devices.
Paid version : the Premium version ($4.99 per month or $49.99 per year) adds a permanent library of everything you’ve saved (in case it disappears from the web) plus full-text search and more features.
Like Pocket, Instapaper started as a simple web add-on and went through several iterations (and owners); currently it is part of an independent company called Instant Paper. The web application has a very simple user interface; as long as there is no grid view, you can toggle thumbnails on and off. It offers (and syncs across) web browsers (using a Chrome extension, Safari extension, Firefox extension, or bookmarklet), iOS, Android, and Kindle. A free account lets you save unlimited articles, videos, and other content. You can also highlight text in articles you’ve saved, create up to five notes per month, and edit each article’s name, link, or summary.
Paid version : The Premium version ($2.99/month or $29.99/year) adds full-text search for your saved documents, unlimited notes, and text-to-speech.
Raindrop may not have the simplicity of Instapaper, but it has a host of features that could come in handy, especially if you’re serious about your information collections. The web version lets you view your articles in a variety of formats, including an interesting one called Moodboard. Like most of the others listed here, the free version of Raindrop offers unlimited bookmark backups on an unlimited number of devices; these include apps for Mac, iOS devices, Android devices, and extensions for Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Edge browsers. You can share with others and edit titles, tags and descriptions.
Paid version : The Pro version ($3/month or $28/year) adds full-text search, cloud backup, and a permanent library of all your favorite sites.
Paperspan is a simple, old-school app that’s fine if you want a really simple bookmarking service. You can create separate folders for your saved bookmarks, but that’s about it. Unlike the other three services listed here, there are no pretty graphics, no highlighting, no choice between lists and grids – you don’t even read the article in the app but are just sent to the original item. Most readers will probably miss these other features, but if you’re into the basics, you might want to give it a try.
Paid version : nothing
Export Instructions – Import Instructions (Click “Import” in the side menu)
Matter is a brand new app still in development that is currently only available for iOS devices and for the web (although you need to install it on iOS first); an Android application is promised sometimes in the future. The app is much better suited for following social media favorites and finding new influencers than just saving bookmarks. You can add your email to read your newsletters, follow specific tweeters, sync with apps like Readwise and Notion, and send articles to Kindle. Currently, the mobile app is the way to go; the web version just displays the sites in your queue without any other functionality. If you want to pull your existing Pocket sites, you do so by logging into the app (rather than importing data). Currently the app is free without any premium level. All in all, an interesting app with potential.
Export instructions: in the app, select Settings > Export your data
Import instructions: in the app, select Settings > Connected Accounts